There’s an inside joke amongst people who write books about baking that any recipe that begins with “Using a candy thermometer…..” scares the pants off of people and is enough to ward away all but the most dedicated baker.
I’m not sure why that is. It’s like when people tell me, “I can’t bake.” While baking is a fairly exacting affair, 1 cup of sugar is pretty clear: it’s one cup of sugar. It’s not like frying fish or meat, where you need to gauge doneness yourself, or making salad dressing where personal taste and the ingredients used can alter the finished result. But the thermometers does not lie.* I mean 225 degrees is pretty clear: it’s 225 degrees.
So I won’t tell you that you have to use a candy thermometer to candy ginger, but it does help. I mean, I don’t want to scare any of you away from candying your own ginger. Which is really very easy with, or without one.
The great thing about candying your own ginger is that aside from the fact that you can make it without the aid of the dreaded thermometer, you get plenty of spicy slices from just a pound of ginger. Once candied, it can be stored in its own spicy syrup or drained and tossed in sugar. And if you really want to put it over-the-top, dip pieces halfway in dark chocolate.
One caveat: most fresh ginger that you buy is quite firm and may have fibers in it. If you can find young ginger, usually available in the spring, use that for best results. In any case, slice the ginger as thinly as possible. And when peeling the ginger, a nifty trick it to use a soup spoon and holding it so the bowl of the spoon is facing the ginger, scrape away the skin with the edge of the spoon. You can even get easily around all the nooks and knobs using that method.
I use candied ginger, finely chopped, to enliven apple and pear crisps or in a batch of lemon ice cream. It can be added to cake batters and gingersnap or oatmeal cookie dough to give your cookies an extra-zippy edge. This particular batch is headed for some marmalade, and I’m going to slice it into thin strips and add it during the final few minutes of cookies.
Since I don’t like to waste anything, and hopefully neither do you, one can use the syrup to make a spicy elixir, pouring some in sparkling water and adding a squirt of lime juice. A santé!
Adapted from Ready For Dessert (Ten Speed)
You don’t need a candy thermometer to make this. Simply keep an eye on the pot and when the liquid is the consistency of thin honey, it’s done and ready to go.
- 1 pound (500g) fresh ginger, peeled
- 4 cups (800g) sugar, plus additional sugar for coating the ginger slices, if desired
- 4 cups (1l) water
- pinch of salt
1. Slice the ginger as thinly as possible. It can’t be too thin, so use a sharp knife.
2. Put the ginger slices in a nonreactive pot, add enough water to cover the ginger, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let ginger simmer for ten minutes. Drain, and repeat, simmering the ginger slices one more time.
3. Mix the sugar and 4 cups (1l) water in the pot, along with a pinch of salt and the ginger slices, and cook until the temperature reaches 225F (106C.)
4. Remove from heat and let stand for at least an hour, although I often let it sit overnight. Or if you want to coat the slices with sugar, drain very well while the ginger is hot, so the syrup will drain away better.
5. Store ginger slices in its syrup, or toss the drained slices in granulated sugar. Shake off excess sugar, and spread the ginger slices on a cooling rack overnight, until they’re somewhat dry. The sugar can be reused in a batter or ice cream base, or for another purpose.
Storage: The ginger, packed in its syrup, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one year. If you’re concerned with it crystallizing, add a tablespoon or two of corn syrup or glucose to the sugar syrup at the beginning of step #3. If tossed in sugar, the pieces can be stored at room temperature for a few months.
*If you’re unsure if your thermometer is telling the truth, boil a pot of water with the thermometer in it. Once the water is boiling, if you live at sea level, the temperature should read 212F, or 100C.
Related Links and Recipes
Candied Citrus Peel (Simply Recipes)
Apple Ginger Mint Iced Tea (Steamy Kitchen)
Ginger-Cinnamon Caramels (The Kitchn)
Ginger Jeweled Salad (101 Cookbooks)
Ginger Catfish (Perfect Pantry)
Ginger and Pumpkin Jam (Nami-Nami)