Friday, August 03, 2007

Crystallized Ginger

I make my own crystallized ginger. I've just been disappointed in the quality of the stuff you can find in the stores. It just isn't hot enough for my taste and I like really strong pungent ginger for my Aunt Nell's Pear Chip Preserves. The recipe came from my great aunt and more than likely dates back to the mid-1800s. To get a true authenticity with this recipe, I had to learn how to do this.

I'm really glad I did, since this is a very wonderful thing to have around the house.

Crystallized ginger used to be as readily available to the Victorians as chewing gum or breath mints are to us. Because it was considered a medicinal as well as a culinary spice, it was widely used as a breath freshener, to settle stomach problems and as a poultice.

How to Crystallize Ginger(works with citrus too!)
To make, take a "hand" of fresh ginger and peel. Slice thinly or run through the food processor using the large slicing wheel. Place in a bowl and cover with sugar then set aside overnight. The sugar will extract the liquid from the ginger slices much like it does from fruit. The next day, pour off this liquid and reduce(boil) down by half. Pour back over the ginger slices and cover with sugar again and set aside over night. Again, pour off the liquid and boil down. This time add the ginger slices and let them boil down with the liquid until the syrup becomes very thick. Pour this mixture out into a bowl of sugar(several cups worth) and toss with a fork to separate the slices. When cool, run this through a sifter to separate the sugar from the ginger. In the end you'll have a lovely bowl of crystallized ginger and another bowl of ginger sugar. Keep in a dry place...will keep at least a year.

One of my favorite things to do with my ginger, especially during the hot summer months is to make home made ginger ale. This is wonderful and if you've never tried it...I highly recommend it. We tend to think of soft drinks as being so commonplace today...indeed too commonplace...but this is a good way to discover what a real soft drink tastes like. It's wonderful! And educational too!

Homemade Ginger Ale

1 and 1/2 cup sugar
Finely milled Crystallized Ginger (try 2 TBSP, more for more "heat")
(Grated fresh ginger works well too, but is not quite as hot)
Juice of one lemon
granulated baker's yeast (1/4 teaspoon)
Spring water
clean 2 liter plastic soft drink bottle
funnel

Add sugar to the 2 liter bottle with a dry funnel. Add 1/4th teaspoon baker's yeast to the bottle. Shake to distribute yeast into the sugar. In a small mixing cup, place grated or milled ginger and add the lemon juice. Mix into a paste and then add to the bottle. Top the bottle off with spring water and place the cap on tightly. Lay the bottle on its side for the fermentation process. You will know it is done when the bottle becomes very hard and will not dent when pressed. At that point you will want to refrigerate the soda and drink it very soon. It usually only takes 24 to 48 hours...though I've had it be ready in 12.




6 Comments:

  1. Googie Baba said...
    I never in a million years would have thought to crystallized food.
    Sue Doe said...
    Ooh, I sometimes buy that at the Asian market.

    My personal favorite is to take a slice of watermelon and rub it with ginger root.

    The combination is amazing.

    Ooh and then there's the mango, lime chile combo... ooh, I just love sweet and spicy... gotta go, I'm hungry!
    threecollie said...
    the ginger ale recipe sounds wonderful! My grandparents made birchbeer sometimes. Wish I knew how.
    Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...
    I only use fresh ginger root for making my gingerale.
    busybusymomma said...
    Oh, that looks yummy!

    By CFO I mean Confined Feeding Operation. Yuck. It's just a bad thing all over, and like you mentioned, it's going to poison all the neighbor's wells and likely damage the karst/cave systems we have here. It's only a few miles away from a cave system to that is home to a rare cavefish.
    belledame222 said...
    I love the idea of crystallized anything. And I love ginger. Crystallized ginger's a bit strong for me, though, although I still give it a try every now and again. It's supposed to be really good for your digestion, yes, but it depends on exactly -what- you're trying to settle; sometimes the heat can be overmuch.

    ginger tea in cold weather is awesome, though.

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