8/7/10 I've added something to the end of this post - read on...
Tired of watching fat cat supermarket owners flying around in Lear jets, paid for by the money you spent on over-priced baking products? Fight the power and stick it to 'the man' by making your own crystallised ginger! Yeah!
Actually, I was making a syrup for work and needed some crystallised ginger for the recipe. The price for it had gone up by quite a bit since I last bought some, which made no sense seeing as plain old ginger root always seems to cost mere tuppence. So I trotted off home to see if I could make my own and save some money. Doing a little surfing online, I kept coming across what was essentially the same recipe, website after website. So after a little calculating, I distilled my results down to the following recipe...
* g sugar, plus about g extra
* g ginger root
* water to cover the ginger, about - cups ( - ml)
Peel the skin from the ginger, cutting off any damaged and discoloured parts. Cut into a rough dice (go against the grain; good advice if the ginger you've bought is stringy, an indication of advanced age - still usable though). Place in a pot, along with the sugar and water.
Bring to the boil, stirring all the while to dissolve the sugar. Turn the heat down and allow to simmer until the ginger takes on a golden, opaque hue. This took over a couple of hours, during which time the liquid had reduced in size by half; the ginger shrank in size, too, by about a third.
Look at that - just like a bought one! Except of course being far more flavoursome. Now, I could tell you about the uses crystallised ginger can be put to, but I'm assuming you already know. For those that don't, just briefly, it can be chopped and used to flavour all manner of baking, or simply eaten by itself as a treat (dipped in chocolate works, too - ask my dentist). You also end up with quite a bit of ginger, too. Give it a whirl!
In light of Bronwyn's comment below, and my experience with making the glacé cherries, I've tried a different recipe, resulting in a far superior product. I have a better understanding of the preservation process, so I actually know what's going on. Here's the recipe:
Place 1kg of peeled, roughly diced ginger root into a pot of boiling water - bring back to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and allow ginger to go cold. Repeat the entire process, using fresh water. The point of this stage is to remove the heat of the ginger. If you're worried about losing flavour, believe me, it'll still retain plenty of its characteristic warmth without tasting harsh.
Day one: place the blanched ginger in a pot, cover with plenty of water and a cup of sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar while slowly bringing the liquid to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to steep overnight. Repeat this step.
Day three: repeat the previous step, except simmer for 30 minutes before stirring in another cup of sugar. Once dissolved, bring to the boil, then remove and leave overnight.
This is the final stage, day four. By now, your ginger should be dark in hue. Bring the ginger and its syrup to the boil. Continue boiling until the ginger becomes translucent and the syrup is as thick as honey. Remove from the heat, separate the ginger from the liquid and leave to dry on a rack. Once cold, toss in a bowl of caster sugar.