Saturday, June 26, 2010

DIY Crystallised Ginger UPDATED 8/7/10*




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...


You'll need:

    * 500g sugar, plus about 100g extra
    * 750g ginger root
    * water to cover the ginger, about 2-3 cups (500 - 750ml)

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.


Remove from the heat. Using a sieve, separate the ginger from the liquid (careful - it's very hot). Now, this liquid will prove to be very handy. I'm going to infuse it with various bits and bobs and see if it can't be used for some delicious purpose at work. You could use it in its present state, or infuse it with whatever takes your fancy (citrus zest, black peppercorns, dried fruit, etc - do it now, while it's still hot for the infusion to work). Squirt the syrup in icings and frostings for cakes, over desserts, and in cocktails and drinks.


See the lovely colour? You could eat one but it'll be hot and taste a little harsh. Leave them to mellow for a bit before trying.


Pour the remaining sugar into a bowl, and tip in the hot ginger. Toss until covered and leave it until it becomes cold. Fish out the ginger and place in a sieve; give it a gentle shake to remove any excess sugar and then pop into an airtight container - store at room temperature. How long will it keep for? To be honest, I have no idea, but generally it should be good for several months. If it suddenly turns green, don't use it; a generally good rule of thumb when it comes to working with food.


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!

*UPDATE:

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.




The pile of ginger in the top left hand corner was made using this recipe; the pile on the right was made using my original recipe. The new recipe is more plump, and suffused with sweetness, while still packing a little ginger heat. Contrast that with the original recipe ginger which is quite hot and much smaller and tougher. I'd suggest trying the new recipe for a much better result.

15 comments:

Bronwyn said...

I sent you a pdf of that jam book didn't I? It has recipes for crystallised fruits. The ginger one has pre-blanching more than once, and it's to get rid of some of the heat mostly. And you make the fruit slowly over several days, increasing the amount of sugar bit by bit. This is because if you put all the sugar in to start with the osmotic strength of the syrup causes a lot of moisture to leave the fruit, rather than the sugar entering it. You get a much plumper and juicier glacé or crystallised fruit if you take it slowly. I'm making some cherries right now that have taken a week so far.

Isa Ritchie said...

Oooh, lovely! Have you ever tried making sugar plums - as in The Night Before Christmas? I suspect it could be a similar process

sasasunakku said...

So, if you just leave them in the syrup, would that be the same as those jars of candies ginger d'you reckon?

pod and three peas said...

my dad would love that, will have to make it for him once we move home....

Nigel Olsen said...

Bronwyn - Aargh! I clean forgot about it! looking through it now, it has a recipe for glacé cherries which I'm going to make later this week, just to try out your approach (which makes so much sense). Will you blog your results?

Isa - I remember making sugar plums, millions of years ago at primary school! Lots of dried fruit & spices, rolled into balls & dipped in sugar. I'll hunt through my library for a recipe - might make a good mid-winter Christmas post!

Nigel Olsen said...

Here's a link to a crystallised ginger recipe, where the ginger is cooked four times http://www.ochef.com/829.htm

Nigel Olsen said...

Sasasunakku - Probably, although you'd go through the usual procedure of sterilising jars/lids etc for storage. The more I look at it, the more I like Bronwyn's method.

Nigel Olsen said...

P3P - Hello! I'm sure your dad would appreciate it :) I'm quite partial to eating them as sweets now, poor teeth...

Fiona S said...

We gave this a go at Christmas but it didn't turn out as successful as yours. I think we didn't do the syrup bit for long enough, been meaning to have another go.

Nigel Olsen said...

Fiona - Give it another try!

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Oh wow, how cool is this! I really want to give this a go. I bet that syrup is amazing. Well done you, some of those baking ingredients really are flipping expensive.

Zoë said...

Brilliant! Can't get anything close to this in the Bahamas so this looks like my next kitchen project... Thanks!

amber said...

Just today I was wondering about making my own crystallised ginger and stem ginger in syrup and... voila! The universe loves me. Cheers for the recipe! :)

Nigel Olsen said...

Laura - try the new recipe, it's way better

Zoë - I dig the skull!

Nigel Olsen said...

Amber - Glad to be of service, & I can't stress enough: try the new recipe.