I used to buy candied or crystallized ginger, but no more. After discovering David Lebovitz’s recipe last year, I gathered up my courage and tried it myself. The process is easy and the results are infinitely better than the packaged versions.
The ingredients are minimal - fresh ginger (prices are typically best at ethnic groceries that carry it, rather than at larger grocery chains), sugar, salt, and water.
The process is straightforward – you peel fresh ginger, slice it thinly, rinse it, and cook in a simple syrup (you remember that from the limoncello, right?) until it reaches 225 degrees F/106 C. Read David’s post for the details, then come back here for my tips. The terms “candied” and “crystallized” are typically used interchangeably. If a distinction is made, the term candied refers to ginger stored in the simple syrup and crystallized ginger means the version cooked in the sweet syrup and rolled in sugar.
My tips for making candied or crystallized ginger:
- Make sure your knife is medium or large-sized (not a small, paring knife) and sharp.
- No shortcuts in the rinsing steps – they are a bit tedious, but required to soften the ginger.
- If you use a candy thermometer (as I do) to gauge the temperature of the syrup, make sure to use a mitten-style pot holder. Take it from me, holding the thermometer in the hot syrup without one is a prescription for a burn or dropping the thermometer in the syrup - or both.
- If you don’t use a candy thermometer, have patience. It takes a long time for the syrup to get to the final temperature. Water boils at 212 degrees F/100 C, so you may get the simple syrup to that temperature and think you are almost done. Not so fast. You’ll be cooking the ginger in the syrup for a while after the mixture boils.
- If you’re rolling the slices in sugar, take them out of the syrup using a slotted spoon and drain off the excess syrup before rolling them.
I use candied or crystallized ginger in lots of baked goods. The syrup is great in tea, and the sugar is wonderful as a replacement for "plain" granulated sugar in any number of recipes for baked goods and puddings.
A note: If you wonder why I linked to David’s recipe rather than reprint it, read his post on recipe attribution. I do occasionally reprint a recipe (ingredients and directions) – as with Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for roasted whole cauliflower - and in that case I get the original author’s permission. When I use recipes from friends/relatives but give my own directions – e.g. the kugel recipe from my friend Gail and her mother-in-law, I provide acknowledgement for the recipe’s source. In this case, I asked David about using his recipe and he asked me to link to his post rather than reprint. I have done so in deference to his request. While I am a lawyer, I am not offering legal advice. I’m just trying to respect others’ legal and/or moral rights as I hope others will respect mine.