Thursday, February 25, 2010

Crystallized Ginger

I'm in the middle of the best read:  A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.  Molly is the genius behind the food blog Orangette, and oh is her book a page turner.  That might sound strange for a book about food, but I really enjoy the way she presents an interesting, thought provoking story with a related recipe.  And the recipes are terrific!  It's the kind of book that I'm reading way too quickly and would rather slow down so that I can read it forever.  A sentence a day perhaps?  Nah. Impossible.

There is a recipe for banana bread with chocolate chips and crystallized ginger that I'm dying to try.  Having never seen crystallized ginger in my local market, I decided to make my own.  It was a very simple affair, although it does take a bit of time to cook down the slices of spice and get them to the translucent phase.

While I am not head over heels for the stuff, I am excited to use it in various recipes...and it keeps in a jar for up to three months.  Plus, there is something lovely about each granular-sugar-coated slice.

To make a batch yourself, simply get a hunk of fresh ginger root, peel and slice very thinly.  Place in a small saucepan and cover with water. Simmer (but don't boil) for 30-40 minutes.  Drain the water and weigh the cooked ginger.  Add it back to the saucepan with an equal amount of sugar (same weight as the ginger) and 1 to 3 tablespoons of water depending on how much ginger you have.  Bring to a boil and stir every few minutes; cook until the mix is syrupy and the liquid begins to evaporate.  When most of the liquid is evaporated and the ginger is translucent, reduce the heat and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes until the contents are nearly dry (they will be sticky but you don't want them floating in syrup - drain if necessary).

Let mixture cool for 10 or so minutes (you want it slightly warm so it will stick to the sugar).  Dredge slices in a plate of sugar, set aside to dry (for 20 or 30 minutes) and then place in a jar and seal.

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