Recipe: candied ginger
You could deduce that I am a rain lover simply because I live in a place that receives 300+ days of sunshine a year, but you’d be mistaken. I do love the rain, but I have in fact, always loved the rain. I even loved the rain when I lived in Ithaca, New York (during graduate school, no less) which boasts more days of precipitation annually (161) than Seattle, Washington (150). I truly came to appreciate those rainy days after living in Southern California. Winter or “the rainy season” was far and away my favorite time of year there. Of course, in Colorado, I prefer my precipitation in frozen form. That said, the rain is a lovely, beautiful, wondrous thing in summer. I had the privilege of foraging with two of my favorite ladies – Wendy and Ellen – in the suburbs outside of Denver on a deliciously rainy, cool Monday morning.
picking goosefoot in the rain
cute bumblebees keeping dry under this teasel bloom
ground cherries (not ready)
I don’t go foraging for the forage. Mostly, I like learning about and geeking out on plants with my knowledgeable friend. It’s also heaps of fun slogging through muddy trails, seeing local wildlife (snakes, bunnies, etc.), admiring what can thrive in the neglected corners of suburbia, and putting my pattern-recognition skills to good use. Oh, and of course there is the precious (tom)girl-time and post-foraging lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant!
And if that wasn’t a perfect start to a Monday, Jeremy and I capped off the evening dining in Boulder at The Kitchen, catching up with two long-time friends from graduate school. Julie and Tyler were both in Jeremy’s department – he is an astronomer and she is a planetary geologist. Julie and I were graduate student “cousins” as we shared two common faculty on our PhD committees (Julie had a minor in geology and I had a minor in planetary). I quite love these two. Anyone who claims that graduate school is the best time of your life should be regarded with deep suspicion. However, I will say of our Cornell years that we carry many special friendships from that time into the present day.
tyler and julie
jeremy’s halibut entrée
a nice finish to a great evening
That’s one of the upsides to sticking close to home this summer – getting to see both local friends and friends from out of town. Another positive? Kaweah is doing great. Aside from general aging, her medical issues have abated and you couldn’t find a happier pup. I think being home and providing her with a normal (i.e. non-travel) routine has helped tremendously. Yet another plus of staying local this summer? More kitchen experiments.
find some nice, tender, young ginger (spring is your best bet)
I don’t know when I developed my taste for ginger. I know it wasn’t until I was an adult because I avoided it as a kid. The flavor grew on me and I began to use it more and more in my cooking. During chemotherapy, ginger chews were a staple. I popped one into my mouth whenever I felt queasy. I kept a bag of them along with saltines by my bedside. Folks had said not to eat your favorite foods during chemo because you’d come to have bad associations with them after treatments ended. But you know what? I just wound up loving ginger even more. It wasn’t just the nausea, but anytime I have a cold or feel under the weather, ginger is that soothing flavor in chicken congee or ginger tea that Mom always made for me. I occasionally grab a bag of candied ginger for snacking – it’s such a pick-me-up candy. Then one day it occurred to me that this must be ridiculously easy to make. Ridiculously.
boiled in water
I followed a recipe from David Lebovitz’s blog, but I think the slices were too thin for my liking, or rather for my climate. I like my candied ginger to be of a chewy nature. Perhaps these wind up being chewy in other kitchens, but it’s so arid here that mine dried into ginger crisps. They were still fantastic, but next time I’m going to slice big fat chunky pieces.
combine ginger, sugar, and water
bring the sugar syrup to temperature
I use a candy thermometer to measure the syrup temperature. It takes longer than one would think to reach 225°F, so having a candy thermometer keeps you rooted in reality. Not only that, but for every 500 feet above sea level you are, you will subtract a degree from the target temperature since there is less air pressure (water boils at a lower temperature). For me, that translates into 208°F as my target because (8500 ft/500 ft) * 1°F = 17°F. Math is your friend.
You can let the ginger slices sit in the syrup for an hour or up to a day. I opted for a day. Store them in their syrup or drain them and toss in sugar. It’s up to you. I wanted mine sugar-coated.
drain the ginger
don’t let that amazing ginger syrup go to waste!
toss in sugar
shake off the excess
dry on a cooling rack
Like I said, don’t throw that syrup away. I put mine in a jar and keep it in the refrigerator. We use it in cocktails and homemade sodas or juices. Don’t throw the sugar away either! It’s perfect for baking, custards (ice cream), stirring into tea, or anything you want to add a hint of ginger to. Let the candied ginger dry, but if you live in a place with really low humidity, don’t over dry them unless you like them crunchy.
keep this and use it well
So, in the future, I will definitely go for the ginger chunks, but these thin candied ginger crisps are delightful. I took the pretty ones and dipped them in tempered dark chocolate (I talk about the tempering method I use here), which made for nice gifts. The combination of smooth, good quality dark chocolate and candied ginger is a lovely little treat that satisfies a sweet craving while waking you up with that spicy zing from the ginger. Totally worth the trouble of tempering some chocolate.
spicy and mellow
from David Lebovitz
1 lb. (500 g) ginger, peeled
4 cups (800 g) sugar
4 cups (1 l) water
Using a good, sharp knife, slice the ginger. Slice thin if you want thin, but I think I prefer mine to be thicken and chunkier (for chewy ginger). Place the ginger in a non-reactive saucepan and cover with water. Bring this to a boil then reduce to a simmer for ten minutes. Drain. Repeat this process again. Return the ginger to the saucepan with the 4 cups of sugar, 4 cups of water, and pinch of salt. Stir over high heat to help the sugar dissolve and let it cook to a temperature of 225°F/106°C (208°F at 8500 ft. above sea level or subtract 1°F from target temperature for every 500 feet above sea level). Turn off the heat and let the ginger stand in the syrup for an hour minimum. I followed David’s suggestion and let it sit overnight. If you want to coat the slices in sugar, David advises you drain the slices while they are hot so the syrup flows off the pieces better. I think you can do both – let it sit overnight, then warm it up on the stove and drain off the syrup before tossing in sugar and shaking off the excess. Lay the slices out on a cooling rack to dry – these can be stored at room temperature for up to a few months. Don’t toss the sugar out! It’s great for other recipes that could use a flavored sugar. Also, don’t toss the syrup out because you can use that in beverages. If you don’t want to coat the ginger slices, you can store the ginger in its syrup instead for up to one year. Extra step: dip the candied ginger slices in tempered dark chocolate. Makes a gillion.