Country Lore: Candied Ginger

Yum! Candied ginger is delicious and easy to make.

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Candied ginger root has been a favorite treat around the world for centuries. Although somewhat time-consuming, it’s simple to make.

Fresh ginger root is available at most supermarkets. Look for firm roots. Traditionally, granulated white sugar is used to make candied ginger; but other possibilities include maple sugar, Sucanat (dried sugar cane juice), date sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup or honey.

For a small batch use:
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1½ cups of water or more if necessary
1 cup ginger peeled and sliced a quarter-inch thick
1 cup of granulated sugar or other sweetener
(optional: chocolate and extra sugar for coating)

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice per batch to help prevent crystallization of the syrup. Use at least enough water to cover the ginger, about 1½ times the amount of sugar. Put the water, sugar and lemon juice into a pan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the sliced ginger and return to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover.

Raw ginger takes three to five hours to cook completely. If the syrup is cooking down too fast and doesn’t cover the ginger pieces, just add more water. During the last hour or two of cooking, test the pieces for doneness. When thoroughly cooked, they should be tender and almost translucent. If the syrup isn’t thick enough (the consistency of honey or maple syrup) when the ginger is nearly done, remove the lid and let the syrup cook down. As it gets thicker, the syrup will bubble up, especially with the lid on, so be alert to avoid a mess on the stove. When the ginger is done, let the mixture cool for half an hour.

I generally “fish” the ginger pieces out of the syrup solution with a small fork or tongs, or you can strain them out. Save the ginger-flavored syrup in a glass jar with a tight lid for use on ice cream, pancakes, waffles, yogurt or to make ginger ale

Lay the ginger pieces on racks, screening or a cookie sheet covered with wax paper or nonstick foil. I find that using racks helps the ginger pieces dry faster and more evenly. Let the pieces dry overnight or longer

Put some sugar in a bowl, toss in the ginger a few pieces at a time and coat well. Put the coated pieces on a cookie sheet and let dry again for a few hours. If the pieces absorb too much coating and get sticky, just recoat them. Press two pieces together, if they do not stick to each other, they are ready to store in a covered glass jar. Another way to finish off candied ginger is to coat it in chocolate. I use bittersweet baking chocolate melted in a small double boiler. Keep the chocolate warm and work quickly. Dip the pieces with a fork, tap off the excess, and put the coated pieces on waxed paper or nonstick foil until they are hard enough to store in a covered glass jar. Candied ginger will last indefinitely at room temperature if stored in tightly closed containers.

Kathy Fisher
Roy, Washington