I guess this is a week of “why didn’t I do this sooner?” Thanks to Joe’s prodding we’re finally seen the outcome of the long-awaited cinnamon pull-apart bread, and now, the most ridiculously easy thing ever, crystallized ginger.
Seriously, super easy. The biggest roadblock to making this was when I discovered that we didn’t have as much ginger as I wanted, and also laziness. I was inspired by this LifeHacker post, which was in turn inspired by America’s Test Kitchen. I have a serious love-hate thing with ATK/Cook’s Illustrated, I’m not going to lie. Sometimes they offer brilliant solutions that really make home cooking better, but just as often they go down an arcane garden path of nitpicky low-brow food-snobbery that makes me think they’ve never actually encountered a home cook. Luckily, their approach to candied ginger is the former.
First: get some ginger! You know how we feel about ginger in this household, so I used a lot.
Peel it! Cut it into candy-sized pieces!
Make some simple syrup! (One cup sugar, one cup water)
Put your ginger in your syrup! Then discover that you have not made enough syrup for your huge amount of ginger, and add more sugar and water. Then simmer until the ginger is tender, which may take approximately forever. It took several hours for mine to get to the point I wanted it at. Your mileage may vary.
Once it’s tender, fish it out of the syrup and put it on a rack to cool and dry. Then walk away. Go see a movie. Do your Christmas shopping, whatever. Don’t do anything with it until it’s really good and dry. Tacky to the touch is what you want, not any kind of damp or moist. Some of mine stayed on the rack, some fell to the baking sheet. The ones on the sheet didn’t dry right.
At this point you actually have candied ginger. It’s edible! I think there’s a British product that’s basically this stage of ginger in syrup. I’m not sure what it’s used for, but I think it’s something Christmas-y.
Anyway, we want crystallized ginger, which is really just candied ginger with sugar stuck to it. Take the ginger! Put it in a bowl! Add some sugar! I used one half cup, the key is to have enough to toss around your ginger and get it good and coated. Then toss your ginger, and get it good and coated!
And that’s it! Crystallized ginger, easy as pie! And, extra bonus: the simple syrup has now been infused with serious ginger flavor. Add it to carbonated water for quicky ginger ale, use it to sweeten your tea, put it in a cocktail, enjoy!
Beyond the “why did I wait so long?” factor, this shares another trait with my last project: active time was probably about 10 minutes, spread out over a couple hours one night and the next morning. Easy and awesome!