Thursday, February 14, 2013
Candied Ginger...and Ginger Ale
There is a kind of cookie that Lee really likes and we haven't found it in any stores, lately. It is a German cookie called Lebkuchen. I thought I would make him a batch. After all, it is almost Valentine's Day, and it's not as though he likes jewelry or flowers. Then I discovered there are many different recipes. I picked a few likely ones and examined the ingredients. One of them is candied ginger. That is hard to find around here. They have it in tiny spice jars and it is expensive. So before I make the cookies, I gotta make the candied ginger.
I found out that when you make the candied ginger, the leftover syrup makes a dandy ginger ale. And you can save any sugar that fell off the candied ginger and use that. Three items from one recipe. I'm in!
1 pound of ginger root
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
I know. Easy right? Well it is obvious you never peeled ginger. Some people recommend using a spoon. I used a combination of a knife and a vegetable peeler.
You need to slice the ginger very thinly, about 1/8 inch thick. I used a mandolin, but I couldn't use the handle so I was VERY careful. When the ginger became too small to hold safely, I used the knife. Some small chunks are also going to be good as I need to chop the candied ginger for the cookies, anyway.
Place the sugar, water in a heavy pot. I ended up with about 2 cups of sliced ginger and I added that to the pot, also. Heat it up over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to a slow simmer. I cooked mine for about an hour, stirring now and then. ( In about 20 minutes the whole house will be infused with the smell of sweet ginger.) You want to reduce the volume by half.
I used a slotted spoon to remove all the ginger pieces. I put them on a plate that I had covered with sugar. Sprinkle more sugar on top.
Stir to coat and then remove to a rack for drying. I left them to dry for a few hours. You may need longer depending on the humidity. Maybe even overnight. Place the finished candy in air tight containers.
Ginger is good for nausea. And usually safe for pregnant women...or any men who happen to become pregnant. I'm not genderist, you know! It is VERY spicy, though, so be careful and try a little piece first! It would be good in stir fry and chopped up on salads. I wonder if it would be good in oatmeal? And we know it is good in cookies!
Pour the now cooled ginger syrup through a strainer to get all the bits you missed with the slotted spoon. I poured mine into a couple of 1 pint Ball jars. Now for the ginger ale.
2 or 3 Tablespoons ginger syrup
optional mint and rum
I just added in the rum part! But is sounds good, right? I used 3 Tablespoons and it was too sweet for me. So start with 1 or 2 and adjust to taste. I put my syrup in the refrigerator and it became very thick, almost like Karo syrup. It dissolved quickly in the soda water though. The lime made a nice touch and added some tartness.
I think I still prefer the commercially made ginger ale, but maybe that is because I am used to it. I'll keep trying to get it right. Can't just throw away the syrup!
Speaking of that, I saved the sugar that fell off the ginger pieces and put it in a sugar bowl. One recipe suggested it for teas and on cereal. I put some in my tea and it boiled up in a fizzy sort of way and then quickly settled down. I didn't taste much ginger, but then I didn't waste the sugar either!