It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
Today: Phoebe Lapine from Feed Me Phoebe shows us how to make sweet and spicy candied ginger from scratch.
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Despite my life-long dedication to candy as a food group, I’ve always been a bit too intimidated to make it. This could be for several reasons, the first being that I don’t own a candy thermometer. The second reason is that anything that becomes hot enough to require a candy thermometer runs the risk of burning your finger and/or tongue when you try to taste it mid-process. I learned this lesson when I nearly took off my index fingerprints trying to taste a simmering pan of caramel. Not smart.
But as the holiday season approaches, I have my mind set on making large quantities of candied ginger to include in this trail mix as a homemade gift. People always ask me about my recipe process, and the truth is, it usually begins with Google.
As I bopped around the internet, the method that seemed the easiest and most intuitive was Alton Brown’s. His technique was simple: simmer the ginger in water until tender, drain, then combine the ginger with an equal amount of sugar and some reserved cooking liquid. I thought that last element was rather clever, as the gingery cooking liquid adds even more flavor to the sugar crystals that eventually form as the water slowly evaporates. You know it’s done when there’s no liquid left in the pan, and the candied ginger looks just like what you’d buy at the store, only better. No candy thermometer necessary.
Most recipes call for the ginger to be transferred to a cooling rack. I don’t own one of these either, but a parchment-lined baking sheet seemed to do a fine job. Best of all, the ginger cooled much more quickly than I imagined, which meant a speedy taste test and minimal tongue burns to show for it.
Peel the ginger and cut it into the thinnest possible slices using a mandolin or chef’s knife. Place the slices in a medium saucepan and cover with enough water to submerge them. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender. The slices will be a deeper shade of yellow and have a more rubbery consistency. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid and drain.
Return the ginger to the pot along with the reserved cooking liquid and the sugar. Bring to a rapid simmer over a high flame. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to simmer the ginger, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated and the sugar begins to crystallize, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the ginger immediately to a cooling rack or parchment-lined sheet pan. Spread in an even layer until cool enough to touch. Discard the excess ginger sugar, or reserve for another use. Store the candied ginger in an airtight container for up to three weeks.
Phoebe is a writer, gluten-free chef, culinary instructor, award-winning blogger, and author of The Wellness Project. You can find her healthy comfort food and gluten-free finds on www.FeedMePhoebe.com