Kaki, wow, November. November happened. And now it’s almost over! It’s almost the holidays already!
Needless to say I am not fully prepared for this. We’re going up to my aunt and uncle’s place in Dallas for the big Turkey Day meal, but so far I am stumped on what to bring. Some kind of before dinner snack? I made these gingered almonds recently, that might work.
I may also bring some candied ginger I made last week, since it’s a good after-dinner-mint substitute. Or it’s good dropped into a hot cup of tea. Or just as a little sweet and spicy snack whenever. Apparently I’ve been on a ginger kick!
Candied ginger takes a while to make, but I like to make it on a nice cold day when standing over a hot stove will be welcome. Don’t let the candy-making process put you off, it’s really easy! There are no candy thermometers here, just stirring and waiting.
What are you doing for Thanksgiving, Kaki?
makes about 4 cups
1 pound fresh ginger
5 cups water
About 1 pound sugar
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Peel* the ginger and slice into coins about 1/8-1/4-inch thick.
Place the peeled ginger coins and the water in a large pot or Dutch oven on the stove. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for about 35 minutes. The ginger should be pretty tender.
Place a colander over a large mixing bowl. Remove the pot of boiled ginger from the stove and pour it through the colander. Drain the ginger and weigh it with a kitchen scale (mine weighed in at 13 and 3/4 ounces). Reserve the ginger cooking water.
Return the ginger to the pot. Add an equal weight of sugar (in this case, 13 and 3/4 ounces), and 1/4 cup of the ginger cooking water (the rest can be saved for another use). Stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling turn heat down to medium and stir frequently until water has evaporated, 25-30 minutes**.
Immediately pour the dry, crystallized ginger slices out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. Separate any clumped pieces, but do so after cooling for a few minutes, as these babies are hot just off the stove.
Store candied ginger in an airtight container; Alton suggests they’ll last about two weeks, but I think they’ll last a bit longer. And keep the sugar crystals that don’t attach to the ginger slices for flavoring hot tea or sprinkling over desserts, it is ginger-y and delicious. Also the ginger cooking liquid can be added to hot teas or to sparkling water, but add to taste, that stuff is strong and spicy!
I gave one jar to my friend Jenni from choir as a belated birthday gift. And the more I think about it, the more I think I’ll take a few jars up to Dallas for Thanksgiving snacking! Decision: made.
Can’t wait to hear about your holiday plans, my dear,
*This took me FOREVER. Like, almost an hour. With both a vegetable peeler and the whole “scrape it with a spoon” trick. It worked, but I’d forgotten how long it takes! Put on some music and be prepared to stand at your kitchen counter for a while. Also, if you’re like me you’re going to look at the huge pile of ginger peels and go, “If I boil that in some water I’ll get extra ginger-flavored water, and that’d be great!” Stop. Do not proceed. The ginger water that you get from the peels tastes roughly like dirt. Just throw the peels away. Or compost them, if you’ve got that going on. (And if you do, I am super jealous.)
**Once this comes to a boil, do not leave the stove. Or, if you do, I wouldn’t be gone more than a minute or so. My mixture went through the following stages:
0-10 minutes: Wow, this is really liquid-y, even with just 1/4 cup of the ginger water. And it’s really not thickening up much. Actually, is it getting more liquid-y? I can probably let this go with a little less stirring.
10-20: Oh, now it’s thickening, at least a little bit. I’ll stir a bit more often.
20-25: Wow, yup, thickening. Time to stir like every 30 seconds or so.
25-28: Dang, this is drying up fast now. STIR CONSTANTLY WE’RE ALMOST DONE!!!