Let me tell you a story.

Yesterday I went to my favorite place in the whole wide world (um, Trader Joe's, duh) in search of ingredients for various blogable creations. Friendly bearded man was wandering about doing the "Are you finding what you're looking for today?" thing and I took advantage of this, asking where I might find crystallized ginger. I got an earful! Apparently, the FDA is cracking down on Australia for not specifying sulfite presence on food labels. Trader Joe's gets their crystallized ginger from Australia and thus all of the product has been shipped back down under to be properly labeled for FDA approval. I don't know if this is affecting other stores, so DON'T PANIC people. I know crystallized ginger is like a HUGE staple in most kitchens and we might all die without it, but it's just not a reason for pandemonium okay?!

Good thing I'm going to tell you how to make it yourself. Ahhhh, exhale. It's all going to be okay!!!

Candied Ginger Root
adapted from David Lebovitz

  • Some ginger
  • Some sugar
  • Some water
  • Some more sugar
Ok fine.
  • One large ginger root, peeled and super thinly sliced (use a mandoline unless you're Masaharu Morimoto)
  • 2 cups fine white sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 c fine white sugar

1. Cook the ginger. In a moderately sized sauce pan, add sliced ginger and enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil and them simmer for ten minutes. Drain, repeat. Trust me.

2. Syrup time! Drain sauce pan, add 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar, put over medium heat and let it lightly boil for about 20-25 minutes.
Now you're supposed to monitor temp and get the liquid to 225 F but there is no way in hell I am ever going to make anything in the kitchen that requires that much precision. The goal here is to get that ginger all sweet and soft and sticky and gummy. If you can't do that without a thermometer, then perhaps you might like to start with a simpler recipe in the kitchen? End rant.

3. Let sit for 5 minutes off the heat for safe handling. Over a jar/glass/bottle strain the ginger syrup from the ginger pieces. Guess what? You now have a ginger simple syrup! Two birds, one stone.  And seriously, why would you waste if you don't have to? Allow the ginger pieces to drip dry for a few minutes.

4. On a plate, dredge the moist (gross word) ginger pieces in white sugar. Place on a cooling rack for a few hours to dry out and harden up.

Imagine all the things you can do with this ginger! Garnish desserts, mix in to yogurt or ice cream, incorporate into spreads like cream cheese or mascarpone. Wink, wink, mascarpone that sounds like a great idea, wink wink.... better stay tuned... Or cocktails...

Did someone say cocktails!? Good thing you have that ginger simple syrup! You could do what my mom and I did and mix it with vodka, soda water, and a lemon twist. Or add to lemonade or tea as a sweetener. Or use it for baking. Make it a glaze. Make it into a frosting? My goodness someone stop me. 

But let's take a second and give ginger root some cred. Not only does it add incredible flavors to both sweet and savory foods, ginger also has various health benefits. Ginger is an effective home remedy for nausea or other GI distress. It's an immune booster and a cancer fighter. It has anti-inflammatory qualities (great for arthritis relief).  It is an anti-oxidant. Get those pesky free radicals! The radicals! They're so free!

"A study published in the November 2003 issue of Life Sciences suggests that at least one reason for ginger's beneficial effects is the free radical protection afforded by one of its active phenolic constituents, 6-gingerol. In this in vitro (test tube) study, 6-gingerol was shown to significantly inhibit the production of nitric oxide, a highly reactive nitrogen molecule that quickly forms a very damaging free radical called peroxynitrite. Another study appearing in the November 2003 issue of Radiation Research found that in mice, five days treatment with ginger (10 mg per kilogram of body weight) prior to exposure to radiation not only prevented an increase in free radical damage to lipids (fats found in numerous bodily components from cell membranes to cholesterol), but also greatly lessened depletion of the animals' stores of glutathione, one of the body's most important internally produced antioxidants."

Ginger is also a good source of potassium, magnesium, manganese, Vitamin B6, and copper. Don't know why copper is good for you but okay... 

And the moral of today's story is that I love Trader Joe's. Happy Monday friends!

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