Friday, December 9, 2011

Crystalline Ginger Ate My Kitchen

I'm up for a challenge.

In the kitchen, it's pretty simple.  Find something you like that you've never tried to make, or your family has never made, and then do it your own self.   If someone else can do it, you certainly can.

Someone a long time ago introduced me to Crystalline Ginger.  If you have had Ginger Ale, it's sweet.  Chinese Restaurants can serve Ginger Chicken and it is typically savory with a strong ginger bite.   Ginger Snaps can be either spicy or sweet or both.

Crystalline Ginger will entice you with the spicy sweet scent of ginger, then it will smack you around with a pungent bite that you will feel for a while after your first taste.   You really do have to like the taste of Ginger to enjoy this.  It's sweet but not highly so, and you are chewing on little dime to quarter sized pieces of the actual Ginger Root so you have got to be expecting a lot of flavor.

Some folks like red hot chili peppers.  The food, not the music group.   I can take it or leave it.  It's frequently "overdone" so instead of getting the flavor of the food, you just get a wall of hot.

The process was very simple. 

Get the root from your store.  I got a 3/4 pound of firm root.  It should give slightly when you press it, but not be mushy.  The root will smell of fresh ginger, a sweet and spicy pleasant smell.  

Peel the root.  Don't use a potato peeler, it will remove too much of the flesh.   The skin is paper thin, so use a teaspoon and get the skin off of it.  Surprisingly, this will do the job just right.

Cut the root in coin sized discs.  The discs should not be larger than a quarter and around as thick.

In a sauce pan, bring 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water to a slow simmer.   Mix until it is an even syrup.  You just made something called "Simple Syrup".

Add your Ginger Root coins to the Simple Syrup.  Stir them around occasionally so they don't stick.  Do not allow the mix to come to a full boil, you'll end up making candy and that's not the idea here...

Allow the mix to simmer for at least 30 minutes.   I went for 40 and it broke down most of the fibers in the root to give the coins a nice "jelly" consistency.   They will be amber and a little translucent when done.

Drain the Ginger Root coins using a strainer over a large mixing cup or bowl.   Reserve all the liquid for drinks like Iced Tea and Sorbet and the like.   It will have a mild flavor that can really perk up a drink - and it's great with Rum.

When drained, spread the coins out on a wire rack evenly.  Allow them to air dry for at least 5 hours.   I let mine dry overnight and they were fine.   They will be a little sticky or tacky when they're ready but do be patient.  They need the time to dry.

Put the coins in a mixing bowl and dust with granulated sugar.  The sugar will stick to the coins and allow you to pick one up as a snack. 

The recipe made 8 ounces of Crystalline Ginger out of 12 ounces of root.
It also made 2 1/2 cups of Ginger Simple Syrup.

You will like both. 

It also made my house smell like a bottle of ginger ale.  Trust me, if you have a lingering smell in the house before you start on this, it will give you an air freshener unlike any other.   The house smelled like ginger.  I smelled like ginger.  The dog smelled like ginger. 

It all faded the next morning.  After all, I had to roast coffee.  Now everything smells like coffee.  

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