I remember one year before my Christmas baking, I just had it in my head that I had to have Crystallized Candied Ginger for a cake I was baking. That was back in the ’90s and it had become kind of a trendy ingredient, except where I lived! I couldn’t find it. Now it’s available in many stores or online, but Homemade Crystallized Candied Ginger is super easy to make at home; it just takes a bit of ginger, a bit of sugar and a bit of time.
Besides, Homemade Crystallized Candied Ginger is pretty amazing; it’s like ginger to the nth power. It’s so much better than anything you can buy and bonus! It’s a fraction of the cost. And it will make your house smell amazing as you make it!
About Homemade Crystallized Candied Ginger:
Your homemade ginger is so much fresher, so much more intense and if you like ginger and that ginger “heat” you’re going to love this recipe. Now it takes a little time but is pretty low effort, so it’s such a do-able thing.
When you make your homemade Candied Ginger, you really end up with more than the ginger. The ginger is cooked twice, once in water, most of which is removed, and once in sugar, which leaves behind a little syrup. Then when the ginger is removed from the syrup, it leaves behind some intensely flavored sugar crystals. If you do what I do and toss your cooked, crystallized ginger onto more sugar to dry, it flavors that sugar as well. (And any little errant drops of syrup that hit that sugar form little drops or strings of candy, too. Not much but they’re a fun cook’s treat.)
So you end up with your fabulous Crystallized Candied Ginger, some flavored ginger water, residual ginger flavored syrup, residual crystals as well as the ginger-flavored sugar you’ll get if you toss your candied ginger in sugar, and all can be used.
What to do with Homemade Crystallized Candied Ginger:
The ginger can be eaten as candy and has some merit medicinally. Among other things, it can help with flu & cold symptoms, tame heartburn and settle a queasy tummy. Medicinal uses are really beyond the scope of my site (but hey, any excuse to nibble this candy) but you can read more on Healthline (and all over the place if you do a search.)
I’m more psyched about the culinary uses of Ginger Candy:
- First off, it can be put in pretty jars and gifted, maybe with some of the suggested uses.
- For a real treat, dip the candied ginger in dark chocolate; it’s divine. Serve it with coffee.
- Add it into any appropriate ginger-based baked goods, gingerbread or molasses cookies, gingersnaps, gingerbread cake, scones and so on. It’s so next level!
- Pair it with peaches or pears; both have a special affinity for ginger.
- You might want to try it in (or on) homemade (or storebought) ice-cream. When you make your own, imagine the possibilities! How about Ginger, Pear & Mascarpone Ice-Cream?
And of course, the possibilities are nearly endless. I’d love to hear how you use your candied ginger!
What to do with the Sugar from Homemade Crystallized Candied Ginger:
So beyond the candy, you’ll have all the ginger “by products.” Anytime you get into the realm of using items like this, there’s always going to be a few judgment calls. The sugar’s a no brainer if you want to use it straight up.
- Sprinkle the sugar over baked goods before baking in any recipe that calls to sprinkle with sugar; try it on shortbreads, scones, etc.
- Replace the sugar all or in part with your ginger-flavored sugar in baked goods where the ginger flavor will work well.
- Sprinkle the sugar over fresh fruit or used in fruit salads.
- Go savory and use it in things like sticky ribs, chicken wings, barbecue sauce or other recipes (think American barbecue or Asian recipes for starters) that use both ginger and sugar.
- Add it to the Ginger Syrup, below.
What to do with the Ginger Water or any Ginger Syrup:
The water is just ginger-flavored water. You can make ice (or hot) tea with it, use it for something like my Lemon Ginger Barley Water or Oatmeal Water, drink as is, or reduce it down for a more intense flavor and use it with the syrup.
The bit of intensely flavored ginger syrup has more possibilities. Add your reduced ginger water to it as well as the sugars if you’d like. Boil it down until it’s to your liking. When you get to about half water and half sugar in a mixture (and there will be guesswork), you’ll have a “simple syrup” that can be used anywhere you’d like to use a ginger-flavored simple syrup.
- Add to your tea.
- Add a sparking water or club soda to a little of your syrup for homemade Ginger ale.
- Add to alcohol; rum or vodka might work well. Serve over ice. Top off with club soda if you’d like.
- Add to your beer for homemade ginger beer.
- Make Moscow mules.
Maybe you have other ideas! Please share with us. 🙂
Picking & Preparing the Ginger:
Check your ginger carefully. While size isn’t a huge consideration look for fresh ginger; it shouldn’t be dried out and/or wrinkly and the color should be light. Smaller baby gingers are more tedious to peel but are tender and a little milder and may not need to cook as long, The ginger does shrink as it cooks, so don’t go too small. Larger ginger can be just a bit tougher and is probably best-cut on the thinner side and might take a little longer to get tender. I normally freeze my ginger to keep it fresh and am happy to report that frozen ginger works well in this recipe.
Usually, between a half a pound to a pound of ginger (eight to 16 ounces) is an easy amount to handle. Most stores have a scale so you can weigh your ginger and you don’t have to buy a whole “hand.” Carefully so as not to spoil the rest, break off an amount from a hand if needed to get you to the weight you need. Use an equal amount, by weight if you have a scale, of sugar. A cup of sugar weighs about 7 ounces so add a just a little more if you’re measuring by the cup.
When you peel your ginger, try scraping it with the side of a spoon. It makes it much easier. For cutting if you have a mandoline, it works beautifully. A food processor may work but it might be difficult to get totally even slices. And of course, you can hand slice. Keep in mind the thinner the slices, the quicker it cooks. Aim for 1/8th inch up to 1/4″ inch and be consistent.
Cooking Homemade Crystallized Candied Ginger:
There are a lot of ways to candy ginger, and this is one of the easiest I’ve found and I love that no thermometer is needed. I’ve adapted the instructions from Alton Brown; I just love what he does, and I paid close attention to the comments and included many of them here. The ginger is cooked twice; once in water to tenderize it and once to crystallize it.
I love this ginger, too, and it’s potent. It is worth noting that if you’d like mild ginger candy, it can be cooked once in the water, the water drained and then refilled, the ginger brought to a boil again and cooked a second time befor moving onto the crystallizing phase. That will leach away some of the “bite.”
Once the ginger is tender, drain it (reserve that water) and add the ginger, 1/4 cup of the reserved water and sugar back into the pan. Bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly to help promote the crystallization. Once it starts to foam and a few crystals form on the side of the pan, it goes quickly. Make sure you have your prepared rack by spraying with cooking spray or have a sheet pan lined with parchment (or like I do, a sheet pan lined with sugar) ready before you start cooking. If your sugar caramelizes (turns dark) rather than crystallizes, add a little more water, turn down the heat, stir constantly, and it crystals should form.
As the ginger dries, it goes from glossy to sugary. Alton describes the finished product (his was cut very thinly) as “Corn flakes.” Mine was cut just a bit more thickly like I’ve seen commercial candied ginger sold.
The ginger, once dried, is good to go, but I like to add one final step to the recipe and toss my ginger into sugar after it comes out of the syrup; it helps make it less sticky and ready to use and/or store faster. It can also be placed in a very low oven, about 200 degrees, on a rack for two or three hours.
Dried candied ginger can be kept for weeks as long as it’s thoroughly dry. Place it in an airtight container or jar rather than a Ziploc; Ziplocs tend to hold moisture.
Saving Money on Homemade Crystallized Candied Ginger:
Ginger rarely goes on sale; if you’re looking for a great price you may find one at the farmer’s market. For the best pricing and probably the freshest ginger, check at an Asian grocery store. To give you an idea of the pricing, candied ginger at the store or online can run close to $9.99 for two or three ounces.Print
Homemade Crystallized Candied Ginger
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: varies
- Category: Desserts
- Cuisine: English
- 8 ounces to 1 pound of ginger, peeled and sliced thinly, 1/8 to 1/4″
- Water to cover by about an inch
- Sugar, an equal amount by weight to the uncooked ginger
Add ginger and water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 35 minutes. The slices will be a deeper shade of yellow and have a more rubbery consistency. If your ginger is tougher, this step could take much longer. Keep adding water as necessary. When tender, drain and reserve ¼ cup cooking liquid. (Reserve the rest of the drained water if you wish to use it later.)
Return the ginger to the pot along with the 1/4 cup of 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 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer the ginger immediately to a cooling rack or parchment-lined sheet pan. Spread in an even layer until cool enough to touch. Reserve excess syrup or sugar for another use.
Store the candied ginger in an airtight container for up to several weeks. See the accompanying post for more information.
Keywords: Alton Brown, Candy, Desserts, Ginger