In my recent blog on how to make dried ginger, I nudged readers to see if there was an interest in learning how to make crystalized ginger. I’m happy to say the answer was yes! You also requested a couple of recipes to highlight both ground ginger and crystalized ginger, so I thought I would share a few of my favorites. Since the process of making crystalized ginger involves so few steps, we can cover lots of recipes and my technique for making crystalized ginger pretty easily.
Very fresh ginger is ideal for making crystalized ginger, but it might not be evident to you how to tell if ginger is fresh and tender or not. It also may not even be an option to find young and very fresh ginger, but please don’t worry too much about this too much. I just want to point out that there will be a textural difference between the older fibrous ginger and a younger, more tender piece of ginger.
Let me explain how to tell the fresher ginger from the older ginger: the fresher will have a thinner skin and will be a lighter color than older ginger. I find some of the freshest youngest ginger - and cheaper to boot - at Asian markets. I’m really not sure why these markets tend to have such fresh ginger; it may be that they just go through a lot of it. Don’t worry If you don’t have access to an Asian market or young and tender ginger, I will tell you how to work with more mature ginger as well.
Please note you will likely not find ginger as fresh and young as in this video since I literally just dug it up from the garden, and it wasn’t even fully matured. I doubt you find ginger that is this light in color but I hope it would give some example of my point.
I live in Michigan and tried planting ginger this year for the first time. I know we don’t have a long enough growing season and we had a particularly mild summer this year so I don’t anticipate much yield. I plan to take some of my plants inside for the winter, fingers crossed it yields some bigger ginger than what you can see here.
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: approximately 1 pound
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 to 60 minutes
Active Time: 60 to 90 minutes
Approximately 1 pound of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced about a 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick.
Approximately 1 pound of sugar
4 to 6 cups of water
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar for coating ginger after it is cooked
Older ginger can be fibrous, tough and hard to slice through. You can actually hear the fibers as you are cutting through them when it is tough. But don’t worry if your ginger is tough, you can simply slice it thinner and that will compensate for the fibrousness. If you like to eat the crystalized ginger on its own, then slicing thinner will make it more tender to chew, but if you are ultimately just mincing it up and using it for cooking, it really doesn’t matter. I intend to use all the crystallized ginger I am making today for cooking so I left it thick.
Hopefully you can hear and see the difference between cutting the fresh ginger I just dug up and the older ginger in the video.
1. Cover the ginger in 4 cups of water and bring it to a low boil. Cook until it is tender enough to insert a fork without too much force. Cook for about 20 minutes if you sliced the ginger 1/8-inch thick and 40 to 45 minutes if you sliced it 1/4-inch thick. It won’t be tender like a potato when you boil it because even young ginger is fibrous.
Note: If you have cut the ginger 1/4-inch thick, you will likely need to add the additional 2 cups of water.
2. Once the ginger is tender, drain and weigh the ginger. Add an equal amount of sugar to the weight of the ginger and put the sugar and ginger back in the sauce pan you cooked the ginger in, discarding all the water but 1 cup. Cook the ginger, sugar and 1 cup of water, stirring regularly until the ginger crystalizes. The last 5 to 10 minutes you will need to stir the ginger constantly.
3. Pour the ginger out on to a sheet pan and let cool completely. Remove any excess sugar and save that for tea or baking. Let the crystalized ginger cool completely and toss in granulated sugar.
4. Put the ginger in an airtight container, such as a glass jar.
I love to use crystalized ginger in baking, because it adds intensity and appealing bits of chewy ginger throughout your dish. You couldn’t simply chop ginger larger and get these chewy pops of ginger without crystalizing it first since the ginger would be too tough and bitter. I like to use crystalized ginger in both sweet and savory dishes, so I wanted to give you recipes that feature both.
Ginger Infused Bourbon or other Spirits
Yield: 1 quart
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Mature Time: 1 week
Active Time: 5 minutes
1 fifth Bourbon, whiskey or other spirit
2 cups crystalized ginger
- Simply add the crystalized ginger to the bourbon and let sit for a week before using.
- The ginger can be strained or just left in the jar. All its flavor has infused into the spirit so it is left without much flavor in the end, so the ginger can be discarded.
- Think Ginger Manhattans or Old Fashioneds!
I love to make my own applesauce, and I find this recipe easier than most since I don’t peel the apples! I also don’t add sugar, and I know no one is the wiser.
Yield: 8 pints
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Active Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
5 pounds of Honey Crisp apples or any apple you prefer, washed and diced in 1-inch cubes
4 cups apple cider
1 Tablespoon cinnamon, you can use more if you prefer
1/4 cup crystalized ginger, minced finely
1 teaspoon salt
- Wash and sterilize 8-pint jars. Place in a 200-degree oven until applesauce is ready.
- Put apples, cider and cinnamon in heavy gauge 8-quart stock pot. Simmer 45 minutes, stirring regularly until applesauce thickens.
- Stir in salt and crystalized ginger.
- Pour applesauce into prepared jars. Let set at room temperature until you hear the jars pop, then you know they are sealed and ready to refrigerate. If you don’t have enough room in your refrigerator to keep all this applesauce, you should water bath can the jars for 10 minutes and then they will be shelf stable for 6 months.
- See The Chopping Block's guide to canning for more information on how to water bath can.
Yield: 3 dozen
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 to 12 minutes
Active Time: 35 minutes
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup crystalized ginger, minced
Sugar for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream butter and brown sugar together with a hand mixer.
- Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves and salt.
- Mix dry ingredients into creamed butter and sugar. Lastly, mix in the crystalized ginger.
- Scoop 1 tablespoon size portions of dough on parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheets. Refrigerate until dough is chilled, approximately 30 minutes. If you don’t have room in your refrigerator to do this you will need to chill the dough in the bowl, which will take more like 2 hours.
- Dip the bottom of a water glass into the sugar and press each cookie down to approximately ¼ inch thick. Just for the first cookie, rub a tiny bit of water on the bottom of the glass so the sugar sticks to the glass. Repeat flattening and topping each cookie with sugar.
- Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes. You want this nice and crispy so it will likely be close to 12 minutes but it depends on your oven.
- Cool and store in an airtight container.
Yield: 5 cups
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Active Time: 45 minutes
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 small green pepper, minced
1 small red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 hot pepper minced; jalapeno will give you a mild chutney. I like to use a habanero chili for a kick
1 tablespoon garam masala
4 cups of fruit, combinations of apples, pears, plums, apricots, peaches or any seasonal fruit. You can use some dried fruit as well.
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons crystalized ginger, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
Salt to taste
- Sauté green pepper, onion, garlic, hot pepper and garam masala, cooking until vegetables are tender.
- Add remaining ingredients and cook until fruit is tender and liquid has reduced to about half, approximately 20 minutes.
- Serve cold with cheese as a condiment or warm it and serve with grilled or roasted pork, lamb or poultry.
We use crystallized ginger in our classic Pumpkin Pie that we sell at Thanksgiving. We're accepting orders for those pies as well as our famous Apple Pie now. Quantities will be limited this year, so place your order now!