Candied Ginger Root Nirvana

Have you ever made candied Ginger root?  It is so worth the trouble.  I promise it is just like the sugared ginger root found on the health food aisle for $5.99 in that very small package.  Only, think way cheaper, fresher, better and more of it.

About 1 1/4 lbs. fresh Ginger root

This is a great time of the year to buy Ginger root as you will most likely still find the spring root, which is tender, juicier and has fewer “hairs” in it.  But I make this treat for holiday neighbor gifts, too, in the dead of winter, with wrinkly ginger root.  It is always good, no matter what.  The roots you select will ideally be very firm, with tight, smooth skins, because they will yield more.  This recipe calls for a pound of root, approximately three large “hands.”   I always hope there is extra root just because this recipe makes enough syrup to handle a little bit more.  🙂

The first step is to peel the ginger root.  I use a standard (but very sharp) potato peeler.  I do not have enough time to peel this much ginger root “correctly” with the edge of a teaspoon.  Sorry for whomever came up with that tedious idea!  But a sharp peeler works great and quickly, and the edge will even clean the crevices where little knobs protrude.
Slice the root thinly, then place in a deep sided, stainless saucepan and cover with water.  (Some people prefer smaller, diced chunks) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Do that twice.  Drain and place ginger back in the saucepan.

Ginger root drained after cooking in water 2x

Now to make the syrup part of the recipe.  Add the following right on top of the drained ginger in the saucepan:

3 cups granulated sugar

2 1/2 cups of water

1/4 tsp. of salt

I use Distilled water because we have a well and fairly hard water.  If you have access to soft tap water, just use that.

Allow sugar to dissolve into water over low heat, stirring to evenly distribute it.

Turn heat to medium high and bring syrup to a boil.  Once syrup begins to boil, reduce heat to low or medium-low, and do not stir it again!  Just let it bubble away until candy thermometer reads 225 degrees.  The process takes about 40 minutes on my stove.

 

Ginger slices in finished syrup

Cool ginger in the syrup to room temperature.  Put a lid on it, and allow ginger to soak in the syrup overnight.  Reheat the syrup and ginger in the morning, right before you coat the slices with sugar.  It must be hot to hold on to the granulated sugar! 

IMG_3453

Drain hot syrup using tight mesh colander over large measuring cup or bowl. Save and set aside the strained syrup!  Immediately pour 2-3 cups of granulated sugar in a bowl.  Throw a few slices of hot ginger into the sugar, and toss with a spoon or fork to coat.  Remove sugared slices to cookie cooling rack and repeat until done. 

 

IMG_3454

IMG_3455

IMG_3456-0
Look how much candied ginger this recipe makes!

Place the syrup in a bail wire bottle or canning jar and refrigerate till needed. Ginger syrup is great on ice cream, nice in tea, and a wonderful remedy syrup for sore throats, especially for adults.  You can add a few lemon slices or a little fresh juice to the bottle of syrup, too, if you like.  I often do.   Be aware, this syrup is  a tad hot and spicy, so most small children don’t care for it.

 

IMG_3473
Delicious ginger syrup!

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Solstice Lavender Swoon!

Grosso Lavender

Wishing you all a happy Solstice and first day of summer!  I celebrated the day completely immersed in Lavender harvesting, distillation and garbling the bundles of Lavender I dried last week.

Harvesting different stages of Lavender stems

 These Lavender plants are 5 feet across, and the flowers are in different stages of bloom, depending on how much sun, wind, etc., affect that plant in that area.  So, since some of the areas of each plant are in full bloom, and others have only 3-4 flowers, the stems are purposed differently.

If you watch the bees, and notice which areas of the plants they are active on, it is easy.  They will show you which parts of the Lavender have the most flowers open!  That is another reason I like to cut Lavender with a sickle.  I wave the sickle over the plant just above the flowers before reaching in to grab a handful of stems.  It warns the bees I am coming in to their area, and I talk to them, too, reminding them there is plenty for us to share.  So far, so good. If using the buds dried, i.e., for sachets or in soap, I like to cut the stem when about 3 flowers have opened and the rest remain closed.  The reason for that is that the scent is fully developed, but the buds will hold on to the stems pretty well even while hanging in a bunch.  Once many flowers are open, the buds are great for Lavender Wands, and with all the buds open, it is perfect for distillation.  So though the whole plants look patchy today, there honestly is a reason for my madness.  🙂  I’m not just a bad barber.

Flower end cuttings of Stems for distillation – see all the tiny flowers that are open?

 The stems of fresh Lavender in the bowl were wilted overnight.  I can fit more wilted plants into the biomass sphere for distillation than I can when they are stiff and fresh cut.

First Lavender distillation!


Wow!  I got 3-5x as much Lavender essential oil over the amounts achieved with the other plants I have distilled.  And my kitchen smells like waving Lavender fields.

I cut this Lavender and hung the bundles to dry a few days ago

Hoping it is warm and sunny today in your corner of the world!

Alchemy

Clary Sage blossoms

I just finished my first fresh distillation!  The difference between fresh and dried distillations is like night and day.  Clary Sage was the first plant ready in the herb garden.  It  does not flower until the 2nd year, so I have been waiting for a very long time.  The distillation turned out great, but there were definitely some teaching moments.  Clary Sage is a highly aromatic plant, historically used in perfuming,  love potions, added to cordials or special liquors, and used as a hops substitute in specialty beers.

IMG_3297
Biomass sphere

I learned the hard way to chop this plant outdoors, rather than in my kitchen.  The entire first floor of our home was filled with a cloying, sweet, balsamic scent.  It was a study of too much-ness!  Once I stuffed the biomass sphere with the plant material, the scent became very mild, and almost unnoticeable.

IMG_3217
Clary Sage, at early stage of bloom

Clary Sage has a beautiful presence in the herb garden.  My plants are 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide.  I have heard some plants reach heights of 6 feet!   The flowers first appear as pinkish gray pine cones hanging between the leaves.    Some of the leaves are as big as your hand, and they are aromatic as well.


Steam Distillation equipment heating up

 

Separator

The essential oil and the hydrosol are absolutely wonderful!  The white area in the glass tube above is the essential oil, about 1/3 oz.  It is lighter than water, so it floats at the top.  It is actually a crystal clear oil, but the condenser is cold, so it appears more solid than it will be at room temperature later.  I have two or three more distillations of Clary Sage coming up, and in the end, I should have a little more than an ounce of essential oil and about 5 pints of hydrosol, or flower water.

Hydrosol

Hydrosols are the sweetly aromatic echos of essential plant oil, the life force of the plant.  They can be used instead of plain, distilled water in soaps, creams and lotions, to add scent and healing qualities to the product.   Hydrosol made with healing plants can be used as a wound wash, a healing tub tea, to rinse hair, to hydrate skin, and so much more.  I cannot wait to learn more about it and use it in every way possible.