A trifecta of ginger deliciousness! Actually, the candied ginger is a byproduct of the ginger syrup (or is ginger syrup the byproduct of candied ginger??): you can’t create one without the other. I had a bit of a hankering for homemade ginger ale, because it’s so much spicier than store bought and I felt like something a little tingly. Oh, but I can think of so many other ways to use ginger syrup…on pancakes, in cocktails, in ice cream…and, of course, candied ginger is good in lots of baked goods (scones? cookies? muffins?) and as a sweet nibble.
Slice your ginger into very, very thin disks if you want a more chewy candied ginger. Because I was looking for a more al dente candied ginger, like the kind you find packaged in grocery stores, I chopped my ginger into small-ish (about 1/2-inch) squares. Just note that it will take quite a bit longer to soften ginger cut into chunks than ginger sliced into thin disks. If you can find young ginger, which has a much thinner skin and is often a bit pink in color, definitely use it instead of regular (read: old) ginger. Older ginger, like the kind I used, tends to be more fibrous, so you won’t have the creamier interior consistency that you will get if you can get your hands on young ginger.
For the Candied Ginger and Ginger Syrup:
1/2 pound ginger (8 oz.), about 2 large knobs, peeled
2 cups granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup extra for coating the ginger pieces
2 cups water
For the Ginger Ale:
Seltzer or sparkling water
Ginger syrup (recipe above)
Lime slices (optional)
- Slice or chop the ginger (as discussed above).
- In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and the water over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Add the ginger pieces.
- Simmer over medium heat for 1 hour if you’ve sliced your ginger very thin, and at least twice that if you’ve cut your ginger into larger chunks. (Check on them occasionally to make sure they aren’t drying out and that the water isn’t evaporating too quickly.)
- Meanwhile, line a small sheet pan with wax or parchment paper, or with tinfoil. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup sugar on the lined sheet pan.
- When the ginger is done (it will be soft), remove with a slotted spoon to the prepared sheet pan. Toss the ginger pieces in the sugar and spread them out. Let dry for several hours, or overnight. Let the ginger syrup cool, then refrigerate. If you want a thicker ginger syrup, continue to cook over medium-low heat until it reaches the consistency you want.
- To make homemade ginger ale: add 3-4 generous tablespoons (or more, to taste) of ginger syrup to a large pint glass. Top with seltzer or other sparkling water. (I also like to add a bit of lime. Uh, and a bit of rum.) Garnish with candied ginger, if desired.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups ginger syrup and approximately a cup of candied ginger.