Ok level with me. Am I weird for sitting around brainstorming how to make my baked goods better? Oh you do that too? I thought so 😀 .
Well I have come to believe that candied ginger can take anything to the next level. Banana bread, blondies, cookies; you name it, and candied ginger should be considered! Plus I feel like candied ginger makes everything seem more expensive. Plain blondies versus blondies with candied ginger…which treat are you going after on the potluck table?
But you want to know what makes candied ginger super special? Repeat after me: Zingerone. Zing-er-one. Zingerone is the name of a compound in cooked ginger. It’s what makes that tingly sensation on your tongue. I’m going to go full-on geek right now and give you the technical name! Chemesthesis. I swear that’s the last big word! Chemesthesis is that feeling you get when you eat a chili pepper or swish with mouth wash.
You have receptors all over your body that are responsible for detecting pain, temperature, and touch. Zingerone is one of the compounds that sets off those sensations. And if you love minty gum or spice, you know that chemesthetic sensations can add another fantastic layer in your food. So of course feel free to sprinkle candied ginger in everything! It’s pretty special.
Looking for more ginger talk?! Check out this week’s Spilled Milk podcast where it’s all ginger. (You should check it out anyway because Molly Wizenberg is legendary)
This recipe is rather simple, so get to it! I’ve also linked to some of my favorite uses of candied ginger below the candied ginger recipe. Yay for ginger!
Adapted from Alton Brown
Makes about 2 cups
180 grams ginger root (start with a larger root than you think you’ll need—I started with a ½ pound root)
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1. Peel your ginger root using a spoon to scrape the outside of the root off. You can use a small paring knife, but it’s not necessary. A spoon will also help you keep some of those smaller knobs on the root! Thinly slice the peeled ginger and cut the ginger into pieces that are about the size of your fingertip. Try to keep the ginger pieces around the same size. Re-measure the ginger and adjust the amount of sugar in the future steps if your end up with more or less than 180 grams of ginger.
2. Put the ginger pieces in a medium saucepan and pour water over them to just cover. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Heat until the ginger pieces are tender—about 15 minutes.
3. Strain the ginger over a bowl and retain 3 tablespoons of the water. Return the ginger to the saucepan along with the sugar and the 3 tablespoons of water. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to mix the ingredients together. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently to keep the mixture from burning until the sugar begins to crystallize and the water evaporates—about 15-20 minutes.
4. When the sugar has crystallized, immediately pour the candied ginger out onto a parchment-covered sheet pan. Let cool completely, and store in a tightly sealed container for up to a month.