There was a time when ginger was an ingredient only found in Asian dishes, but the root has become a common ingredient in everyday cooking, adding a bright tang to everything from salad dressing to sauces. But it has also found a place on the sweet table in the form of candied or crystallized ginger. And although this may appear to be a specialized treat (the price tags at the store sure say that), it's pretty simple to make yourself.
Serve on its own, in desserts and cocktails, or as a sugary pop in savory dishes. Candied ginger can take a simple dish and make it special. Baked pineapple chicken with candied ginger, for example, combines the fruit with candied ginger and green onions to flavor juicy baked bird. For these baked Island barbecued chicken leg quarters, ground and candied ginger are added to the sauce to enhance the tropical flavor. Use the candied ginger as a garnish for exotic drinks such as a Sweet Heat cocktail and Moscato ginger iced tea. And we can't forget desserts, of course; add candied ginger to a simple-flavored ice cream, sprinkle on top of a fruit crumble, or use as a garnish for a chocolate cake.
- 1 pound fresh ginger root
- Granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- Peel and thinly slice the ginger root.
- Place the sliced ginger in a heavy saucepan and cover with water.
- Cook gently until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain off the water.
- Weigh the cooked ginger and measure an equal amount of sugar.
- Add sugar, cooked ginger, and the 3 tablespoons of water to saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, stirring often, and cook until ginger is transparent and the liquid has almost evaporated.
- Reduce the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until almost dry. Toss cooled ginger in more sugar to coat.
- Store crystallized ginger in an airtight jar for up to 3 months.
Health Benefits of Ginger
For years ginger has been used to treat several types of ailments as an alternative form of medicine. It is an incredibly healthy spice, offering 11 proven health benefits. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, can help relieve nausea and aid in digestion, may reduce muscle pain and soreness, and can reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Ginger has shown to significantly reduce menstrual pain, and in patients with type 2 diabetes, ginger has lowered blood sugar levels and improved heart disease risk factors. This root may also lower cholesterol levels, have a positive effect on brain function (possibly warding off Alzheimer's disease), and may help fight infections such as the RSV virus and gingivitis and periodontitis. Studies have begun to research ginger's ability to prevent certain types of cancers.