Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kitchen (Mis-)Adventures Part 1

Once again,  I have many friends who are pregnant, and one of them is suffering from severe morning sickness.  Last year, Steph and I discovered "Preggie Pops" could help her get through the nausea in the am, but they are extremely expensive.  So I set to work researching to find a recipe to make ginger flavored candy to alleviate morning sickness.  Alas, I could not find one, nor could I find a flavoring oil that was ginger flavored.  But  I persevered, and eventually modified a recipe for old-fashioned hard candy.  Which I bring to you today.

When you have completed the following recipe, you will have a batch of hard candy and a batch of candied ginger, as well as a 1/2 cup of ginger sugar, which can be used in other recipes.  I like projects like this. Three for the price of one.  Unless you experience a day like mine today, in which case you get 3 for the price of 3, including two batches that get tossed.  But I digress.....

You will need:
1 lb. fresh ginger (it should snap apart between "thumbs" and not be wrinkly or show any signs of mold)
Approximately 1.5 lb sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
1 fl.oz flavoring oil (I use LorAnn, comes in a 1 dram bottle and you use the whole bottle)
food coloring, your choice; a few drops

Peel and slice your ginger. If it looks all cactus-y and you fear you will never get all the skin off, just break the "thumbs" off to make smaller, easier to peel and slice pieces.  As for slicing, I use my Santoku knife. It is very sharp and allows me to make very thin slices.  If you have a mandolin slicer or a slicing blade on your food processor that makes THIN slices, you can use that, but otherwise, use the knife. You will get better results.  Do not worry about the fibers.  If you are slicing thinly enough, most of the fibers will be either pulled out or chopped.  I usually end up tossing about .5 in of thick ginger root because it is heavily laden with fibers and very woody.

Put your sliced ginger root into a heavy large saucepan with 5 cups water, on medium heat. Cover and let cook 35 minutes, or until the ginger is tender.  When you look at the ginger after this point, you will probably see many fibers loose in the water...these will drain out in the next step. Drain the ginger in a colander or sieve, making sure to reserve 1.25 cups of the ginger water.  Put 1/4 cup of the reserved water back in the saucepan, setting aside the remaining cup. You will use this for the candy.

Measure the boiled and drained ginger on your kitchen scale.  Measure out an equal amount of sugar (probably approximately a pound) and add the sugar and the ginger to the water.  Bring the sugar-ginger mixture to a boil on medium-high heat. This MUST be a rolling boil, where the sugar continues to boil even as you stir the mixture.  Stir frequently, i.e. continuously. Do not let the sugar stand still in the pan or it will burn (turn dark golden brown) and you will be starting all over again.  Once you reach a boil on medium high, lower the temp to medium and continue to stir.  Soon, the syrupy mixture will begin to look dry as the sugars recrystallize.  Remove from the heat and immediately spread the ginger onto wire racks to cool.  Once cool, you will have a pile of ginger sugar underneath your wire racks.

If your sugar is coarse, just toss in the fp and give it a whirl.  Store in airtight containers.  The candied ginger and the ginger sugar can be used in gingersnap and gingerbread cookie recipes. YUM!

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