Ginger root is a highly versatile food that has been in use for centuries. You probably have some form of ginger in your kitchen right now, whether it by crystallized, pickled, powdered or dried.
In this particular article I want to focus on facts about crystallized ginger as it is probably the most common form of what we think ginger to be today.
What is it?
Crystallized ginger is a soft, sweet form of ginger that has the taste and appearance of confectionery and it can be both added to recipes or eaten raw in the natural state.
The reason it is called crystallized ginger is because it is coated in sugar which resembles crystals to the naked eye.
How is it made?
It is made from the root of a ginger plant which is actually better known as a rhizome rather than a root. A rhizome is a form of underground stem which spreads from the host plant and establishes growth in other areas.
After the root is harvested in the fall it is peeled and the contents are then diced and boiled. Once the ginger root is in the pot a syrup made from water and granulated sugar is added to the mix also.
After the syrup has totally encapsulated the flesh it is removed from the pot, rolled in sugar and allowed to dry. Now you have crystallized ginger!
Applications in food
I prefer to eat crystallized ginger in the natural state because I enjoy it by itself and do not wish to mix it with anything else.However, don't let me fool you into thinking that this is not one versatile substance, because it definitely is!
As you might have guessed, it can be incorporated into a huge number of desserts and any other dish where a sweet taste is needed to compliment a spicy one.If you enjoy eating at Asian restaurants or eating asian inspired dishes at home then you will know what I mean in this regard.
Crystallized ginger has other uses apart from being edible. It is great for women during pregnancy who are experiencing morning sickness and it is also been found to be effective in eliminating other types of nausea related illness such as air sickness.
How does it store?
One of the facts about crystallized ginger that I love is that you can store it for up to 1 year, which is a longer than a lot of the supposed long-life confectionery products that you would buy from a supermarket last.
As long as you keep the ginger in an air-tight container away from moisture and sunlight you should be able to enjoy a snack any time you want for up to 12 months.
Don't want to make it yourself?
You don't need to make it yourself of course. You can find crystallized ginger in a number of health stores, Asian grocers and normal supermarkets.
I find that the best stuff is in Asian grocers. Sometimes the ginger you buy in a supermarket is poor quality, and you can tell that it is by the fact that the individual cubes are stuck together and that the sugar is sitting in the bottom of the bag having fallen off the ginger pieces a long time ago.