It’s snowing again, a driving powdery snow that has already accumulated to 2-3 inches. Inside the fire roars, Shubert delights, as does the smell of ginger.
I was surprised by how cheap this fresh ginger root was ($1.99 a pound), but then when I started peeling and cutting it, it all made sense. This ginger was harvested too late (thick skin, very fibrous) and not fresh (not firm, yellow and juicy enough). That’ll show me to shop at any old grocery store along the way. Also, I am now more determined to try growing my own ginger.
So I dropped my plans to make ginger tincture, for which I want to use only the best root. I just made a big batch of candied ginger, some strong ginger tea (a by-product of the latter), more ginger bug, and a ginger body scrub (from the peels).
Peel the ginger if necessary, otherwise wash the roots thoroughly. Slice them to your preference, but not sliver thin. Put in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 -40 minutes. It is ready when the ginger is no longer raw and a little translucent – this is again to your preference.
Drain the ginger, capturing the ginger tea – which will need some diluting if it is to be had as tea.
Weigh the ginger and put it, along with an equal amount in weight of sugar, into the pot. Add 1/4 cup of the ginger tea, and bring to a boil on high heat. Simmer on medium high, stirring frequently, more frequently as the sugar syrup gets thicker, so as not to scorch it.
After about 20 minutes the sugar will become dry and crystallize. This effect is unmistakable and comes on very quickly, so stir, stir and be ready to lift that pan off the heat and scoop the mass of crystallized sugar and ginger onto waxed paper. There break it up – it cools very quickly – and let dry.
Amie finds the ginger too spicy but enjoys the sugar (which is still quite potent). I am planning to carry this around with me when I go for drives, to combat my motion sickness. I don’t know how well it will work, since it’s been boiled for so long, but it will have to do until my first batch of ginger tincture is ready.
Ginger Body Scrub
I was left with a lot of ginger peels. I rinsed these in cold water, then boiled them for 25 minutes to make a ginger peel tea. I wouldn’t drink it, as I hadn’t scrubbed the peel before removing it from the root. But I will use it as an invigorating and warming body scrub for sore muscles after coming in from hours of shoveling snow.
You can use this as a facial rinse, against acne, for instance, but beware when you have sensitive skin: it can warm the skin too much and cause burning – again depending on how strong the rinse is.
Ginger is a powerful antimicrobial, which is why it is used medicinally for colds and flues, along with garlic, and as a cleanser in cases of acne or cuts. As the main ingredient in ginger soda it not only imparts its flavor, but also its food-preserving qualities. Normally, when fermenting foods, salt is used to keep the bad bacteria at bay, so the good yeasts can do their work, while the food doesn’t spoil. In soda, thank goodness, no salt is used. It is the ginger that acts as the antimicrobial.