From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I'm usually careful with my purchases, but ginger root got the better of me and I ended up far more of it than could normally be used. I can't bear waste. My search to avoid the compost pile led to a few interesting alternatives and I decided to make candied ginger and use the syrup in which it steeped for ginger ale. I've made candied ginger in the past, but never saved the syrup for other uses, so this was a bit of an experiment for me. There are three types of simple syrup and each is identified by the ratio of water to sugar in the mix. Thin simple syrup is used to glaze cakes and cookies and has a ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part sugar. Medium simple syrup is used to make beverages and sweeten ice tea and has a ratio 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. Thick simple syrup has a ratio of 1 part water to 1 part sugar and it's used as a base for cold drinks and to glaze candied fruits. I'm not fond of overly sweet drinks, so I decided to go with a medium simple syrup. This process requires a lot of ginger and a bit of straight forward knife work or a mandoline. All told, you'll need 1-1/2 cups of peeled, thinly sliced ginger. Quick work can be made of this if you use the edge of a spoon to scrape the ginger clean. Try to keep the slices of ginger uniform in size for even cooking. A thickness of an eighth to a quarter of an inch is ideal. Time takes care of the rest. I was really pleased with how well the ginger ale turned out. It has a really fresh sharp taste that's missing from its commercial counterpart. I added slices of fresh lime to ours and can happily report this would make a wonderful warm weather beverage. Here are the recipes.
Homemade Ginger Ale and Candied Ginger...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1-1/2 cups ginger, peeled and thinly sliced in 1/8 to 1/4-inch slices
1-1/2 cups sugar, divided use
2 cups water
1 quart club soda
1 lime cut in wedges
Optional garnish: lime slices, mint sprigs
1) To make ginger ale: Combine ginger, 1 cup sugar and water in a saucepan. Simmer slowly for 1 to 2 hours, until sugar is dissolved and ginger is softened. Strain warm syrup and allow to cool. Save the ginger pieces to make crystallized ginger. Fill a tall glass with ice, add mint sprig and lime slices, 2 ounces ginger syrup and 6 ounces of club soda. Squeeze lime wedge into glass. Use more syrup if desired. Stir. Yield: 4 servings.
2) To make candied ginger: Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. Place a cooling rack on top. Place reserved 1/2 cup sugar in bowl. Toss ginger used in step 1 in sugar and dry on rack for 1 to 2 days. Store in airtight container or a zip lock bag for up to 3 months.
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