Thursday, 12 February 2009
It's time for the ginger harvest: the green shoots are dying back and the rhizomes are pushing up through the soil. Ginger is easy and fun to harvest, it's a simple treasure hunt as the first scraping away of earth reveals the newest and youngest roots and pulling them up reveals larger and older roots below, sometimes one can dig down through 4 layers of ginger. Replanting is simple too: one just snaps off nodules which have a greenish tinged bump, lets them air dry for a day or two then replant so that the bump is only just about below the soil. It's a little like planting potatoes or yams.
I've been making scones and was hankering for the ginger scones my gran used to make. First I needed crystallized or candied ginger. This is the recipe I used. It's a great recipe - not only does it make good, strong ginger candy, it also gives back ginger sugar and ginger syrup.
ginger root, peeled and sliced (the best way to peel ginger is by scraping it with a teaspoon)
sugar - white or brown
Boil the sliced ginger in a pan of water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, saving the liquid. Weigh your boiled ginger and return to the pan with the same weight of sugar. Heat 'til boiling, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has all but evaporated. Now you will have to stir constantly as the liquid disappears and the ginger goes from a syrupy mess to dry in a moment. Keep stirring until you have a pan of dry hard ginger pieces and a pile of sugar. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Keep the ginger pieces in an airtight container. They will last for up to 2 months if kept dry. The sugar can be kept and used in scones or to give a ginger flavour to cereals, tea, wherever you may use sugar. Now back to the syrup. The liquid you first boiled the ginger in should now be returned to the stove and mixed with sugar. The quantity will depend on how much liquid you have, boil the sugar liquid until it thickens stirring now and again. When about 1/3 - 1/2 has evaporated off pour it into a clean bottle and seal. Use this syrup to make ginger teas or for a cough or cold remedy, or to help with digestion.