Candied ginger, also known as crystallized ginger, is fresh ginger that has been cooked in syrup and sprinkled with sugar. This process leaves only a trace of the heat associated with raw ginger and turns the rhizome into a chewy, sweet treat like candy. There are many uses for candied ginger. I enjoy eating it on its own and it is also superb dipped in a bit of dark chocolate. Candied ginger can also be used in a variety of salad dressings and marinades for meats and Indian dishes such as chutneys and curries. It also adds flavor and sweetness to many kinds of baked goods including cakes, cookies, and muffins. Especially good recipes to try with candied ginger include gingersnap cookies, gingerbread, and carrot cake.
Candied ginger can be found in any well-stocked supermarket in the spice section, but it can be rather expensive. Fortunately, it is easy enough to make your own from fresh ginger. Simply peel the rhizome and cut it into slices or cubes. Heat 1 cup water with 1 1/3 cups white sugar in a small saucepan, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. When it is boiling, add about one cup of the ginger pieces, turn the heat down, and let the mixture simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. Drain the ginger and place them on wax paper to let them cool and dry. You can sprinkle sugar on top when they are cool if you like. Store the candied ginger in a sealed glass or plastic container in a cool, dry place and it should be good for months to years.
If a recipe calls for candied ginger and you don’t have time to make your own, simply substitute one tablespoon fresh grated ginger root mixed with white sugar to taste for every 1/4 cup candied ginger. If you’re really in a pinch, 1/2 teaspoon ground dried ginger can also be substituted, but the flavor will not really be comparable and it should be used only as a last resort.