If you know me at all you know I love ginger. I love fresh ginger, ginger drinks of various sorts, crystalized ginger, ginger candies, most any sort of thing gingery. So, when I found a recipe for ginger brandy, well… you can imagine.
Listen, if you want to try this, you still have time to make a nice batch before the winter
drinking baking season is done. I’m pretty happy with what I made and it couldn’t be easier!
Buy a bottle of decent but not expensive brandy. I’m not talking about great great great grandfather’s bottle from Napoleon himself, I’m talking middle of the road drinkable, OK?
Buy a pound of fresh ginger. Not the wrinkly-skinned sad stuff, I mean the really fresh light tan not too knobbly kind that snaps rather than bends when you try to break it.
Peel the ginger. Scraping with a spoon works well for this – really, not a knife, if it is as fresh as it should be. Cut it into even thin (about 1/8-inch or just under .5 cm) slices. Put the sliced ginger in a clean glass jar that is large enough to accommodate the ginger and the brandy, and that has a nice tight fitting lid.
Pour the brandy over the ginger (but keep the brandy container and screw top). Close the jar tightly and store it in a darkish quiet cool corner. Turn the jar just to move the brandy around a tiny bit (no shaking) every day for 10 days to two weeks.
After about 2 weeks, taste the brandy for strength (yes, you must). It may taste a little “raw” but that’ll smooth out, I promise. If you think it seems right, gently pour the brandy back into the original container (funnel highly recommended!) and cap. Mmmmmm and voila… ginger-infused brandy!
Now, about that leftover ginger. I mean, you know that *nothing* goes to waste here if I can help it, right? And, wow – brandy-infused ginger? Good heavens! I couldn’t help it – I decided to try to candy/crystalize it. Easier than I thought!
I followed pretty exactly what Alton Brown says to do. Here’s his original recipe:
Alton Brown’s Candied Ginger
1 pound fresh ginger root
5 cups water
Approximately 1 pound granulated sugar
Spray a cooling rack with nonstick spray and set it in a half sheet pan lined with parchment.
Peel the ginger root and slice into 1/8-inch thick slices using a mandoline. (this part is already done, right?) Place into a 4-quart saucepan with the water and set over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 35 minutes or until the ginger is tender.
Transfer the ginger to a colander to drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
Weigh the ginger and measure out an equal amount of sugar. Return the ginger and 1/4 cup water to the pan and add the sugar. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar syrup looks dry, has almost evaporated and begins to recrystallize, approximately 20 minutes.
Transfer the ginger immediately to the cooling rack and spread to separate the individual pieces. Once completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
I’m keeping my ginger in the fridge in a zip bag and I think it will keep for a long time. I’ve used it chopped up on oatmeal (mmmmm – goooood morning!) and in macaroons. Happy, happy…
And, as I am not really a brandy drinker and Texas isn’t usually cold enough to warrant “strong waters” I’m thinking that the brandy will also last a loooong time. I plan to use it to drizzle on pound cake or perhaps over ice cream or maybe for a poke cake recipe or something. All I can tell you is that it sure is good (she said modestly)!
Let us know if you try this, OK? And, if the brandy part doesn’t interest you, you can still make the candied ginger – it just won’t have quite the kick (grin). Actually, I’m pretty sure that the 35 minutes of cooking renders that ginger “harmless” but, well, it sure tastes stronger than anything I’ve bought in the store ever… mmmmm!
Safe and happy holidays to one and all, and look for part two of this coming soon, OK? Mmmmm…