Question: I have a lot of fresh ginger and want to preserve it. Can you tell me how to make crystallized ginger?
Answer: Helen Witty gives the following information and instructions for making crystallized ginger in her book "Fancy Pantry" (Workman Publishing: 1986, $11.95).
"For candying try to get the tender young ginger, called 'stem ginger,' which comes to Asian markets around July. It is much juicier and milder than the mature rhizomes; it can be identified by its white, smooth, translucent skin and the pink stubs of leaf sheaths left when the above-ground stems were trimmed away. Mature ginger can be satisfactory when candied, too, but it is much more fibrous and several times as fiery as stem ginger. In shopping for mature ginger, look for silky-skinned, unwithered rhizomes.
"The two kinds of ginger require different treatment, as outlined in the following recipe. Older ginger must be repeatedly blanched before it is crystallized."
1 pound ginger root
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Preparing stem ginger: Break rhizomes apart at joints and scrape off thin skin, using small sharp knife. Trim off leafy stem bases and any bruised or discolored ends. Slice sections slightly on bias into pieces about 1/4 inch thick.
Place ginger in large saucepan, add cold water to cover pieces by 2 inches and bring to boil over medium heat. Lower heat, cover pot and simmer 2 1/2 hours. If liquid level drops below ginger at any point, add boiling water. Drain ginger, add fresh water to cover and simmer another hour or until slices are very tender. Drain ginger.
Preparing mature ginger: Scrape, trim and slice rhizomes as described for stem ginger. Place slices in bowl, add cold water to cover pieces by 2 inches and let stand overnight. Drain ginger and place slices in large saucepan. Add water to cover pieces by 1 inch and bring to boil over medium heat. Lower heat, cover pan and simmer ginger 10 minutes. Drain ginger, cover with fresh water and repeat simmering and draining at least 3 times. After 4th simmering, taste ginger scrap for hotness. If flavor is still too strong, change water and repeat simmering once or twice more.
Continue cooking ginger in final water until pieces are very tender, 2 to 3 hours, adding boiling water as necessary to keep ginger covered with liquid. Drain ginger.
Combine 3 cups sugar, 3 cups water and corn syrup in large saucepan. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat and boil 2 minutes. Add ginger slices. Heat syrup again to boiling, shaking pan often, and boil hard 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and let stand until ginger and syrup are completely cool, or as long as overnight.
Return pan to heat and again bring syrup to boil. Adjust heat and simmer ginger, covered, until pieces are translucent and very tender, 1 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. If syrup becomes too thick before ginger is translucent, add small amount of hot water to restore consistency.
Finally, cook ginger, uncovered, shaking pan often, until syrup is reduced to 1 to 2 spoonfuls. Remove pan from heat and let stand several minutes. Using fork, transfer ginger pieces to wire rack and allow to dry at room temperature 1 to 2 hours. When no longer sticky, roll pieces in granulated sugar to coat well. Store ginger in covered container at room temperature.