Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ginger Soda and Ginger Candy: Double Duty Recipe

With this recipe, I can kill two birds with one stone.    The two birds are my children.  One loves ginger ale and the other loves ginger candy.  The stone is this lovely ginger syrup recipe for making ginger soda and candied ginger.  This ginger soda is similar to ginger ale but has a lovely warm heat that creeps up after you have taken a couple of sips.  A ginger syrup is made, poured into a glass with ice, a half a lime is squeezed in and then it is topped with sparkling water or plain soda.   Very refreshing.  One interesting aspect of a homemade ginger soda is the warm, spicy after taste of the ginger which I love.  The candied ginger tastes very much like the store bought variety, except for not as sweet.  I know that sounds a little silly considering that it is candy, but none the less, I stand by my statement.  I think the reason is that my ginger syrup was not as sweet as it could have been and therefore neither was the candy.  I am more into flavor than sweet and too much sweetness seems to take over the flavor sometimes.  In the USA, I think many of our products are overly sweet and the flavor is not as pronounced as it could be.  This is my personal opinion.

Ginger is believed to have many health and medicinal properties and has long been know as a digestive aid.  When I was young, my mother would give me a glass of ginger ale to settle my stomach.  My son uses this remedy today.  Ginger is believed to relieve nausea, have anti-inflammatory properties, reduces the symptoms of colds and other respiratory conditions,  is used as a detox ingredient because it kills harmful microbes and helps remove toxins from the blood, contains vitamin A and C and helps reduce flatulence.   It sounds like the miracle ingredient.  But wait, there's more!  It can work topically as an antibacterial ointment.  Is there any thing this tasty root won't do?  Health-wise that is.  I have even seen homeopathic recommendations for helping cure sexual disorders, but let's not go there!  The most amazing factoid for me is that it takes about a teaspoon of ginger to get the health benefits and most people who use ginger use more.  Nice.  There is tons of information on the health benefits of ginger and there is hard science to back it up. Google it and you will be amazed.

You might be thinking that homemade ginger soda is a health drink but I would not go that far.  But if your son or someone you know just polished off a case of store bought ginger ale, it is a way better solution.  The nutritional qualities are definitely higher and the taste is superior.  It is estimated that a tablespoon of standard simple syrup is 48 calories which is a ratio of 1:1, sugar to water.  My ratio was 1:2 but it was concentrated by about 1/3.  This recipe for sugar syrup is thinner than most and if you like the sweet version go for the 1:1 ratio.  It is up to you.  So have a glass of ginger soda or candied ginger and feel good about it!

This is how this recipe goes.  First, find some nice ginger.  That may not be as easy as it sounds since ginger is imported from warmer climates such as India and China.  If there is not a lot of demand in a market, they can be small and shriveled indicating age. They should always be firm and free of mold.  The ginger needs to be peeled so try to find nice large pieces with fewer branches.  Sometimes they are small with many branches and these produce much smaller pieces and is more time consuming to peel.  Here is my tip for finding the best ginger - Asian markets.  I always see beautiful ginger in Philadelphia's Chinatown along with many other Asian produce and ingredients and the prices can't be beat.  The amount of fresh ginger I bought for $2 one time was amazing.
Very nice ginger!

Peel, slice the ginger about 1/8 inch thick.  Having a sharp knife really helps cut the ginger thin.  Prepare the sugar and water mixture in a large pot and add the sliced ginger. 
Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Drain the syrup into a separate container from the ginger slices.  Coat them with granulated sugar and place on a rack on a sheet pan.  I made the mistake of not putting the ginger on a rack and had to switch them half way during the drying because I realized the liquid needed to continue to drain off and the air needed to circulate around them.
Sugared ginger before drying on a sheet pan.  
Please remember to put them on a rack.

Dried ginger.

Ginger soda made with lime and the homemade syrup.  The lime is 
a nice contrast to the sweet of the ginger syrup.  

 Crystallized ginger or candied ginger. 
Use in favorite recipes or as a delicious snack.

Store candy in airtight jars and will keep forever! Actually about two years is more accurate.  Everything has a shelf life so when the texture changes or the flavor starts to mellow, then it is done.  If you are not going to use all of it give it as gifts in a lovely airtight jar.  What a nice gift for someone who likes to cook, especially ginger cookies or gingerbread.  mmmmmm.

Ginger Syrup
makes about a quart or a bit less than a litre

2 cups (466 g) of ginger, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 cups (389 g) of sugar
4 cups (960 ml) of water

Mix the sugar and water in a large saucepan, add the sliced ginger and bring to a boil.  Simmer until reduced by 1/3.  It should have a thin syrup consistency.  It will thicken more as it cools.  Strain the syrup from the ginger.  Reserve the ginger to make ginger candy or ginger candy.

Ginger Soda
per serving
1 to 2 tablespoons ginger syrup
soda water or sparkling soda
lime cut in half
lime wedges or mint for garnish (optional)

In a 12 to 16 ounce glass filled with ice,  add ginger syrup, add the juice of a half of a lime and top with soda water.  Stir and garnish with lime wedge or mint if you choose.

Ginger Candy
makes about 4 cups or 1 litre

ginger left over from sugar syrup
granulated sugar for dredging the cooked ginger in

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.  Dredge the cooked ginger into granulated sugar and place on a cooking sheet with a baking rack placed on it.  The ginger should "dry" slowly for 3 hours.  The ginger should be chewy but firm.

And because Spring is just beginning to peek around the corner (hello daffodils and lovely little snowdrops) and it seems to be cold season again, here is a recipe for ginger tea to make anyone feel better.

Ginger Tea
makes about 2 cups of tea

2 inch piece of ginger, slice (no need to peel unless you want to)
2 cups of water
Honey and lemon or lime to taste.

Place the sliced ginger in water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes and strain into cups.  Add honey and lemon to taste.

Print Recipe



  1. Very nice recipe. And how smart to use the ginger syrup for a cool drink.


  2. My mouth is watering! I would love to try both! You bought all that ginger for $2.00?! Wow!! That's awesome! :)


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