Post updated with instructions on how to make Stem Ginger in the Instant Pot! Scroll down to the recipe for the how to.
Oh this is a good one. And more simple than you might imagine. A few Saturdays ago, it was a sunny afternoon and me and Hungry Hubby had returned home with our shopping and a handful of freebie magazines I’d collected as we shopped. One happened to be the Tesco magazine. For the non-UK readers, it’s a freebie mag you pick up at the checkouts of Tesco and you’d be surprised at how often there is a gem of a recipe in there, just like this one. And the recipe in question is for how to make your own Stem Ginger.
This really could not get easier and if you feel nervous about preserving or making jam, this would be an excellent introduction. You simply boil some peeled ginger until tender then add sugar and cook until a syrup forms around it. Crikey, I barely need to write up a recipe for it but I will elaborate just a smidge more here.
Depending on where you are in the world, you may know stem ginger as candied, glacé or even Chinese ginger (although a Chinese friend of mine has never seen it sold under that guise in China itself). Crystallised ginger is a different animal but only slightly so, as you cook the ginger and allow the sugar to crystallise around it, rather than adding water to make a syrup.
One of the things I love about this recipe is you could make a single jar’s worth or a vat full of the stuff, as long as you know the weight of you peeled ginger and have the equivalent amount of sugar, you are good to go. I think it would be a magnificent idea to make a big batch that you good bottle up and give away as gifts – especially around Christmas time.
You could even use more water and sugar and bottle up the syrup separately to the ginger to use on ice creams, to ripple into mascarpone and sandwich sponge cakes with, to dribble onto your breakfast yogurt, to perhaps add to soda water with a twist of lime. Let your imagination run riot.
Just look at that colour. I had a couple of stem ginger nuggets remaining from a store-bought jar (which may interest you to know cost more than three times the amount of this homespun version) and I compared and contrasted. The store-bought looked pale and the syrup runny and almost colourless. I suspect they cook the ginger then pour over a ton of simple sugar (sugar and water) rather than simmering the two together to get as much ginger flavour as possible into the syrup.
Also, the fragrance, not to mention the flavour of the homemade stem ginger was oh so more potent. I picked up a large piece of fresh ginger root and used it the same day so its skin was moist and the flesh tender. Those who love ginger as I do will surely love its fiery heat as much as the palate cleansing, well-being inducing juicy flavour. Making this yourself is not only cheaper than buying a jar, it is worlds apart in the flavour stakes.
Once you have your stem ginger and you have finished clapping your hands with joy, you need to know what to do with it. A quick typing of “ginger” into the search box on this blog will show you just how much of a ginger nut I am. Us Brits love the stuff and if you have never tried it, I implore you to take a leap of faith and make some for yourself. Chop it and add to ginger biscuits or cookies, mix into and top a steamed stem ginger pudding, maybe make an Anglo-Australian take on a lamington with some.
Add it to some scones (like my hot cross ones), maybe make a version of my vanilla yogurt cake and add some ground ginger to the cakes and stem ginger to a buttercream filling with some lemon curd. I might just do that this week! This recipe from the BBC for Triple Spiced Ginger Cake is ace too and my family love it. I add plenty of extra stem ginger to mine, in fact, I purée it with the milk when I make this cake. Serve it warm with a large jug of custard on the side mmm.
- Fresh ginger root
- An equivalent amount of caster sugar
- Sterilised glass jars and lids
Peel your ginger and weigh it – I used a piece which weighed 175g. Measure out the equivalent weight in caster sugar and put to one side.
Slice your ginger into evenly sliced coins – not quite a centimetre thick is about right.
Put your ginger in a pan only just large enough to accommodate it and cover by half an inch with cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer, partially covered for an hour until tender – depending on how supple your ginger was to begin with, this may take longer. Just test it with the point of a knife as you would for potatoes. Top up with water if it bubbles away before the ginger is cooked.
Once cooked and tender, and the water has reduced down to barely cover the ginger add in your sugar and return to the heat, stirring to help dissolve.
Bring to the boil then reduce the heat so it is gently bubbling until the water and sugar forms a syrup similar in texture to runny honey.
Spoon into a sterilised* jar and seal immediately. If not using immediately it should keep in a cool dark cupboard for a very long time. Once open, store in the fridge and try to keep the ginger chunks covered in syrup.
For Instant Pot users, proceed as per the recipe but cook the peeled and sliced coins of ginger in the IP, with just enough cold water to cover the pieces. Set the IP to Manual High for 40 minutes and then give a QPR or NPR as preferred.
Now, pour off about a third of the water that the ginger has cooked in and return the Inner Pot to the base and add the sugar (remembering you need an equal weight of sugar to ginger).
Cook on Sauté (adjusted to High) for approximately 10 minutes until the syrup has reduced and thickened - it will become almost jammy and you do need to stir frequently so that it does not catch. Seal in sterilised jars as per above.
*= To “sterilise” your jars you can either put them through the hot wash in your dishwasher or you can wash in hot soapy water and rinse throughly before putting in a low oven until dry. Use the jars whilst the preserves and the jars are still hot and seal immediately. I reuse store bought jar jams or buy ones for the purpose of home-preserving which will withstand the temperatures required to sterilise them.
Regarding the Instant Pot method: Yes it still takes a long time but it's hands free, you don't need to baby sit the pot on the stove and actually, I have used ginger with thicker skin that is obviously not that fresh from the supermarket (which was Aldi for this test) and the IP cooks it beautifully. So if you have been struggling with getting the ginger soft enough as you can't find it particularly young and thin-skinned, then know that the pressure cooker method really does work wonders.
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