It came as a great shock and surprise
to learn that not everyone LOVES the fiery, earthy taste of ginger, let alone in highly concentrated, distilled, form. If that's you, I can't say I understand . . . but I guess we can still be friends.
I invited my new friends, Ember and Ash (coolest sibling names ever!), who traveled more than 200 miles to photograph with me yesterday, to sample my latest batch. Personally, I can't get enough of the sticky, syrupy stuff and the soft, bite-sized chunks. I peeled a pound and a half of ginger and simmered it with lavender for hours over a low flame on Sunday to achieve even this small batch. Next time I'll be sure to double the batch or use smaller jars to make myself feel more accomplished.
Ember was first to try. She sampled no more than a tiny droplet of the syrup on her tongue (trust me, the picture of her with a whole chunk is just for show). Her first reaction was to close her eyes -- which I assumed could be nothing but pure euphoria -- then screamed and ran to stick her tongue under the kitchen sink.
Meanwhile, chatting with mom, we both agreed the best mid-day snack is Triscuits and cheese. When I said I was looking forward to horseradish cheddar and crackers later in the day, the look on her face confirmed what I hadn't really considered before : my proclivity for spicy, pungent foods might be a bit unique. I have a thing for burn-through-your-nose-dijon-roquefort-wasabi stuff. Not so much sear-your-tongue-ghost-pepper hot, more allyl isothiocyanate vapor cloud thundering into the back of your throat and rising up through your nose. FYI : if you fancy this sensation, a cheap fix that I learned while living in Paris is sliced Roma tomato with dijon mustard. Fog horn!
Ash, after witnessing Ember's trauma, was a bit more circumspect. After coaxing and cajoling, he seemed to consider the idea for a moment, but ultimately took a pass.
Lavender Stem Ginger
Yields 16 oz. // Prep Time: 1:00 // Total Cook Time: 4:00
+ 1½ lbs. fresh ginger root
+ 2 cups granulated sugar
+ 4 cups water
+ sprig fresh lavender or 2 tbsp. lavender buds (since it's January, I used dried buds but plan to visit the lavender farm later this summer and will re-photograph the recipe with fresh lavender then)
- Peel and cut ginger into 1 inch chunks.
- Freeze ginger overnight. This helps tenderize the root as ice crystals "stab" into the tough fibers.
- Place ginger in pot of 2 cups luke warm water. Bring water to boil then turn to low, cover, and simmer until fork tender, about 2 hours.
- Remove ginger and reserve water in pot.
- Add water to reserved water in pot so that total amount equals 4 cups.
- Add two cups sugar. Stir well to be sure sugar dissolves fully.
- Add lavender sprig or buds to water.
- Bring to a boil, turn to low, then leave uncovered and allow it to simmer and reduce down to thick syrup with a viscosity similar to honey.
- Strain to remove lavender sprig / buds.
- Add ginger back and simmer for another 20-30 minutes to infuse lavender flavor.
- Pour into sterilized glass container and allow to cool.