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 much. Next time I'll be sure to double the batch.
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-mustard-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 (yes, I looked up the chemical name). 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 hard pass. (Smart man.) Soon, we moved onto a little silly sibling fun then went out to the park to play ;)
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.