Homemade ginger in syrup

Homemade ginger in syrup

I first tried ginger in syrup while living in the UK, it was so easy to buy in stores that I never considered making it homemade. The ginger pieces are slowly simmered until they become perfectly tender. The liquid is then used to create a syrup that the ginger pieces are returned to, both to sweeten them and aid in storage. 

Ginger, in any form, is an absolute favourite ingredient of mine. I love its fiery punchy kick in everything from stir fry, sweets and drinks.

Uses for homemade ginger in syrup

I regularly used ginger in syrup to flavour my morning yoghurt, elevating my tub of plain skyr (Icelandic yoghurt known for it’s high protein and low fat content). Just half a knob of finely chopped stem ginger and two teaspoons of syrup is needed to flavour a 450g tub. What you get is a gorgeous ginger yoghurt that you can’t buy in stores. I’m looking forward to buying a large tub of Chobani Greek yoghurt here and making my own ginger flavour.

Ginger syrup is of course great in baking, from biscuits to cakes and puddings. Stem ginger is also the key ingredient in my all time favourite UK gluten free biscuit, a chewy ginger cookie dipped in dark chocolate. So addictive and one day I’ll make my own here in Australia.

Use the syrup too, my favourite is as an ingredient in drinks. It’s a great addition to tea when you’re feeling a little under the weather, giving a sweet yet powerful ginger hit. Just add one teaspoon and see. Of course you can add more to taste. 

It also works with cold drinks, I’ve tried it with soda water for a refreshing cooler and it was great. It is delicious with to have it with Prosecco to make a kind of ginger bellini 😀 In the summer ginger syrup makes a great spin on the traditional mojito recipe to a ginger mojito.

Homemade ginger in syrup as a gift

Preserves are also a great gift idea when Christmas rolls around, they are also budget friendly. Some of the best gifts I’ve received have been edible. It’s wonderful to get something handmade with you in mind. It’s also a great way to reduce waste from unnecessary gifts.

Ginger’s warming flavour matches perfectly with Christmas time treats. A few pieces go a long way in a gingerbread recipe, a ginger loaf or a festive cocktail.

How to make stem ginger in syrup

While the method looks a bit daunting with its two and a half hour length do not worry. You will spend almost all the time away from the kitchen while the ginger gently simmers. 

Starting the night before

One quirk to this recipe is that it’s better to start the night before. Place the ginger you’re going to use in the freezer overnight. The freezing and thawing process does two things. The first is that it tenderises the ginger, the freezing damages the cells in the ginger making it softer. This will help in the cooking process and also eating it later. The second thing it helps with is peeling the skin. Believe me, you’ll want help with that.

On the day

Remove the ginger from the freezer fifteen minutes to half an hour before you want to start. This will make the ginger easier to handle. Prepare the ginger by peeling it and cutting into chunks, about two centimetres in length. The way you do it is up to you. If you have a particularly knobbly, bumpy piece of ginger you might find it easier to cut along the curves of the ginger. By cutting it first you’ll have a much easier time navigating the curves as you peel. 

Two images. Ginger whole. Ginger cut and peeled.
Ginger can be peeled more easily by cutting it into pieces first.

Don’t be surprised if the peeling takes a little while, it really comes down to how tricky the pieces are you are trying to prepare. Get a helper if you can, especially if you are doing a big batch. 

Starting the simmer

Place all the ginger pieces in a saucepan and fill with your measured water. Set your stove to high to get an initial boil going before dropping it down lower. Cover and simmer for two hours. Go chill, read a book or start prepping your jars for storage. Either way, enjoy the warm ginger smell that starts to fill the kitchen.  

After two hours you can test the ginger to check that its tender. For this you can do it two ways. One way is to put a knife through a piece, like you would testing a boiled potato. The other is to remove a piece and slice it open on a chopping board. The knife should move through easily with no resistance. 

Once they are cooked through you can remove the ginger pieces and set them aside. 

Making the syrup

Now you need to measure 200mL of the water to create the syrup. I poured mine from the pot directly into a Pyrex measuring jug. If you’ve got some water left over don’t pour it down the drain! You can let it cool and keep it for up to three days in the fridge. I challenged my husband to drink a shot of it. It has a very strong ginger taste with a fiery kick. I used the rest diluted to make a warm ginger drink sweetened with some honey.

Pour the measured water back into your saucepan and return it to the heat. Add in the sugar and stir it until it’s fully dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring. I don’t understand entirely why but there’s a science to making syrups and excessive stirring can cause crystallisation. Bring the syrup to a boil. Once it’s bubbling gently lower the ginger pieces back in, taking care not to splash yourself with the very hot mixture. Simmer the ginger pieces in the syrup for about 20 minutes. I’ve seen recipes recommend anywhere from five minutes to 35 but I think 20 is a reasonable compromise and helps some of that syrup penetrate the ginger. 

Preparing your jars and filling them

For long term storage of preserves your jars need to be either fully sterilised or still hot from preparation when you fill them. This aids in the jarring process. Use the simmering time of the ginger to get these ready.

Once your jars are prepped, remove the ginger and syrup from the heat. Use a spoon to take out pieces one at a time and place them in your jars. For this recipe I was able to fill two small IKEA Korken jars, they have a 130mL capacity each. 

Don’t be afraid to really squish your ginger pieces in. This is to make sure that the syrup fully covers each piece. Once all the ginger pieces are in place pour the liquid in and cover all the pieces. You may find it easier to transfer your syrup to a jug rather than pouring directly from the pot. 

Close each jar securely as it is filled. I was left with about 100mL of extra syrup so I put this in a third jar I had prepared. 

Now all the hard work is done. Your beautiful homemade ginger in syrup is ready!

Leave the jars to cool fully before storing them. They should keep on the shelf unopened for a number of months. Once you open a jar, store it in the fridge and try to get through it within a few weeks. The sugar in the syrup will help preserve it, so think of it like a jam in terms of shelf life. 

Homemade Stem Ginger in Syrup

Sweet yet spicy, stem ginger in syrup is a delicious addition to cakes and savoury dishes alike. Easy to make and a great gift at the holidays.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Preserves
Cuisine British
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 150 g fresh ginger
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 200 mL water

Instructions
 

  • Freeze the ginger whole overnight. This tenderises the ginger and also makes it easier to peel.
  • Remove the ginger from the freezer and allow to return to room temperature so you can handle it. Peel the ginger and slice into pieces. Feel free to slice first then peel, this can help if you have a particularly knobbly piece of ginger.
  • In a lidded saucepan place the ginger pieces and 500mL of water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook the ginger pieces for 2.5 hours.
  • Check the the ginger is tender. If so, drain the ginger but keep the water.
  • Measure out 200mL of the cooking water and add it to the saupan. Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve.
  • Once dissolved bring the mixture to a boil, then add the ginger pieces back to the syrup.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer the ginger pieces in the syrup for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and pack into sterilised jars. Place the pieces of the ginger in first, then top up with syrup to cover the ginger. If any syrup is leftover this can also be stored and used as a sweet addition to drinks and tea.

Notes

This recipe is a smaller volume than what I’ve found elsewhere online. It’s great as a small batch to make for yourself to use at home. It filled two little IKEA jars (130mL each) and gave me an extra 100mL of syrup that I’ve got in the fridge. 
Keyword homemade, preserves

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