Years ago, I created an orange infused sugar that was so good that it became a staple on my counter top—a jar of this sugar now sits on my counter ready to add as needed to any recipe that would benefit from a sweet citrusy boost. My wife, Jan, asked me why I had never tried this with ginger.
Setting this idea into action, I grated two tablespoons of fresh ginger and stirred in a cup of sugar—my usual recipe for the orange sugar. The first problem with this plan, I discovered, is that ginger is much wetter than citrus zest. While the sugar did—not quite—turn into a syrup, the mix was very sloppy. Undeterred, I spent the next two weeks turning and drying out the sugar.
Eventually, the sugar/ginger mixture dried out, but that led to the second problem. Much of the mix had congealed into solid bits. I tried to blending the sugar to break it up, but it was still a bit too damp. I finally had to let it dry for another week and then blend it a second time. Finally, I had my ginger sugar.
Note: You may notice that the level in the jar is less than the cup plus with which I had started. Some of this lose is from the sugar that stuck to the insides of the blender. The rest is from the depredations of my wife, who took to snacking on the sugar chunks as she walked by.
Karl’s Ginger Infused Sugar
2 Tbs. fresh ginger
1 cup white granulated sugar
1. Peel and grate the ginger with a microplane into a medium/small bowl.
Note: The resulting pulp will be very damp. If you wish to speed up the drying time, you may set the bowl in a low oven—175º F—to begin drying the pulp out before adding the sugar. You do not want to pour off this juice, because this is much of the flavor.
2. Pour the sugar over the ginger and use a spatula to thoroughly mix the pulp into the sugar.
Note: Some of the sugar will dissolve in the juices, but this is OK.
3. Let the sugar in the bowl sit—open in a warm dry place—on the counter for 2 weeks.
Tip: Several times a day stop by to chop and mix the sugar with the spatula.
Note: At first the liquid syrup will pool in the low places, but eventually it will become the consistency of damp sand.
4. When the sugar has dried out completely, put it in a standing blender and process it into a powder.
Tip: After two weeks I thought the sugar was dry, but when I blended it the grains of sugar still tended to clump. Once it was loose I left it for another week to finish drying out.
5. At the end of the third week re-blend or use a mortar and pestle to grind the sugar finely.
6. Put the sugar in an air tight jar.
Tip: By itself, a spoonful makes a nice ginger tea.
Note: Shake the jar about once a day to keep the sugar loose and separated. It will them be ready for any recipe that needs a quick boost of sweet ginger flavor.