Laura Davis about the health benefits of ginger, and how you can make yourself some “good-conscience” candy and soda.
By Laura Davis
With this recipe, I can kill two birds with one stone. The two birds are my children. One loves ginger ale and the other loves ginger candy. The stone is this lovely ginger syrup recipe for making ginger soda and candied ginger. This ginger soda is similar to ginger ale but has a lovely warm heat that creeps up after you have taken a couple of sips. A ginger syrup is made, poured into a glass with ice, a half a lime is squeezed in and then it is topped with sparkling water or plain soda. Very refreshing. One interesting aspect of a homemade ginger soda is the warm, spicy after taste of the ginger which I love. The candied ginger tastes very much like the store bought variety, except for maybe not as sweet. I think the reason is that my ginger syrup is not as sweet as it could have been and therefore neither was is candy. I am more into flavor than sweet and too much sweetness seems to take over the flavor sometimes. And in the USA, I think many of our products are way too sweet and the flavor is not as pronounced as it could be.
Ginger is said to have many health and medicinal properties and has long been know as a digestive aid. When I was young, my mother would give me a glass of ginger ale to settle my stomach. My son uses this remedy today. Ginger is believed to relieve nausea, have anti-inflammatory properties, reduces the symptoms of colds and other respiratory conditions, is used as a detox ingredient because it kills harmful microbes and helps remove toxins from the blood, contains vitamin A and C and helps reduce flatulence. It sounds like the miracle ingredient. But wait, there’s more! It can work topically as an antibacterial ointment. Is there any thing this tasty root won’t do? Health-wise that is. I have even seen homeopathic recommendations for helping cure sexual disorders, but let’s not go there. The most amazing factoid for me is that it takes about a teaspoon of ginger to get the health benefits and most people who use ginger use more. Nice. There is tons of information on the health benefits of ginger and there is hard science to back it up. Google it and you will be amazed.
You might be thinking that homemade ginger soda is a health drink but I would not go that far. But if your son or someone you know just polished off a case of store bought ginger ale, it is a way better solution. The nutritional qualities are definitely higher and the taste is superior. It is estimated that a tablespoon of standard simple syrup is 48 calories which is a ratio of 1:1, sugar to water. My ratio was 1:2 but it was concentrated by about 1/3. This recipe for sugar syrup is thinner than most and if you like the sweet version go for the 1:1 ratio. It is up to you. So have a glass of ginger soda or candied ginger and feel good about it!
makes about a quart or a bit less than a litre
- 2 cups (466 g) of ginger, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
- 2 cups (389 g) of sugar
- 4 cups (960 ml) of water
1. Mix the ginger, sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until reduced by 1/3. It should have a thin syrup consistency. It will thicken more as it cools. Strain the syrup from the ginger. Reserve the ginger to make ginger candy or ginger candy.
- ginger syrup
- soda water or sparkling soda
- lime cut in half
- lime wedges or mint for garnish (optional)
1. In a 12 to 16 ounce glass filled with ice, place 1 to 2 tablespoons of ginger syrup, add the juice of a half of a lime and top with soda water. Stir and garnish with lime wedge or mint if you choose.
makes about 4 cups or 1 litre
- ginger left over from making sugar syrup
- granulated sugar for dredging the cooked ginger in
1. Preheat the oven to 225°F (105°C). Dredge the cooked ginger into granulated sugar and place on a cooking sheet with a baking rack placed on it. The ginger should “dry” slowly for 3 hours. The ginger should be chewy but firm.
These are delicious by themselves (a little goes a long way!), or minced and sprinkled over whipped cream (my favorite) added to desserts such as cheesecake or pumpkin pie, they can be added to cookies, gingerbread, cakes or just used as decoration.
And because Spring is just beginning to peek around the corner (hello daffodils and lovely little snowdrops) and it seems to be cold season again, here is a recipe for ginger tea to make anyone feel better.
makes about 2 cups of tea
- 2 inch piece of ginger, slice (no need to peel unless you want to)
- 2 cups of water
- Honey and lemon or lime to taste.
1. Place the sliced ginger in water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes and strain into cups. Add honey and lemon to taste. Enjoy.
Laura Davis is the author of the blog Sweet Savory Planet and has a life long culinary passion with southern roots originating in her home state of Alabama. She has a degree in nutrition from University of Texas at Austin.