Easy Ginger Syrup
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I had the intention of making this Ginger Syrup as part of a summery basil ginger lemonade. Well, I made the ginger syrup and then wasn’t able to finish testing the lemonade part before summer ended (for those of you outside the US, summer’s unofficial end is Labor Day or the first weekend in September). Next year, I promise to make the basil ginger lemonade because initial testing had a lot of potential. Luckily, you won’t be leaving empty handed! This ginger syrup will make a tasty pantry staple you can use in all sorts of ways.
What is Ginger Syrup?
Ginger syrup is a simple syrup (more on that below) that has been infused with fresh ginger. You could use this method to infuse any non-alcoholic liquid of your choosing. I am actually using it to create an orange ginger maple syrup in an upcoming blog post to go along with some delicious Orange Molasses Pancakes (orange, as a color, leaves much to be desired; but as a flavor it’s mighty tasty).
What is a Simple Syrup?
A simple syrup is a solution (not a mixture, they are different) of sugar dissolved in boiling water and then cooled. Typically a simple syrup has a ratio of 1:1 simple syrup meaning there is one part sugar to one part water (by weight). But you can create a rich syrup by adding 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. A rich simple syrup will not, unfortunately, make you wealthy (probably).
How Sweet Can I Make My Simple Syrup?
Because science, water will dissolve a different amount of sugar depending on the water’s temperature. When the water and sugar are at an optimal balance, the solution is considered saturated. At room temperature, this means that 100 milliliters of water can dissolve about 200 grams (203.9 grams for you precise types) of sugar. When you heat the same amount of water to boiling, it can dissolve 500 grams of sugar. But that has the high probability of leading to crystallization.
The Big Danger: Crystallization
Crystallization happens when simple syrup begins to cool. Since water can hold more sugar at higher temperatures than it can at lower temperatures, as the solution cools, the water and sugar shifts out of balance and the water becomes supersaturated with sugar.
How Does Crystallization Happen?
Sugar molecules really want to be close to one another (they’re BFFs). When water is added to sugar, the water molecules jump in to form new bonds with the sugar molecules. These new bonds keep the sugar molecules spread too thin so they can’t bond with each other. If you start to add too much sugar, the water can’t create enough bonds to keep the sugar separated from each other and the crystals start to converge again creating dense solid masses, or crystals.
How to Prevent Crystallization
The easiest way to prevent crystallization in your simple syrup is to not overload the water with sugar. But there are a couple of other tips that can help avoid disaster:
- Don’t stir. It might seem counterintuitive but stirring a hot sugar syrup can actually lead to the sugar crystals bumping into each other more than if you just let it boil away on its own. Only stir prior to the sugar syrup getting to the simmering stage. After the solution begins to simmer, stop and let it do its thing.
- Use a wet pastry brush to clean the sides of the pan. When the sugar syrup begins to simmer and boil, it is going to throw some of the sugar crystals onto the side of the pan. These sugar crystals can become a seed that the dissolved sugar molecules can use to grab onto and use to start crystallizing. By using a wet pastry brush to clean the inside of the pan where they have been splattered before cooling the syrup, you can reduce the risk of crystallization.
- Use an invert syrup or corn syrup. Using an invert syrup (honey is a natural source) or corn syrup will help to prevent crystallization. Though it may be overkill for something like ginger syrup, it is often used in making sugar based candies (nougat, caramels, toffies, fudge, etc.).
What Type of Ginger Should I Use?
For me, I prefer a young ginger (badum-tss… *cough*). Young ginger is much more floral than older ginger, which has a bit of a spicy peppery flavor. You can tell if you have young or old ginger based on how juicy it is. The younger the ginger, the juicier it will be. The older, the dryer it will be (get your mind out of the gutter).
How to Use Ginger Syrup?
Ginger syrup would be great in tea, especially as a sweetener for Chai. Use it to sweeten lemonade. Or your favorite cocktail. If you’re feeling a bit more grown-up, ginger syrup goes great in a Whiskey Sour. You could make your own ginger ale (3 parts sparkling water to 1 part ginger syrup). You could use it as a replacement for honey in stir-frys. Or as part of a salmon glaze. Use it to top ice cream or brush it on to your cake layers. Anywhere that uses a sweetener you could potentially substitute with this syrup to add a delicious gingery flavor. Now go forth, my young apprentices, and add ginger syrup to all your favorite foods! (Or, you know… the ones that make sense.)
Easy Ginger Syrup
- 12 ounce heat proof jar
- 8.5 ounce bottle or jar
- 35 grams ginger diced small
- 125 grams granulated sugar
- 125 grams water measured by weight
- Place 35 grams diced ginger in a 12-ounce heat proof jar.
- Put 125 grams granulated sugar and 125 grams water in a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. Stir the sugar and water together until the sugar is dissolved and there is no more grit on the bottom from the sugar. Stop stirring and let the sugar solution come up to a boil. Allow to boil for 30-60 seconds and then pour into the jar with the diced ginger. Place a lid on top of the jar but don’t tighten it.
- Allow to cool at room temperature for at least an hour or until the jar is no longer warm to the touch. Tighten the lid and move to the refrigerator for at least 8 hours up to 24 hours. Strain ginger our of syrup through a fine mesh strainer into your second jar or bottle. Syrup will last about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.