In addition to being delicious, ginger is also thought to alleviate motion sickness, and to soothe sore throats. You can actually grow ginger from leftover pieces from the grocery store. Just make sure you soak it overnight before planting, as the rhizomes may have been treated with growth retardant.
In Japanese cooking, pickled ginger is used as a flavorful accompaniment to sushi. It can also be eaten straight out of the jar as a snack.
10 oz. fresh ginger
1 tbsp. salt
3/4 c. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. water
1/2 c. sugar
Peel the ginger. Use a mandolin to cut each "finger" of ginger into thin slices. Salt the slices and let them sit for an hour to release moisture. Rinse off the ginger and pat it dry.
Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a medium pot over medium high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar melts.
Arrange dry ginger slices into a sterile jar and pour the hot vinegar over them. Store in the refrigerator for at least a week before consuming. (If you wish to can your pickles, multiply this recipe by the number of jars you want to make. Make sure you use new canning lids, and process your pickles for 10 minutes in boiling water bath.)
In China, crystalized ginger is sometimes included in candy boxes. You can candy small cubes of ginger or slices. For this preparation, I am making slices.
5 oz. fresh ginger
1 c. water, plus 1 c. water
2 c. sugar, plus ¼ c. sugar
2 c. water
Peel the ginger and slice using a mandolin. In a heavy nonreactive pot, combine the ginger and 1 c. water (plus additional water, if needed, to cover) over medium high heat. Bring the water to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the ginger (leaving it in the pot), the add the second cup of water. Bring it back to a boil and simmer the ginger for an additional 10 minutes. Drain well.
In a large pot, combine the 2 cups sugar and the remaining 2 cups water with the ginger over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the syrup reaches 225 degrees. Drain immediately (being careful, as this mixture will be hot), reserving the syrup. * Toss the well-drained ginger together with the remaining ¼ c. sugar and place on a cooling rack set over waxed paper to dry.
*You can save the syrup and use it as a shortcut for the ginger ale recipe.
There is some contention as to the whether ginger ale was an Irish, American, or Canadian invention. The recipe below is for a naturally fermented version (which may be different than what you expect to find in a can).
4 1/2 ounces finely grated fresh ginger
½ c. sugar, plus extra as desired
½ c. water
8 c. water
1/8 tsp. brewer's yeast (active dry yeast)
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp. pineapple juice
Combine the ginger, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking until the mixture comes to a boil, then remove from the heat, cover and allow to steep for at least an hour.
Place a fine mesh strainer over a funnel to get the juice into a clean 2 liter soda bottle or bowl (if you prefer to transfer it to a bottle once mixed.) Strain the ginger syrup into the container, pressing down on the fibers to extract as much liquid as possible. Add the yeast, lime juice and pineapple juice, then place the lid on the container and shake to combine. Add the 8 cups of water and shake again. Place the lid or cap on the container and tighten. Leave at room temperature for 2 days (a full 48 hours). Open to check that you have achieved the desired level of carbonation. Add sugar to taste. Once you are happy with it, refrigerate for no more than 2 weeks, but make sure you open the bottle regularly (at least once every 24 hours) to prevent overbuildup of carbonation.
NOTE: If you don't want to work with the yeast (if you avoid fermented products), you can make the ginger syrup and combine it with club soda.