I really enjoy keeping flavored syrups around the house. They’re great for mixed drinks, or just to stir into some club soda. The other day I spotted some enormous, beautiful fresh ginger at Viet Wah and I knew I had to make ginger syrup.
I’ve tried a couple of methods for making ginger syrup before, but this one is my favorite. I used my pressure cooker, which is a great way to concentrate flavors for juice extraction, but you could also use a regular pan (it will just take longer). The point is to cook the ginger or a long time in a small amount of water, so all the fibers break down. Then you strain it and add sugar and citrus to get a strongly flavored syrup.
The cool thing about this method is that you don’t have to peel anything. Just wash the ginger and cut it into big coins:
Then either pressure-steam it, or cook it with a little water in a saucepan:
Working with hot liquids is dangerous, so make sure you have adequate supervision!
When the ginger is completely soft, puree the ginger and cooking liquid, adding additional water only if absolutely necessary.
Then strain it well (I used one of those reusable mesh produce bags, but you could use cheesecloth or a clean thin kitchen towel) and add an equal amount (by volume) of sugar and some lemon and lime juice. Heat on the stove to dissolve, then decant into a squeeze bottle!
To make a ginger ale, add a bit of syrup to a glass of ice and top with club soda!
You can also use the syrup to make dark and stormies, which are an excellent summertime (or anytime!) drink.
makes about 2 1/2 cups of ginger syrup (easily halved or doubled)
- 1 pound of fresh ginger, preferably young (look for some that isn’t all dried out. You can find better, cheaper ginger at Asian groceries)
- juice of 4 lemons or limes (or use a combination)
- about 2 cups of white sugar, more or less depending on how much liquid you end up with
Wash the ginger and slice it into 1/4 inch thick coins.
If you have a pressure cooker: Pour a few inches of water in the bottom of your pressure cooker and place a steaming rack in the bottom. Combine the ginger with about 1 1/2 cups of water in a heatproof container and place on the rack. Close and lock the top, bring to high pressure, and cook for about 45 minutes. Release the pressure safely and remove the container.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker: Combine the ginger with about 1 1/2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours, or until the ginger is really soft. You may need to add more water if it seems like the water in the pan is evaporating too much.
Either way: Puree the ginger and liquid until completely smooth (adding extra liquid if necessary to keep the blender going), then strain well (use a strainer and some cheesecloth, and squeeze the cloth to wring out all the juice from the pulp). Measure the liquid; you should have around 2 cups.
In a small saucepan, combine the juice with an equal amount (by volume) of white sugar and the juiced lemons or limes. Heat just enough to dissolve the sugar, then cool and transfer to a squeeze bottle. This keeps in the fridge for at least a few weeks, and freezes well.
Combine 12 ounces of club soda with about 1/4 cup (more to taste) of syrup. Top with a lemon or lime.
Dark and Stormy
Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in 2 ounces (1/4 cup) dark rum, 2 ounces (1/4 cup) ginger syrup, juice of 1/2 lime, and a few dashes of bitters (optional). Top with club soda, stir lightly, and serve with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint.