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Cndied-Ginger-art - 5/3/07

 

"Candied Ginger for Remembraunce - Two Versions" by THL Johnnae llyn Lewis

 

NOTE: See also the files: ginger-msg, candied-fruit-msg, candied-peels-art, comfits-msg, Candying-art, confctny-boxs-msg, sugar-msg, Sugar-Paste-art.

 

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Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org

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Candied Ginger for Remembraunce

Two Versions by THL Johnnae llyn Lewis

 

 

Gynger

 

Gynger doth hete the stomacke, and helpyth dygestyon: grene gynger eaten in the moreninge, fastynge, doth acuat and quicken the remembraunce.

 

from Andrew Boorde. A Compendyous Regyment, or A Dyetary of Helth. 1542.

 

 

92     TO CANDY GINGER

 

Take faire & large ginger, pare it & lay it in water A day & a night.

then take double refined sugar & boyle it to ye height of sugar againe, & when it beginneth to be cold, take yr ginger & stir it well about till yr sugar is hard to yr pan. then take it out rase by rase, & lay it by ye fire for 4 houres. then take a pot & warme it & put the ginger in it, then ty it very close & every second morning, stir it about roundly, and it will be A rock candy in A very short space.

 

 

106    TO MAKE GREEN GINGER

 

Take ginger, pare it, & lay it in soack 2 days in white wine.

then take ye weight in sugar, with which let it

boyle leasurely halfe a day at least, & then pot it up.

 

Recipes from the Tudor-Jacobean manuscript known as A Booke of Sweetmeats as found in Martha WashingtonÕs Booke of Cookery. Edited with introduction and commentary by Karen Hess. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981. The manuscript is dated 1580-1625.

     

      To make these recipes, one begins as the recipes indicate with ginger. Ginger root is actually not a root, but a rhizome of the tropical herbaceous plant Zingiber officinale. ItÕs been used since prehistoric times in southern Asia and was one of the main spices of medieval Europe. Harold McGee notes that much of the US market ginger now comes from Hawaii where the harvest runs from December to June.

 

      One can haunt various ethnic markets (Middle Eastern or Asian are good choices) or one can resort to the local mega-mart (as Alton Brown calls them). Either way these days one will find normally mature large ginger roots of varying price and quality. Organic ginger can be found these days, but it can run as much as nine to ten dollars a pound. Grocery store or mega-mart ginger is currently running $2.49 to $2.99 per pound and serves the purpose here. Pay attention as some rhizomes hide rotten cores that must be discarded. Market ginger will often vary in the degree of sweetness or heat. Toughness of the fiber may vary from piece to piece. Pungency varies widely. Sometimes one can find young and green rhizomes. Do try different markets and keep notes as to sources.  With experience, one can pick usually pick out the best of the lots offered.

 

     I normally start with three pounds of raw ginger and ten pounds of white granulated cane sugar for these batches with the intention of making versions of both. I never use all the sugar, but itÕs a good policy to have it on hand, in case a syrup batch overcooks and needs replacing.

 

      To peel off the skin, use a sharp paring knife and or vegetable peelers. I prefer the very sharp and lightweight Global paring knives and OXO in terms of peelers. Some very experienced cooks have good luck just using the back of a teaspoon, but this takes time to learn, and often one will still need a knife to finish off the peeling. The above recipes do not indicate that one ought to slice the ginger root into slices after peeling, but for our purposes, candy slices or pieces are preferred. Uniform slices work best.

 

      So slice the ginger either with a knife or a V-brand or another small kitchen slicer of some sort. I use a new Kyocera Ceramic Slicer. It works great as it produces a uniform 2.1mm or .09 inch slice. (Watch your fingers; itÕs sharp.) For large quantities, it may be worth getting out a mandoline and using it. After peeling and slicing, submerge the ginger into water overnight and let it soak. As I do not drink and do not keep white wine in the house, I havenÕt to date attempted soaking the ginger in white wine as called for in the recipe.

 

      On the second day, sort the ginger into uniform pieces and non-uniform or scrap pieces. One can then make either recipe or both.

 

 

Recipe 106

 

106    TO MAKE GREEN GINGER

 

Take ginger, pare it, & lay it in soack 2 days in white wine.

then take ye weight in sugar, with which let it

boyle leasurely halfe a day at least, & then pot it up.

 

 

      For this last batch I had approximately two pounds of uniform pieces. I placed those in a stockpot and added water. I brought these to a simmer. I poured the water off. One may want to add fresh water and bring the stockpot to a simmer again, but since this was fresh green ginger, this step was left out. If using mature ginger root, the simmering helps to take the edge off the heat of the ginger and make it more tender. Drain off the ginger. In the stockpot, one will shortly place a sugar syrup that will cover the ginger.

 

      To make the sugar syrup, one might use perhaps as I did 8 cups of sugar and 6 cups water. But this will vary according to amount of ginger, size of the stockpot or saucepan, etc. You can measure the weight of the ginger and as the recipe says add an equivalent weight in sugar. Or you can guess. (One pound sugar = 2 cups white granulated sugar, so I used 4 pounds of sugar. That provided enough syrup to cover the ginger pieces.) Bring this syrup with the ginger pieces to a boil. Now at this point one can stop the simmering and finish the ginger on another day. Take it off heat and let it sit overnight if you like. Then on the next day, one then leisurely boils it down at a simmer until the syrup disappears and the ginger is candied. Drain ginger pieces on racks. Roll in sugar and box.

 

      One can push through and finish the ginger all in one simmering session. Timing varies, depending on amount, thickness of slices, etc. Watch carefully. Do not allow the mixture to get too hot, boil over, scorch, etc. Again simmer until the syrup disappears, and the ginger is candied. Drain ginger pieces on racks. Roll in granulated sugar and box. The Elizabethans would most likely have potted the ginger in a ginger syrup and served it as a wet sucket of sorts. For our purposes, itÕs better to dry it and roll in sugar.

 

      The hard part of this method is to keep the pot or pan at a gentle simmer. One will have to pay attention and make adjustments as needed. DonÕt go off and just leave the pot unattended. Set a timer (if need be) to remind yourself that the ginger pot is on the stove and needs to be checked.

 

 

Recipe 92

 

92     TO CANDY GINGER

 

Take faire & large ginger, pare it & lay it in water A day & a night.

then take double refined sugar & boyle it to ye height of sugar againe, & when it beginneth to be cold, take yr ginger & stir it well about till yr sugar is hard to yr pan. then take it out rase by rase, & lay it by ye fire for 4 houres. then take a pot & warme it & put the ginger in it, then ty it very close & every second morning, stir it about roundly, and it will be A rock candy in A very short space.

 

 

      Recipe 92 is slightly more complicated as it calls for taking Ōdouble refined sugar & boyle it to ye height of sugar againe.Ķ Sugar height, according to the descriptions given in Recipe 5 in the same manuscript, is reckoned by Karen Hess to be 220 degrees F. What one is doing here is taking sugar, placing it in a pot or pan, and slowly letting it melt over heat until it reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. This is easier to do at different times than at others. Humidity and weather play a part. One also must be willing to dump out a batch that burns or scorches. I usually cheat and add about 3 tablespoons of water to each batch. (I donÕt do caramel enough these days to be practiced in letting just plain sugar melt over heat, nor do I have the time or inclination to work through enough batches until IÕve got it right without adding water. The water evaporates anyway. My thought is why waste the ingredients at this point. Add some water.)

 

      In any case, carefully melt the sugar over heat until it registers 220 degrees. Remove from heat. Add the drained ginger pieces. (One has a choice here as one can have also simmered these pieces in a couple of water changes as described above in the preceding recipe. Or one can throw caution to the wind and candy these pieces straight from their soaking water.) The recipe instructs: Ōtake yr ginger & stir it well about till yr sugar is hard to yr pan. then take it out rase by rase, & lay it by ye fire for 4 houres.Ķ This works but one can also just let the ginger sit in the sugar syrup and turn to sugar or grain in the pan. Warm it slightly on the next day and remove from the pan. Dry on racks in a low oven or just with pilot light with door ajar. Roll in sugar and box.

 

      In more detail, I used about 6 cups of sugar, 3 tablespoons water, and the remaining ginger which was slightly less than 1 and one half pounds. For this recipe I tend to use an open non-stick professional weight 12 inch skillet or a professional weight brazier pan. This made it easy to observe the sugar and keep it from scorching as it heats. Do this carefully. Keep a thermometer at hand and watch for 220 degrees F. Then add the ginger. I let the mixture of sugar and ginger pieces then rest or sit undisturbed overnight in the skillet. The next morning they were a solid mass of candied sugar and ginger which is what I wanted. I warmed the pan by placing it in a warm oven for a few minutes. After I removed the ginger, I separated the pieces and let them dry on racks until dry.

 

      This creates a rock candy sort of candied ginger, as the recipe says Ōand it will be A rock candy in A very short space.Ķ If one has been lucky, the ginger pieces will have large sugar crystals on them which catch the light and look pretty when served.

 

THL Johnnae llyn Lewis

 

Sources:

 

*McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking. 2nd revised edition. New York: Scribner, c. 1984, 2004.

 

** From the Tudor-Jacobean manuscript known as A Booke of Sweetmeats as found in Martha WashingtonÕs Booke of Cookery. Edited with introduction and commentary by Karen Hess. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981. The manuscript is dated 1580-1625.

 

*** Boorde, Andrew. A Compendyous Regyment, or A Dyetary of Helth. 1542. Edited by F. J. Furnivall. Early English Text Society. Extra Series, 10. 1870. Millwood, New York: Kraus Reprint, 1981. pp. 286.

 

The best one volume text on ginger still remains Bruce CostÕs Ginger East to West, which was published in two editions dated 1984 and 1996. ItÕs out of print but well worth looking for in the used book market. An excellent account of both ginger and sugar appears in Andrew DalbyÕs Dangerous Tastes. The Story of Spices, which was published by the University of California Press in 2000.

 

Versions of this article appeared in Mead Meat & More volume 2, issue 1, Winter 2007 and in the Barony of CynnabarÕs newsletter The Citadel in August/September 2006.     

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Text copyright 2007 by Johnna H. Holloway. <Johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.

 

If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.

 

<the end>



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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org