Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ginger Preserves - Endless Possibilities

I'd be perfectly happy to add some ginger to almost everything I cook, and come to think of it, I just might have. I'm crazy about ginger in all forms, from fresh (which I keep indefinitely in the freezer so it's always there when needed) to powdered and several forms in between, including syrup and preserves. I also love candied ginger, which I get at the Hendersonville Co-op because it's unsulphured and the price is quite reasonable.

For one of our favorite quick dinners, I combine Mackays Spiced Ginger Preserves with Braswell's Pure Pear Preserves to make a delicious topping for Sam's cheapest brie. I cut the brie into chunks, bake it in individual ramekins at 325 degrees until it starts to melt, then serve it with slices of fruit, toasted sourdough cranberry walnut bread and a green salad with pecans and dried cherries. Mix the ginger and pear combo with mustard to add a little zip to a ham or chicken sandwich, or to make a delicious base for a salad dressing, or for cole slaw.

Over the winter I used so much ginger preserves that it got to be an expensive habit, and I decided to make my own. Canning has never been my thing, so I decided to skip the water bath part and just freeze the preserves in small batches. At the rate I use ginger, I figured it would be fine, and it has been. I searched for recipes on line and eventually settled on one that I modified to suit me. Most of them called for blanching the ginger several times, or soaking it overnight because fresh ginger can be intense, so don't be tempted to skip this step.

Ginger Preserves

1 lb fresh ginger
1 lb sugar
1 1/2 cups water
l apple, peeled, cored and diced (or 1 pouch liquid pectin)

Peel the ginger and chop into very small dice, or pulse in a food processor. Cover with water and soak overnight. Drain and reserve the liquid for other purposes, if desired, such as for iced tea or poaching fruit.

Place the drained ginger in a medium saucepan. Add the diced apple or the pectin, sugar and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the syrup is thick and the ginger is tender.

I store the jam in small plastic containers, keeping one in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer. It's fun to create new ways to use it, and right now I'm looking ahead to the possibilities of peach season...

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