The ginger root, cultivated on every continent, originated in China and is still popular today in many Asian dishes. Prized for its sweet, mildly pungent flavour and aroma, ginger enhances American desserts such as pumpkin pie and Christmas cookies. Easily grown in most climates, the rhizome of the ginger plant remains edible for up to 6 months in a root cellar. If you have an abundant ginger crop, consider a few appetizing ways to preserve your harvest.
Pickle sliced ginger in vinegar to use later in sushi and other Chinese main dishes. This is the traditional way of preserving ginger root in Asia, and it keeps the ginger fresh for months. Chop freshly peeled ginger root into thin slices and pack the root into a tall glass bottle. Pour in vinegar until it covers the ginger by at least 1 inch and seal the bottle with a cork. Store in a cool, dark cupboard. The vinegar is ready for use after 3 weeks.
Dry thin slices of ginger root in a food grade dehydrator before pulverising the ginger in a mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Alternately, use the sharp blade of a food processor to grind large batches of dried ginger into powder. Store powdered ginger in spice bottles out of direct sunlight.
Make ginger syrup for use in deserts and candies. Highly concentrated, this syrup is readily available on Asian grocery shelves, but you can make it at home by simmering freshly chopped and peeled ginger root in water. Use equal amounts of ginger and water, and simmer in a heavy saucepan with a lid for 1 hour.
Strain the mixture and discard the ginger root. Add white sugar at the ratio of 1 part sugar to 2 parts of ginger water. Bring this mixture to a slow boil, stirring constantly. Allow the mixture to simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered, before pouring into sterilised canning jars. There is no need to process the jars in a water bath if you intend to use the syrup within the next 6 months.
Make ginger jams and jellies and by adding additional fruit--rhubarb and pears are common choices--and following the directions on a box of powdered pectin for canning. These jams and jellies depend upon the additional fruit as a base.
Harvest this year’s rhizomes for the mildest flavour when preserving ginger. Old roots are often bitter.