Kitchen Garden Seeds

Homemade Stem Ginger
Jo-Anne van den Berg-Ohms * John Scheepers * Bantam, Connecticut
Carrying bottles of Stem Ginger home from Holland was a disaster waiting to happen for years. I finally decided to make it myself. I’m so glad I did because it’s so easy and few items are more useful to a gingerholic like me. I chop it finely and add it to everything: pancakes, créme anglaise, white chocolate anything, cheesecakes, pound cakes, cookies, pastry dough, yogurt, fruit salads, clafouti, panna cotta and lemon mousse. When selecting fresh ginger root, I always go for the largest pieces available with the smallest amount of tiny knobs and fingers. It makes peeling easier and reduces waste. If only we could grow it here. The syrup is great in drinks and salad dressings or drizzled over French vanilla ice cream. Finely minced stem ginger is amazing in desserts of all kinds, including those starring Strawberries, Pumpkins and Winter Squash. Caution: My homemade version always tastes more zesty and flavorful than the store bought jarred version.
Homemade Stem Ginger
  • Fresh ginger root (avoid wrinkly, dehydrated, woody roots)
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla bean pods
  • Water
  • Peel the ginger root and cut them into equally sized "coins", about 1/3" thick. Pile and lightly compress all of the coins into a big measuring cup. Measure 1 1/2 times that amount of granulated sugar, and set the sugar aside.

    Place the fresh ginger coins in a medium size pot and cover with cold water plus an inch or so. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot and dial back the heat to a simmer. Split a couple of vanilla bean pods in half lengthwise and add them to the pot. Simmer for about an hour and a half (depending on the quantity being made) until the ginger is tender when fork-pierced. Keep checking to make sure that the water doesn’t boil away: add water incrementally to keep the ginger just covered.

    Once the ginger is tender, adjust the water level so it just barely covers the ginger. Add the sugar, stirring over low heat until it is dissolved. Bring to a full rolling boil for one minute, turn the heat off and remove the vanilla bean pods. Scrape out the vanilla caviar from the pods, discard the pods and add the caviar to the thickening golden-amber syrup, stirring to distribute. Bring to room temperature.

    If you’ve made a small batch, pour the syrup over the coins in a container and keep chilled. It lasts a long time. If you’ve made a really big batch, pull out your canning pot. Ladle the Stem Ginger, fully covered with syrup, into sterilized canning jars. Fill each jar to 1/4" under the jar top. Wipe the jar threads clean if necessary. Cover with sterilized jar lids and bands. Process in a hot water bath for at least 10 minutes. Remove and bring to room temperature until you hear that wonderful ping. Store in a cool dark pantry. Once opened, store in the refrigerator.