Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ginger Dust
Let me say this about myself first: I am the son of my Scots-blooded mother. There is much McMullen in me. This is often manifest in my desire to not waste a damn thing. And that often comes to bear in the kitchen. Thus beginneth the saga of "ginger dust."

I make my own ginger syrup. It's very simple. Two cups of sugar, one cup of water and a peeled hand of ginger (roughly palm-sized) sliced as thin as possible. The mixture is brought to a boil and simmered on heat for about 15 minutes and then left for about 24 hours for the flavor to strike through as much as possible. The syrup is then strained off. But this leaves a good wad of sugar-infused ginger slices.
One thing to note about ginger is that it contains two distinct type of flavor molecules, water soluble and fat (or oil) soluble. The aforementioned wad of ginger slices still have a lot of flavor in them but it's the oil soluble flavor that remains. Obviously. But I am loathe (note aforementioned Scots blood ) to discard a utile comestible. So I have a bowl of ginger chips
that are 'wet' in the fridge. But I also spread a bunch of the chips out to dry on a cutting board. Those turned into crunchy little chips with very respectable ginger "bite." The trouble with them was that they were a bit too "bitey" and hard for use as they were. So, inspired perhaps by the freeze-dried ginger I have in the pantry, I wondered if I couldn't make a powder of the chips.
Story short - yes I can. I used a mortar and pestle and a lot of elbow grease to grind down the chips which I filtered through a fine mesh strainer into a pale yellow powder that has a sweet ginger tang. I haven't figured out how to use it - yet. But with the preservative effect of sugar, I think I have something with an infinite shelf life so there will be chances to try my invention.
One note - a spice grinder would probably make short work of the chips but I rather enjoyed the Zen of the grinding. Your mileage may vary.

So, the final question is what am I going to do with the "wet" ginger in the fridge. Well, I just some rice bran oil from the 'Zon (love the 'Zon) and I'm going to "fry" those to see if I can't make a light, crispy little ginger chip that can be used in a crouton-like manner on a salad or Asian noodle dish. If I manage the heat properly, I may end up with ginger-flavored oil as well.
Like I said: I don't waste anything in the kitchen.

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