I have a soft spot for chewy ginger root candies. They’re perfect for bouts of indigestion, a slightly scratchy throat or whenever you’d simply like a little something sweet.
Unfortunately, they often come wrapped in plastic and they’re usually shipped in from far away.
Those realities left a bad taste in my mouth. But I didn’t really want to forgo the little treats, so I started making my own instead. As it happens, I like them even better than the store-bought kind I used to swear by.
Ginger root chews are made with Zingiber officinale which contains scores of active chemical compounds such as gingerol, shogaols, zingerone, terpenes and assorted vitamins and minerals. Not to be confused with North American “wild ginger” (Asarum canadense), Zingiber officinale is thought to help alleviate nausea associated with pregnancy, chemotherapy, motion sickness and other conditions.
One great reason to make your own? You can tweak the amount of fresh ginger you use, resulting in candies that are as mild—or as strong—as you’d like. You can also switch up the kinds of sugars and syrups you use, in case you’d like to make your ginger chews vegan.
First Things First
The following is based on this recipe from Growing Up Herbal. You’ll need:
- coconut oil (or substitute other vegetable oil)
- glass baking dish and parchment paper (or use silicone candy molds)
- candy thermometer
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated whole ginger root
- 1/4 cup honey (or substitute agave nectar)
- 3/4 cup sugar (or raw cane sugar)
- 2 cups water
You can save a lot of time and trouble by testing your candy thermometer in advance. To make sure it will provide an accurate reading, place it in a pan of water and bring to a boil. In boiling water, the thermometer should read 212 degrees F.
If the measurement you get is under or over that number, you’ll need to add to or subtract from future readings to account for the discrepancy.
As you wait for the thermometer test water to boil, oil your glass baking dish or silicone candy molds. If you’re using a glass dish, line its newly oiled bottom with parchment paper and oil that, too.
(Don’t try to substitute wax paper or aluminum foil for the parchment. I tried both, and neither work nearly as well for this application.)
You can also use this time to grate the ginger root. The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of shredded ginger root, but I prefer to use at least 1/2 cup of very tightly packed grated ginger.
Combine your grated ginger and 2 cups of water in a saucepan and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. At this point, roughly half of the water should have evaporated, leaving a dark, ginger-infused liquid behind.
Strain out the ginger solids and pour 1 cup of the ginger-infused liquid into a clean saucepan. To this, add 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup honey. For the vegan version, substitute raw cane sugar (which has not been refined with bone char) and agave nectar.
Place the candy thermometer in the saucepan and bring the sugar-ginger mixture to a boil. Stir continuously and watch the thermometer carefully. Your target temperature is 260 degrees F, and accuracy with this really matters.
(If the mixture doesn’t get hot enough, it will remain too soft. But if you allow it to zoom past 260 degrees, you’ll end up with a hard candy instead.)
When the temperature reaches 260 degrees F, turn off the heat, and pour the liquid candy into the oiled, glass baking dish or silicone candy molds. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
The Big Reveal
If you used a glass baking dish, turn it upside-down to dislodge the ginger candy. Remove the parchment paper and cut ginger chews into individual squares.
With each pass through the candy, the knife will be very sticky. To keep it moving freely, you may need to rinse the knife well with hot water between cuts. (In the case of silicone molds, you should be able to use your fingers to pop out each candy from the back side.)
If you like, you can wrap individual ginger candies in small pieces of parchment paper or coat them lightly with sifted powdered sugar to help reduce the likelihood that they’ll get stuck to one another.
Place your ginger chews in an airtight container and they will keep for several weeks. Store them in the freezer or refrigerator, and they’ll keep even longer.