There is something delicious about a long streak of cold weather. I know some of you are groaning as you read this, but hear me out. I struggle, too, with day after day of January cold, but sometimes, the cold is beautiful. The January air often stings as you breathe it, but it makes you feel alive. Every cell in your body is at attention, every star in the sky seems to burn clearer and brighter, and it exposes the raw nerves of longing inside of us, causing us to draw inward.
At no other time of year does the earth cause us to curl up, to grip our tea and coffee mugs, to snuggle in deep. We crave warm foods and warm conversation. We burrow into our coats and wrap up in scarves and mittens. And through those acts, we realize our vulnerability. In winter, we cannot deny our need for shelter.
The types of recipes that have been born out of this are often hearty stews, steaming roasts piled high with root vegetables, tables laid with crusty breads, and hot toddies. That energy that pulls us inward can draw us around a table together for a deeper fellowship. We are called to pause, to warm each other up.
Ginger is a winter root for me. Don’t get me wrong, I use it in summer cooking, too, but winter is when I realize that my body is craving it. During cold season, one of my favorite drinks is a lemon ginger tonic. I was thumbing through a new cookbook, and one of the recipes called for ginger preserves. I had never tasted them or seen them in the store, so I promptly searched for them on Amazon. I found a jar, read the reviews and divine descriptions, and almost ordered one, but then I thought better of it.
In this depth of winter, few things are more invigorating than making something new. So I bought way more ginger than I’ve ever had at once, and I set off. This recipe is kind of like a marmalade, except I would say quite a bit sweeter.
Makes 5 half-pint jars
1 1/2 pounds ginger root
4-6 cups water
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
Zest of one lemon
2 tbsp dry pectin or 1 package liquid pectin
Put a small plate in the freezer (more on this later). Peel the ginger root. Grate half of it using a box grater or your food processor. (I used the box grater, and about 3/4 of the way through, wished I had used the food processor!) Dice the other half into 1/4 to 1/8 inch pieces, depending on how chunky you like your preserves*.
Add ginger to a heavy-bottomed pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and boil until the larger chunks are tender, 1 1/2 – 3 hours. (Mine took me 3 hours, but I didn’t chop the ginger quite as finely as I should have.)
Strain ginger through a fine mesh sieve, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid (you can save all of the liquid and make ginger ale). Cool the ginger mixture at temperature for 4 hours or in the refrigerator overnight.
Once ginger mixture is cooled off, add into a large heavy-bottomed pot along with the sugar, the zest, the honey, and the dry pectin. Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat, and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and boil for another 8-10 minutes. To check to see if your jam is done, grab your frozen plate and spoon a small amount of the mixture on it. Let it sit for a minute or two and then test it with your finger. If the jam has formed a skin or is starting to seem more solid, it is probably done. Be careful not to overcook your jam, or you’ll end up with hard candy and a huge mess on your hands. I speak from experience.
Spoon mixture into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath for 12 minutes. If you are new to canning, do some reading on canning safety to make sure you do everything correctly!
If you choose not to process some of it, keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
*If you want a smoother texture, grate of the ginger. I made the mistake of cubing mine in 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes, and after boiling it forever I had to strain out the larger pieces and more finely dice them so it would cook through.
Yesterday, my friend Jen made some fabulous sourdough biscuits, and these preserves were a fantastic addition to the warm biscuits. They were especially warming on a chilly afternoon with tea!
I may be new to Ginger preserves, but after a taste, of them on biscuits, I’m scheming on how to enjoy them next::
- Obviously, I’ll be eating them on English muffins with cream cheese. And toast. And basically on any carb I can get my hands on.
- This jam would be fabulous as a glaze for pork chops or ham.
- I am thinking there is a ricotta and ginger preserve bruschetta in my future.
- Can you imagine it as a part of a cheese plate? With a sharp cheddar or a buttery Havarti? Swoon.
I hope have a wonderful week ahead! Happy Monday, brave friends!