I am taking a class this semester at UGA called Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants. We have learned about medicinal plants, taken field trips to different gardens around campus and as our final project we got to participate in HerbFest. It is a chance for each student to pick a medicinal plant, prepare it in 3 different ways and share about it through a poster. At the end of the semester everyone sets up their chosen herbal preparations in the ballroom in our student center. HerbFest happened today, and with 250 students in the class we completely filled the ballroom with all kinds of interesting herbal preparations ranging from herbal candles, soap, first aid kits, hangover cures, shoe deodorizers, and lots of food. Being an herbalist in training, I spent a long time deliberating over what plant I would choose. However, I went with my gut and decided to pick a medicinal plant that I could make into food. For truly, it is the best medicine.
I chose GINGER.
I don’t remember if I have always loved ginger, but it is a relationship that has grown over the years. Now I put ginger in many things from soup, tea, cookies, tinctures, etc. It is very versatile and I love it’s pungent and spicy kick. Once I chose ginger for my HerbFest project, I got excited about trying out some new recipes and made candied ginger, chocolate gingerbread cookies, and lemon ginger tea.
When I began looking for recipes for candied ginger it seemed that they were all chocked full of sugar. The ginger was simmered in a sugar syrup and then rolled in sugar. To me all the sweetness detracts from the true ginger flavor, so I wanted to find something a little different. I found someone who already did the work to create a lower sugar recipe for Homemade Vanilla Honey Candied Ginger.
First step was to peel and slice a bunch of fresh ginger. Be prepared to hunker down because this takes awhile.
Then the ginger was simmered in water for about 45 minutes and vanilla and honey were added. Then the mixture was heated and cooled 4 times and the last time it cooked until the honey made a dark, thick syrup. Yummy!
The ginger was scooped out and placed on a tray to dry out.
The ginger was still really sticky, so I coated one half of the ginger with organic cane sugar and the other half with ground unsweetened coconut. Both taste amazing! It is chewy and fiery and warms up your whole body from the spicy gingery kick. Just how I like it. Yum.
For my second variation on ginger I wanted to make a cookie. I tried a gingersnap cookie, but it was neither gingery nor snappy so I kept looking. Finally I stumbled on a recipe for Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies. Jackpot!
It called for all the traditional ingredients in a gingerbread cookie like ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon along with cocoa powder.
For the wet ingredients butter was creamed with molasses, fresh grated ginger and brown sugar.
Then after everything was mixed together came the best part. CHOCOLATE CHIPS!
The cookie dough was chilled.
Scooped out into balls.
And rolled in sugar.
Boy are these cookies delicious. It is like getting the best of both worlds and has everything you love about gingerbread and everything you love about chocolate chip cookies. What could be better? This has quickly become my favorite cookie of all time. Next I am going to experiment making it gluten and sugar free.
For my third variation on ginger I made a Honey Lemon Ginger Tea. I just simmered sliced fresh ginger and dried ginger in water for 1 hour, strained out the ginger, and added honey and lemon juice to taste.
For my poster I wanted to set it up in the style of a blogpost with pictures, and captions about each step in the process, and I decided to go with a simple holiday theme for the decorations. For serving the goodies I used tins and finally had my reason for keeping all the christmas containers from years past.
I got mini cupcake liners to serve the sticky pieces of candied ginger and found little 3 oz cups at Walmart to serve the tea.
I really enjoyed this project, and I am hopeful about getting an A :). I also really enjoyed experimenting with different recipes starring one of my favorite medicinal plants!
What are your favorite recipes using ginger?