Much to Mr. Viv’s delight, my friend JP recently gave us a Soda Stream machine. What’s great about this contraption is that it carbonates water, and then you add flavored syrup to taste to make your own fizzy beverages at home. I’m not a huge soda drinker, but I’ve been known to desperately crave a root beer, ginger ale, or Diet Coke every now and then. Even so, I’m kind of creeped out by all the weird ingredients in commercial soft drinks, so I’ve been dying to try making some homemade soda syrup myself.
Click through to learn how to make a versatile ginger syrup that can be used for not only for homemade ginger ale, but also for cocktails, fruit salads, and much more!
Ok, before we begin, I HAVE to mention that I was going to share this ginger syrup recipe from the brilliant David Lebovitz with you, but when I was researching ideas for what to do with the discarded ginger, I decided to use a “candied ginger” recipe instead. This way, you end up with no wasted syrup or ginger. At the end of the post, you’ll find suggestions for how to use both.
Adapted from David Lebovitz.
- 1 pound ginger
- 4 cups sugar
- 4 cups water
- Pinch of salt
Peel the ginger before THINLY slicing it. It’s really easy to remove the skin by gently scraping it off with a spoon. The skin isn’t harmful and the thin slicing will help infuse more flavor into the syrup while ensuring that your candied ginger isn’t too stringy or tough, but none of this needs to be perfect. (Are you starting to notice a pattern here on this blog?)
Cover the ginger slices with water in a nonreactive pot and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then drain. I strayed from the directions and reserved this water instead of discarding it. (Hey, I figured it’d be full of ginger flavor, and I didn’t want to waste water in a drought!) Repeat this process once, so the ginger is simmered in fresh water for a total of 2 times. Drain and reserve the blanching water again.
The original recipe calls for fresh water next too, but I used the water reserved from blanching the ginger both times and used 4 cups of it for this part. You’ll also add 4 cups sugar and a pinch of salt. Heat to 225 degrees. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, Master Lebovitz says you can just heat until “the liquid is the consistency of thin honey.”
Now you can either let the ginger sit and further infuse the syrup for up to 24 hours, or you can strain while the syrup is hot and runny, which makes draining it easier. It’s your choice. Either way, reserve BOTH the syrup AND the ginger!
What to do with candied ginger: If you want, you can coat the reserved ginger in granulated sugar and spread it out on a rack to dehydrate a bit. (Which is what I did.) Once dry to the touch, it will keep in a container at room temperature for a few months. You could eat this as it is, use it to dress up some ordinary trail mix, bring it when traveling to help with motion sickness, or dip it in dark chocolate and package in pretty cellophane bags to give away as gifts (especially great for pregnant women to help with nausea, by the way). It would also make a beautiful garnish for any ginger-flavored baked goods, chopped or whole.
Or, you can chop it up right away to mix into a batch of homemade marmalade, ice cream, or gingersnaps and skip the sugar coating and drying steps altogether.
What to do with ginger syrup: For ginger ale/soda, add syrup to carbonated water to taste. A squeeze of lemon would brighten the flavor and balance the sweetness. You could also replace simple syrup with ginger syrup in cocktail recipes for a sweet and spicy kick. Or, try mixing up a fruit salad with this syrup, a squeeze of lime, and fresh mint for garnish.
Let us know if you make this dual-purpose recipe, and how you use the syrup and candied ginger. We’re interested to hear about even more uses for them both, because clearly WE LOVE THIS STUFF!