Ginger preserves are pieces of ginger root that have been treated for long-term storage, usually in a jar. Generally, ginger preserves are sweet chunks of ginger that have been cooked in sugar before canning, but ginger can be preserved using other methods. Ginger preserves can be plain, seasoned with spices like cinnamon or nutmeg, or prepared in a mixture with other preserved fruits.
When making sweet preserves with ginger, the ginger needs to be cooked on its own before cooking it in the sugar solution. When preserving chunks of ginger in cooked syrup, the ginger is generally either boiled until tender or short boiled quickly in a process called blanching. This boiled ginger is then soaked in cold water for an hour before it is cooked in syrup. The ginger syrup mixture is often cooked two to three times before the ginger and sugar syrup are placed in the jars.
Since ginger goes well with many fruit flavors, fruit preserves mixed with ginger are common home and commercial treats. Popular fruits to preserve with ginger include blueberry, pineapple, and pear. In this type of mixed preserve, the fruit is cooked with the ginger before the sugar is added. Preserves with ginger are often flavored with honey or lemon.
Jars filled with ginger preserves need to be sealed quickly while the mixture and jars are still boiling hot to ensure that the mixture is sterile when the jars are sealed. Ginger preserves should also be packed in seal-able glass containers that have been washed and heated to ensure that they are entirely sterile. Getting jars sterile before making preserves is important because it prevents the presence of dangerous unwanted organisms that can poison or spoil improperly prepared preserves. After the preserves are put in jars, they should rest for at least a month before they are eaten.
Making ginger preserves is a sweet way to use extra ginger. This is a helpful dish for farmers and home gardeners who grow ginger, but it can also be helpful for a kitchen-savvy shopper who comes across a great deal on bulk ginger. Extra ginger can also be preserved by sealing and freezing the ginger or by pickling it. Ginger preserves can also be cooked longer in a mixture of sugar, water, and lemon juice until the mixture forms a gel-like dish known as ginger jam. Unlike ginger preserves, which must rest for a month before they are eaten, ginger jam can be canned or eaten as soon as it cools.