Making wild ginger syrup is a great way to preserve our native wild ginger. In liquid form, wild ginger can flavor cocktails, soft drinks, sorbets, crepes, or marinades with its complex and versatile taste.
For years I’ve used wild ginger freshly chopped or dried and powdered. That’s great for baking, but liquids are better for certain applications. By making wild ginger syrup, you get both. When the syrup is done, you’ll be left with candied wild ginger, which can be frozen or dried, and used later as a spice.
What You’ll Need to Make Wild Ginger Syrup
Wild ginger syrup can be made with fresh or dried wild ginger stolons. I usually use dried, because I harvest ginger stolons once a year, then dehydrate them to use year round. The general rule for adjusting recipes from fresh to dried spices recommends using 1/4 as much dried as you would fresh. Dried spices have had all the water removed, which concentrates the flavor…that’s why you can use less.
1/2 ounce dried wild ginger stolons (or two ounces fresh)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
What You’ll Do to Make Wild Ginger Syrup
Roughly chop the dried ginger and set it aside. Pieces should be 1/2 – 1/4 inch long.
In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar and water and bring that to a boil. To prevent scorching, continue to whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add the ginger to the simple syrup and turn down the heat to a low boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the syrup from the heat, cover it, and let it sit overnight.
Strain the syrup into a bottle and refrigerate. If you have a dehydrator, dry the leftover ginger stolons and save them for baking or using in a dry rub. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can freeze the stolons.
Bottled syrup will keep for several months in the refrigerator. For a longer shelf life, pour your syrup into canning jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Preserved this way, the syrup will last for at least a year.
To make homemade wild ginger ale, mix a tablespoon of syrup into eight ounces of club soda. Add ice and stir. You may never buy bottled ginger ale again. If you’d like a more adult beverage, use the syrup with rum, bourbon, gin, rye, or vodka.
Wild ginger syrup is equally delicious in sweet or savory foods. Use it as a base for ginger ice cream, sorbet, or granita, or create a marinade for fish or chicken with wild ginger syrup, soy sauce, and peanut oil.