Candied ginger and crystallized ginger are two popular forms of preserved ginger that are often used in baking, confections, and cuisine. While they share some similarities, there are a few key differences between the two.
What is Candied Ginger?
Candied ginger, also sometimes called glazed ginger, is made by cooking fresh ginger root in a sugar syrup solution. The ginger absorbs the sweet syrup, taking on a soft, chewy texture with a crystallized sugar coating.
To make candied ginger, fresh ginger root is peeled and sliced into small pieces. The ginger is then boiled in a sugar syrup made from granulated white sugar and water. Once the ginger becomes tender, it is removed from the syrup and tossed in granulated sugar which coats the outside. The ginger is then set out to dry and harden for anywhere from a few hours to a couple days.
This process results in ginger pieces that are soft and chewy on the inside but with a crunchy, crystallized sugar coating on the outside. The interior retains a pronounced ginger flavor while the exterior is sweet from the sugar syrup. The sugar also acts as a preservative, allowing candied ginger to be stored for several months.
Uses for Candied Ginger
Candied ginger is valued for its sweet taste and chewy texture. It is commonly used:
- As a topping or mix-in for pastries, cakes, cookies, ice cream, and more desserts
- In confections like ginger candies or chocolate
- Chopped up in oatmeal, granola bars, and other snacks
- As a garnish for cocktails
- In savory dishes like stir fries, curries, and glazed vegetables
What is Crystallized Ginger?
Crystallized ginger, sometimes called glazed ginger, is also made from fresh ginger that is candied in sugar syrup. However, it goes through an additional step that results in a different texture.
After being peeled and sliced, the ginger is simmered in sugar syrup until tender. It is then removed from the heat and thoroughly dried, often in a low oven or dehydrator. Once dried, the ginger is tossed in granulated sugar which forms a crystal coating on the exterior.
Since the ginger is dried first, crystallized ginger has a firmer, more brittle texture than candied ginger. The sugar also crystallizes more thoroughly on the outside. The end result is ginger that is dense and dry on the inside but with a crunchy, crystallized sugar shell.
Uses for Crystallized Ginger
The dry, concentrated ginger flavor and hard crystal coating make crystallized ginger suitable for:
- Baking – chopped up and mixed into cookies, scones, muffins, cakes
- Trail mixes and snack mixes
- Cereals and oatmeal
- Sprinkling on top of desserts and ice cream
- Cooking savory dishes
Summary of Differences
Here is a quick overview of the key differences between candied and crystallized ginger:
|Tender, chewy texture
|Dense, brittle texture
|Thin sugar coating
|Thick sugar crystal coating
|Typically used in desserts
|Typically used in baked goods
How to Store and Use Candied and Crystallized Ginger
Both forms of preserved ginger can be stored for several months if kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Over time, the sugar coating may start to weep or bleed moisture.
Candied ginger brings more moisture and chewiness to recipes, so it works well in softer desserts like cakes and cookies. Crystallized ginger has a more concentrated ginger flavor and adds crunch, so it is ideal for snacks or firmer baked goods like biscotti or gingerbread.
Try using candied ginger chopped or whole to top cupcakes or ice cream sundaes. Or add crystallized ginger pieces when making homemade granola or trail mix. Both types can also be enjoyed on their own as a sweet treat.
Making Your Own Candied or Crystallized Ginger
It’s easy to make either candied or crystallized ginger at home with just a few ingredients:
- Fresh ginger root
- Granulated sugar
Peel and slice ginger. Boil in simple syrup made from equal parts sugar and water until tender. Toss in granulated sugar to coat. Dry for a few hours.
- Fresh ginger root
- Granulated sugar
Peel and slice ginger. Simmer in simple syrup until tender. Drain and dry thoroughly. Toss dried ginger in granulated sugar to coat. Store in airtight container.
Candied and crystallized ginger provide two different takes on preserved ginger. Candied ginger boasts a soft, chewy texture with mild sweetness. Crystallized ginger has a dense, snappy texture and pronounced ginger flavor. While they share similarities in being made with ginger and sugar, their textures, flavors, and uses differ. Both make excellent additions to a wide variety of sweet and savory recipes.