I was walking through the market the other day which is something that I really miss. Now that I no longer live downtown I don't get there anywhere near often enough. Even when you don't particularly need to buy something it is nice to walk through and look at what all of the different vendors have on offer. On this particular day they just happened to be unloading a giant basket of ginger. It was so fresh you could smell it as soon as you turned the corner. The skin was nice and smooth with no signs of wrinking, which is just what you want if you want your ginger to be FULL of flavour.
Before I knew it I had a giant bag of ginger in my hand and I was practically skipping out of the market with happiness, my mind whirling with thoughts of what I could do with it. Should I candy it? Nope...I was going to make a ginger jelly.
Now when you have a GIANT bag of ginger, the thought of peeling it all can be rather daunting unless you know this little trick. Peeling ginger is the easiest when you simply use a spoon and scrape off the skin. I never knew this until I was in Asia and I saw one of the street vendors doing it. I had always struggled with a carrot peeler, cursing and swearing and wondering how you ever got into all the little nooks and crannies. With a simple spoon the skin just seems to peel away and there is no need for even the slightest cursing in the kitchen.
So now let's talk about the jelly. I wanted to get the most flavour out of the ginger but still produce a nice clear jelly, so I peeled 3-4 pieces of ginger and thinly sliced them to get about 2 cups.
3-4 nice smooth large pieces of Ginger with no wrinkling in the skin
3 tbsp lemon juice (I used fresh squeezed...and if you want your jelly clear be sure to strain it)
2 1/4 tbsp rice vinegar
4 cups sugar
1 3oz package liquid pectin
Using the edge of your spoon, peel the ginger as I described above and then thinly slice until you have 2 cups of ginger. Place the sliced ginger in a medium sized saucepan and cover with 3 cups of water. Over medium low heat bring the mixture to a nice hot temperature, but do not boil. Once the water is hot remove from heat.
Using damp cheese cloth and a sieve, strain the mixture as you pour it into the bowl. The more layers of cheese cloth, the clearer your jelly. I folded mine 3 times. It is important to make the cheese cloth damp so that it just doesn't absorb all your delicious ginger water. Then if you want to take it one step further, using a coffee filter, line the sieve again and strain it once more. Keep in mind that any sediment will settle at the bottom of the coffee filter so you will have to scrape the bottom once or twice as it is straining to clear the way. Then cover the bowl with saran wrap and let it sit overnight in the fridge. This allows any sediment you didn't catch to settle on the bottom.
The next day carefully ladle the liquid out of the bowl leaving any sediment on the bottom...being very careful not to disturb it or all your hard work will have gone to waste.
You can again line the sieve and strain the liquid through a coffee filter. Consider doubling up your coffee filter for a super clear jelly. At the end you should get about 2 cups of ginger water.
In a medium sized pan, combine your 2 cups of ginger juice with the lemon and vinegar. Over medium heat warm the mixture up and then add your sugar and stir. I like to warm my sugar in the oven for about 15 minutes before adding to the liquid. Stir constantly until the sugar has completely dissolved, then increase the heat and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Once it has reached the point where you can't stir away the bubbles, add your liquid pectin and bring it back up to a boil the whole time stirring the mixture. Once it returns to that rolling boil stir for 1 minute and remove from heat.
Quickly skim off any foam and ladle the liquid into hot jars leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel. Cover with lids and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Then spread on a piece of bread or cracker and enjoy!