My journey in the world of business began with ginger – specifically, making crystallised ginger. As a curious food enthusiast, I’m the type who prefers crafting things that are readily available in stores. I’ve even dabbled in making puff pastry from scratch.
Back in 2017, while in Canada, I encountered crystallised ginger. The flavour was palatable, but the excessive sugar content bothered me.
This marked the beginning of my quest, which naturally started with a Google search – a common approach for many. Eager to learn the process, I delved into the world of homemade crystallised ginger. Numerous results suggested using a mandolin to thinly slice and removing the skin on the ginger. Here’s an example of one of the first pages I checked out, recipe from Daring Gourmet. Eventually, I came across the recipe of a US-based chef named David Lebovitz, known for his culinary expertise on the West Coast of USA. His crystallised ginger recipe intrigued me, which you can find here. What I liked about his recipe was he mentioned about the ginger syrup. Though when I was making the crystallised ginger for the first few times, I didn’t have any syrup leftover in the pot to be using.
To my surprise, the homemade version offered a distinct flavour profile, boasting a vibrant ginger spice kick unlike the perfectly shaped, cubed crystallised ginger. I found myself disheartened by the waste generated from the latter, especially considering the high-quality ginger used in its creation. This aspect prompted me to consider a change in my business approach.
This is an image of what is on one of the blogs that I visited, not what I made.
Of course my google results were different when living in Canada to what google would show me here in Ireland.
When I returned to Ireland and once I started looking at commercialising the product and also receiving some taster feedback I wanted to create a more chewier ginger pieces. After some more searches I came across this informative recipe for crystallised ginger, recipe link. It adviced to tenderise the ginger root by freezing and this has helped to make the ginger pieces more palatable.
As well as the above searches I was looking at the type of ginger and the quality. So I first discovered Peruvian ginger when I was in a food market in Calgary, Alberta. I wasn’t living in Calgary, I was 1hr west of there in Canmore, into the amazing Rocky mountains. Anyways, I was curious of the size and quality of this ginger. So once I returned to Ireland I went looking for some of this golden Peruvian ginger. So something to remember if the ginger is nice and yellow that is due to the gingerol concentration, more yellow higher gingerol and goodness, veering towards white/dull yellow, low in gingerol.
Some pictures of testing drying crystallised ginger. Just some crystallised ginger drying out au natural.
When I was first making the crystallised ginger to sale, the pieces were a bit larger than what I make now. The flavour was certainly a bit overwhelming for consumers at first or just the unexpected strength, as they would have been accustomed to the sugary crystallised ginger cubes you get in the shop. So making them smaller, customer's are able to enjoy more pieces without blowing their heads off with the ginger zing.
Customer's do acclimatise to the zingy ginger flavour and now take it for the ginger benefits which range joint issues like arthritis as ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory. I am hearing more customers mention how the crystallised ginger aids their digestion as it eases heartburn, acid reflux and any nausea ailments.
So the Peruvian ginger is brought into Ireland mostly through the Netherlands and then redistributed around Europe to other suppliers.
A professional image of what my crystallised ginger looks like now with its packaging
Some other differences with my crystallised ginger compared to the commercial crystallised ginger is that as I use organic ginger root, I give the root a good clean and remove any dried dirty. I remove the skin around the outer tips, as it can be a bit tougher here, and I check for blemishes that look unpleasant. All this skin is then gathered and reboiled in order to harness all the ginger goodness and return it to my production, always thinking sustainably and zero waste within my business.
The boiled solution is used in my ginger infused water, which is a by-product of the preparation of the ginger before making the crystallised ginger, and is made into my range of Ginger syrup, Spiced Ginger syrup and the seasonal Ginger and Rhubarb syrup.
...... More to come later. Work in progress, come back later ......