Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wild Ginger Sundaes

photo by Kate Andrews

Most years, by the end of April, there would be some green in the woods. The wild leeks would be ready for us to harvest for potato soup. The blood root would be unfurling their leaves, revealing the pure white blossoms hidden inside, and the wild ginger would be pushing their way through the leaf duff. Soon their secretive purple blossoms would appear under the wide heart shaped leaves.
Our friend Budd Andrews taught us how to harvest the ginger roots. He digs carefully just under the surface of the soil. The roots hang together, and he doesn’t want to destroy the entire patch. He doesn’t remove all the roots, but leaves pieces so that the plant survives for the next season.

Then he scrubs the roots and cuts them crosswise into short, one inch pieces. Budd simmers those pieces in enough water to cover for 15 – 20 minutes. He drains them, covers them again with water, adds 1 cup of sugar for every cup of roots and boils them for another 30 minutes. Then he drains them and dries the candied roots for one to two days and stores them in container to use later.

We still have banks of snow in our maple woods and there isn’t a sign of leek or blood root or wild ginger. It’s sort of discouraging, but it does mean that the sap is still running in the maple trees and that’s good.

Wild Ginger Sundaes
You can use your own candied ginger or buy candied ginger from the grocery store. They have very different flavors and textures, but both make a wonderful ice cream topping.

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon candied ginger, chopped fine
Boil sugar, water and powdered ginger for 6 minutes, cool
Sprinkle chopped ginger over vanilla ice cream, then pour on ginger syrup.
Makes two servings. For more servings, chop more ginger.

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