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I've made some rather good ginger syrup by simmering chopped ginger root in equal parts sugar and water, then straining. I made rather a lot, nearly half a litre, and used less than planned. Most is frozen but some is currently in the fridge.

I'd like to make it both shelf-stable and more portable. In particular it's a very component of the energy/electrolyte drinks I use when cycling long distances* so a dry form would be lighter and more compact than a small bottle of liquid.

So I'd like to dry it to flavoured sugar. Considering my options:

  • I have a dehydrator, but that's meant for solids, and would be very slow at shifting that much water.
  • I'm sure I couldn't simmer off all the water, but a stovetop reduction might be a good first step.
  • Can it be done in the oven? My instinct is that I'd end up with a solid layer stuck firmly to a baking sheet, but perhaps putting it in/on something flexible would allow me to crack it off the surface.

* As well as improving the flavour dramatically, it appears to help against the nausea I sometimes encounter on such long rides.

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  • Note that the related question How to make syrups shelf stable? rules out heating, and wants a shelf-stable liquid
    – Chris H
    Apr 19, 2022 at 9:11
  • Consider making it a concentrate instead of drying it completely to powder. With that much sugar, it's shelf stable at a maple syrup consistency.
    – FuzzyChef
    Apr 19, 2022 at 20:18
  • @FuzzyChef that's all very well, but that consistency isn't very practical. It won't pour, at least not once it's been cold - and it will get cold - so it's then a case of storing it in a jar and using a spoon (which I wouldn't normally have with me), trying not to get any on the outside of the jar.
    – Chris H
    Apr 21, 2022 at 17:47
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    You want the baby food ones, given.
    – FuzzyChef
    Apr 22, 2022 at 19:27
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    @FuzzyChef yes, and if I get assorted cute animals I have to figure out a code for what's in what
    – Chris H
    Apr 22, 2022 at 19:37

3 Answers 3

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You made a syrup with equal parts sugar and water, infused with ginger, and strained.

While theoretically you could eventually dehydrate the water out, have you considered turning the syrup into candy? You might not be able to mix or into your drink, but you could chase it instead. Although if you make a fudge, there might be a way.

In your place I'd try cooking the syrup to 240 F, letting it cool back to just warm, and beating into a crystallised fudgy mass. While you can chop that up directly like fudge usually is, overheated and overworked fudge can become powdery and prone to shattering. You may be able to gently crush it into a coarse powder. It won't be a dry powder, but clumpy like brown sugar. I think that's your best bet at turning your syrup into a powder of sorts.

If you heat the syrup anywhere between 235 and 265 F, and don't beat it, you should get a chewy candy. Towards 235 F will be softer and stickier, while closer to 265 F will be much firmer and chewier.

Just pay attention to the color and smell. It's possible the ginger components could start browning and burning at lower temperatures, so be vigilant.

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  • Smashed candy might work. It should dissolve in cold water given time. Maybe I'll have a try
    – Chris H
    Apr 21, 2022 at 17:48
  • I had a play while I had a good opportunity, and your overworked fudge set me in the right direction. After hearing to (a generous) 240F and beating as it cooled, I was left with something crumbly. A few hours in a 50C oven, with a couple of blasts in the chopper/grinder attachment for my food processor left me something that I could sift into a jar. I work in metric but luckily my thermometer does both. At some point I'll edit conversions into this answer.
    – Chris H
    Apr 22, 2022 at 13:46
  • I will also consider sweets, though I have some commercial hard ginger sweets to use up first. I have an idea based on Turkish delight, which I've wanted to make for years.
    – Chris H
    Apr 22, 2022 at 13:48
  • @Chris H Excellent! I'm glad you got somewhere with it. :)
    – kitukwfyer
    Apr 22, 2022 at 21:21
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Flavored syrups can be turned into a powder or in the case of sugar, crystallized. It's just a matter of cooking the water out somehow, and you can do that on the stove or in the oven. The issue with the oven is that as it is enclosed the moisture builds up and you have to keep circulating new air in, so the stovetop is your best bet.

The considerations I'd have with this approach is that you may be cooking out the goodness you are looking for. Also, you are going to spend a lot of time and energy powdering ginger and sugar, which you can buy ready made in the store. You may get everything you need by mixing powered ginger and sugar in crystallized form, if not then your approach isn't likely to give better results.

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  • I have tried powdered ginger too, in a sort of tea with lemon (that's quite nice when I'm in the mood, with more flavour than commercial equivalents), but the drink ends up noticeably powdery. I see there are other - better - ways to make ginger-infused sugar (for next time perhaps, or I might just put a couple of slices of ginger root in my water). I'm going to assume that if I can keep the flavour in there, I can keep the [self-censored off-topic bit].
    – Chris H
    Apr 19, 2022 at 9:34
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    But what I'm not sure about is cooking down to solid on the stovetop without burning - I've never had a stove gentle enough
    – Chris H
    Apr 19, 2022 at 9:35
  • What I'd be aiming for is simply a thicker syrup @ChrisH. I do this relatively often for cocktail making and reducing sauces, and it can be done on any stovetop. I appreciate weight is a consideration for you, you'll need to make a call on quality versus weight. Crushing fresh ginger with a lightweight masher may be your best option.
    – GdD
    Apr 19, 2022 at 9:55
  • There's no harm in trying a reduction in a pan, as at worst that would be an intermediate step in drying to solid. It wouldn't be all that easy to pack but I have some tiny bottles if it's not too viscous when cold. I've been known to use 3 tealight candles under a saucepan for making a reduction, for about 120W of heat (lowest on my gas stove is more like 400W)
    – Chris H
    Apr 19, 2022 at 10:09
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It is certainly possible to produced a powdered drink from a liquid one, however it isn't quite as simple as one might think. Heating for a long time to drive off water can result in flavours changing quite a bit as the volatiles escape. However, having had a quick look at a review of the literature, it seems that the anti-nausea properties are contained in the gingerols and shogagols, which are non-volatile, so heat away...

To do this sort of preservation properly you really need to use a freeze-drier. Unfortunately these aren't cheap (to buy or run) or quiet, but they do preserve food very well and are truly excellent at removing liquid from substances than need to be dried down into a powder. They are also used to make great light-weight hiking/cycle touring/camping foods, so they aren't just one-trick-ponies.

You can get them new for less than US$ 3000 (e.g. these ones (I have no affiliation to this company or any other company for that matter)), but I am sure that they can be picked up second-hand for a bit cheaper.

Because you totally need another (large) gadget in your house...

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