The Difference of Fresh, From Concentrate, and Crystallized

More of a summer thing than mid-autumn, but oh well.

Since the onslaught of this high humidity-high heat-no wind, I have been enjoying a nightly glass of ice cold ginger lemonade. My wonderful partner in domestic crimes, er adventures -The Frau- had me taste this glorious Nectar of the Gods around Memorial Day. It was so light and refreshing, crisp and delightful. It enlivened my senses and calmed my mind. It….you get the picture.

I dutifully copied down the recipe.

Ginger Lemonade
[Williams-Sonoma Brunch Entertaining, I believe]
6 1/2 c. water
1 piece fresh ginger (3 1/2 oz), thinly sliced
3/4 c. lemon juice (about 5 lemons)
3/4 c. sugar (+/- to taste)
ice cubes
pineapple sticks, mint sprigs, and/or lemon slices

In a non-aluminum saucepan, boil 4 cups water. Add ginger, cover and remove from heat; steep for 5 minutes or longer depending on strength preference. Pour through sieve into glass jar. Cover and chill well. Pour lemon juice into large bowl, gradually add sugar, whisking until dissolved. Stir in remaining 2 1/2 c. water. Taste and correct sweetness. Cover and chill well. Fill a glass pitcher with ice cubes and combine liquids. Stir well and pour into chilled glasses. Garnish.


I wanted something cool and this was the only thing that would satisfy my tart, sweet, and tangy craving. I decided that rather than run out to buy all the ingredients around 9:30 PM, I would see what I had on hand to make do.

Organic and conventional bottled lemon juice…that would do. Crystallized rather than fresh ginger – seemed perfect to me. The bag listed four (4) ounces as the original weight, and knowing I had indulged a few slices earlier, I thought “Perfect, it will be close to 3 1/2 ounces!”

The lemon simple syrup was easy enough. I decided to depend upon the ice cubes and about 1/4 cup more sugar to help the strength. The ginger, however, oh my.

I should have remembered that I’m still learning how to cook with ginger. Give me oregano, dill, garlic, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, and I will season perfectly and with utmost care. Ginger, however, is still working its way into my culinary and epicurean ways and means. The slices of crystallized ginger were rather large, and drawing on my tea store and biology class knowledge on diffusion and osmosis, I cut the ginger into manageable strips. They steeped and then in the interest of all that is Iron Chef with kitchen gadgets, I subjected the softened ginger to my garlic press and steeped them another 5-10 minutes. Alas, time to strain the pulverized bits out of the golden liquid and combine them with the lemony tartness.

I couldn’t wait for my treat to cool down; my lips were eager to receive the sweet refreshment. I poured all in one pitcher and stirred. My glass filled with ice was ready. There were still some tepid drops going down my throat, but before I could enjoy the cooling sweetness…ginger. I poured in more water, hoping that would take off some zing. Helped with the lemon, but oh, the ginger. While no harmful or disruptive effects were felt from this intense rush of zip, I did notice a distinct “waking up” of my senses.

Giving it time in the fridge helped immensely. The softened, pulverized ginger was able to be used the next night with Attempt Number Two. That batch was more what I was expecting, and I got to sleep on time.

When life hands you lemons, make that lemonade! Call up a friend and ask for their recommendations and best recipe. But when seeking the other ingredients, know what you are getting. Have a refreshing summer, get some sleep, and accept no substitutes.



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