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Salsa, jalapeños, curry—if it’s hot, I can’t hack it. But there’s something about ginger. Crystallized ginger, that is—which zings even as it zaps. Now specialty farmers (think organic, locavore) in the Northeast are growing ginger in hoop houses. I could grow it myself, and maybe someday I will.

So naturally I thought, how marvelous … I can make crystallized ginger in the comfort of my home. But when I googled a recipe … well, about those glittery shards of turbinado sugar coating each half-inch cube of ginger in the bin at my local market … I bet even the natural-foods version of the crystallized ginger I buy has way more sugar in it than I really oughta be eating. So it’s got to go.

Just in time to keep hope alive, a friend gave me a half-pint of pickled ginger, homegrown here in the Finger Lakes by Melissa Madden and Garrett Miller on Hickok Road in Interlaken. Of course, even when hoop-house grown, you’ve got to harvest northern-grown ginger early (hence 若い生姜, or “young ginger”). Google tells me young ginger is milder than fully mature ginger, but my relish  has a bit of a kick. Just right if you ask me; depending on the batch, crystallized ginger can almost put me over the edge. Meanwhile, 若い生姜  comes without that rough, scabby skin or those coarse fibers running through the roots—a major plus in my book.

Good work, Melissa and Garrett. I’ll have more to say about M and G at Good Life Farm as this year’s crop takes root.

Years ago I stuck a chunk of ginger root in a clay pot and ... well, I don't remember quite what happened except no, I didn't harvest any. So wasn't it something to see this glorious pix of freshly harvested ginger from a farm in the heart of the Finger Lakes? Keep it up, guys. (Photo credit Melissa Madden.)