Ina Garten Swears by This Underrated Pantry Ingredient for Fall Baking

published Oct 5, 2023
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Ina Garten holding a trifle, smiling
Credit: Quentin Bacon

Cinnamon, apple, pumpkin, and maple are beloved fall flavors that are highly sought-after once October rolls around. One flavor that’s not to be overlooked, however, is ginger! Crystallized ginger in particular is one of Ina Garten’s go-to baking ingredients. 

Ina often uses crystallized ginger as either a garnish for cakes and single-serve desserts or as a mix-in for frosting or snacking cake. In fact, it makes an appearance in some of her most popular recipes, including pumpkin mousse, pumpkin roulade, carrot cake, and hermit cookies, to name a few. 

What Is Crystallized Ginger?

Crystallized ginger is a form of ginger that has been peeled, cut into small chunks, and soaked in a mix of water and sugar, which helps the fresh ginger soften over time. Afterwards, the sugar in the water “crystallizes” and sweetens the ginger and the remaining pieces of ginger are then dried slightly and covered with sugar. 

The end result is small chunks of ginger that are light yellow in color and have a texture similar to a gummy worm. Although crystallized ginger is commonly sold dried and covered in sugar, it is also sometimes sold in syrup. 

Crystallized ginger is both sweet from the sugar but also maintains the “sweet heat” that you usually get from fresh ginger. Not to mention, it also adds texture to various baked goods, which explains Ina’s adoration for the product.

How to Use Crystallized Ginger in Cooking

Many people actually enjoy eating crystallized ginger as a snack. You can also buy crystallized ginger by the pound at stores like Whole Foods in the same place you’d scoop certain nuts and snacks. You can also order crystallized ginger online.

Crystallized ginger is also very popular in baked goods because of its chewy, candy-like texture and its mix of both sweet and piquant flavor. Like with many of Ina’s recipes, crystallized ginger is great as a simple garnish for layer cakes, cupcakes, and parfaits or as a mix-in ingredient in pumpkin quick bread, muffins, and coffee cake