A Ginger Step Forward

The Ginger People Ginger Syrup

The Ginger People Ginger Syrup

I Paid: $4.29 for an 8-ounce bottle (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 5 stars

Marketing: 4 stars

The rhizome known as ginger is one of the most potent—and challenging—ingredients available to cooks. It’s rich in capsaicinlike chemicals called gingerols and imparts an herbal depth and eye-opening zing when used in moderation and an almost acrid burn when used too aggressively. The challenge with ginger, then, is to let the plant express itself in a manner that’s balanced and appropriate to the setting. Ginger Syrup, by the Ginger People, is pitch-perfect, lending both sweetness and tang without going overboard on either front.

Ginger Syrup appears pretty unremarkable at first: Its only ingredients are cane sugar and ginger, and its obvious application (pancakes or waffles) seems to be relatively limited. But, like its maple cousin, the stuff is amazingly adaptable. Used as a sweetener for low-rent tea (I defiantly drink Lipton), it produces a therapeutic cloud of ginger-scented steam and sweetens while adding a complementary spicy kick to the beverage. Combined with dark rum, it’s a great cocktail mixer. On vanilla ice cream, it’s a sophisticated alternative to the typical chocolate and butterscotch options. Like maple syrup, it undoubtedly has some culinary applications as well (ginger syrup–glazed pork with pineapple, perhaps?).

It’s always a bit surreal when you discover that something you’ve never heard of deserves to be a new pantry staple, but there you have it—Ginger Syrup is multitalented like that.

(Available at Whole Foods and Cost Plus World Market now, and due to return to the Ginger People’s website May 28.)

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow Chowhound on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.

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