Stay Warm and Cozy with Ginger

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ginger syrup and ginger tea, foreground, and fruit compote made with ginger syrup and apple slices, background

The appeal of ginger is its tingling, pungent flavor and invigorating aroma. That’s why the spice is used in so many condiments. However, another way to enjoy ginger’s sharp taste is by making a sweet gingery syrup for hot tea or to spruce up other beverages. Adding a dollop of ginger syrup is a great way to stay warm and healthy while weathering the long, cold winter.

Kochi Prefecture is the largest producer of ginger in Japan, and outdoor cultivators harvest it in October and November. Ginger shipped immediately after harvesting is called shin-shoga, or fresh ginger root, while ginger preserved in a storehouse is called hine-shoga, or stored ginger root.

Most ginger currently on the market is the hine-shoga type, according to major fruit and vegetable wholesaler Tokyo Seika Co.

“Demand for ginger grows with the onset of winter,” a Tokyo Seika official said. “The number of people consuming ginger increases because it warms up the body.”

Seiko Ogawa, a culinary researcher and associate professor at Kyoritsu Women’s Junior College, recommends focusing on the ginger itself when making this delicious syrup.

“At this time of the season, you can make the syrup to enjoy the tingling spiciness of hine-shoga and the aroma of ginger,” Ogawa said.

Here, Ogawa shows how to make a ginger syrup that contains a lot of ginger. The syrup can be easily made by heating it in a microwave at 600 watts, she said.

■ Ginger syrup


100 grams ginger (net weight)

150 grams sugar


1. Wash the ginger well with a brush.

2. Cut the ginger into thin slices, breaking off the fibers.

3. Place the ginger slices in a large bowl, and add 150 milliliters of water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then heat it in a microwave for 5 minutes.

4. Leave for 10 minutes, and then heat again for 5 minutes.

5. When the ginger slices are soft, add half of the sugar.

6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and heat in a microwave for 5 minutes. Allow it to cool.

7. Add the remaining sugar and stir the mixture. Wrap the bowl and heat in a microwave for 5 minutes.

8. Put the ginger mixture in a clean jar while still hot, and store in the refrigerator.

Let the mixture sit overnight to allow the flavors to blend. Put as much syrup as desired in a cup and pour boiling water over it to make a nostalgic ginger tea. Savoring the ginger will make you feel all warm and cozy.

“Put lemon in the ginger tea if you’d like,” Ogawa said. “This ginger syrup also goes well with black tea, milk, soy milk and cocoa.”

Ginger syrup can be stored in a refrigerator for about one week. If you make a large amount, put the syrup in a freezer bag and freeze it.

You can also make fruit compote by combining the ginger syrup with in-season apples.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A piece of ginger is cut into thin slices with the skin on.

■ Fruit compote


1 apple

1½ tbsp ginger syrup (including ginger)

2 tsp lemon juice


1. Wash the apple, and cut it into 6 to 8 slices. Remove the core.

2. Place each slice skin-side down in a bowl.

3. Pour the ginger syrup and lemon juice over the apple slices.

4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and microwave at 600 watts for about 3 minutes until the juice spurts out. Let it cool.

The flesh of apples is surprisingly soft. The ginger flavor and the apple’s sweet and sour taste go well together. If you want the dish to be more acidic, add extra lemon juice. To spruce it up for adults, add 1-2 tablespoons of white wine and heat the ingredients. Pineapples also go well with this ginger syrup.

“This winter, enjoy the flavor of ginger in its entirety,” Ogawa said.