by erin stewart sm (151 of 9)

Cooking with Herbs: Spicy Ginger Syrup

Many years ago, I used to love the sweet and spicy flavor of the sauce that restaurants use to flavor dishes like orange chicken. It was warming and zingy and delightfully spicy, but I ended up developing an allergy to one of its ingredients and hadn’t been able to eat anything like it for a long time. Three or four years ago, I started experimenting with different flavor combinations to try to come up with a recipe that would taste similar and, after a lot of testing, I found that a combination of four common ingredients gave me just the flavor I was looking for: ginger, garlic, orange and crushed red pepper.

Since then, Jon and I have enjoyed using this combination of ingredients to flavor things like roasted cauliflower. It gives it just the right flavor profile and makes everything super yummy! It can take time to prepare all of the ingredients every time we want to cook, though, so I decided to make a spiced ginger syrup using the ingredients so we could use the syrup for cooking when we had less time to prepare a meal. We use little dabs of ginger syrup in our cooking often, so I knew that this blend would be just as delicious and thought you might enjoy it too.


  • 3 cups of pure water
  • one palm-sized hand of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • the juice and zest of one orange
  • 7-8 full cloves of garlic
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • raw, organic sugar

How to Make the Syrup

Begin by placing the water in a small saucepan over low heat. Allow the water to heat while you prepare your ingredients. Add the ginger, orange, and garlic to the saucepan, then place the lid on the pot and allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and strain the liquid into a glass measuring bowl. Make a mental note of how much liquid you have, then return the liquid to the saucepan. Measure out an amount of sugar that is double the amount of liquid you have and add it to the saucepan. Heat over a low flame until the mixture just begins to simmer, stirring constantly. You’ll know it’s finished when it starts to thicken a little bit and leave a trail on your spoon.

Note: If you use a raw, organic sugar that hasn’t been bleached or refined, your finished syrup will be nice and dark like mine (see the pictures). If you use a lighter colored or refined sugar, your syrup will be more golden in color.

Remove the finished syrup from the heat, pour into a syrup bottle, and allow to cool completely before storing in the fridge. Use within 3-6 months.

Quick tip: If you want to use this syrup for baked goods or sweeter dishes like pancakes, leave out the garlic and add a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom instead.

Try using a dash of syrup here and there when cooking savory dishes to add a bit of warming spice to the overall flavor. I think you’ll find it delicious! It’s especially yummy added to things like roasted veggies, baked sweet potatoes, and stir fry.

Much love,

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Erin Stewart is an herbalist, NAHA certified aromatherapist, organic gardener and urban homesteader. She grows over 70 kinds of aromatic and medicinal plants for her own apothecary and distills essential oils and hydrosols in her PNW garden. Erin is the founder of Floranella and of AromaCulture’s herbalism + aromatherapy magazine.

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3 thoughts on “Cooking with Herbs: Spicy Ginger Syrup”

    1. Erin Stewart

      Yes, if you want the finished product to have a 3-6 month shelf life in the fridge. You can use 1 cup of sugar to yield a syrup that will last about 1 month in the fridge. If you want to avoid sugar, you could use honey (and alcohol to preserve, optional) and use up quickly, stored in fridge. The sugar content seems high when you read the recipe, but that’s the ratio necessary for the sugar to preserve the syrup for the longer shelf life.

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