January is already half over, and it is getting bitterly cold. It is a season when we actively want to partake of body-warming foods, including hot drinks and stews.
The gift we recommend this time is Ginger Syrup from Kirishima-Farm in Shimanto, Kochi Prefecture. Made with safe ingredients and methods, the syrup serves as an easy way to enjoy body-warming and healthy ginger. The distinct taste and spiciness of ginger is sure to energize our cold body.
Let’s have a look at why ginger syrup makes a great gift.
Kirishima-Farm’s ginger is made without any pesticides or chemical fertilizers, grown with the innate power of the vegetable. The syrup uses an abundance of deeply flavorful and thoroughly spicy ginger. Made simply with ginger and coarse sugar, the syrup retains the ingrained flavor of the ginger.
During the cold season you can put the syrup in a warm drink to keep you warm, and in the hot season you can mix it with cider to make a refreshing ginger ale. The syrup can be used in place of sugar, by children to adults to enjoy it in their own way.
The other reason this ginger syrup makes a great gift is its simple packaging design. While many gift items line store shelves with sophisticated designs, the deliberately handwritten labels and an accompanying message transmit warmth just as the syrup will keep you physically warm.
The ginger syrup is made by Kirishima-Farm, a vegetable farm by the Shimanto River known as the last pure stream of Japan. The farm stays away from pesticides and chemical fertilizers and grows simple and powerful vegetables by natural farming, where the only human intervention is watering and spreading fertilizers to vegetables and culling the branches.
Being allowed to grow without much intervention, vegetables from Kirishima-Farm are very flavorful and people all over Japan order them.
One of the major vegetables from Kirishima-Farm is ginger. Matured slowly in a cave behind Kirishima’s house, at a stable temperatures and humidity, the ginger becomes flavorful, spicy and develops a somewhat wild taste.
Shoichi Kirishima, who runs Kirishima-Farm, started making ginger syrup because he wanted to make use of imperfectly shaped non-standard ginger. After testing countless prototypes in his home kitchen, he finally commercialized it. He built a processing room next to his house and that is where he does all the work including processing the ginger to affixing labels.
The process to make ginger syrup is very simple—each piece of ginger is sliced by hand, simmered in water from the Shimanto River, and then coarse sugar is added to that water. Just like his deliberately simple farming, Kirishima adds nothing else to the syrup. The syrup has a strong ginger flavor but does not have any lingering spiciness. When Kirishima started selling it at a roadside station, it soon became a popular product, thanks partly to the warm packaging design.
We asked Kirishima how to enjoy ginger syrup.
“You could put ice and cider in it to make ginger ale. In the cold season you can put the syrup in hot milk to make ginger milk.”
We prepared ginger milk right away. The result was a mild drink even fit for children, as the mild milk neutralized the syrup’s spiciness. The heat enhanced the ginger flavor. We felt as if the aroma alone would keep us warm.
According to the recipe card that comes with the bottle, the syrup can be used not just to make drinks, but also as a seasoning for cooked dishes and confectioneries. It can be used to remove the unwanted odors from fish, or to accentuate winter dishes with ginger, including stews.
This ginger syrup is the result of the power of nature, from the growing stage to storage and processing. Why not give it as a gift that will warm the recipient’s body and mind?
Writer : YOKO AOYAGI / Photographer : YUTA SUZUKI / SATOSHI TACHIBANA
*Some of the images posted on our website have been provided by those whom we interviewed.