Saturday, January 11, 2014

Homemade Ginger Ale

Homemade fermented ginger ale is not only delicious, it also contains beneficial probiotics and enzymes. Ginger has many health benefits too (fresh ginger might be more effective though). Ginger can help with digestive ailments and nausea and reduce inflammation. I used to take it for morning sickness and for a while after I couldn't stand the smell of it. Now I love it.

It seems like the recipe has a lot of sugar but the fermentation process consumes a lot of it. The good bacteria use the sugar for their nutrition. I like to let mine ferment long enough that it isn't super sweet anymore.

Fermented ginger ale 

A piece of fresh ginger (an inch or more if you like strong gingery taste)
2 quarts of water (8 cups)
1/2 cup of ginger bug (see below)
Pinch of sea salt (to add minerals to the filtered water)
1/2 cup of unrefined cane sugar

Start by making a ginger bug (unless you have a friend who can share some of theirs like I did, thanks Michelle!). Ginger bug is the starter that starts the fermentation process. Here is how you make it:

1. Take a a pint size mason jar and put 1.5 cups filtered water in it. Chlorine can kill the good bacteria so don't use chlorinated water in any ferments.

2. Add a teaspoon of chopped ginger (organic would be best) and a teaspoon of sugar. Mix and put a lid on. Leave it in room temperature for several days. It gets bubbly when it is ready. You can then store it in fridge indefinitely.

3. After using some of your ginger bug for your ginger ale, add fresh filtered water to replace what you used and a teaspoon of ginger and sugar. Feed it every day you have it out. You can put it back in fridge in a couple of days.

Next make your wort:

1. Boil about two quarts of water with a few slices of ginger. You can play around with the amount in different batches depending how gingery you want it. Let it simmer for 30 minutes or so.

2. Add 1/2 cup of sugar to the hot water after you have turned the stove off so it won't burn in the bottom of the pot.

2. Let it cool down to room temperature and add the ginger bug and lemon juice if you want to use that (juice of half a lemon or so).

3. Pour the wort in big mason jars, Picklit jars or something similar. Leave a little bit of space, don't fill above the shoulder. Attach the airlock and add water in it if using. You can make this without an airlock jar as well in a regular jar with a regular lid. In this case remember to "burp" it though then from time to time if you leave it out for very long (just open the lid and let some carbonation out).

4. Leave out for a couple of days to ferment. It is ready when you can see little tiny bubbles rising from the bottom.

5. Transfer to bottles that you can close tightly. I use these from Ikea. Amazon sells some similar beer bottles for home brewers too. Leave them out for a day or two so they become carbonated.

6. Transfer to the fridge. I like to let them ferment in the fridge for an additional few days but you could drink it before as well. Enjoy! Let me know how it goes, I am always curious to hear other's experiences in fermenting.