Homemade Ginger Ale
I rarely drink soda but if I do, I love ginger ale.
There’s something about it that just makes me feel better and more settled if I’m feeling a little off.
On airplanes, it’s a must-have. And when I was pregnant, I lived on it, along with saltines.
When I saw Lindsay’s May Kitchen Challenge to make your own, I jumped on board.
It’s very simple to make and almost a work-free recipe, the best kind.
Make a simple syrup with water, sugar, and freshly grated ginger. Pour the strained simple syrup into bottles filled with tap water, lemon juice, a pinch of active dry yeast, shake, and let it sit on your counter for two or more days.
The yeast ferment the mixture and in the process, carbon dioxide (carbonation) is created, otherwise known as fizz.
It’s no where as fizzy as storebought ginger ale, but I didn’t expect it to be like cracking open a fizz-tastic can of Diet Coke. I knew from brewing homemade kombucha that it’s not the norm to have a fizz-fest.
You can ferment longer than two days, and in the process, more fizz will be created. You’ll also be closer to creating ginger beer, rather than ginger ale. As days pass in the fermentation process, the yeast eat any available sugar, create sugar alcohols as a byproduct, the beverage becomes less sweet, and contains more alcohol.
The mention of it containing alcohol comes with a huge caveat because there’s more alcohol in a few tablespoons of vanilla extract than in a glass of ginger ale or kombucha. And a swig of cough medicine has far more alcohol than any of them.
I largely adapted an Alton Brown recipe and although it’s really good, it doesn’t taste like commercial ginger ale, such as Canada Dry or Schweppes. It reminds me of sake with rice wine undertones. I feel like I’m in a sushi restaurant when sipping it. If you like sake, you’ll love this stuff.
I was expecting more of a ginger pop, because I used slightly more ground ginger than Alton called for, but it was still quite mild. If you’re a ginger fiend and love really intense ginger, you could likely double the grated ginger amount.
It would be strong, and far more intense than commercial ginger ale, yet addictively pleasant. Spicy food and food that has natural heat makes me want more once I have a taste.
I can envision infusing the ginger ale with other flavors, from rose water to lemon zest to vanilla stevia. There’s almost nothing off limits, depending on the flavor profile you’re going for.
How cool will it be when you have guests over and you can ask them if they’d like some homemade ginger ale. Or tell them their cocktail was mixed with homemade ginger ale. They’ll confuse you for Martha Stewart.
Homemade Ginger Ale
Making homemade ginger ale is nearly work-free, relying on yeast to ferment the mixture, thereby creating carbonation and fizz. Between the freshly grated ginger and slight yeasty taste, the ginger ale reminds me of sake. The ginger ale is great on it’s own, or feel free to infuse other flavors into it. Serve it at room temp, chilled, over ice, or as the mixer for your favorite cocktail.
- 1 1/2 to 2 ounces finely grated fresh ginger (I used almost 2 ounces, about 1/3 cup, it’s very juicy and wet)
- 6 ounces granulated sugar (about 3/4 cup)
- 7 1/2 cups water (almost 2 liters or 2 quarts)
- 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used 4 tablespoons)
- Combine the ginger, sugar, and 1/2 cup water in a 2-quart saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to steep for 1 hour.
- Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer set over a 2-cup measuring cup with a pour spout (makes it easier to transfer). Press down to really get all of the juice out of the ginger. It’s very juicy and keeps releasing even when you think it’s done, so be sure to really press it out well. Discard ginger solids or use for something else.
- Pour the syrup into a clean 2-liter bottle (I used two one-quart glass jars (each quart holds 4 cups).
- Add the yeast, lemon juice, and remaining 7 cups of water. (Because I used 2 jars, each jar got 1/16th teaspoon yeast and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice)
- Cap the jar(s), gently shake to combine, and leave the jars at room temperature for 48 hours. Open and check for desired amount of carbonation. After 48 hours, my mixture was nicely fizzed, but I let it continue to ferment for another two days (4 days total) to develop more fizz and in the process, it takes on more of a ginger beer than ginger ale flavor.
- Once you achieve desired amount of carbonation and flavor, refrigerate the ginger ale, which dramatically slows the rate of fermentation, thereby slowing the amount of carbonation created.
- Because my ginger ale was quite foamy at the top of the bottle with yellow specks from the lemon juice, I skimmed them off before serving over ice.
- Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Alton suggests opening the bottle at least once a day to let out excess carbonation, however I have gone 3 days without opening the refrigerated bottles with no adverse effects; use common sense.
Adapted from Alton Brown
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Related DIY Recipes:
Homemade Kombucha (also here and here) – I drink some kombucha almost daily. It makes me feel alive, better, and healthier overall. It’s loaded with more probiotics ounce for ounce that just about anything else and I love the taste
Vegan Coconut Milk Kefir– (Countertop No-Cook Recipe) – Kefir make with coconut milk is my favorite kind. It has the flavor profile of coconut milk yogurt, with just a slight tang, in liquid form
Homemade Horchata (Vegan, GF, Soy-Free) – Make on in blender and ferment on countertop overnight
Homemade Baileys Irish Cream – Make in blender in literally 30 seconds and it’s a dead-ringer for the real thing
Homemade Honey Roasted Butterscotch White Chocolate Peanut Butter – My favorite peanut butter ever, and it takes 5 minutes to make
10-Minute Homemade Hot Fudge (GF) – Better than any storebought I’ve ever had and so easy
Homemade Vanilla Extract – Costs pennies on the dollar to make, and it’s essentially work-free
Do you like ginger ale? Ever brewed or fermented something?
Favorite thing to make at home and DIY?