The first recipe I tried from my friend Emma’s book True Brews was her ginger ale.
You don’t have to buy her book to try this recipe because she’s posted it on The Kitchn for you: Soda Recipe: Homemade Ginger Ale
But I totally recommend you buy her book because it’s worth the shelf space it takes. I promise!
I followed her recipe roughly but was really lazy and sort of ad-libbed a number of things. It still turned out fantastic! First of all, I doubled (maybe even tripled) the amount of ginger. I used less sugar and a lot less lemon. Normally I take notes when I’m making things like this and I wish I had since the result was so amazing. However, my friend Sharon made ginger ale using Emma’s recipe too and hers, though different, was also really good. I love a recipe that works well with all kinds of variations.
I used a dry champagne yeast for my batch. A number of things almost went wrong. I peeled my ginger and then let it sit in the fridge for a week. I didn’t do on purpose. I just kept not making the soda. Just before I lost my window of opportunity I pulverized it in my food processor and cooked it. You know, to kill any mold that might be setting up secret house in my ginger. But then I left it on the stove for two days.
So I had to boil it again. It hadn’t gone bad and had the sugar already added to it which is a preservative, but I’m sure some of my friends would be scared of it at this point. Not me. Ultimately, if I’d left it out long enough it would have started fermenting rather than molding. I mean, fermenting IS a form of controlled rot. I finally realized that I was being a very bad urban homesteader and finally filled my bottles with my ginger/sugar/lemon/water mix. And added the yeast. Fermentation should be complete between 24 and 48 hours depending on amount of sugar and warmth of the space it’s fermenting in. Guess how long I left it out to do it’s thing?
Yeah, at least 3 days. Maybe 4. I opened the bottles and heard a satisfying HISS of pressure being released and smelled the slightest bit of alcoholic fermentation going on. For soda the ideal is ferment only just until the carbonation is complete, not so that the soda starts turning into alcohol. Which it will do. I figured I’d failed. I put it in the fridge anyway. I didn’t have the guts to try it for several days because I didn’t want to confirm that I’d messed it up. So what a lovely surprise when I finally poured myself a taste. Damn! So refreshing! It was super spicy, as I’d intended, and not too sweet, with just the smallest hint of lemon. Everyone who’s had a taste of my first batch absolutely loved it. LOVED IT. It’s total magic. So easy. Accommodating to lazy-asses like myself. If you really do it right you can have tons of ginger ale in two days. I call mine ginger beer because of the big spicy bite in every sip and the lower sugar amount. I want to try this with lime next.
Oh yeah, and please buy my book if you haven’t already!