DIY – How To Make All Natural Ginger Ale

Have you ever made a naturally-fermented drink like ginger ale, kefir or kombucha? Do you have a favorite one?
For hundreds of years soda hasn’t been what we know about it today. Cultures around the world have made various forms of naturally-fermented “sodas” using only sweetened herbal teas or fruit juice blends.

These gradually-fermented cultured beverages have an abundance of beneficial probiotics and enzymes to boost digestive health, and are a far cry from the unhealthy soda drinks made today.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been also used in the Chinese Medicine for thousands of years to:

  • ward off or alleviate nausea (especially in early pregnancy)
  • soothe digestive disturbances and upset stomach
  • reduce fever complaints
  • calm coughing and respiratory difficulties
  • stimulate the circulatory system
  • help relieve muscle aches and pains
  • get rid of dandruff
  • lower cholesterol
  • lower blood pressure and risk of cancer

The ginger ale is also an excellent remedy if you are coming down with the flu, or if you happen to suffer from motion sickness, or any other type of nausea. It is also an efficient tonic to try if you have joint stiffness or muscle pain since ginger is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. The ginger root is ‘loaded’ with antioxidants to help you defend against free radicals.

The pungent component found in the ginger, known as 6-shogaol, is way more potent in killing cancer stem cells than standardized chemotherapy. The ginger also has properties that encourage gentle sweating to help you eliminate toxins from the body and stay healthy.

As for the ale recipes given below, they both use a fermented ginger culture to create a naturally fizzy soda! Another asset to these recipes is that they are a ‘piece of cake’ and make big batches lasting for quite a while!

Homebrewed Ginger Syrup – Recipe 1

Serves 8

This recipe for natural ginger ale uses fresh ginger and a cultured ginger mixture (called a ginger bug) to create a naturally-fermented homemade ginger ale. Though this mixture can contain a small amount of alcohol if it is left to ferment at room temperature for weeks, we have used the ‘short brew method’ to create a fizzy soda without the alcohol.

Ingredients:2 cups of sliced fresh ginger root (it is not necessary to peel it, you can also grate the ginger which will produce a sharper flavor)

  • 4 cups of purified water
  • 2 tbsp. of freshly-squeezed lemon juice (or lime juice)
  • 2 tbsp. of raw honey (do not hesitate to substitute it with organic Stevia, yacon, Xylitol, coconut palm sugar, or any other lower-glycemic sweetener. I like combining Stevia and honey though)
  • aerated mineral water, or club soda

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine water and ginger over high heat.
  2. Once it is brought to boil, lower heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Remove lid and continue to simmer for half an hour.
  4. Take the saucepan off heat, and strain the mixture to remove ginger solid parts,
  5. Let it cool until the mixture is still a bit warm, but not so hot that you lose the benefits of honey when added. Stir in lemon and honey.
  6. Cool completely.
  7. There you have your ginger syrup! Enjoy!

Ginger Ale

  1. To make ginger ale, put a handful of ice into a glass.
  2. Add ¼ cup of the ginger syrup you have already made.
  3. Fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water. It also tastes great!

Note:  As with any fermented product, I’d suggest starting with a small amount (4 ounce or so) and working up as all the probiotics and enzymes can cause an upset stomach in those who aren’t used to consuming fermented products!

Homebrewed Ginger Ale Recipe – 2

This recipe makes 2 quarts of  ginger ale, though the recipe can be adjusted up or down by using a ratio of ¼ cup sugar per 1 quart of water and adding ¼ cup of ginger bug starter per quart of water.

This one is the ‘old-fashioned’ ginger ale recipe (once called ginger beer) which also contains beneficial probiotics and enzymes.

Ingredients:

  • a 1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, minced. Adjust to taste. (I use 2 inches as I prefer a stronger ginger taste.
  • ½ cup of homemade ginger bug (or you can use ¼ cup of whey for a faster recipe although the flavor won’t be quite as good!)
  • ½ cup of brown sugar or Rapadura sugar. (If you are using plain sugar, add 1 tablespoon of molasses for flavor and minerals.)
  • ½ cup fresh lemon or citrus juice
  • ½ tsp. Epsom salt or Himalayan salt
  • 8 cups of filtered (chlorine-free) water  

Directions:

  1. Make a “wort” for your ginger ale by placing 3 cups of the water, minced ginger root, sugar (and molasses if needed), and salt in a saucepan and bringing it to a boil.
  1. Simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes until sugar is dissolved, and the mixture starts smelling like ginger.
  2. Remove from heat, and add additional water. This should cool it, but if not, allow for cooling at room temperature before moving to the next step.
  3. Add fresh lemon juice and the ginger ‘bug’ (or whey).
  4. Transfer to a 2 quart glass mason jar with an air-tight lid. Stir well, and tighten lid on.
  5. Leave on the kitchen counter for 2-3 days until it gets carbonated, and transfer to the fridge where it can last for long.
  6. Watch this step carefully: using whey will cause it to ferment more quickly so it will take less time. It should be bubbled and should fizz like a soda when the lid is removed. This is very temperature dependent and the mixture may need to be burped [or stirred] during this fermentation time on the counter.
  7. As with any traditional fermented drink, it is more a craft than a science, as it depends on the strength of your culture, the temperature of your house, and finally the sugar used.
  8. The final mixture should smell of ginger and slightly of yeast/fermentation and should be foamy. Watch carefully that it doesn’t become over-carbonated as this will cause too much pressure and may result in an exploding jar!
  9. The mixture can be strained and transferred to Grolsch style bottles before putting it in the fridge.

Note:  As with any fermented product, I’d suggest starting with a small amount (4 ounce or so) and working up as all the probiotics and enzymes can cause an upset stomach in those who aren’t used to consuming fermented products!