fermented ginger ale
Lets make fermented ginger ale together!
Because it’s fun and easy and sparkly and delicious and delightfully mad scientist-like and you can teach your children about microorganisms (which, incidentally, outnumber our own cells nine to one). This will be an ongoing post and step by step tutorial, which I will update with photos and info as our collective brews ferment.
everything you need: ginger, sugar, lemons (you can use honey, it’ll just take a little longer to complete). *the yeast does eat up much of the sugar.
toasting to a life filled with simple celebration
When you make ferments, it’s like having a trillion back up singers on your kitchen counter gurgling fizzy doo-wops to your good health. I love holding a jar of bubbling ginger ale up to my children’s ears – it’s even more compelling than sticking their ear in a seashell. “It’s alive!” I tell them, lauding my own biochemistry skills, finally redeemed from placing in the high school remedial chemistry class.
Recently—in the middle of teaching our homeschool co-op at my house—I downed a half pint of fermented ginger ale, which had, whoops!, gone alcoholic. (Yeast eat sugar and burp out alcohol. The more sugar consumed, the more alcoholic the brew). This was not an unwelcome error, although Rose, who had been helping me feed the bubbly jar fresh ginger and sugar daily, parked her hands on her hips when she heard the ginger ale was no longer rated G and said, “that’s teasing me, Mama.”
*Edited to Add: it seems that if you leave your concoction out (unrefrigerated) to ferment in Step 2 for 3 or more weeks, the yeast start using up all the sugar and get boozy.
We made this boozy ginger ale in the “you build it they will come” model, trusting that if we left a sweet treat of ginger, sugar and water on the counter, the wild yeasts surfing the air would touch down, like Santa Claus to a plate of cookies. And they did.
This is how:
Fermented Ginger Ale
~makes 1 gallon, takes 2-3 weeks~
9 tbsp fresh ginger root, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 lemons, water
1) Start “ginger bug:” add 2 tsp grated or finely chopped ginger (okay to include skin) and 2 tsp sugar to one cup water. Stir and leave in warm spot (okay to put in direct sun) covered with cheesecloth to allow wild yeasts to enter but not flies. Add this amount of sugar and ginger daily until the bug starts bubbling, about 3-7 days (the warmer it is, the quicker this happens). For the next week: keep your jar where you’ll see it to remind you to feed the bug, but if you miss a day, that’s okay.
it’s such hard work, playing and napping and grating the ginger for the family hooch; actually I’ve only had one batch come out boozy, all the rest have been sparkling, kid-friendly and gingery sweet, but I keep whispering prayers to the wild yeasts to repeat that clever trick.
ginger meets sugar
ginger meets sugar meets water (I used a perforated seed-sprouting lid because my cheesecloth was straining cheese today; I’ve also used a paper coffee filter with some larger holes poked into the paper)
This is the next step (yes, just two steps!) which we’ll be getting to in about a week:
2) Once bug is active (bubbling lightly), boil 2 quarts of water and add another 4-6 tbsp fresh grated or finely chopped ginger root, and 1 cup sugar. Simmer for ten minutes. Let cool. After mixture has cooled, strain the ginger out and add the juice of 2 lemons and the strained ginger bug (you can also leave a small amount of bug as your starter for your next ginger brew, which we’re pitching some champagne yeast into, right?) and enough water to make a gallon. Place in individual, sealed bottles or one gallon bottle. Let the ginger ale ferment further for 2-3 weeks. Open and enjoy! If you put the ginger ale in a gallon jar, it will lose carbonation every time you open it, so individual serving sizes work better.
Are you in? Leave a comment letting me know, and feel free to leave questions in the comments too.
Hi Everyone, how are your little bugs coming along?
When mine looked like this, I decided it was time for Step 2.
subtle bubbles around the edges is what we’re looking for, like so.
Remember to add the lemon in Step 2; it makes it so unique and balances out some of the sweetness.
And there she sits, for the next 2-3 weeks in a warm spot, surrounded by lego friends.
After 2 weeks of the secondary fermentation process, my brew is bubbly, sweet and gingerlicious. I snuck and used honey instead of sugar in step 2, and it worked great.