Here is a relatively quick recipe to make your own ginger ale. It is probably not as authentic as BlueDragon's recipe at ginger beer, but you can have a fresh and unique tasting carbonated beverage in just a couple of days.
This recipe is mostly cribbed from a recipe by David Fankhauser at Fankhauser's Cheese Page:
- An empty 2-liter soda bottle (with cap) that has been thoroughly rinsed and allowed to dry
- A funnel
- a Microplane grater or other grater suitable for grating ginger and zesting lemons
- Cup and Teaspoon measurements of assorted sizes
- 3-4 tablespoons grated ginger (more produces stronger ginger flavor)
- Juice and zest of one lemon. Do not use bottled lemon juice; it won't be the same.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Peel* the ginger and grate** it into a nonreactive*** bowl.
- Zest the lemon and put the zest into the same bowl. Be careful not to get too much pith when taking off the zest.
- Juice the lemon thoroughly, and put collected juice into the same bowl. You might want to strain the lemon juice before adding it to the bowl to get rid of any seeds or lemon guts.
- Add the vanilla to the ginger bowl. Mix the zest, ginger, juice, and vanilla into a kind of slurry.
- Using the funnel, pour the sugar and yeast into the bottle. Swish the bottle a little to distribute the yeast into the sugar.
- Pour the gingery slurry into the bottle using the funnel.
- Rinse the ginger bowl using cool, clean water and pour the rinse water into the bottle (this is to get the last bits of gingery goodness out of the bowl and into the bottle).
- Fill the soda bottle with more cool water, leaving about an inch of space at the top of the bottle.
- Close bottle tightly and shake until sugar is totally dissolved.
- Leave the bottle on the countertop at room temperature for a day or two. Once or twice a day, squeeze the bottle firmly. If the bottle deforms and feels squishy, it needs more time to ferment. As soon as the bottle feels hard when you squeeze it, move the bottle to the fridge. If you let the bottle sit at room temperature too long, too much carbon dioxide will be produced by the yeast, and you risk having explosive fizz when you open the bottle, or the bottle itself might even explode if you leave it out for very much longer than you should.
- After the bottle has thoroughly cooled to fridge temperature, you may drink it. Open the bottle very carefully the first time, perhaps over a sink, in case of explosive fizz. When pouring the ginger ale, be careful of the sediment--it won't harm you but it is kind of weird to drink. You may want to pour the ginger ale through a strainer, especially as you get towards the bottom of the bottle.
This drink is cool and refreshing, with a fresher ginger taste than most ginger ales. This method of fermentation introduces less carbonation than most sodas have, but the amount of carbonation that results matches the taste of the drink quite nicely. (I am having a little bit of trouble making the drink taste dry enough. If anyone has any suggestions, please msg me.)
If you find when you open the ginger ale that there's not enough fizz, you can always close the bottle tightly again and leave it on the countertop until it feels hard again. Let it go a little longer this time, but again, beware of over-fermentation.
I have been experimenting with "non-sediment" versions of this drink, where instead of adding the ginger directly to the bottle, you steep it in hot water to extract the flavor, cooling it and straining the water before adding it to the bottle. I'll add to the writeup when the results of the experiment come in.
* The best way to peel the ginger is to use a spoon and scrape it across the ginger's skin. You will lose a lot less ginger during peeling if you use this method instead of a knife or vegetable peeler.
** If you don't have a Microplane or a dedicated ginger grater, the best thing to do is to take your box grater and wrap it in two layers of plastic wrap. Turn the box grater to the small "star grater" side, and grate the ginger against the tines right through the plastic wrap. Trust me, it works. Once you have all the ginger grated, you can unwrap the plastic wrap and scrape the gingery detritus off of the wrap and into the ginger bowl.
*** Stainless steel, enameled, glass, or ceramic will do. Not aluminum or carbon steel or cast iron.