Easy, healthy refreshing DIY Ginger Ale

Homemade ginger ale is a fantastic, refreshing and healthy treat on a warm spring or summer day. Making my own ginger ale is a Small Act I've experimented with a few times. It's great because I reduce my packaging footprint by using reusable glass bottles. I choose organic ingredients for a chemical and GMO free treat, and I reap all the health benefits of a ginger and lightly fermented beverages. It's a soda I can feel good about drinking. Hope you'll enjoy!

Equipment needed

  • Vegetable peeler
  • Fine grater
  • Citrus juicer
  • 2 quart or larger pot
  • Kitchen thermometer
  • Plastic soda bottle or glass pop top (grolsch) bottle
  • Small funnel
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients

Makes 9 cups of ginger ale (3 750 ML grolsch bottles - 3 cups per bottle)

  • 2-5 tbsp grated organic ginger
  • 5 tbsp organic lemon juice
  • 9 cups filtered water
  • 1-1.5 cup organic unrefined cane sugar
  • Approx ¼ tsp Red Star champagne yeast
Grated fresh ginger

Grated fresh ginger

Instructions

  1. Sanitize. Make sure all your equipment has been cleaned and sanitized. You can use a natural disinfectant to sanitize like a vinegar solution or use something like StarSan, a restaurant food safe sanitizing solution sold at most home brewing stores like Fifth Season.
  2. Measure out your water. Take 3 cups of the filtered water and heat it on the stove top. It won’t take long to heat these three cups so a medium-high setting will do until you’re about ready to add the other ingredients.
  3. Peel and grate the ginger. A 2-3 inch piece of ginger will yield approximately 2 tbsp of grated ginger. Use the vegetable peeler to remove the ginger skin. Grate the ginger using the fine grater. You can use more ginger if you’d like a more potent ginger flavor in your ginger ale.
  4. Juice the lemons. It takes about 2 lemons to get the 5 tablespoons of lemon juice needed for the ginger ale.
  5. Add the ginger to the water and crank up the heat so that the water boils (if it’s not already). Once boiling turn down the heat so it’s a gentle simmer. Simmer the water and ginger mixture for about 8-10 minutes.
  6. Add the sugar and the lemon juice. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved.
  7. Add the remaining 6 cups of cool or room temperature water to the mixture and check the temperature. You’ll want the temperature of the mixture to match the recommended temperature range for the yeast you’re using. You can alternatively use Active Dry bread yeast with this recipe and the activation temperature is slightly different for that. I use champagne yeast because I feel it gives the ginger ale a more clean taste.
  8. If the mixture is too cool slowly heat it to the correct temperature. Be sure to stir the mixture as you heat so that heat is evenly distributed, and continue to measure the temperature.  
  9. When the temperature is right, remove the ginger syrup mixture from the heat.
  10. Taste the mixture to be sure it’s sweet enough. This is also a preference point. The yeast will eat some of the sugar so you want it just a little bit too sweet to start out. If you’d like a less sweet finished product you don’t need to add more sugar. If you want a sweeter finished product add a little bit more sugar, maybe ¼ to ½ cup for the whole batch. Be sure to stir and fully dissolve any added sugar.
  11. Use the funnel to fill each bottle. Leave a 1.5 - 2 inch space at the top of the bottle.
  12. Spoon approximately 1/16 of a tsp of yeast into each bottle.
  13. Seal it up. Twist on the cap very tightly or clamp down the pop top.
  14. Shake the bottle to help the yeast activate.

Storing your Ginger Ale and knowing when it's ready to chill

Store your ginger ale bottles at room temperature (72 degrees F). The longer you let it sit out, the more carbonated it will be (think of opening a shaken bottle of soda) so be sure to check your plastic bottles after 2 days and keep checking every day after.

When using plastic bottles you’ll know your ginger ale is ready for the fridge when you press on the bottle and it is VERY hard. Think of the way a soda feels when you buy it before you twist off the cap. 

If you’re using glass bottles they’ll be ready, usually, in about three days. If you want to be sure your glass bottles are ready you can carefully pop the top on them. If they fizz up a bit, they’re ready, snap the top back down and pop them in the fridge. If they don’t fizz at all, they’re not ready. You can have a taste when they’re warm too, and see if they’re bubbly enough for your taste.

If you try them out, even after they've been in the fridge, and they don't seem bubble enough (glass or plastic) you can take them back out and allow them to further carbonate. Give the yeast an extra day to get going again and test the day after (so 2 days after you remove from fridge). 

Homemade Ginger Ale

Homemade Ginger Ale

What makes it bubbly?

The yeast eats the sugar to create carbon dioxide, which is what makes our ginger ale bubbly and crisp, and that is why the timing is important. It also creates a very small amount of alcohol, less than 1-2%. If you leave it out longer it will also have a higher alcohol percentage, but also probably be too carbonated and turn into a fountain!

How to stop a Ginger Ale explosion

If you do run into a case where you get a “fountain,” because of too many bubbles, the quickest way to prevent a big clean up is to quickly screw the cap back on or pop the lid back on (even if you don’t clamp it down). Stopping the flow of oxygen will stop the bubbles from exploding. It seems like common sense, but it’s easy to forget when you’re in the middle of a ginger ale explosion.

Health Benefits of your homemade Ginger Ale

Ginger has been used in Chinese Medicine for thousands of years and is said to help:

  • Soothe digestive disturbances
  • Alleviate nausea (great in early pregnancy)
  • Reduce fever
  • Calm coughing and respiratory troubles
  • Stimulates the circulatory system
  • Helps relieve muscle aches and pain
  • Can help get rid of dandruff
  • Emerging evidence shows it helps lower cholesterol
  • Japanese research has found Ginger is effective in lowering blood pressure and cancer risk
Fresh Ginger Root

Fresh Ginger Root