I’ve got a new batch of homemade ginger ale fermenting. In the past year, I have been learning more about ferments in general and about making homemade ginger ale in particular. I still use the Sweeter Ginger Ale recipe below, but in contrast to the recipe and method I started with, I have learned that an open ferment produces better, bigger bubbles more quickly.
Therefore, the ginger ale mixture should be placed in a large bottle or jar and the top covered with a breathable fabric cover or coffee filter, and secured with a rubber band. If conditions are warm, the ale will ferment within 48 hours. When large bubbles appear, the ginger ale can be strained and bottled tightly for a second fermentation. This is what produces a truly bubbly ginger ale, the second fermentation in an airtight bottle. The Sweeter Ginger Ale recipe below provides enough sugar for a viable second fermentation where others do not.
Generally, a 24-48 hour second fermentation in warm conditions is sufficient to produce good carbonation. After small bubbles appear in the capped bottles during the second fermentation, the bottles should be chilled and stored in the refrigerator. Care should be taken in opening the bottles. They may foam over, so they should always be opened over the sink, or over a bowl if you wish to catch the overflow.
Sweeter Ginger Ale
(makes about 2 1/2 quarts finished ginger ale)
Simmer together for 5 minutes:
2 cups water
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 cup raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Cool mixture. Add:
5 cups cool water
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup ginger bug (follow link for directions for making and maintaining your ginger bug)
Mix well and pour off into large jug or jar, cover with breathable fabric or coffee filter, and secure with rubber band. Let sit in warm place for 2-3 days or until large, yeasty-looking bubbles form. Strain and bottle in bale-top type bottles or other bottles with air-tight caps. Ferment again in warm place for 24-48 hours, or until carbonated. Chill before drinking.
My previous post about ginger ale, called Science Experiment, details the progression and development of this recipe and technique, and also tells how to make, feed, and store a ginger bug, which is the base ferment for ginger ale. However, I recommend following the above procedure for making ginger ale. It’s a wonderful holiday drink, and a great digestive after a large meal. If you wish, you can allow your ginger ale to ferment longer for an alcoholic content and champagne-like bubbles, but beware opening the bottles!