Want to try your hand at home fermentation? This delicious, homemade, naturally fermented ginger ale is a great place to start!
Since we were talking about fermented foods and healthy gut bacteria on Monday, I thought it would be fun to share one of my favorite home fermentation recipes. This is a perfect recipe for summer, too – nothing goes down easier on a hot summer afternoon than some cold, fizzy, refreshing homemade ginger ale!
This will contain some natural probiotic bacteria which are multiplied by the fermentation process, but if you’re drinking this to promote good gut health, you may want to cut down on the sugar. Keep in mind that some of the sugar will be fermented by the yeasts, but depending on how long you ferment it, and how much sugar you add, there will likely still be quite a bit remaining in your beverage. I don’t like mine terribly sweet, so I often cut down on the sugar amount listed.
Feel free to tailor it to your tastes, but keep in mind that sugar substitutes will not work well with the fermentation process and are not recommended (honey or maple syrup (natural – with no preservatives) will both ferment, but will slightly change the flavor of your beverage).
Before making your ginger ale, you will need to decide which form of culture you want to use to activate the fermentation (and create those delightful bubbles). There are 3 easy ways to culture your soda, but since this is ginger ale, and I had plenty of fresh ginger on hand, I have always opted to use the “ginger bug” method.
Ginger bug is a slurry of ginger, sugar, and water, which over several days, will begin to ferment and become extremely yeasty and bubbly…
When making your bug (and your ginger ale), you will want to MAKE SURE your water has no chlorine, which will kill all of your good bacteria! Use only very well-filtered water (like with a reverse osmosis system), or bottled water that is chlorine-free.
The recipe below is from the wonderful book, The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor E. Katz – with my own tweaks and modifications. It makes about 1/2 gallon (2 quarts), but can easily be doubled if you want to make a bigger batch.
Naturally Fermented Probiotic Ginger Ale
Equipment You Will Need:
2 Quarts Filtered (or bottled) Water, divided
3″ Fresh Ginger – grated or thinly sliced, with the peel ON
1 TB Lemon (or Lime) Juice
1 Cup Organic Cane Sugar (or to taste)
1/2 Cup Ginger Bug
- Bring 1 Qt of water to a boil and add the sliced or grated ginger.
- Cover and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
- Strain liquid into a wide-mouth jar or other fermentation vessel.
- Add sugar to the hot liquid and stir until dissolved.
- Add cold filtered water to 1/2″ below top of vessel. Let cool to room temperature. Taste for sweetness and adjust if needed.
- Once cool, add lemon or lime juice, and ginger bug. Stir well.
- Cover with a cloth (or lid with an air-lock if you have one), and let sit in a slightly warm place for a few days, stirring occasionally. Once you see bubbles, you may bottle your ginger ale.
- Bottle in soda bottles or beer bottles with swing-tops or corks (a funnel makes this a lot easier)
- Let sit at room temperature for 2-3 days, then refrigerate. Fermentation will continue slowly once refrigerated.