For Ginger Ale you will also need: lemon juice, sugar, filtered water, cheese cloth, gallon glass jar & quart jar and sealable bottles for bottling. I use second-hand German beer bottles from our Good-Will store. They have a rubber seal cap. You can buy these from beer & wine making suppliers.
The 3 stages to making homemade soda are: (1) make the starter, (2) make the wort (soda before fermenting) & (3) Fermenting.
Got Root? Great, now your ready to begin making the soda pop starter. (All measurements are flexible -and- this should be made to your own tastes - so no worries)
1. In a quart size canning jar add filtered water until it's about 2/3's full.
2. Next, grate some ginger (skin and all) about Tablespoon full and add to your jar of water.
3. Then add a Tablespoon of 'good' sugar like organic cane-juice. Do not use honey as its little buggers can inhibit the little buggers you trying to grow. Remember honey has natural bacteria killing properties.
4. Stir everything very well, incorporating as much air as you can. This process really NEEDS air - so you will be stirring in air every morning and every night.
5. Cap your jar, sugar/water with a piece of cheesecloth and use a rubber band to hold it in place. As with most fermentation it requires warmth too. So find a warm place in your kitchen, and maybe cover or insulate the jar if it is a cold time of year. In the summer just leave it on your counter. The temp of the starter will affect the timeline of the steps to follow.
6. Maintenance: Each morning, add a teaspoon of grated ginger and sugar - give it all a stir and taste. Is it to sweet, is it to strong? Adjust your daily additions accordingly. It should be slightly sweet & slightly gingery. As long as it is mild ginger/sweetness you’re good. I have had starts not start because different roots used up the sugar at a different rate and I didn’t taste and make corrections. These did not taste sweet at all when I sampled to find out what was wrong - so don't be afraid to taste and adjust as you go, this is very important. Fermenting is more of an art than a science. Should the ginger taste get pronounced (warm feeling in your throat), cut back on the ginger... Fresh ginger root is stronger than dried up old root - so taste taste taste – and adjust.
7. Is it done yet? It can take from 3 to 7 days to get a good soda starter. Depending on temp, stirring and sugar content your time may vary. It is done when you SEE bubbles around the top edge of your jar when sitting, and it fizzes when you stir it and you hear - fizz..... Time to make the Wort ----------------------------------------------------------------
The Wort is the soda base you add the starter too. Here is the wort for ginger ale:
1. Grate up more ginger root (surprise!) use about 1/3rd cup packed, grated ginger.
2. In a pan heat around 7 cups water - you are going to add this hot water to a gallon glass jar 1/3-full of water already. When your water in the pan starts to simmer add the ginger and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Stir well until sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to simmer slowly for 20 min. Since you are not boiling this down to syrup you only have to heat it long enough to get a good ginger taste going and dissolve the sugar. Take off the heat and strain out the ginger, leaving just the soda wort base.
3. Now pour your hot base (wort) into the gallon jar with the water in it (this is to prevent the jar from cracking), and stir together. Add the lemon juice to your taste, about 1/3 - 1/2 cup. Fill up the jar with more water to 1” inch below the shoulder line of the jar. Stir and taste, should be slightly ginger/lemon & slightly sweet (see a pattern here?). Now strain 1 cup of your ginger starter and add it to your wort base, and stir. Cover with cheese cloth/rubber bad and allow to sit in a warm location covered with towels to retain warmth. Stir every morning and night (as before) for 3 days, tasting as you go - add a bit of sugar if it looses all sweetness. Remember this is not to be ‘sweet’ like the stuff you buy in the store, just slightly sweet is all it needs to make a delicious soda.
4. At the end of 3 days, you should see some fizz/bubbles starting to form at the top, and/ or when you stir the mix. If you don't see any and you’ve kept your jar around 75° add another cup of starter, stir and give it another day or two until you see bubbles and fizz starting. Maybe check to make sure the soda is not getting to cold, this will slow down the process.
It’s bubbly! - Ready for bottling? TASTE it again, this is the time to adjust your brew before bottling. If it doesn't taste good now it won’t taste good later. Again, It should not taste as sweet as store bought soda, just a good clean, slightly sweet taste.
Now on to the fermenting/carbonating - last stage.
1. Pour your jar of ginger ale into a pitcher with a spout, and then using that pitcher pour into your bottles. Fill them up about two inches down from the cap. Cap 'em and sit them aside. Leave this bottled soda for 3-7 days (depending on temp), we usually let our soda go for about 4 days during the summer time.
The longer they sit the less sweetness in the brew. How fast they carbonate up depends again on the temp in your house brew. In winter you will want a light source of heat for finishing off soda, as with Kombucha, Kefir and Yogurt..... We place ours on the bottom shelf over our heater vent. Some other good places might be on top of the dryer wrapped in towels, next to a water heater or with a hot water bottle in a cooler.
2. Testing Time: When you want to test your soda for doneness just open a bottle - hear the paaachuessssss (technical term) If not, close it back up, it's not ready yet Test every couple of days. When they have carbonation to your liking - refrigerate to hold that carbonation and add a refreshing chill to your brew.
3. Don't tell the kids it's done yet and you'll be able to get a bottle for yourself! Please Note: This is NOT soda-pop as you have known it, this IS a health drink complete with good probiotics and healing properties - so drink up and make more!
Warnings & Disclaimers: Sealed carbonated things can 'blow up' he he he ..... Fruit sodas are really bad in this regard, cut their ferment time in half and watch 'em closely. Open outside when checking for done-ness. And refrigerate asap.... We wore a little bit of each bottle of our first batch of peach soda When making a fruit-wort add about 4 cups of pureed fruit sweetened with sugar instead of the ginger/sugar.
oh and uhm.....it will blow up. I would suggest refrigerating it. my blow out broke all the crocks full of sugar an flour on my counter and knocked things off my wall and created a helluva sticky messy kitchen.
your recipe sounds like it would have some alcohol content. that might be the difference.
Oy yes, I see why your recipe is faster - the yeast!
posted 11 years ago
yes but even if you don't add yeast I wold think it would become populated with yeast from the air, just as they used make wine and bread before you could go and get a neat little package of yeast set some sugary juice on your counter for long enough and it will ferment. might taste nasty. but it will ferment. yeast does prefer certain acidity and enough but not too much sugar to produce optimally. the reason red grape juice is traditionally used for wine is because it tends to have optitmal natural qualities for breeding yeast. the natural yeast in the air in certain areas in addition to the grapes was responsible for the different qualities and tastes in the wine produced there. of course now they can reproduce those yeasts in a controlled enviroment, add them to asterile must and get alot more consistent results.
I made a "ginger bug" a while ago that I am still feeding. I made some soda once but I was a bit anxious about it creating alcohol so I didn't let it sit out long enough before refrigerating it and it had a bit more of a "yeasty" taste than it should have. I poured a bit in some of my lemon water one day but forgot about it after that. One of the kids had the "Flu" and drank it over the course of a day, he said it made his tummy warm and feel better.
As I was feeding my bug today I was thinking I would get more ginger and create the wort and use it up in a gallon jug.
One of the things that I read about this that I would like to share is that it is suggested not to put next to kombucha or sauerkraut as their cultures will over come the bug and cross contaminate it. I just keep them on opposite ends of my kitchen.
Thanks for giving me the push to use the bug and get it off my counter. I now know that it is pretty easy to create so I know I can coax another bug into life if I ever get the urge again.