Ever since an ill-fated attempt at creating homemade root beer 20 years ago, I hadn't attempted the process again. Lately, I'd been thinking about trying it, but this time with ginger ale. (Did you know that if you opened the bottle of root beer before thoroughly chilling it, the contents would magically begin dripping off the ceiling onto your head before you even got the lid completely off?) I found several recipes for "homemade ginger ale" using a cooked syrup and selzer, but, how boring! NOT an adventure! I found a marvelous process for making it with yeast at this site.
Since the guy is a phD and a professor of Biology and Chemistry, I figured he knew what he was talking about. I had just picked up a bottle capper at the thrift store and was imagining the beautiful bottles in a row until I read that he does not recommend glass. "If the bottle explodes, plastic is messy, glass is dangerous." (sigh) But instead of one 2 liter soda bottle called for, I used 2 one-liter bottles, which worked out fine. This was a very exciting project because... it was so easy! and cheap! And maybe dangerous! Basically, measure cane sugar and yeast, shred ginger root, juice a lemon, pour in water, cap it. I let it sit outside on the dryer for one day. Every time I walked by, I gave the bottle a squeeze, to check on the rising pressure. I felt like I was feeling the belly of a pregnant woman, checking on the progress of the baby. When it felt tight, very tight, into the fridge it went. And I wasn't even tempted to crack the lid early! (refer to root beer debacle) When I did open it the next day, it did boil over a little, but the next bottle, I cracked and tightened in increments letting the gas out gradually, driving everyone nuts who was waiting for a taste. We all agreed - I'll never buy ginger ale again. I already have the next batch chilling, this one with a little more ginger root and some pineapple juice and a bit of honey added for flavor.
Added May 2012:
Don't be afraid to let the bottle get pretty hard! And it tastes best if it matures in the fridge for a day or two to let the ginger flavor infuse it.
1939 - Thimble Summer
3 weeks ago