MAKING GINGER ALE AT HOME
©David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology and Chemistry
U.C. Clermont College
Batavia OH 45103
 
Ingredients collected

First posted 29 June 00
This page has been accessed Counter times since 8 August 2000.
Adding the grated ginger

Fermentation has been used by mankind for thousands of years for raising bread, fermenting wine and brewing beer. The products of the fermentation of sugar by baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (a fungus) are ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. (Here is a page on the chemical reactions involved in glycolysis and fermentation.) Carbon dioxide causes bread to rise and gives effervescent drinks their bubbles. This action of yeast on sugar is used to 'carbonate' beverages, as in the addition of bubbles to champagne).

We will set up a fermentation in a closed system and capture the generated carbon dioxide to carbonate our home made ginger ale. You may of course adjust the quantities of sugar and/or extract to taste. Note that the lemon called for in step eight is optional.  And if you want a spicier drink, you can increase the amount of grated ginger.  As with any yeast fermentation, there is a small amount of alcohol generated in the beverage (about 0.4%).   Here is a discussion about that.

Click all images to enlarge.
 
 

EQUIPMENT
SUPPLIES
clean 2 liter plastic soft drink bottle with cap (not glass: explosions are dangerous.)
funnel
Grater (preferably with fine "cutting" teeth
1 cup measuring cup
1/4 tsp and 1 Tbl measuring spoons
cane (table) sugar [sucrose] (1 cup)
Freshly grated ginger root (1 1/2-2 tablespoons)
Juice of one lemon
fresh granular baker's yeast (1/4 teaspoon)
cold fresh pure water
HOW TO MAKE DELICIOUS HOME MADE GINGER ALE
1)  Lay it out all the listed ingredients and equipment.
2) Use fresh ginger root (purchasable at most large supermarkets, or Asian food shops).
3)  Add 1 cup sugar to the 2 liter bottle with a dry funnel.  (Leave the funnel in place until you are ready to cap the bottle.)

NOTE: Many have asked about bottling ginger ale in glass bottles. I do not recommend it because ginger ale is a very aggressive fermenter, producing high pressure fairly rapidly. Plastic bottles can be felt to judge pressure. Glass cannot. Tardy refrigeration can lead to explosions. Exploding plastic bottles are messy. Exploding glass botles are dangerous...
4) Measure out 1/4th teaspoon fresh granular active baker's yeast.  (Fleishman's etc.  We buy ours in bulk from the health food store.)
5)  Add yeast through funnel into the bottle, shake to disperse the yeast grains into the sugar granules.
6)  Grate the ginger root on a fine "cutting" grater to produce 1 1/2 Tablespoon of grated root.  (Look at the large picture of the grater.  This style of fine "cutting" teeth works MUCH better than the style with the sharp pointy piece of metal which crumble food.  The design is also less likely to shred your knuckles.  I have had to look far and wide to find a fine "cutting" grater.  Mine says "Stainless Steel Denmark" on its handle...)
7) Place grated ginger in the cup measure
8)  Juice a whole lemon.  (Lemon is optional, giving a little tartness to the ginger ale.  Try it both ways to see which you prefer.  I like them both.)
9)  Add the juice of a whole lemon to the grated ginger.
10)  Stir the lemon juice and grated ginger to form a slurry.
11)  Add the slurry of lemon juice and grated ginger to the bottle.  (It may stick in the funnel.  Don't worry, the next step will wash it into the bottle.)
12)  Rinse containers with fresh clean water.
12)  Add the rinsings to the bottle, cap and shake to distribute.
13)  Fill the bottle to the neck with fresh cool clean water, leaving about an inch of head space,  securely screw cap down to seal. Invert repeatedly to thoroughly dissolve sugar.  (The ginger root will not dissolve, of course.)
14)  Place in a warm location for 24 to 48 hours.  (Do not leave at room temperature longer than necessary to feel "hard."  The excess pressure may cause an eruption when you open it, or even explode the bottle!)
15)  Test to see if carbonation is complete by squeezing the bottle forcefully with your thumb.  If it dents in as in the picture, it is not ready.

16)  Once the bottle feels hard to a forceful squeeze, usually only 24-48 hours, place in the refrigerator. Before opening, refrigerate at least overnight to thoroughly chill. Crack the lid of the thoroughly chilled ginger ale just a little to release the pressure slowly. You do not want a ginger ale fountain!

NOTE: Do not leave the finished ginger ale in a warm place any longer than the time it takes for the bottle to feel hard. Leaving it at room temperature longer than two days, especially in the summer when the temperature is high, can generate enough pressure to explode the bottle! (Speaking from experience here...) Once it is thoroughly chilled, there is little danger of explosion.

17)  Filter the ginger ale through a strainer if you find floating pieces of ginger objectionable.  These are found in the first glass or two poured, and, since most of the ginger sinks to the bottom, the last glass or so may require filtering too.  Rinse the bottle out immediately after serving the last of the batch.

 

NOTE: There will be a sediment of grated ginger and yeast at the bottom of the bottle, so that the last bit of ginger ale will be carry ginger fibers. Decant carefully if you wish to avoid this sediment.

Note that the gas will develop faster in ginger ale than in home made root beer, presumably because there are more nutrients in it than in root beer extract.


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File "Ginger_Ale_Ag0.htm" was last modified on 13 Dec 2004.