A blog originally for keeping track of my hobby of being a Beekeeper which has evolved to include Home Brewing and even more recently to follow me and my families approach to "The Good Life". Eventually I hope to include baking recipes and stories of our flock of chickens also reporting on the success and failure at the allotments.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Ginger Ale!

Over the last few weeks me and my good wife, Steph, have been enjoying fresh, ice cold, tangy ginger ale and I am now going to share how easy and quick it is to make.

First off a list of ingredients. This is for making a 2 litre batch but can be scaled up or down if you want, the most important thing is to use plastic bottles to make your ale, I'll explain why later.

An empty 2 litre PLASTIC pop bottle
1 Lemon
Approx 1 inch of ginger (more if you like it strong)
2 Cups of sugar (or 400g)
1 Packet of bread yeast

If you are making bigger batches it's easy, just use 1 cup of sugar per litre, or 200 grams if you don't have cup measures. If only increasing to 3 or 4 litres then I don't think you need any more yeast but you will need to use more ginger and lemon. That is why I zest my lemon as well as juicing it as I use 3 litre bottles but you can still zest it if only doing 2 litres, if you are making 4 litres then I would use 2 lemons. This is a good recipe but once made do feel free to experiment and alter the quantities to suit you, I like to add a lot more ginger to make it really strong, just be careful when opening and ALWAYS USE PLASTIC BOTTLES!

...and that's it. Now to the method, which again is really simple!

  1. The first thing to do is wash out an empty 2 litre plastic pop bottle . Once that has been cleaned and thoroughly rinsed out you can put all your dry ingredients in, which are the sugar and the yeast; if you have funnel this is easier.  
  2. Grate the ginger into a measuring jug or bowl using the finest grater that you have, I don't think it makes too much difference if you just have the regular large grater used for cheese! I used the grater to also grate some zest from the lemon in as well but this is optional. If you have lots of ginger stuck to the grater then you can rinse it gently under the tap collecting the liquid that runs off in your jug or bowl.
  3. Juice the lemon and add the juice (but no seeds!) to the bowl of grated ginger, this should now be a gingery lemony slurry! This is now added to the pop bottle. Again a funnel comes in handy but if you have used a lot of ginger it tends to clog up the funnel so a skewer or something similar is useful for helping it through!
  4. Top up the bottle with cold water leaving about 2-3 inch at the top. Put the lid on securely and shake vigorously until all the sugar has dissolved. 
  5. Leave the bottle in a warm place for 24-48 hours. Depending on how warm it is will affect this time. What is happening at this stage is the yeast is starting to convert the sugars to alcohol with the by product being carbon dioxide, or CO2. With there being no where for the CO2 to go it is absorbed back into the liquid causing it to be fizzy when opened! 
  6. After 24 hours check the bottle by squeezing it, if it is really tight and you can hardly press the plastic in then it is ready for the fridge, if not leave it another day and it should be ready. This is why we use plastic bottles, if glass bottles where used there would be a risk of shattering if the pressure gets too high. With plastic it will stretch a bit and if it does over pressurise then it is no where near as dangerous!!!!!!!!!!!
  7. Leave it in the fridge for up to 24 hours to make sure it is really cold. While it is in the fridge the fermentation will slow down but not totally stop. When it has been in the fridge long enough to make it cold it is ready to serve. Be very careful opening it and if possible open it outside or over the sink as it can be very lively! I found out the hard way with a batch that was a little over lively; It's lid flew off when I had loosened it slightly and then a second later the bottle erupted like a bottle of champagne! Don't be put off by this though, just be warned! 
  8. To serve you can pour it straight from the bottle but I prefer to pour it through a tea strainer as this collects all the grated ginger. For a extra special treat fill a glass with ice, a shot (or 2) or rum, squeeze half a lime in and top up with fresh ginger ale, delicious! 
Before showing a few photos of the process I will add a little note on the alcohol content of this brew. Although There will be alcohol in there due the fermentation of sugar with yeast it will be of very low levels, probably less than 1%, though I would guess even lower. I haven't tested it but due to the short length of time it is left to ferment then there is not enough time for it to get too alcoholic. If in any doubt at all by all means either test it or enjoy on non driving days!

Ginger Ale
A nobbly chunk of ginger!

Ginger Ale
A zested lemon!

Ginger Ale
Juicing the lemon

Ginger Ale
Lemon juice

Ginger Ale
A cup of sugar

Ginger Ale
Pouring the sugar in

Ginger Ale

Ginger Ale
The recipe says 1 packet of bakers yeast but as I had a tin of it I just used a cap full and it worked fine

Ginger Ale
Rinsing the juice from the grater

Ginger Ale
A nice out of focus shot of the lemon and ginger slurry going in

Ginger Ale
"We have a blockage, bring me a skewer!"

Ginger Ale
After 2 days the pressure test, this is me pressing hard but getting nowhere!

Ginger Ale
Poured through a tea strainer or sieve

Ginger Ale
All them bits from such a small glass of ginger ale!

Ginger Ale
Mmmmmmm, bubbly!