Sometimes I get nauseous post-LSD. Not from popping hallucinogens, but from energy gels taking a toll on my empty stomach during long, slow-distance runs. So instead of reaching for the usual chocolate milk, I grab ginger ale when feeling queasy. Not the gold-colored liquid in plastic liter bottles and aluminum cans that doesn’t even list ginger on the nutrition label. I am taking about the feel-it-tingle-your-tongue spicy ale made with real ginger.
Bruce Cost holds permanent shelve space in my fridge and at nearly $3 per 12-ounce glass bottle; I’ve found it a flavorful yet expensive way to alleviate nausea and bloating within minutes. So when Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil chose ginger ale for her May Kitchen Challenge, I decided to stop lurking on her blog and get in the kitchen for the sake of my tummy and wallet.
Ginger ale and ginger beer have only six ingredients: cold water, sugar, fresh ginger, fresh citrus juice, yeast and patience. You’ll have to wait a few days for the yeast to carbonate the beverage. Read a book. Go for a few runs.
First up was Serious Eats’ ginger beer. I found champagne yeast at a local home brewing shop. The ginger simple syrup tasted splendid with the perfect balance of sweet and that back of the throat kick. But 48 hours later, the carbonation was so much that I it sprayed ginger beer all over my kitchen when I opened the bottle. *Cues Like a G6* The yeast ate up all of the sugar, and I was left with very spicy, very carbonated ginger beer. In hindsight, I am not sure why I opted for it to begin with because I don’t even drink regular beer. Too gingery.
Next I tried Alton Brown’s simple ginger ale. The process was the same, only a change from brown sugar to granulated white sugar, from lime juice to lemon juice and from champagne yeast to active dry yeast. I also used my juicer on this round, which made this ginger ale even simpler by taking out the step of straining. This ginger simple syrup was much sweeter. I decided its bold spiciness was good but not great. Not enough carbonation.
Beginning to feel like Goldilocks, I sipped the second batch, and debated whether to change the type or ratio of sweetener, my mind wondered to Bruce Cost’s flavored ginger ales. A Golden Delicious apple neglected for being bruised jumped into my peripheral vision. Or I turned around in the kitchen too fast. Or was it all the bubbly from the yeast?
After a little trial and error with apple simple syrup, I found the perfect combination of spicy ginger with mellowed apple sweetness.
Wait it gets better.
My freezer birthed these apple-shaped ice babies. It was a glorious post-LSD Saturday afternoon.
Apple-Infused Ginger Ale
fresh ginger minced, grated or juiced to make ¾ cup
1 apple juiced to make ½ cup fresh apple juice
¾ cup brown sugar
7 cups filtered water
1/8 teaspoon champagne yeast
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
juicer OR grater, strainer and bowl
knife and cutting board
clean 2-liter plastic bottle
- If you have a juicer, use it to juice the whole ginger as well as the whole apple before beginning this process. Otherwise, you’ll spend a significant amount of time mincing or grating the ginger and later straining it. If not using a juicer to create fresh apple juice, then choose a shelf apple juice that is made without corn syrup and other sweeteners.
- I purchased a 99-cent store brand of soda, poured it down the sink (I’m sure the acid helped unclog my drain) and ran the 2-liter bottle through the dishwasher.
- Find champagne yeast at a local home brewing store or substitute with ¼ teaspoon of active dry yeast, which is in the baking aisle near baking powder and baking soda at your local grocery.
- Alton says the ginger ale should last two weeks in the refrigerator and you should open the bottle daily to release extra carbonation. I wouldn’t know because my 2-liters only lasted three days. So long for now, Bruce Cost.
- Combine the ginger juice, apple juice and brown sugar in a small pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved, about two minutes. Cover the pan, remove the pan from heat and let sit for at least an hour.
- Skip to step three if you used a juicer. If you minced or grater your ginger, now is the time to separate the pulp and syrup. Place the strainer over a bowl. Pour the simple syrup in to the strainer and use the back of a spoon to press the simple syrup through.
- Using the funnel, pour syrup into the 2-liter plastic bottle and refrigerate until room temperature, or about an hour.
- Add 7 cups of water, 1/8 teaspoon champagne yeast and 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice to the bottle. Cap and gently shake.
- Leave the bottle at room temperature for 48 hours. Open to check carbonation. Refrigerate ginger ale if ready. For more carbonation, leave out another day before refrigerating.
Nutrition Information for one 8-ounce serving
(1/8th of recipe)
Total Fat 0 grams
Total Carbohydrate 18 grams
Fiber 0 grams
Protein 0 grams