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Ginger Ale

March 18, 2010

The hubby is getting into brewing, and has even asked to do a blog post on making wine sometime soon.  In the meantime, I’ve been doing my own sort of brewing, in the form of making some ginger soda. I had an old piece of ginger laying around the house, and it started to sprout, so it wasn’t good for much.

Ginger has been used for centuries to treat minor gastrointestinal problems. We usually have ginger ale in the house, which I normally use mostly when I have a stomach ache.  But I’m sure it will come as no shock to you that most ginger ales on the market have zero real ginger and some non-natural things  in there.

Apparently Canada Dry has real ginger in their ginger ale (though goodness knows how small the amount may be) but they (and most other soda makers, also include sodium benzoate in their list of ingredients.

What’s sodium benzoate?

In nature, sodium benzoate is a type of salt that is found in some foods.  Most often in the non-natural world,  it’s a chemical preservative in foods with high acid content.  In foods that have both sodium benzoate and a high concentration of vitamin c or ascorbic acid, there’s been some concern that the combination can form the chemical benzene.

Benzene is a carcinogen, and NOT a good thing.  We even studied case law on it in law school.

But sodium benzoate on its own is not a carcinogen.  There’s no proof that it alone does anything to you.  But the less chemical preservatives in my food in general, the better I feel.

So, I decided to try to make my own! It helped that I had leftover ginger in the house that was starting to sprout.  I followed this recipe with a few minor tweaks.

Homemade Ginger Ale

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp of freshly grated ginger root
  • 1/4 tsp fresh baker’s yeast
  • 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar  (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (optional)


  • Grate up your ginger root with the smallest part of your grater.

If you like lemon, add the juice of one lemon to your grated ginger.  I’m not a big fan of lemon in soda, so I left it out.  Stir your lemon and ginger to form a “slurry.”

Add your 1 cup of sugar, cream of tartar (for smoothness), and baker’s yeast via a  funnel into a clean 2 liter plastic bottle. It is important to use a plastic bottle because it has some “give” when it comes to the fermentation. Making it in a glass bottle has no such “give” and might shatter the bottle!

Add your lemon/ginger “slurry” to the funnel.  Don’t worry if some sticks to the funnel.  Then, rinse the container that held the lemon and ginger with water, but dump the water into your funnel instead of down the drain.

Fill the rest of the bottle with cool, filtered water.  Shake around to make sure all the sugar dissolves.  Obviously, the ginger won’t, but that’s ok for now!

Place your bottle in a warm location for 24-48 hours.  We put ours in our utility closet with our furnace.  It stays around 72F in there.

When you can’t easily squeeze the bottle, it’s ready!  The bread yeast has fermented to give an old-timey carbonation!  If you like your soda cold, chill it in the fridge before you open it.

Look at the bubbles!

If you don’t like drinking bits of ginger with your soda, filter them out as you pour your soda into the glass.

And voila! Carbonated ginger ale! The real, old school soda!  I thought it tasted great, and the hubby loved it and had a glass with dinner. It was VERY gingery and a little too sweet, so I might try a little less next time, but it was a great use of old ginger.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2010 10:35 pm

    This is such a cool idea! How much yeast did you use?

    • Chelle permalink
      March 18, 2010 11:02 pm

      Oops, how did I leave that out? It’s 1/4 tsp and I edited it to add that!

  2. March 19, 2010 11:02 am

    So fun to see all your projects. I love ginerale but the sugar doesn’t love me.

  3. March 22, 2010 1:39 pm

    Damn, that is some olllld ginger!

    This looks super easy, and a good foray into brewing. I think I’ll make a batch tonight and surprise Albany John with it. He loves super gingery drinks.

    Thanks bunches!!

    • Chelle permalink
      March 23, 2010 8:53 pm

      Let me know how it turns out. If he loves super gingery he thinks he will LOVE this!

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