When planning for homemade soda week, I purposely saved my favorite recipe for today. This is my seventy fifth post and this is a drink that I like to try to always have around. Ginger beer is a popular soda to make and there are a ton of recipes out there, some drastically different, but this is the one that works for me.
I developed it over three or four batches after reading a lot of those other versions. It may not be the most efficient use of ginger root, but I’ve found it’s a good medium between wasting too much time getting the most out of your ginger and wasting money on massive amounts of the root. This recipe makes a very spicy drink that will tickle your throat and burn your nose. It’s highly carbonated, but most of those sensations are coming from the ginger. If you don’t want it to be so prickly, you can use less ginger. Either way, don’t expect mass market ginger ale.
I don’t get into much liquor, but I’m told this is great as a mixer. I have tried it with vodka and spiced rum and enjoyed it. Bourbon is a recommendation I get a lot, but I haven’t tried that. I even like to mix it with Summery beers like Wits and light hoppy ales. I associate ginger beer with Summer a lot, but it is great any time. The crisp balance of spicy and sweet is always refreshing, if you can handle it.
While sitting in the bottle, it will get very clear, but all the sediment gets thrown up by the carbonation when you pop it open. If you put it in larger, two liter bottles, you could get it to clear again after the first pour. If you really care, you could probably let the mixture, minus the sugar and yeast, sit in the bucket for a few days before bottling. Personally, I’m not bothered by the sediment and cloudy look.
My recipe is for six gallons because that is the most I can fit in the bottling bucket that I mix it up in. It is easily scalable, though with half a pound of ginger, two cups of Splenda, two ounces of lemon juice and an ounce of sugar per gallon. In addition to the ingredients, bottles and bucket, you will also need a food processor, a paint strainer bag (or cheesecloth, a muslin bag or whatever you like), a big spoon, a knife and a cutting board. The instructions are below.
Ginger Beer (six gallon batch)
Ingredients: 3 lb Ginger Root
6 cups Splenda
12 oz Lemon Juice
1 cup Cane Sugar
1 packet Champagne yeast
6 gal Water
Clean the ginger with warm water. You do not need to take the skin off. Cut the ginger root into small enough pieces to fit into the food processor. Pulse the pieces, along with just enough water to keep from getting sticky, until they make a uniform mush. You will probably need to do a few rounds to get all of the ginger processed with this batch size. Spread the paint strainer bag over the top of the bucket and dump the ginger mush in. Pour the water on top of the ginger in the bucket. I use hot water, not boiling, just as warm as I can get from the sink. Once the water is in the bucket, stir it up to make sure there are no big lumps of ginger with dry spots. When you’re sure it’s all wet and mixing, let the ginger water sit for about an hour.
After waiting for an hour, stir again, then pull out the strainer bag full of ginger. Squeeze the bag (yes!) to get out as much of the liquid as possible and then discard the ginger. The bag can be cleaned and used again. Now start adding the Splenda and lemon juice. The amounts listed are what I like, but start lower and sample it until you like it.
Once you’re happy with the flavor, add the sugar and Champagne yeast. Remember, this sugar will ferment out to carbonate the soda, it won’t change the final taste. With all the ingredients added, stir again very thoroughly. You may want to give the yeast a few minutes to be sure it’s gotten all over and will be in each bottle.
Bottle the soda in plastic bottles and store somewhere warm until the bottles are hard. This will take a week or two. Don’t worry if it’s a little bit longer. Once the soda is carbonated, it’s ready to drink.