Make Ahead

Ginger-ella (wild yeast fermented gingerĀ ale)

June 10, 2011
0 Ratings
  • Makes 2 quarts
Author Notes

A fellow food52er - Linzarella - posted a home-brew root beer recipe that really caught my eye: . I am not a fan of the flavor root beer, but the "ginger bug" process she described made me think home brewed ginger ale was a possibility. I consulted some ginger brew bloggers - Dr Fankhauser at and someone named aaron at . So the following recipe is an amalgam of the three sources listed above.I also found this link interesting; . I will update in the future as I experiment more. —Sadassa_Ulna

What You'll Need
  • Ginger Bug
  • 3-8 teaspoons cane sugar
  • 1 large fresh ginger root
  • 1 cup filtered (or pre-boiled and cooled) water
  • Tisane (the name might be a stretch but I like the word)
  • 2 quarts minus 1/2 cup water*
  • 7/8 cup cane sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • other flavors you'd like to add
  1. Ginger Bug
  2. Fill a clean, dry glass jar (two-cup size or larger) with the water and one teaspoon freshly grated ginger (and the juice it makes). Some people say include the ginger peel and don't wash it so that you get natural yeasts. I chickened out and peeled mine first. Cover with fabric, cheesecloth or a paper towel and rubber band it. The first time I used the jar's accompanying lid and left it on but not screwed tight. This worked for fermentation but I read that this can cause a vinegar-y taste.
  3. Store jar in a darkish warm place. The ideal temperature is close to body temp but not much warmer than that. I put my jar in a cardboard box with a cheap drugstore heating pad in it and a towel over the whole box. I turn the pad on and off occasionally and definitely off at night. It is really hot so we have the AC blasting through our house, so the ambient air temp is pretty cool which would mean slow fermentation. In the winter I might be able to keep a ginger bug near a radiator. It is OK if the temps swing a little but too hot will kill it and too cold will slow or stop the fermentation, for now I am saying between 82 deg. F. and 100 deg. F.
  4. Every day after the first add one more teaspoon each of the ginger and the sugar. After day three you might start to see activity, my first try took me to Day 8.
  5. When you see bubbling in the jar your ginger bug is ready.
  1. Tisane (the name might be a stretch but I like the word)
  2. * You can measure your water by filling the intended container, pouring out for headroom, and then pouring out another half-cup. See step 9 below and sources in above headnote for bottling options. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.
  3. Peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler and remove any white pith by scraping with a small sharp knife. Add peels and sugar. If you have other flavor ideas add them now. Lower heat and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. Turn off heat.
  4. Juice lemon and add to liquid. Allow to cool to 100 degrees F or to room temp; strain into a large glass container and add the ginger bug.
  5. Cover with a towel. Linzarella advises stretching two long pieces masking tape over the container in a cross configuration to keep the towel from slipping if necessary. Store this in a warm place, same temperatures listed under ginger bug directions for two - four days. Or you can skip this step and go straight to bottling. One source tells me it will be fizzier if you bottle it right away.
  6. For my first time I chose to use one re-used plastic container. I used a clean, dry two quart plastic bottle (from Trader Joe's lemonade I think) and the accompanying lid. [The lid had no waxed paper disc, if it did I would remove it.] Fill bottle and leave 1" minimum headroom. You can staring before bottling or not.
  7. Leave bottle in the same warm location for 24-48 hours or until the bottle feels very firm. Refrigerate at once and keep chilled for several hours. Open very carefully.
  8. I will update this recipe as I try other flavors and bottling methods. This recipe is fairly dry but it does not have the strong bite of some Jamaican ginger beers I've had. More ginger could be added to either the bug or the tisane if a hotter ginger flavor is preferred. If my math is correct this recipe has between 1/4 and 1/3 the amount of sugar in commercial ginger ale. Some recipes call for twice the amount of sugar; those probably have the sweeter taste of commercial ginger ales. I love the idea of using honey, maple syrup, or other less refined sugars and I will update if I get good results. Last, about flavorings, I have found some people like to add cayenne, vanilla, lime, or other flavors. Again, I will post any good flavor combinations I find.

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  • Sadassa_Ulna
  • hardlikearmour

Recipe by: Sadassa_Ulna

Growing up I was the world's pickiest eater, that is, until my children were born. Karma. Neither of my parents were much into cooking; it was the height of eating fat-free or anything with oat bran added. I taught myself some basics, mostly baking, following the guidelines of a well-worn copy of Joy of Cooking. I was a ballet dancer and a teacher suggested I lose weight. As I began reading about diet and nutrition I became interested in natural foods, which led to a job at a macrobiotic natural foods market in Center City Philadelphia; this was way before Whole Foods came to the area. I learned a lot about food in general. I ate strictly vegan for a while, although I don't now, but I still like it when a recipe can taste great without butter or bacon! In short, my approach to cooking is idiosyncratic, and I don't know very much about cooking meat or proper technique. I love to bake and I am still working on expanding my palate and my repertoire. The hardest part is getting the whole family to try new things! So aside from my food status, I am an architect who likes to garden and play music. I'm married with two kids, and I hope to get a dog someday.

2 Reviews

Sadassa_Ulna June 10, 2011
Ooh thanks for the link hla! I get obsessed with projects easily so home-brewing is my new obsession - this week. I hope to learn more about brewing and I have a feeling I will be needing special equipment . . . thanks!
hardlikearmour June 10, 2011
Wow....this is really cool. Nice science experiment! You could also put a balloon over the opening of your plastic bottle to collect excess gas formed. Or you can get an airlock like they use for "Spike Your Juice."