While glass bottles look pretty, I wouldn't recommend using them during the carbonation process here. A plastic bottle will allow you to feel when the pressure has built up in the bottle due to the carbon dioxide. Once the soda has carbonated, you can then transfer the soda to a glass bottle for serving, if you please.
Champagne yeast can be found online, or you can check if there are any home brewing shops in your area. If you live in New York, I know Brooklyn Homebrew carries it. —Ashley Centola
- Makes 2 Liters
Clean, plastic 2 Liter bottle
Fine mesh sieve
raw turbinado sugar
freshly grated ginger root
fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
whole black peppercorns
Two swipes of nutmeg on a microplane
Champagne yeast (I used Lalvin brand)
For lemon verbena ginger ale, you will need about 15 lemon verbena leaves and 3 more black peppercorns
- Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add grated ginger, lemon juice, black peppercorns, two swipes of nutmeg on a microplane, and salt. Let steep for at least one hour. (If adding lemon verbena leaves, do so here)
- Using a funnel, pour the ginger syrup base into a clean, two-liter bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle with water, leaving a few inches of space at the top, then add the yeast.
- Cap the bottle tightly and give it a shake. Store at room temperature, preferably in a shaded area, for about 48 hours. I placed mine in a kitchen cabinet for good measure (my roommate was probably wondering why there were four bottles of mysterious liquid nestled in with our glasses.) You'll know it's carbonated when the bottle feels rock-solid.
- Twist off the cap very slowly to release the pressure. You may even have to twist a little bit, wait a minute, twist a little more, wait a minute, and so on, until you're in the clear to remove the cap completely. One of my batches ended up taking at least 5 minutes before I could fully twist off the cap without it fizzing over.
- Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the soda over an ice-filled glass and serve. If you made the lemon verbena ginger ale, add some fresh leaves to the glass to garnish.
- If you're not drinking your ginger ale immediately, be sure to refrigerate the bottle once it has reached the point of carbonation. If left out at room temperature, more carbon dioxide will be produced, and you definitely do not want the bottle to explode when you open it. Yeast is a powerful thing, people. I can attest to this. It went a little something like this: I strained the soda into a glass bottle, apparently under the impression that I'm some kind of magician (I'm not) who can magically catch every little bit of yeast in the soda. (I didn't.) And so without thinking, I made the mistake of leaving the bottle out on the kitchen table for a few days. I went to open it last night, just to be matched with a force that can only be compared to a broken, spewing fire hydrant. I was covered, as was the wall, the floor, the clean dishes that were still in the dish rack from last week, and pretty much anything else within a two foot radius. This ginger ale should keep in the refrigerator for at least a week without going flat. I have a couple of batches in the back of my fridge that I've only opened a few times since I made them two weeks ago, and they're still fully carbonated.