There are few foods I love more than the taste of lemon. It’s great in everything from drinks, baked goods, cleaning supplies, and even lemon-scented candles. Pairing this amazing fruit with ginger is a no-brainer! So what a better way to enjoy a warm day, or any day, with a refreshing, naturally carbonated ginger-lemonade! I first got turned on to Ginger Beer and creating a Ginger Bug via YouTube, and found a great page detailing how to make a ginger beer/lemonade combination that I just HAD to try. It took eight days to make, and 24 hours to drink all 4 bottles. I was HOOKED! Now that I’ve brewed it a few times, and came up with my own process, I thought I would share the love!
Let me know how your Gingerade turned out in the comments!
What You’ll Need
- 1 One Gallon Fermenting Vessel
- 1 Bubbler
- 1 Wooden or Plastic Spoon
- 3-4 Lemons (Large)
- 4-6 Inches of Organic Ginger (to taste)
- 3/4 Cup (12 Tablespoons) White Refined Sugar
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 Knife
- 1 Ginger Bug
- 2 Funnels
- 1 Small Strainer
- 4-5 Big Bottles
- 4-5 Additional Teaspoons/Tablespoons (to taste) Raw or Refined White Sugar
- 1 Dish Towel
Total time: 7-8 days (assuming you have an active Ginger Bug)
12-18 days (starting from scratch)
[See: How To Make: A Ginger Bug]
Step 1: Preparing The Lemons
Remove any stickers that might be on the surface of your lemons, and rinse thoroughly. Your lemons will be sitting in your fermenting vessel, and we want to minimize any wildcard variables introduced in the fermenting phase. I’ve found 3 lemons makes a gallon of Gingerade with a strong lemon flavor, however you can add/subtract to your liking. Cut the lemons up into eighths, and toss into the fermenting vessel.
Step 2: Time For Ginger
Firstly, rinse your ginger root off to clean it up. You can remove the skin if you’d like with a spoon, I usually don’t though. Leaving the skin on shouldn’t affect the taste of your Gingerade. Finely chop or grate the ginger root up, and toss into your fermenting vessel. The more surface area the better and fuller ginger taste you will get. You can use between four to six inches of ginger to taste, I stick with four or five.
Step 3: Adding Sugar & Water
Now we add two main ingredients, sugar and water. Don’t worry about the large amount of sugar we’ll be adding into your drink at this step. The yeast added in Step 4, will feed on the majority of the sugar. Your final product will have far less sugary content than you’d expect at this point. Add 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) of refined white sugar to the fermenting vessel. Add 11-12 cups of water and stir everything very well, until most/all of the sugar has been dissolved. I like to take my time and stir for a solid 2 minutes, alternating clockwise and counter-clockwise, to make sure everything is mixed well. It’s important to note that you’ll need a little bit of headroom, to add about another cup or so of liquid. Do not overfill your fermenting vessel.
Step 4: The Ginger Bug
If you haven’t already created a Ginger Bug starter, make sure you check out my article outlining the process. The yeast in your Ginger Bug is going to eat the bulk of the sugar you added in Step 3, making your drink full of probiotics and giving it that fizzy carbonation. Add in about half of your Ginger Bug into your fermenting vessel, or about a cup, making sure you keep at least a quarter of your Bug. Don’t worry about getting some of your starter ginger in your Gingerade mix — the more bug you inoculate your Gingerade with, the better. Again, stir thoroughly, to incorporate the sugar-lemon-water with Ginger Bug yeast, and get the fermenting processes kickstarted. You might want to use a kitchen rag to help clean up any spillage, especially if you’re trying to take photos while pouring!
Step 5: Feeding Your Ginger Bug
This is a very important step! Make sure you re-feed your ginger bug, to keep it alive and make more sodas and yummy probiotic drinks. Finely chop or grate about an inch of ginger, and add to your bug along with a tablespoon of raw, or white refined sugar. You can also add some filtered water, or tap water that has sat out for 24 hours (to dissipate any Chlorine that might kill your yeast). Make sure you stir well with a wooden or plastic spoon. Yeast reacts badly to metals, and you might stunt or kill your starter. After you’ve fed your bug, you can place it into a dark spot, feeding it daily, until you’re ready to use it again. Alternatively, if you’re not planning on making another drink soon, you can place it in your fridge for storage. Placing your bug in the fridge will slow down the yeast’s life cycle to a crawl, though you will still need to feed it weekly. I suggest letting your bug sit out for a day, before tucking it into it’s refrigerated bed, to make sure it fully recovers.
Step 6: The Fermenting Process
Place in a dark/warm spot, or cover with a dish towel. I generally keep my Gingerade on my dining room table, with a kitchen towel wrapped around it. You’ll let it sit for 7 days, however, you’ll want to mix with a wooden or plastic spoon every two days. Some might say this is an unnecessary step, but I personally don’t like the thought of the surface of any exposed lemons possibly growing mold. You will soon notice a light “head” of CO2 bubbles along the top and trapped between pieces of lemon and ginger. This is an indication that your yeast is happily eating the sugar you added, and carbonating your beverage.
Step 7: Taste Test!
At this point, if the drink is to your taste, you can enjoy as it is. No extra steps necessary. Just strain out your Gingerade using a funnel and small strainer, into the bottles, and refrigerate. You can also sweeten to taste as you serve to drink, using whatever sweetener you like (honey, stevia, raw sugar, etc). However, your drink won’t be as carbonated as it could be, like a soda (or pop, depending on where you’re from). Keep reading for more!
Step 8: Second Fermentation – The Bottles
If you’d like your Gingerade to be super carbonated, a little more patience is required. First thing you have to do is prepare your bottles! Take a funnel and pour 1 teaspoon/tablespoon (to taste) using a dry funnel, into your bottles, before adding Gingerade. This is going to feed the yeast in your Gingerade to carbonate the drink.
Step 9: Preparing the Gingerade
Stir your Gingerade up real good, with a wooden spoon. At this point, you can use a big strainer to help pour out into a big funnel. However, I like to make my process a little easier. First I’ll take a plastic spoon with holes, and scoop out the big bits of lemon rind, ginger, and pulp. Make sure you let all the liquid you can seep back into the fermenting vessel, as every little bit counts! Once you’ve done as much of the work getting the big stuff out as you can, now you’re reading to add your Gingerade to each bottle.
Step 10: Bottling
Using a second funnel, with the small strainer (plastic or stainless steel will do), ladle or pour your Gingerade slowly into the bottle. You may need to stop to clear the small strainer of pulp. Take your time, your attention to detail will be worth it very soon! Fill the bottle up to a point right below where the neck starts. The more headspace you give it, the better. Seal your bottle, and gently turn end-over-end, to stir the sugar into your Gingerade.
Step 11: One More Day
At this point, you want to set your bottles back in a spot, with a dish towel covering it, to sit for one more day. In this process, we’re giving the yeast just a little more time to carbonate and add our fizz. Since the bottles are sealed, all the carbonation will build up in the bottle, and eventually force its way into the liquid. However, there is one important step here. 12 hours after bottling, make sure you “burp” your bottle, or release excess carbonation. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! If you do not burp your bottles, they can build up an excess of CO2 and explode. All you need to do is pop the cap off, and then right back on. Generally, I’ll burp them 8-10 hours after I bottle, or before bed… whichever comes first. In another 8 hours I’ll burp them again, and after the last 8 hour stretch, put the bottles directly in the fridge. Do not burp them again before you place them in the refrigerator, or you will lose all the built up carbonation. Placing them in a cooler environment will slow the fermenting process down, and you shouldn’t’ have to worry about your bottle exploding, this only would happen at full fermenting potential at room temperature.
Now that you’ve built up carbonation in your second ferment, and chilled, it’s time to enjoy! Make sure you open your bottle above a sink, because they like to overzealously foam up like a shaken up Coca-Cola. You can add mint, or cinnamon and pour over ice. You can also sweeten to taste, using honey, stevia, raw sugar, or any other sweetener of your choice.
Experiment With More Flavors!
Now that you have the basic process down, feel free to experiment! My first time brewing this drink, I tried adding mint before the first fermentation. The taste didn’t really translate, but adding mint when serving complemented the drink very well. Note that, like flavoring Kombucha, you can use more than just sugar during the Second Fermentation process. Instead of sugar, you can add a bit of fruit juice, or pieces of fruit. You can even use something like candied ginger, to add even more ginger zest to your drink! As long as it has additional sugar for the yeast to feed on, and create your carbonation, you can add secondary flavors to your drink.
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