Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meatless Monday: DIY Ginger Ale

There are still some hot summer days in store, and Labor Day cookouts will be on the horizon before too long. So I thought I’d post this recipe for homemade ginger ale my good friend Kevin shared with me some weeks back. All you need is a chunk of fresh ginger root, some sugar, ice and carbonated water.

K wrote, “I sampled this at a cookout this past weekend and was amazed it was so simple… [it] requires little effort and no exotic ingredients. All you do is make the ginger syrup, then add soda water. Feel free to increase the ginger in the syrup, if you like more of a ginger kick…. The syrup is also great for a sore or scratchy throat when mixed with hot water & lemon or for calming a wobbly stomach, either as ginger ale or straight, a teaspoon at a time. Though I have yet to sample one myself, I was told that this makes a great Dark & Stormy (traditionally Ginger Beer & Dark Rum served with a wedge of lime; some recipes call for the juice of 1 or one half lime in the drink as well).”

This recipe requires just 3 ingredients, one of which is water:

2 cups unpeeled, washed, fresh ginger, roughly chopped
2 cups sugar
6 cups water

Process ginger chunks in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Place in a large stock pot. Add sugar and water to the pot and stir. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for one hour until a rich syrup is created. Strain the syrup twice through cheese cloth or a sieve into a large jar or bottle. Refrigerate.

To make ginger ale, simply fill an ice-filled glass a third of the way with the syrup, top with soda water and a squeeze of lime, stir and enjoy.

The ginger for one batch should run you about — $1.50.

If you have a SodaStream sodamaker your ginger ale will be nearly local [haven’t spotted any local ginger at the market]. I’ve seen this product in action and have one on my wish list. With one of these fun to use gadgets, you use your own tap water to make fizzy water. No electricity is required, and the cartridges can be exchanged locally. You can have carbonated water whenever you want it, with a small carbon footprint! 

I have tried this recipe with great success. It makes a delicious drink with a good bit of zing, even without the citrus. Be sure to use a lot of ice, and you might start by filling your glass 1/4 full. As K said, you can always add more.

Just think how you will impress your guests at your next shindig when you tell them you made the ginger ale yourself!

Please come back next Monday for more food facts, my latest produce discovery, or a tip you can use. Thanks for reading.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal  health and the health of our planet.”

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