The folks over at the blog Love and Olive Oil post a challenge to their readers every month and they also take on the challenge themselves. The challenge for this month is Ginger Ale. I was really intrigued by making homemade carbonated beverages since I had never really considered it. So, I tackled the challenge this month.
I decided to make my ginger ale pear flavored since I found this bottle of pear nectar at Williams Sonoma last weekend. I must admit that I'm not the biggest fan of ginger ale. I have a friend who always drank Vernor's ginger ale when we were kids. I was not a fan and I think that stuck with me into adulthood. The idea of using yeast to make carbonation was too big of a temptation for me,
though. I love science! I just needed my ginger ale to be more than just plain old ginger ale so that I might risk drinking it. Let me tell you, this ginger ale over ice with a little bourbon mixed in is just plain heaven. That's the only way to describe it.
The yeast is crucial for making the ginger ale fizzy. A drink gets its carbonation from carbon dioxide being dissolved in the base liquid. This drink gets its fizz from the yeast releasing carbon dioxide, which then dissolves in the liquid -- same effect, different approach. I loved watching this stuff "develop" on the kitchen cabinet over the last couple of days. After the first day, there was a little head of foam on top of the liquid and when I tapped the bottle, little bubbles would float to the top. This immediately made me start singing "Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo in my head. Travel back to the 80's with me.....
Combine grated ginger, sugar, and some pear nectar. You don't have to use the fancy stuff; you can get pear nectar at the local health food store. Heat it until all the sugar is melted. Also, don't be intimidated by the process of grating ginger. If you put your ginger in the freezer the night before you need it, it will grate with a regular old grater in no time flat.
Once your sugar is melted, pour the mixture through a strainer. You might want to do this twice if you don't like a little pulp in your finished beverage.
Pour the ginger mixture into a empty, clean two liter plastic bottle and add the yeast.
Combine the rest of the pear nectar with enough water to make 7 cups and add that to the ginger mixture. Put the lid on and shake it up just a little. Leave it on the kitchen counter at room temperature for 2 days.
As soon as the 2 days are over, SLOWLY remove the cap from your bottle to let out all that built up pressure and then put it in the fridge. The cold in the fridge will keep your yeast from making more bubbles and keep the bottle from exploding.
Pear Ginger Ale
makes about 2 liters
Print me, Please!!!
1 1/2 to 2 oz grated ginger root
1 cup sugar
11.2 to 12 oz pear nectar
1/8 tsp dry active yeast
2 Tbsp lemon juice
In a medium saucepan, combine the grated ginger root, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the pear nectar. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, just until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, then cover and let steep for at least 1 hour, or until room temperature. Once the mixture has reached room temperature, pour it through a fine mesh strainer to remove most of the ginger solids. Using a funnel, pour the mixture into an empty, clean two liter plastic bottle.
Add the yeast to the bottle followed by the rest of the pear nectar along with enough water to make 7 cups more liquid to the ginger mixture in the bottle. Add the lemon juice. Put the cap on the bottle and shake gently to combine. Let the bottle sit, undisturbed, at room temperature for 2 days.
After two days, slowly remove the cap from the bottle to alleviate the pressure that has built up in the bottle. Store the bottle in the refrigerator up to 1 week.