Are you like me? The days rush by. I do my best in each moment. I never quite do everything I'd like. Part of my practice right now is to be ok with that. A lot of things just have to be ok. Other things are so darn sweet! I try to pay attention and remain curious and open. Our world requires a lot of mindfulness and patience! Today, I'm sharing one of those things that makes my life more sweet.
I stopped drinking sodas long ago. With only sickly sweet or wacky chemical taste to choose from, I just gave up and went for iced tea. My daughter tried to turn me on to kombucha, but I never acquired a taste for it. A bit too earthy for my tastes. But I really missed the bubbly. I like sparkles in my mouth! I'm so grateful I ran into Wellness Mama and her ginger bug. I already posted about my experiments with root beer, but my favorite has become this ginger ale with a touch of vanilla. I've developed a rhythm that keeps me in soda for a week or two and keeps my bug healthy.
Fermentation is naturally a slowish process that takes planning. Really, what it takes is some small forethought and good timing. My bug has become more vigorous and flavorful over the summer and this recent batch took only a few days. I keep the bug in the fridge until I am ready to make a new batch of soda. Then I take it out and feed it with about a tablespoon each grated ginger and sugar and let it warm up for about 24 hours. Then, I make the flavorful tea, add the bug and let it all stand in the two big pickle jars you see above. The bubbles you see are just a two-day ferment.
After the first ferment, I strain both jars into a big pot. This insures that the flavors are all blended. I then bottle it up. This batch was fizzy after just one night's sleep on the counter. I check the bottles over the sink and listen for the little "ffssst" that escapes. That's the time to store the bottles in the fridge until they are ready to drink. If you have bottles that are over a week old, I would strongly suggest you open them over the sink. And, for goodness sakes, don't forget them on the counter!
Look at those lovely, tiny bubbles. So refreshing!
Every time I drink this, I feel like I'm doing something good for myself. This is what the old-time advise to drink ginger ale is all about. I find this really helps when I have an IBS flareup. It feels so good and soothing.
I know I'm not telling anyone anything new today. I'm really just repeating something that is worth repeating, with my own preferences for your consideration. If you can feed a pet and make a pot of tea, you have the skills you need to make the best soda you have ever tasted.
My Best Ginger Ale
6 cups non-chlorinated water
2 inches of fresh ginger, grated or chopped
1 cup organic whole sugar crystals
1 inch of vanilla bean, split
1/2 tsp. pink salt
Additional 10 cups non-chlorinated water
1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup lively ginger bug
Place 6 cups of water in a large pan. Add the ginger, vanilla bean, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let the tea mixture stand until luke warm.
When the tea mixture is luke warm, add the remaining 10 cups of water, lemon juice and ginger bug. Taste for acidity. I tend to use more lemon juice with fresh lemons, especially Meyer Lemons. If I'm stuck using bottled lemon juice, I use less. Place everything in one great big or a few just big jars that have tight closing lids. Try to evenly distribute the solids. Close the lids and let stand at room temperature until it starts to bubble.
To bottle, strain the mixture into a large container and stir to fully blend flavors. Carefully pour into lever cap bottles, leaving up to 2 inches of head space. Seal and let stand at room temperature over night or for a day or two. Check daily. The warmer your kitchen, the faster the ferment will be complete. Once the bottles and nice and bubbly, keep them chilled until use. This makes just about a gallon.
By the way...I'm drinking this RIGHT NOW!