The Art of Homemade Sodas

I remember years ago, as a kid reading about how to make your own root beer and ginger ale. (Yes that was me, I was reading about these types of things while other kids where reading comics.) In one book, though I really don’t remember anything else about the book. The author talked of how their grandmother would make root beer and store it in the basement. Refrigeration was still less common in those days and that was the coolest place to store it. Every once in a while on a hot summer day there would be an explosion of root beer in the basement. If it was not kept cool enough the yeast would begin to ferment again and the bottle lids would fly. The excitement of that thought has stayed in the back of  my mind since then . Only to resurface years later when Miguel told me, after sipping on his root beer. That he would like to try to make his own and use the Mexican sugar that he likes so much. It was then at that moment it all came back to me. I want to make my own root beer and ginger ale.

So the search began and this is what I came up with on-line. I will post pics and tips after I make this myself. Try making it yourself and let me know of the results.

How to Make Ginger Ale

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Even though you can look at the shelves in any supermarket and find various brands of ginger ale, making your own is not only educational, but creates an entirely different taste of a refreshing and healthful drink. Here’s how to make a 2L bottle of fresh ginger ale straight from the ginger.

Steps

  1. Add 1 cup of sugar to the bottle through the dry funnel. Leave the funnel in place until all the steps are complete and you are ready to cap the bottle.
  2. Measure out 1/4 teaspoon of fresh granular active baker’s yeast. Use Fleischmann’s or any brand that you might buy in the health food store.
  3. Add the yeast through the funnel into the bottle. Shake it to disperse the yeast grains into the sugar granules.
  4. Grate the ginger root on a fine “cutting” grater to produce 1 1/2 Tablespoon of grated root. See the Tips below for more information on using the right grater.
  5. Place the grated ginger in the cup measure.
  6. Juice a whole lemon. Lemon is important to keep the PH level low and ward off unwanted microorganisms. If you don’t like lemon, try grapefruit juice.
  7. Add the juice of a whole lemon to the grated ginger.
  8. Stir the lemon juice and grated ginger to form a slurry.
  9. Add the slurry of lemon juice and grated ginger to the bottle. (It may stick in the funnel. Don’t worry, the next step will wash it into the bottle.)
  10. Rinse the containers that held the lemon juice and grated ginger with fresh clean water. Do not dump the water just yet.
  11. Add the rinsing water to the bottle.
  12. Cap and shake the bottle.
  13. Reopen and fill the bottle to the neck with fresh, cool, clean water, leaving about an inch of head space, then securely screw the cap down to seal. Invert the bottle repeatedly to thoroughly dissolve sugar. Also check the bottom of the bottle because the suger tends to stick in little pockets there. (The ginger root will not dissolve, of course.)
  14. Place the ginger ale in a warm location for 24 to 48 hours. See the Warnings below.
  15. Test to see if carbonation is complete by squeezing the bottle forcefully with your thumb. If it dents in as in the picture, it is not ready.
  16. Once the bottle feels hard to a forceful squeeze, usually only 24-48 hours, place in the refrigerator. Before opening, refrigerate at least overnight to thoroughly chill. Crack the lid off the thoroughly chilled ginger ale just a little to release the pressure slowly. You do not want a ginger ale fountain!

Tips

  • Make sure the fermenting vessels are cleaned before use, there are a wide variety of powdered sanitisers that can be used.
  • Filter the ginger ale through a strainer if you find floating pieces of ginger objectionable. These are found in the first glass or two poured and, since most of the ginger sinks to the bottom, the last glass or so may require filtering too. Rinse the bottle out immediately after serving the last of the batch.
  • Fermentation has been used by mankind for thousands of years for raising bread, fermenting wine and brewing beer. Carbon dioxide causes bread to rise and gives effervescent drinks their bubbles. This action of yeast on sugar is used to ‘carbonate’ beverages, as in the addition of bubbles to champagne.
  • You may, of course, adjust the quantities of sugar and/or extract to taste. Note that the lemon called for in step seven is optional. And if you want a spicier drink, you can increase the amount of grated ginger.
  • To personalize your ginger ale, design your own label and attach it to the bottle as you place it with pride in the center of your dinner table.
  • You can substitute artificial sweeteners for the sugar as long as you use 2-3 tablespoons of sugar. This is all that is actually required for the yeast to carbonate the beverage.
  • For an interesting variation, simmer a piece of well bruised root ginger in water for an hour as an alternative method of extracting the flavor, this will give the water a golden/brownish tint. Start with about 20g of ginger root per 2 litres of water, and increase/decrease to taste.

Warnings

  • This recipe will produce alcohol in the finished product
    • The quantity of alcohol in the finished product over a 2-3 day fermentation period is going to be minuscule, however, if left out for several days (see further warnings) it will continue to ferment until all of the sugar and the alcohol content will be considerably higher. It will taste nothing like ginger ale. Note also that local laws pertaining to the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages may apply. (For example, some “dry” areas maintain zero tolerance for alcohol in beverages.)
  • Do not leave the finished ginger ale in a warm place any longer than the time it takes for the bottle to feel hard. Leaving it at room temperature longer than two days, especially in the summer when the temperature is high, can generate enough pressure to explode the bottle! Once it is thoroughly chilled, there is little danger of explosion.
  • When purchasing your yeast, do not buy “brewer’s yeast”, as this is typically inactive yeast left over from the brewing process. It is dead yeast, and will not work. For best results, buy yeast from a beer and wine maker’s supply store.

Things You’ll Need

  • clean 2 liter plastic soft drink bottle with cap
  • funnel
  • grater (preferably with fine “cutting” teeth)
  • 1 cup measuring cup
  • 1/4 tsp and 1 Tbl measuring spoons
  • cane (table) sugar [sucrose] (1 cup)
  • freshly grated ginger root (1 1/2-2 tablespoons)
  • use only fresh ginger root (purchasable at most large supermarkets, or Asian food shops)
  • juice of one lemon
  • fresh granular baker’s yeast (1/4 teaspoon)
  • cold fresh pure water

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Ginger Ale. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.


How to Make Root Beer

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Making root beer at home is easy, once you gather all the necessary supplies. It’s a great family project and a way to teach the younger ones that not everything tasty comes from an aluminum can. And it’s delicious, too!

Ingredients

  • Glucose(table) sugar [sucrose] (1 cup)
  • Root Beer Extract (1 tablespoon)
  • Powdered baker’s yeast (1/4 teaspoon) or stop by your local home brew shop and get a packet of Lalvin Champagne Yeast #EC-1118. Its about 99 cents for 5 grams and leaves less of a yeast flavor.
  • Cold fresh water

Steps

  1. Using a clean bottle and a dry funnel, add the ingredients in sequence as stated in the steps that follow. First add a level cup of table sugar, (or cane sugar). Adjust the amount to achieve the desired sweetness.
  2. Measure out 1/4 teaspoon powdered baker’s yeast or 1/8 teaspoon if using the EC-1118, and place in the funnel. The yeast should be fresh and active, and any brand that is available will work.
  3. Shake well to make sure that the yeast grains are distributed evenly into the sugar.
  4. Swirl the sugar/yeast mixture in the bottom in order to make it concave and enable it to catch the extract in the middle.
  5. Replace the funnel, and add 1 Tbsp of root beer extract on top of the dry sugar. Notice how the extract sticks to the sugar. This will help dissolve the extract as seen in the next few steps .
  6. Fill the bottle halfway with fresh cool tap water that has only a little chlorine. Pour through the funnel and use this opportunity to rinse extract stuck to the funnel and tablespoon. Swirl to dissolve the ingredients.
  7. Fill the bottle to the neck, this time with fresh water, leaving only about an inch (2.54cm) of head space. Securely screw the cap so as to seal the bottle. Invert repeatedly to thoroughly dissolve the contents.
  8. Place the sealed bottle at room temperature for about three or four days until the bottle feels hard to a forceful squeeze. Then move it to a cool place (below 65 F (18 C)). Refrigerate overnight to thoroughly chill before serving. Crack the lid of the bottle just a little to release the pressure slowly.

Tips

  • There will be a sediment of yeast at the bottom of the bottle, so that the last bit of root beer will be turbid. Decant carefully if you wish to avoid this sediment.
  • Fermentation has been used by mankind for thousands of years for raising bread, fermenting wine and brewing beer. The products of the fermentation of sugar by baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (a fungus) are ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide causes bread to rise and gives effervescent drinks their bubbles. This action of yeast on sugar is used to ‘carbonate’ beverages, as in the addition of bubbles to champagne.
  • Artificial sweetener cannot be used to replace the sugar. Sugar is required for yeast to generate carbon dioxide which carbonates the beverage. No sugar, no carbonation. You might experiment with less sugar, and add a substitute to make up for the lower sweetness. You can add 1/4 oz by weight of corn sugar (dextrose) or cane sugar to carbonate the soda and sweeten with a substitute. In beer making we use 1 oz by weight per gallon (3.8 liters) to carbonate the bottles so 1/4 oz by weight will work great.
  • Use bottled water instead of tap.
  • Add 0.5 ounces of maltodextrin to 2 liters (8 ounces per 4 gallons) in order to improve body and texture of the finished root beer. Maltodextrin does not ferment and does not replace normal sugar levels.

Warnings

  • Do not leave the finished root beer in a warm place once the bottle feels hard. After a couple weeks or so at room temperature, especially in the summer when the temperature is high, enough pressure may build up to explode the bottle! There is no danger of this if the finished root beer is refrigerated. Move to a refrigerator overnight before opening.
  • There might be alcohol in this home made soft drink. The alcoholic content which results from the fermentation of this root beer has been found, through testing, to be between 0.35 and 0.5 %. Comparing this to the 6% in many beers, it would require a person to drink about a gallon and a half (5.7 L) of this root beer to be equivalent to one 12 ounce (355 mL) beer. It can be said that this amount of alcohol is negligible, but for persons with metabolic problems who cannot metabolize alcohol properly, or religious prohibition against any alcohol, consumption should be limited or avoided. However, there are many high school biology labs who have made this beverage without any problems.

Things You’ll Need

  • clean 2 liter plastic soft drink bottle with cap
  • funnel
  • 1 cup measuring cup
  • 1/4 tsp measuring spoon
  • 1 Tbl measuring spoon

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Root Beer. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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About wileychef

Robert is a Kentucky native, raised on a farm in the middle of tobacco country. He first started cooking with his grandmother at a young age. This was the beginning of a life long passion for food and cooking. He later studied culinary arts at The National Center for Hospitality Studies at Sullivan University. Robert now lives and works as a chef in Portland OR.
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One Response to The Art of Homemade Sodas

  1. assistantdishwasher says:

    Oooh! This sounds fun!

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