Traditional Fermented Ginger Ale: Ginger Bug

Traditional fermented ginger ale is the only drink I make that is in a similar category to Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade. These two drinks are kind of cousins because they can both use the same fermenting agent, whey. But for ginger ale, a ‘ginger bug’ is the primary fermenting agent. Using whey in making ginger ale does make it ferment faster. But I prefer not to add it and let the ginger ale ‘slow brew’. In addition, for people who are sensitive to dairy or are vegan, whey needs to be avoided since it comes from dairy.

So we won’t be discussing whey today. Our focus will be on making a ‘ginger bug’. My first effort failed. So don’t get discouraged. I have used various recipes as my template for guidance. It is amazing how recipes can vary. That is because fermenting is as much an art as it is a science. There is no exclusive way to make this. The only one that matters is the one that works. And based on all kinds of environmental and other input, the same recipe may not work consistently.

Let’s start with the ginger itself. I only use fresh ginger. If it is organic, I just rinse it. If it is not organic, I peel it. Either way, the ginger should be nice and plump, not wrinkled or moldy. Ginger is available in ASian food stores, in health food markets and often in supermarkets.

There are two recipes that I used at the start. The first is from Wellnessmama.com calling for a small amount of ginger, sugar and water added daily.

The second is from Nourished Traditions and is fairly similar to the wellnessmama.com recipe.

I am not sure if I found a recipe for this or if I started doing it on my own. I am admittedly overwhelmed sometimes with caring for all my fermented beverages and food. Daily attention to my ‘ginger bug’ become difficult. So I started weekly feeding of my continuous culture, you never use it up but always save some to start the next one.
It worked. And what works even better is using muscovado sugar. It is very dark because it has a substantial amount of molasses left in it. It tastes almost taste more like ginger beer than ginger ale. My original bug is made with a lighter sugar called demerara with less molasses so it is not as potent.

ginger bug
Ginger bugs fermenting comfortably

The next step in making traditional fermented ginger ale is preparing a ginger wort’. The recipe for that will appear in the next blog post, Traditional Fermented Ginger Ale: ‘Ginger Wort’. Following steps will appear on additional blog posts throughout the coming week.

This blog post details information discussed by Alison D. Gilbert, Healthy Living Consultant, on A.M. News on Renegade 101.3 FM. If you wish to share it, please give credit where credit is due. Photography is by the author unless otherwise indicated by scanning your mouse over the image. Thank you.

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Fermented Lemon Peel Syrup

Fermented lemon peel syrup is a serendipitous find. It is made from the leftover peel from juicing the lemons used to make homemade organic fermented lemonade.

Lemon peel syrup
Lemon peel syrup, a happy byproduct of homemade lemonade

When I make lemonade, there are a lot of lemon peels left over. Depending on the size of the lemons and the amount of lemonade I am making, I can use between 5 and 10 lemons. That’s a lot of peel. Since I am a strong believer in reduce-reuse-recycle, I like to find uses for things rather than throw them away.

Through sheer experimentation, I discovered that lemon peel can be made into both lemon peel syrup and lemon peel candy. Nothing more than the peel and a good quality light organic sugar are required. When placed in a covered container together and allowed to just sit, the sugar turns into a liquid.

Fresh made organic whey
Fresh made organic whey used for fermentation

I just got a gallon of whey. I was able to purchase it directly from the Sohha Savory Yogurt Company in Brooklyn, New York. Whey is what allows the lemonade to ferment creating tons of healthy probiotic bacteria. Since I like everything I eat to have beneficial qualities, I decided to add some whey to my sugar and lemon peel combo.

When the syrup forms and can be poured out of the container the lemon peels are in, I will have not only a lemon peel treat but a probiotic lemon syrup. I already am using a small quantity of sweetener for lemonade. The other possibilities of what I can use this special syrup for are yet to be discovered.

Homemade fermented organic lemonade
Homemade fermented organic lemonade made using whey

This post is dedicated to Julia Geha and George Geha who lovingly sent me a package of their home-grown organic lemons. Not only are they the largest and juiciest lemons but the also have great peels. Julia wanted to know what I did with the peels and the syrup that I make from them. I put some syrup in the next batch of lemonade. They live on forever! Julia and George own PeaceLoveBeanie. Please vote for them before March 17th to win a grant from FedEx. The company is socially oriented and does wonderful things. They are the official beanie for I Declare World Peace.

This blog post details information discussed by Alison D. Gilbert, Healthy Living Consultant, on A.M. News on Renegade 101.3 FM. If you wish to share it, please give credit where credit is due. Photography is by the author unless otherwise indicated by scanning your mouse over the image. Thank you.

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Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade

Homemade organic fermented lemonade is probably one of our most favorite drinks. It is filled with probiotics for healthy gut bacteria. It tastes tart and sweet at the same time. It is so thirst quenching but so delicious that you want to just keep drinking it. This recipe has few ingredients. It is not difficult to make. It just takes some muscle and patience.

organic lemons
Homegrown organic lemons, a gift from Julia Geha in Arizona

I like to do as much of the work by hand because it is good exercise for my arms. The hardest exercise is squeezing the lemons. There are a variety of squeezers you can buy. Some make it easier to get the juice out of the lemon. Others are more comfortable to use. It can depend on the size of the lemon.

Essential Tools
Essential Tools-Citrus Juice Squeezers

I have tailored the amount of the ingredients to the container size, one that holds 14 cups of liquid (slightly less than a gallon. Let’s go through the recipe starting with the ingredients:
11 cups of filtered water
2 cups of lemon juice (the organic lemons I used had so much juice I only needed 3 1/2 lemons. It usually requires many more lemons)
1 to 1 1/2 cups light organic sugar or demerara golden sugar
1 cup fresh whey* (not powdered)
About 3 TBSP fermented lemon peel syrup (to taste)

* I usually make my own whey from draining yogurt. But I wanted to have a large amount. The lovely people who own Sohha Savory Yogurt were able to spare a gallon of fresh, pure whey. The price was reasonable so I stocked up.

Continuing with the recipe, fill the glass container with the liquid ingredients. Start with the water and add the whey. Put that aside and squeeze the lemons until you have the desired amount of juice. Pulp can be left in the liquid but be sure to remove the pits. Put aside the lemon peel for making lemon syrup.

Mix the liquid ingredients with a wooden spoon and then add the sugar. Mix again. Add the lemon syrup to taste. Cover the jar and leave at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Then refrigerate and enjoy.

Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade
Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade

Here’s a recipe card to cut out and keep:

Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade
Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade

Recipe adapted from The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook. Photos by the author, Alison D. Gilbert

This blog post details information discussed by Alison D. Gilbert, Healthy Living Consultant, on A.M. News on Renegade 101.3 FM. If you wish to share it, please give credit where credit is due. Photography is by the author unless otherwise indicated by scanning your mouse over the image. Thank you.

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