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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Is Fermentation A Hobby Or A ‘Whey’ Of Life?

fermentation
My food and beverage fermentation storage cabinet.
    Fermentation of foods and beverages may seem to have started out as a hobby for me. But as I have continued, I have been discovering otherwise. I am learning more and more about these historically documented traditions that add valuable nutrients to food. In fact, before refrigeration and food additive preservation, fermentation was one of the essential, natural means of preserving food. The beauty of fermentation was that it accomplished two valuable results, food preservation, its primary goal, and nutritional enhancement, the natural bi-product of this process. The more I learn, the more food I want to ferment to add to the nutritional value.

Today, we live in a world of food preservation technology that has made fermentation unnecessary. Food is prepared and processed with ‘food preservatives’, chemicals that only increase shelf life. Fermentation is no longer needed. Or so it may seem. Ironically, the removal of natural fermentation and the addition of synthetic chemicals is leaving us nutritionally bankrupt. This has resulted in serious health issues for many adults and children.

Buying prepared foods that are natural and nutritious can become very expensive. I am exploring alternatives so I can eat healthfully and economically. I’ve begun to go back-to-basics. I’m giving fermenting beverages and foods a whole-hearted try. It is clear to me that this can be a good means of improving and maintaining good health. What I did not realize was that this nutrient dense solution can take a good deal of time. What might have seemed like a hobby initially, has become a ‘whey’ of life for me.

whey
Making whey from yogurt strained through cheese cloth

Over the last six months or so, I have learned numerous techniques of fermentation. They include using a SCOBY (symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast) to make fermented teas, called Kombucha and Jun; using kefir grains or crystals to ferment milk and water; adding whey (a cheese making bi-product) to make lacto-fermented foods and beverages; using a ‘ginger bug’ (a fermented syrup of ginger, sugar and water) to make delicious, nutritious, homemade sodas; and one of our all time favorites, making lacto-fermented (whey again) lemonade. In fact, I make my own whey from yogurt and milk kefir by simply separating the ‘curds’ and ‘whey’ with cheesecloth or a paint strainer. It is easy but adds more time to the process of preparing nutrient rich food.

Eating this way increases good ‘gut’ bacteria. A new field of science called the human microbiome has revealed that the human body is only 20% human cells and 80% bacteria. This sheds a totally different light on how we need to look at improving and maintaining health. Our bodies thrive on good bacteria and need ‘probiotic’ foods and beverages to continually supply us with an abundance of it. Processed foods with food additives are, at the very least, dead. At their worst, they rob the body of any healthy bacteria it may have had. This means that eating processed food makes the body vulnerable. It creates a ripe environment for illness.

Be on guard when you shop for food. Read ingredients. If there are more than a few ingredients, don’t buy a packaged product. One of the worst food additives is high fructose corn syrup. Avoid it like the plague. Learn to make probiotic rich foods and beverages. It could save your life.

kombucha
‘Ali’s Kombucha Kitchen’, the facebook page

As much as I can, I’m going back to how food and beverages were prepared before industrial food preservation. This means creating a healthy ‘whey’ of life supported by the latest scientific research, the human microbiome. We are seeing through the microbiome that when it comes to food, nature’s way is most likely best. I believe that only by going back in time to natural, probiotic enhancing food preparation methods, can we go forward with health.

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Help, I need a wool soup recipe.

wool soup recipe
Help, I need a wool soup recipe
So far no one has come up with a wool soup recipe for me. Why do I need one? you may ask. Well, it involves a story. So I hope you don’t mind. Have a seat and make yourself at home.

In 2008, when the stock market crashed . . . . Let’s stop right there and go to a shorter version of my story. We are part of The Middle Class Poor. We get food stamps, go to food pantries and get assistance for living. I am not sure how much living one can call this when food stamps is $17 per month (it went up from $15!). Food pantries have no food we can eat. That is where the wool soup recipe comes into the story.

Garden Pool
Turning a worn out swimming pool into a source of food for a family from ‘GardenPool’

One of the food pantries we go to is in a church that has a wealthy congregation. I get clothes from Talbot, Lord & Taylor and lots of other prestigious names. It is fun to get new clothes each month. But I need food. I need real food not peanut butter and jelly or mac ‘n cheese. So therein lies my problem. I had become clothes rich and food poor. If I could only find a wool soup recipe, then I could be both food and clothes rich. No wool soup recipe has appeared or is likely to do so in the near future. It became apparent to me that I would have to find another solution to our hunger/nutrition crisis. I decided to call it The Food Project.

The Food Project
Art & Bytes, The Food Project

The first idea was something called, Donate It Local. I started my research by going around to local restaurants and supermarkets to see if they would like to donate food that was not used up by the end of the day or was about to expire. The answer was the same everywhere. ‘Sorry, but we can’t risk the liability if someone gets sick’. ‘If someone gets sick’, I thought. Hah, I’ll risk it. It’s better than going hungry. But not as far as the powers that be saw it. They could only respond in terms of their potential legal situation instead of the real food/nutrition crisis.

Donate It Local
An attempt to enlist local stores and restaurants to donate fresh food.

My next effort was part of the Global Food rEvolution. The focus was on fighting for healthier, non-gmo food. I participated in that for a while by posting about everything to do with GMOs and their danger. I also announced all the marches and activities I could for Occupy Monsanto and other such rallies. But we were still hungry and the amount of money we had available for food when our food stamps were cut from $367/month to $15/month was a shocking wake-up call that we had to do some thing more immediate and personal.

Occupy Monsanto
The Occupy Monsanto Facebook page felt like right approach at first
Global Food rEvolution
But my Global Food rEvolution was feeling more subdued, peaceful and based in my gut.

Back to Basics and Millenial Food Freedom felt more personal and hands on for us than ‘occupying’ a global corporation. I began to make my own laundry detergent and thought about other ways to save money.

Back to Basics
What a great feeling to make something yourself and not buy it prepared
Millenial Food Freedom
Millenial Food Freedom provides probiotics lemonade now not after the Food Revolution

When we were receiving $367/month in food stamps, I was able to food shop in our local health food supermarket and get the kind of foods we needed to stay healthy. One of my favorites had become Kombucha. It is a fermented tea that is high in probiotics, energy boosting and very healthy. But at $3.50 a bottle and $15/month in food stamps, a disparity existed-no more store bought Kombucha. So I started to make my own. I became more involved in making other fermented foods and drinks too. For fun, I named my efforts, Ali’s Kombucha Kitchen.

Ali's Kombucha Kitchen
Ali’s Kombucha Kitchen is where the miracle of fermentation takes place every day

I now spend most of my time in Ali’s Kombucha Kitchen as A Food Fermentation Farmer doing what I call, Fermented Food Farming. I have no land. I have no garden. I do not have a single flower pot. But I have managed to learn how to cook, prepare and preserve fermented and cultured food stuffs that are nutrient rich and delicious.

A Food Fermentation Farmer
The bounty of A Food Fermentation Farmer
Fermented Food Farming
The tools for Fermented Food Farming

One of my traditional nutrition favorites is bone broth. It is as old as the hills as are many of the other culturally indigenous foods and beverages I am learning to make. Many of these traditions have Facebook groups where I can meet other like-minded folks and discuss our experiences.

The BoneBroth Pot Group
The BoneBroth Pot Group Image on Facebook

We still have a ways to go. But I already feel as warm and nourished inside like when I have a wool sweater or skirt on the outside. I may not have found my wool soup recipe. But wool has led me in the right direction. I will not rest until I have found The 100 Percent Solution for the hunger/nutrition crisis for everyone.

The 100 Percent Project
The 100 Percent Project’s goal is the solution to global hunger and malnturtion
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