Pour Yourself A Taste Of History With Home Brewed Ginger Ale

One of my favorite pastimes is reading old cookbooks. They paint a picture of the past that isn't portrayed in history books. Throughout much of human existence, a good deal of time was devoted to the preparation of food. Food shaped the daily lives of countless mothers and wives, and reading old cookbooks will give you a bit of insight into those lives that you won't find elsewhere.

Any cookbook that is over 100 years old is not likely to contain any pre-made, processed ingredients in its ingredient list. Cookies and cakes didn't come from tubes or boxes. If you wanted ketchup, someone had to make it. Home cooks knew how to remove the fur or feathers from the critter unlucky enough to wind up on the dinner plate. Ice cream was a rare treat reserved for special occasions, since it took no small amount of effort to hand crank the machine used. Many things we take for granted today were the most time consuming items to prepare.

I once read a book from 1908 and stumbled upon a recipe for "Ginger Pop." It involved boiling ginger, water and sugar together then combining it with tartaric acid and yeast. The mixture was then bottled for a mere two days before becoming a delectable fizzy drink. I was surprised to find out that soda could be made so easily at home. Everything else seem to need so much effort and here was something so easy, it's hard to believe mainstream cooks ever stopped making it. I decided to make the "pop" that day to see if the results were anything similar to modern soda. Two days later, I had my answer. It was better!

The resulting beverage was mildly spicy from the ginger. It was sweet, but not too sweet. The yeast consumes the sugar and produces gas as a result. This makes the drink naturally fizzy and bubbly without the addition of seltzer or club soda.

That was about two years ago and since then I have made the recipe my own. The sugar has been swapped out for raw honey. Lemon juice provides the necessary level of acidity the tartaric acid had originally been used for. I no longer boil the mixture and instead let the raw ginger slowly flavor the soda throughout the two day brewing process. My food processor makes the recipe easy to prepare; the whole process takes five minutes of active preparation (plus time to ferment.) The Ginger Ale is raw and delicious, with no need for the usual "soda guilt."

Mention home brewing and most people's thoughts inevitably turn to beer. I think it's time that home brewers also pursue other long forgotten recipes, like ginger ale or root beer. Home fermented soda can be a healthy alternative to the mass produced, corn syrup laden drinks popular today. You'll find the detailed recipe HERE.




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