I swear by ginger. In my experience, it is one of the few “natural remedies” that actually work. Personally, I have used it to boost my mood, increase my appetite, recover from nausea, and reduce pain from inflammation. It is also purported to help prevent certain kinds of cancer, improve circulation, ease morning sickness, protect against liver damage, and even strengthen your immune system.
So why not pop open a can of Ginger Ale from your local supermarket? First, store-bought ginger ale may or may not contain any real ginger at all and what it does have is likely heavily processed. Second, it has an obscene amount of sugar from high fructose corn syrup that drowns out any benefits it might offer. Third, it tastes entirely artificial and disgusting.
Instead, this homemade version has tons of real ginger, plus the citrus and mint add so much freshness that make this drink incredibly refreshing.
But first, a quick note on persistence… The picture above is one of my favorites on this site. The photo itself isn’t terribly amazing, but the struggles of taking it actually helped make this ginger ale recipe so much better.
I have only been doing food photography for a few months and I’m still pretty terrible at it. Sometimes I get lucky, but with this particular recipe, I took about a thousand horrible pictures over several sessions before I was about to give up entirely. Then, I decided to try again and add some mint just to round out the composition. The pictures finally turned out great! But when I tasted it, the flavors had changed completely. The mint added so much freshness and cut through the harshness of the ginger so well – it’s a perfect paring that never would have existed if I gave up too soon. The moral of the story? When in doubt, add mint and everything will be okay. 🙂
Makes 2 cups of concentrate, 6-8 cups of ginger ale
- 1 whole ginger root
- 1 cup water
- 1 orange
- 1 lime
- 1/3 cup liquid sweetener (Agave)
- club soda
- Sprigs of mint (garnish)
- Lime slices (garnish)
The methodology is simple: we want to create a heavily concentrated ginger extract that can be mixed with club soda to create ginger ale. To do this, we’ll blend whole ginger root with water, then pour the mixture through a strainer to remove the pulp…
Take your ginger root (like the one above) and loosely peel it. You can use the backside of a knife or a vegetable peeler; the skin should come off fairly easily and it doesn’t need to be perfect. Then, chop it into loose chunks. You should have about 2/3 cup but the exact amount isn’t important.
Add the peeled ginger chunks to a blender with one cup of water and puree for at least 3 minutes to fully incorporate the ginger into the water.
Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a bowl. Use your hands to squeeze out all the liquid, leaving behind a dry chunk of ginger pulp (similar to vegetable pulp after juicing).
Take the chunk of ginger pulp and return it to the blender. The ginger still has plenty of flavor left, so we’ll blend it once more. This time, however, blend with about 1/2 cup of citrus juice instead of water. The citrus will add some acidity to help balance out the ginger flavor. Squeeze the orange and the lime into the blender and top off with water until you reach 1/2 cup. Just like before, blend for several minutes and then strain into the bowl with the existing ginger concentrate.
Add about 1/3 cup liquid sweetener to the bowl of concentrate and stir. I hate using too much sugar in anything and this seems like a lot, but remember that this will be heavily diluted in the final beverage.
Finally, add to an air-tight mason jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. In my experience, it will keep for about 5-6 days.
When ready to serve, add 1 part ginger concentrate to about 3 parts club soda (you can adjust this ratio to taste) to a glass with ice. It absolutely must be garnished with mint for optimal flavors, and you can add a lime wedge as well.
To get the best flavors, I like to gently shake the ginger concentrate, club soda, lime wedge, and 3-4 mint leaves in a martini shaker before pouring over a glass of ice.