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Homemade Spicy Ginger Ale

Homemade Spicy Ginger Ale recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Is there real ginger in Ginger Ale?

If ginger ale did not include real ginger – with all its innumerable health benefits – why would our parents ask us to drink it when we have an upset stomach?  Why would the canned drink be so popular on airplanes where many of us are prone to motion sickness?

Real ginger can alleviate these symptoms.  But when our stomach hurts and we’re munching on some dry crackers, or when the flight attendant hands us that small bag of pretzels and asks us what we want to drink, we don’t think why we crave a can of ginger ale, we just order one.

Some traditions never change.  But the ingredients in ginger ale do.

Homemade Spicy Ginger Ale recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

What began as Ginger Beer a few centuries ago in England – a concoction of ginger, water, sugar, lemon juice and ginger beer plant – eventually led to the creation of a non-alcoholic version called Golden Ginger Ale.  This dark, carbonated drink with a strong ginger flavor was finally replaced in popularity by the lighter, less spicy version we know today – Dry Ginger Ale.

While ginger beer and golden ginger ale generally have a high concentration of ginger, does dry ginger ale include the real spice?

Yes, according to Canada Dry, but as just one part of the “Natural Flavors” of the drink.  They go on to state that they do not claim any of the health benefits of ginger in their canned drink.

It's likely then that the drink includes just a trace of real ginger for flavor, and not enough to calm your aching stomach.

Ginger Ale recipe by SeasonwithSpice.com
Our knowledge of spice as medicine vanished with the invention of the many over-the-counter drugs we are familiar with today.  But even though that knowledge disappeared, many of our traditions are still linked to that earlier time (something I realized when I made my family recipe for chicken noodle soup with nutmeg).

When ginger beer and ginger ale were first created, they were part soothing drink, part soothing medicine.  If you had felt nauseous or had an upset stomach, you drank a ginger ale.  A tradition that continues to this day even if there isn’t much real ginger in a ginger ale.

Spicy Ginger Ale recipe by SeasonWithSpice.comWhile the placebo effect of drinking a can of dry ginger ale may alleviate your stomach ache, your stomach won’t need any convincing with a refreshingly spicy homemade version.

To make a delicious ginger ale at home, it’s as easy as steeping fresh ginger to extract the healthy gingerol, then mixing in the sugar, and finally pouring a little of that ginger syrup into a glass with ice, lime juice, and soda water. And if you’re like me, enjoying it with a bag of pretzels.


Homemade Spicy Ginger Ale recipe by Season with Spice

Ingredients:
1 cup of fresh ginger – peeled and chopped finely
2 cups of water
1/2 cup of raw sugar
1 tbsp of dark brown sugar or molasses (for a richer color and flavor)
Lime wedges
Soda water or sparkling mineral water
Ice

Process:
1. Add water and chopped ginger into a small pot, and cover. Bring to a boil, then turn fire off, and let steep for 30-60 minutes (depending on how strong you want the ginger flavor).
2. Strain out chopped ginger, and return the ginger-spiced water to the pot.  Heat again, and add in the sugar, stirring until fully dissolved. Turn fire off, and allow ginger syrup to cool.
3. Add ice into a glass.  Then add in about 1-2 tbsp of ginger syrup, a generous squeeze of lime juice, and top it off with soda water. Enjoy!

Notes:
- Many ginger ale recipes include the sugar immediately, but to best extract the ginger flavor (gingerol), leave the sugar out in the first step.
- I prefer a watery ginger syrup since it is easier to mix in to the drink, but if you prefer a thicker syrup, keep boiling the water out in Step 2 until the syrup reaches the desired consistency.
- Go ahead and experiment with additional spices in your ginger ale, like black peppercorns, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, dried chili peppers, star anise, cardamom, and so on (just add in the spices in Step 1 and strain out with the ginger).
- This recipe will make about 1.5 cups of ginger syrup, which will make around 15 glasses of ginger ale. Store ginger syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator (will keep for at least a few weeks).

Ginger Ale recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com