Edit: I created an updated version of this recipe (with photos) here: https://www.talenawinters.com/wintersdayin/2016/6/7/how-to-make-old-fashioned-ginger-ale
I recently made old-fashioned Ginger Ale for the first time. In the past, I have made attempts at other lacto-fermented drinks, such as orangina (the precursor to orange pop) and lemon punch, which none of us could stomach at all. I had better luck with beet kvass, which I used extensively while I was pregnant with Jabin. It tasted like a slightly sour and salty beet juice, and eventually, I could down the 4 oz. a day I required even without diluting it with water. However, it was still not something I ever looked forward to--I took it as a tonic, for it's nutritional and medicinal properties only. (It is extremely beneficial for pregnant women and those suffering from kidney stones or who get blood clots. I'll post that recipe another time.)
So, other than kefir, which my family consumes daily, lacto-fermented drinks have not really caught on in our household. Even kefir I still cannot stomach straight--I am too unused to the texture and taste, so need to have it "hidden" in a smoothie, or I use it to soak my grains in for baked goods, etc.
So, I was pleasantly surprised with the results of this latest experiment. I tried it, hoping that the results would be more agreeable to my taste buds than fermented citrus drinks. The first time I tried it was just after a workout when I knew I would need some electrolytes replenished, and I just couldn't seem to drink enough water. I was pleasantly surprised--the ginger ale was agreeable and refreshing--after only a few sips, my thirst started to be quenched. By the time I finished my glass, I was no longer thirsty and I felt really refreshed.
I have diluted it 1:1 with water every time I've drunk it, and while plain filtered water works, using carbonated water adds a nice twist--and makes it seem more like pop.
This recipe was taken from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary G Enig, PhD.
Makes 2 quarts
3/4 cup ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated (I grated mine with my food mill--it made this super-easy!)
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 room-temperature limes)
1/4-1/2 cup unprocessed sugar (such as Rapadura or Panela)
2 tsp. unprocessed sea salt - coarse grey is best
1/4 cup whey
2 quarts filtered water
This is a most refreshing drink, taken in small amounts with meals and as a pick-me-up after outside work in the sun.
Place all ingredients in a 2-quart jug. [I didn't have one, so I mixed everything, then put equal parts into two 1-quart jars.) Stir well and cover tightly. Leave at room temperature for 2-3 days before transferring to the refrigerator. This will keep several months well chilled.
To serve, strain into a glass*. Ginger ale may be mixed with carbonated water and is best sipped warm rather than gulped down cold.
*I had some circles of window screen cut out for the top of my jars to use them for sprouting, so I just insert that when I want to pour some of my ginger ale out--works like a charm!
By the way, my kids don't really care for this. I think it is the heat of the ginger, as well as the fact that this is not nearly as sweet as commercial ginger ale. (Jude says he doesn't like the "fizzy water," but he didn't like it diluted with plain water, either.) I'm sure it is also the unfamiliar new flavour, as my kids balk at anything new (don't most?) However, I don't mind--all the more for me!
Let me know if you try it, and how it worked out for you! :-)