Homemade Fizzy Ginger Beer

Homemade Fizzy Ginger Beer

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/ginger-ale-recipe-1944722

So, my husband is obsessed with ginger beer, or used to be. But since he almost completely cut out sugar about a year ago, he hasn’t been able to find one that isn’t too sweet for him. I’ve been planning to experiment with homemade ginger beer for a while; I’ve never done any home fermenting (and in fact I tend not to like fermented foods in general), but this seemed like a nice low-key thing to try.

It is in fact a super fun project; you add a little yeast to your ginger syrup and water, and it eats the sugar and generates carbonation. A whole lot of carbonation, it turns out; we left the bottle on the countertop for about two days, and ended up with very fizzy soda. As the yeast consumes sugar it produces gas, which builds up pressure inside the bottle. For this reason, it’s important to use a plastic bottle, which is flexible and won’t shatter if it explodes. Though ideally you’ll prevent your bottle from exploding by letting the air out a few times a day. You can just let the bottle sit on the counter until you get the desired level of carbonation, probably not more than three days, and then move it to the fridge to slow the fermentation.

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I made this recipe as written, except I only added 5 ounces of sugar instead of 6. It’s not possible to make this fermented drink without sugar, since the yeast needs the sugar in order to generate the fizz. It still turned out fairly sweet, but definitely less so than commercial brands; my husband was able to enjoy it, so, it was a win for us. It definitely has some bite! If you like ginger ale that has a very sharp gingery kick, it’s worth it to give this a try.

Deliciousness score: 8
Easiness score: 9

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Grocery List – Week 7

Hello again!  I’m back from a few weeks hiatus, which wasn’t intentional at all, but the last month or so has been kind of a whirlwind of miscellaneous small-but-urgent tasks.  Finishing up some painting and renovations on our new house, keeping up with some big deadlines at work, and trying to catch up with the fall pruning (which really shouldn’t be a big time sink, but A) we have a lot of bushes and shrubs that haven’t been pruned in about five years, and B) I have no idea what I’m doing).

In any case, the good news is I still made time to cook, and a lot of things turned out fantastic; I’ve been excited to share them, I just didn’t have the time to write them up!  Catching up now – for this week I have a super tasty early-fall menu, including my old favorite creamy tomato soup and my new favorite sandwich bread, which makes amazing grilled cheese.  This soup will give you something to do with your garden tomatoes, if you’re buried under a mountain of them like I am!  There’s also a savory bread pudding to use up any extra bread, and a couple of ginger beverages: a refreshing green smoothie and a spicy ginger beer.  And last but not least, a tasty marinated Vietnamese chicken dish with pickled veggies and rice noodles.  Hope you’re excited to get cooking!


Recipes:

Homemade Fizzy Ginger Beer from Alton Brown

Farmhouse White Sandwich Bread from Gather for Bread

Tom’s Tasty Tomato Soup & Smoked Cheddar Grilled Cheese (from Tom Douglas)

Pan-fried Tilapia Nachos with Tomato & Green Pepper Garden Salsa (adapted from Dinner at the Zoo)

Ginger Green Citrus Smoothie from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Vietnamese Marinated Chicken with Rice Noodles & Nuoc Cham (from Serious Eats)

Savory Cheddar Sausage Bread Pudding from Once Upon a Chef


Shopping List:

Produce

6-7 cups fresh tomatoes (see footnote)
1 banana
1 apple
1 orange
2 lemons
4 limes
1 bunch spinach or kale
1 large ginger root
2 medium onions
1 avocado
1 green pepper
1 jalapeno
parsley
cilantro
1 each cucumber, carrot (see footnote)

Shelves

1.5 liter bottle of filtered water
active dry yeast
tortilla chips
soy sauce
Asian fish sauce
Vietnamese hot chili-garlic paste (sambal oelek) or Sriracha sauce

Refrigerated/Frozen

1 pound cheddar cheese (see footnote)
milk
heavy cream
butter
eggs
1 pound sweet or spicy pork sausage meat (casings removed)
1 pound tilapia filets
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

Pantry Staples

garlic
sugar
salt, pepper
olive oil
canola oil
chili powder
brown sugar
white sugar
red chili flakes
rice wine vinegar

 

Note on tomatoes: The quantity and type of tomato is fairly flexible. They will be used in soup and salsa. You can get 6-8 large heirloom or vine-ripened tomatoes, or up to 10 smaller Roma tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes can be used, but will take more work.

Note on cucumbers, carrots: These veggies will be quick-pickled to accompany the Vietnamese marinated chicken. You can choose any combination you like: I pickled a cucumber, a carrot, and half a red onion, but you could do just one or two vegetable types. Radishes work well too.

Note on cheese: Some of this cheddar will be going into grilled cheese sandwiches and some is for bread pudding. You can get one large brick of your go-to cheddar and use it for both, or if you want to splurge a little, you can get plain cheddar for the pudding and a small brick of smoked cheddar for the sandwiches. I found some double-smoked cheddar at our local superstore, and it added a nice autumn-y touch. But it’ll be delicious either way. 🙂