Homemade Ginger Ale @ Edible City Celebration – San Diego

This week has been the Edible City Celebration in San Diego. It’s a fantastic event held by San Diego Food Not Lawns. There were so many great events on every day of the week, so we had to be a little selective about which ones we attended. On Monday night it was the fermentation workshop where we learned how to make Hard Apple Cider, Ginger Ale and Kimchee.
Fermentation workshop
The Ginger Ale was so easy that we all made a batch right there at the workshop and brought it home with us. We were able to brew a batch of ginger ale in just 24 hours using standard baker’s yeast, sugar and ginger and a super high-tech device: a 2-liter soda bottle. Here’s how:
  • clean 2 liter plastic soft drink bottle with cap (not glass: explosions are dangerous.)
  • funnel
  • grater (preferably with fine “cutting” teeth)
  • 1 cup measuring cup
  • 1/4 tsp and 1 Tbl measuring spoons


  • sugar  (1 cup)
  • freshly grated ginger root (1 1/2-2 tablespoons)
  • juice of one lemon (or orange or lime)
  • fresh granular baker’s yeast (1/4 teaspoon)
  • cold fresh pure water


  1. Add 1 cup sugar to the 2 liter bottle with a dry funnel.  (Leave the funnel in place until you are ready to cap the bottle.) NOTE: Do not use a glass bottle. Ginger ale is a very aggressive fermenter, producing high pressure fairly rapidly. Plastic bottles can be felt to judge pressure. Glass cannot. Tardy refrigeration can lead to explosions. Exploding plastic bottles are messy. Exploding glass botles are dangerous…
  2. Measure out 1/4th teaspoon fresh granular active baker’s yeast and add through funnel into the bottle, shake to disperse the yeast grains into the sugar granules.
  3. Grate the ginger root on a fine “cutting” grater to produce 1 1/2 Tablespoon of grated root and then place grated ginger in the measuring cup.
  4. Juice a whole citrus fruit (lemon, lime, orange) and add to the grated ginger and stir to create lemon-ginger slurry.  (Citrus is optional, giving a little tartness to the ginger ale)
  5. Add the slurry of lemon juice and grated ginger to the bottle.
  6. Fill the bottle to the neck with fresh cool clean water, leaving about an inch of head space. Securely screw cap down to seal. Invert repeatedly to thoroughly dissolve sugar.  (The ginger root will not dissolve.)
  7. Place in a warm location for 24 to 48 hours.  (Do not leave at room temperature longer than necessary to feel “hard.”  The excess pressure may cause an eruption when you open it, or even explode the bottle!)
  8. Test to see if carbonation is complete by squeezing the bottle forcefully with your thumb.  If it dents in as in the picture, it is not ready.
  9. Once the bottle feels hard to a forceful squeeze, usually only 24-48 hours, place in the refrigerator. Before opening, refrigerate at least overnight to thoroughly chill. Crack the lid of the thoroughly chilled ginger ale just a little to release the pressure slowly. NOTE: do not leave the finished ginger ale in a warm place any longer than the time it takes for the bottle to feel hard. Leaving it at room temperature longer than two days, especially in the summer when the temperature is high, can generate enough pressure to explode the bottle!
  10. Filter the ginger ale through a strainer if you find floating pieces of ginger objectionable.  Serve!
I took the bottle in to work to share it around and make sure it tasted ‘authentic’. My friend George made a lovely label to make it look more professional 🙂 Everyone was really impressed and I’ll probably run a lunchtime workshop in the office one day soon.


  1. A variation on this is to leave the bottle in a warm place for a bit longer (up to a week), relieving the pressure once or twice per day by just slightly loosening the lid enough to hear the hiss. Then leave it capped for the last 24-48 hours until the bottle goes firm.

    This produces an alcoholic, less-sweet version of the beverage. Nice!

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