I jumped the gun a couple of weeks ago and had my hair cut off, donating the 10-12 inch ponytails to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. My reasoning for keeping it long was for ease of management under my ski helmet, but with a lousy ski season nearing its end and the warming weather, I couldn’t resist!
flowering trees going crazy down on the flats
short hair is super refreshing on sunny trail runs
Despite pledging my allegiance to spring, when it snowed 10 inches this past week we immediately grabbed the skis and headed out for a little backcountry touring. It was very crunchy and knobbly underneath, because the crazy warm days had melted most of the snow which froze the slushy footprints and suncups into icy divots overnight. But the soft fluffy stuff falling from the sky made for fun turns, giggles and whoops echoing through the valley, and a renewed declaration of our love of skiing.
neva in the moment, in the snow
Whether it’s snowing or sunshining, I’m always up for a refreshing glass of ginger beer. I’ve tasted several brands of store-bought ginger beer over the years, preferring those with a sharper gingery bite and less sugar than their popular cousin, ginger ale. Earlier this year, I was determined to brew my own ginger beer. I tried this authentic alcoholic ginger beer from Food 52 and had to pour the bulk of it down the drain because it tasted so awful. I wondered if perhaps it was the alcohol? The next recipe I tried from Serious Eats only had 2 days of fermentation. Sadly, it didn’t register much higher than my first attempt at ginger beer. Both seemed to have an oddly soapy flavor to the ginger beer. I was so frustrated.
Fast forward a few weeks and Jeremy and I had a lunch date at Oak in Boulder where I sipped on their homemade ginger beer. So fizzy and bright and full of “punch you in the face” ginger flavor. I later emailed the restaurant, relaying my tale of woe and wasted ginger, and asked if they would be willing to give me some tips on making my own ginger beer. These incredibly nice people replied within a few hours and gave me their recipe.
sugar, ginger, lemon, water, topo chico (or any soda water)
Their version isn’t something I can reproduce at home. They combine fresh ginger juice, lemon juice, sugar, and water, and then they carbonate it. My version combines fresh ginger juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, and carbonated water. Why not?
simple syrup: water and sugar
I had no idea how much ginger juice could be extracted from a hunk of fresh ginger. It probably depends on the ginger, too. Some may be juicier than others. For the organic ginger I purchased from Whole Foods, I got 3 ounces of juice from 10 ounces of fresh ginger. Maybe if you use a juicer, you can get a higher yield. I did mine manually by peeling the ginger, grating it, straining the liquid out, then squeezing as much liquid as I could from the remaining pulp. Oddly, if you let the ginger juice sit for a spell, ginger starch will settle to the bottom. It’s similar in consistency to potato starch. I let it settle and don’t really mix it in with my ginger beer.
peel and grate the ginger
strain as much liquid out as possible
squeeze out the remaining pulp
I’ve read that fresh unpasteurized ginger juice can keep sealed in the refrigerator for anywhere from 1 to 5 days. If you don’t finish it by then, pop it into the freezer for up to 6 months. The potency of the ginger juice will likely vary from one batch to the next, so keep that in mind when mixing your ginger beer. I found 2 teaspoons of ginger juice to be a good start, then I built the rest of the ingredients around it to taste using the proportions from Oak as a guide. It’s nice to be able to customize your own ginger beer so that it can be as spicy, sweet, tart, or fizzy as you like.
ready to mix: soda water, ginger juice, simple syrup, lemon juice
adding ginger juice
topping with soda water
Technically, this isn’t really ginger beer because it was never brewed. Maybe you might call it a ginger soda. But it tastes closest to the best ginger beers I’ve had (I don’t know if those are technically ginger beers either) AND it’s so much easier to make than my previous failed ginger beer tests. The fresh ginger is what lends the big spicy bite that clears your nose and jolts you from whatever you may have been thinking prior to that first sip. You can substitute lime for the lemon juice as long as there is some tartness to add dimension to the drink. And of course, you can use this ginger beer to make some lovely cocktails… with a kick.
serve on ice
it’s going to be a great summer
2 tsps fresh ginger juice
2+ tbsps fresh lemon juice
3 tbsps simple syrup*
5+ oz. club soda
* To make simple syrup: combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan over high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Let mixture come to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Let cool.
Mix all ingredients together, adding more of each to taste. Pour over ice and serve. Makes 1 8-ounce drink.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
|ginger limeade||ginger shrub dark and stormy cocktail||pear ginger beer cocktail||kombucha (plain, ginger, huckleberry ginger)|