Thursday, 4 December 2014

Pumpkin Cardamom Ginger Ale

Pumpkin Cardamom Ginger Ale

Every year I spend November telling myself that it is too early to:
  • Play Christmas carols
  • Put up Christmas decorations
  • Make holiday goodies
Yeah, not so good at this resolution. The Christmas carols are usually in full rotation by November 5th, and the holiday goodies come soon after!

That's why I love making this Pumpkin Cardamom Ginger Ale. The traditional holiday flavours of pumpkin pie and gingerbread cookies are brought together in a delicious fermented drink. I love tasting the strong ginger kick, the milder hints of pumpkin tea, and the fizzing of the tiny bubbles produced by the fermentation process. This is a home brewed soda that you can put on your holiday roster year after year.

If you're making this for a holiday party, you should start the preparations about 10-11 days in advance, since the fermentation process takes some time. But it only requires about thirty minutes of active preparation. That makes it easy to impress your friends with your crazy "fermento" ways!

Pumpkin Cardamom Ginger Ale Ingredients

Pumpkin Cardamom Ginger Ale
Adapted from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz

Time: 10-11 days
Yield: Approximately two litres


Glass jar
Elastic band
Paper towel
Two swing-top glass bottles (able to hold one litre each)


3-6 inches ginger, grated
2 cups unrefined cane sugar
Non-chlorinated water
6 sachets Stash Pumpkin Spice Tea (or other favourite tea)
4-8 cardamom pods
Juice of one lemon

Step One: Ginger Bug

This recipe requires you to first make a "ginger bug" to use as a starter. Put one cup of non-chlorinated water in glass jar. Add 2 teaspoons of grated ginger and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Stir thoroughly. Cover jar with paper towel, using elastic band to secure it. (Don't put a lid on the jar, as you want air to freely circulate around the ginger bug.)

The next day, add another 2 teaspoons of grated ginger and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Stir thoroughly. Continue to do this daily until the mixture becomes bubbly. (Even in my relatively cold climate, this usually happens within three days. If you live somewhere warmer, it may take less time.)

Ginger Bug

When your ginger bug is vigorously bubbly and you can hear it fizzing, it's ready to be used for the ginger ale.

Bubbly Ginger Bug

Step Two: Ginger Ale

Boil two litres of non-chlorinated water and add six sachets of Stash Pumpkin Spice tea. Allow the tea to steep for several hours until it has a strong taste of tannins.

Two Teapots

Pour the tea into a pot and bring to a boil again. Add 2-5 inches of grated ginger (depending on how strong you want the ginger taste to be), 1 1/2 cups of sugar, and cardamom pods. Boil these together for approximately fifteen minutes. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

Boiling the Mixture

Add the ginger bug lemon juice and stir thoroughly. Strain the ginger and cardamom pods out of the mixture. Using the funnel, pour the mixture into the swing-top glass bottles.

Bottling Ginger Ale

Leave the bottles in a warm spot to ferment for 5-8 days. You will start to see small bubbles forming if you give them a gentle shake.

Finished Ginger Ale

I usually leave the mixture to ferment for seven days before consuming. The taste will develop as the ginger ale matures. Feel free to experiment until you find the length of time that creates the taste you prefer. Even if you use the same ingredients each time, every batch will be slightly different. This is one of the great pleasures of fermentation!

Enjoy your holidays, and happy fermenting!

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