Shoestring Meals - Gourmet Ginger Ale - on the cheap

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04-09-2010, 03:40 AM
I love ginger ale. I hate that a good diet ginger ale is so hard to find.

Tonight I had a ginger ale craving, and realized I had a hunk of ginger in the freezer and diet lemon-lime soda in the pantry. Maybe I could improvise.

I keep ginger in the freezer, because I don't use it often enough to use it before it shrivels. I just use a microplane grater (no need to peel the ginger). I don't remember where I read the tip, but I think it was in a fancy food magazine.

I just poured the soda over ice, and grated a bit of ginger into the glass using a fine microplane grater. I tasted it and although it was awesome, I decided I wanted a little more ginger, so I grated a little more.

If you mind the little flecks (looks like orange-ish, tan pepper), you could use ginger juice or maybe slice a piece of of the ginger and toss it in the glass with the ice cubes before pouring in the soda.

If I did that, I think I'd score the ginger slice with a knife several times in perpendicular directions, so that the piece of ginger would leach more flavor into the drink.

Really though the grated ginger is the simplest, most economical, least wasteful and super yummy. The fresh ginger flavor reminds me of gourmet (full-sugar) ginger ales I've had. One was from a bottled ginger ale I found in a health food store and the other (best ginger ale ever) was from a local restaurant/microbrewery. They make the syrup and then add plain soda water. You can order it to taste, so I usually order it extra-light on the syrup. Now I don't have to. I'll order a diet sprite and make my own (I'm not above stashing a mini-grater and a chunk of fresh ginger in my purse - maybe they'll get the hint and make sf versions of their rootbeer and ginger ale).

I think I'm going to try other flavors of clear soda. Aldi and Walmart both have very good sugar free carbonated, flavored waters. Don't be fooled, these are really are just diet sodas without artificial colorings (but that's at least a small bonus). I'm thinking white grape, lime, raspberry, tangerine all might be good.

For the lemon-lime soda, I used a cheap store brand lemon-lime soda. "Big Chill," the IGA store brand. I think their sugar free sodas are every bit as good as popular brands. In fact, I think the Big Chill diet orange is the best diet orange soda on the market (better than Crush and Sunkist, I think).

You could also use club soda and sweeten to your taste, with your sweetener of choice.

I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner.

04-09-2010, 07:43 AM
I also love love love ginger ale. I make mine with low sodium club soda and stevia. I'm so glad someone else keeps their ginger in the freezer, DH thinks I'm bonkers but even though I use it a lot, I can never manage to use the huge chunks I buy before it gets gross. Plus, the ginger powder substance you get when you use it frozen on a microplane gives great flavor without big chunks.

04-09-2010, 09:49 AM
I'm thinking club soda, ginger and honey. I also keep my ginger root in the freezer.


04-09-2010, 10:58 AM
You are brilliant. I'm having a friend over for lunch today and I might just give this a try.... ;) Thanks!

04-11-2010, 03:41 PM
I looove ginger ale. I love sodas period. I have nearly cut them out of my diet. Maybe one a day I allow myself to have, and sometimes diet soda. But I would love to make my own ginger ale. I'll have to pick some up next time we go grocery shopping.

07-07-2011, 11:27 PM
Fantastic idea! I'm really missing my Reed's extra ginger. Thanks for sharing!