An Asian spice well-known for its sweet and zesty zing, ginger has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation and support metabolism and digestion. As a digestive aid, this knobby, horn shaped root has been used in traditional herbal medicine to nourish and warm the digestive organs including the mouth, stomach, pancreas, and liver. Ginger stimulates production of enzymes in all digestive pathways. It also aids in the breakdown of starches and fatty foods. Herbalists have long used ginger to heal upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, and morning sickness.
Modern herbal medicine practitioners often prescribe ginger to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy, cancer treatment, motion sickness, after surgery and for indigestion. Researchers aren’t sure of the exact physiological processes that make ginger effective, but current research indicates that compounds in ginger bind to receptors in the digestive tract and help minimize sensations that create nausea and indigestion. Ginger may also facilitate digestion, reducing the time food sits in the stomach.
There are many preparations for ginger including ginger chews and lozenges, fresh or dried tea infusions, capsules, and extracts.
Here is a great recipe for healthy homemade Ginger Ale from Wellnessmama.com, prepared with a freshly grated ginger. As a finished product, this ginger ale makes a wonderful gift for the holidays!
Ginger Ale Recipe
- 1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, minced. Adjust to your taste.
- ½ cup organic sugar or rapadura sugar. If using plain sugar, add 1 tablespoon molasses for flavor and minerals.
- ½ cup fresh lemon or lime juice.
- ½ teaspoon sea salt or himalayan salt
- 8 cups of filtered (chlorine free) water
- ½ cup homemade ginger bug
- Make a “wort” for your ginger ale by placing 3 cups of the water, minced ginger root, salt, and sugar (and molasses, if needed), in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- Simmer for 5 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved and you smell the ginger.
- Remove from heat and add the rest of the water. Let stand, allowing the mixture to come to room temperature before moving on.
- Finally, add citrus juice and ginger bug.
- Transfer to a 2 quart glass mason jar with a tight fitting, air-tight lid. Stir well and secure the lid.
- Let sit in a cool, dark place for 2-3 days until carbonated. Transfer to the fridge.
- As with any traditional fermented drink, it is more of an art than a science. The strength of your culture, the temperature of your home and the sugar used all affect the time until it’s at it’s best. Make it a few times to get it just right. The final beverage should smell of ginger with a slight yeasty scent from the fermentation and should be fizzy. Watch carefully that it doesn’t over-carbonate, causing your jar to explore from pressure.
- When it’s ready, strain and transfer to Grolsch-style bottles and store in the fridge until ready to serve. These bottles of homemade ginger ale make great gifts for friends and family. Add a creative label or decoration and pair with glasses and straws or include in a gift basket. Enjoy!