There’s nothing quite like discovering you can make the simplest of things yourself. I can recall very two distinct Holy Sh*t, I Can Make That?! moments from my past. The first occurred shortly after I discovered stumbleupon many years ago. (This moment actually sparked my love affair with food blogs, so it’s kind of a special, landmark point on my timeline.) For anyone who isn’t familiar with stumbleupon, it’s a site that allows you to select a bunch of things you’re interested in, and then SU lets you bounce around to various articles or posts online that align with your interests. Basically, an Internet user’s ADD-esque dream. So I, having probably selected an interests lists that was something like science / food / kittens, was clicking through posts one day, when SU brought me here. How to make butter? For freakin’ real?! I was locked in. I spent the next couple hours reading pretty much every post on Aleta’s blog, and I was convinced I’d found the most amazing thing the Internet had to offer. And then, I discovered that there were more food blogs out there. Run by other talented people who make delicious things. (Does it seem ridiculous that I didn’t know food blogs existed? I guess I just assumed blogs were for people who want to whine about their problems or broadcast way too much information to the world. Silly me!) And that marked the start of my food blog obsession.
The second HSICMT?! moment occurred when I happened upon this post on Kelly’s blog (back when it was Eat Make Read). After finding that, I made a lot of ginger ale. To the point where I (and I’m pretty sure everyone else) got sick of it. Then last year, Mark of Season with Spice did a post for Strong & Soothing Ginger Tonic, and I was extremely intrigued.
While I didn’t make this right away, it remained in the back of my mind for nearly a year. And when I was staying with my parents last month and my dad came down with a cold, I decided to give it a go. My parents seemed a little skeptical when I chopped up an monster piece of ginger root, but I was going to make them drink it, and they were going to like it!
I tweaked the recipe slightly to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand, subbing in honey to make tonic even easier on the throat. And I was extremely pleased with the end result. What you wind up with is a tonic that’s a bit less sugary and intense than a ginger ale base would be. Since my parents were hesitant to drink it straight, I began adding it into their tea, which they liked much better. I also started adding it to glasses of apple cider, which was amazingly delicious!
So, in short, this tonic can be used in a variety of ways. Drink it straight to soothe a sore throat or a tummy ache. Add it to tea to give it some sweetness and a little kick. Use it as a cocktail mixer, or just combine it with seltzer to make a nice, fizzy ginger drink.
And one more quick note before the recipe: Did you know that you’re supposed to peel ginger with a spoon? I didn’t until last year (thanks, Eileen!). Just scrape it with the spoon edge, and it comes right off. This allows you to get into all the nooks and crannies of the root that your vegetable peeler can’t reach, and also keeps you from whittling the poor thing away to nothing. Neato!
(adapted from Season with Spice)
- 2 cups of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 cups of water
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1/4 cup of honey
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
Combine water, ginger, and citrus zest (reserving juice for later) in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover, turn off heat, and let steep for 30 minutes.
Strain solids out through a sieve, then filter liquid through a sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth, until your are happy with the clarity (more on clarity later).
Return liquid to the saucepan, add honey and sugar, and warm over medium heat until the honey and sugar are just dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool, then add in citrus juices.
Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
A note on the clarity of this mixture: No matter how much you filter this through cheesecloth, ginger tends to leave a lot of sediment, which will settle to the bottom of your jar after a couple hours. If a cloudy mixture doesn’t bother you, just give the jar a good shake before you use it. If you want the mixture to be as clear as possible, let the sediment settle, then pour the clear liquid into a separate jar, stopping once you begin to reach the sediment.
Cocktail ideas: Based on the fact that this went splendidly with apple cider, I started mixing up drinks with ginger tonic, cider, and applejack. It was good, but it was missing a tangy note, which I remedied with a plum-orange shrub. Since shrubs aren’t the easiest things to come by yet, I think a good alternative would be kombucha. (Plus, a ginger tonic and kombucha cocktail is practically a health drink, right?) I’ve seen a mango kombucha on the shelves before, and I’d love to try that with ginger tonic and rum. Elderberry kombucha would also be a good match, perhaps with whiskey or applejack.