Ginger Ale and the issue of subjective vs objective reality.
It seems that the titles of my posts become more and more elaborate. But you have got to understand the background:
I have posted a post - and a video, where I made ginger ale. I have to say, this ginger ale rocks - I still stand to my recipe.
However there is a point, that we believe that in the past, everything was produced more “rustic” and more “naturally” - and I also assumed it.
Apparently the opposite is fact. Especially when it comes to sodas - the “soda jerks” in the 19th century and the early 20th century were mainly pharmacists, who didn’t used natural ingredients, but rather used chemistry, part was still big companies are using for their highly processed soda syrups - partly which is no more allowed, because it was either way dangerous and poisonous, highly addictive or both (the conspiracy that Coca Cola contained cocaine is not totally wrong).
My friend Darcy O’Neil who thankfully isn’t only a good bartender, but also a soda historian and chemical research analysts has now videos - which I can learn from!
So - no, probably ginger ale was never produced by steeping ginger in water and make it like a good ol’ dinner recipe.
Would I rather do Darcy’s or my recipe?
To be honest - I do think, that moving forward doesn’t always mean, to do it like in the past. I think making sodas from less processed ingredient is more than adequate. The only problem: you cannot keep it for long. My type of syrup stays about 1 month at its quality peak. Some sodas like ginger ale rather have days, before they perish. Darcy’s syrups and sodas are almost indefinitely shelf stable.
Flavor is also a key difference. I think that our palate almost adapted to the highly processed (and “aged”) aromas. For example I found, that “aged” (that means forgotten) lemon soda, will taste after a month or so like Mountain Dew - it seems that the lemon oils are oxidizing and becoming very similar to compounds found in the popular soda. I usually enjoy Mountain Dew - but to be honest, I rather enjoy real lemon aromas.
But this is the thing: we have got to choose. We have to understand, that both “products” exist - and that a less romantic history exist - and we have to choose, what we like to make.
Besides of my interest for the implications of Darcy’s knowledge, I am just interested nominal about the taste of the sodas - because of their historical importance. But at the end, they will taste very close what you can buy of big soda companies.
However if you are making a recipe, which uses fresh ginger, some caramelized sugar (or even black sugar) and if you are reducing the ingredients (only using citric acid as acidifier) - you have a different level of authenticity - which doesn’t derive of historical data, but of the ingredients themselves.
But please: we have to understand, that Darcy does a huge public service here. First of all, it discovers (in a very charming way), what you are really drinking when you gulp down sodas. The marketing let us believe, that it has still something to do with real fruit and real ingredients. And while essential oils are real - all ingredients are at least highly processed.
We also can understand, how we can make ginger ale better. I won’t use a percolator to do my syrups anytime soon (ok, ok, I have googled it already and looked at different options) but the information to use cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peel definitely peeked my interest! I will incorporate it into my future recipe.
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