Something Different
Week of: November 21, 2011
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744


By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Is there ginger in your refrigerator? It's always good to have some on hand, but especially right now.

Ginger is sometimes called the universal remedy because it has been used in folk medicine for many conditions. Even western medicine is acknowledging its powers in settling indigestion and nausea; but some also tout it as anti-viral, anti-pyretic (fever fighting), good for soothing coughs and boosting circulation, which helps warm hands and feet. Sounds like just the thing to have on hand for the holidays and on through all of cold and flu season!

Add zing to applesauce with fresh sliced or grated ginger. It gives fruit salad a flavor kick and livens up tomato sauce, too. Slices added to the cooking water give rice an intriguing flavor as well.

I grew up drinking "gingerade," my mother's name for water and fresh ginger boiled together and then left to steep like tea. During the holidays, while the grown-ups relaxed over cocktails, my cousins and I had our own sparkling drink, super-strong, sweetened gingerade on the rocks, garnished with an orange slice and a naughty, neon maraschino cherry. When we were sick or simply feeling chilled, my mother served it to us in a mug, steaming hot and sweetened with honey.

Today, with cocktails and mocktails the rage, I still turn gingerade into homemade soda. This lets me control the sweetness and all the other ingredients, as well. I include a cinnamon stick and star anise when infusing the ginger, but treat them as optional, if you wish.

hot Gingerade


  • 1/3 cup (3 oz.) thinly sliced, fresh ginger
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 3-in. piece stick cinnamon
  • 1½ cups cold water
  • Agave, maple syrup, honey or sugar*
  • 1 lemon, cut lengthwise into 4 wedges
  • To serve hot:
    • 3 cups hot water
  • To serve cold:
    • 3 cups cold seltzer or club soda

Place ginger, star anise, cinnamon and water in small saucepan. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Cover, and set aside to steep for 30 minutes. Strain hot ginger concentrate into heatproof measuring cup.

To serve hot, divide hot concentrate among 4 mugs. Add 3/4 cup hot water to each, and sweeten to taste. Add lemon wedge to squeeze into hot gingerade.

To serve cold, cool ginger concentrate to room temperature. Divide among 4 tall glasses. Add 6 ice cubes to each glass, then pour in 3/4 cup club soda. Sweeten cold gingerade to taste, add lemon wedge to each glass, and serve.

Unused concentrate will keep, tightly covered in refrigerator, for 3 days.

* If using sugar, combine 3/4 cup with 3/4 cup cold water in a small saucepan. Set the pot over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar dissolves, 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature, then use the syrup or refrigerate, tightly covered. This simple syrup keeps indefinitely.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving (includes 2 tsp. sweetener per serving): 54 calories, <1 g fat (0 g sat fat),
14 g carbohydrates, <1 g protein, 0 g fiber, 3 mg sodium

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

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