My children wanted to try a recipe I found on the Avoiding Corn Delphi Forum for a ginger simple syrup. We tried it and tweaked it and were rewarded with ginger ale and a batch of crystallized ginger rolled in vanilla sugar. Then my daughter had the idea of making vanilla simple syrup. Genius! Now after a year of drinking only water and ginger tea, we were treated to ginger ale and cream soda in the same week. We are so happy.
Ginger Ale (Corn-free and Home-made)
1 - 2 ginger roots (peeled and sliced)
10 cups sugar
5 cups water
Big K sparkling water (or perrier)
I mixed all ingredients in a large saucepan and cooked on low for at least two hours. I suppose you could do this in a crockpot as well. Do not allow to boil rapidly. You don't want to make hard candy and you want the ginger tender and sweet for crystallized ginger. I waited for mine to reduce and we just taste tested it. When a couple of teaspoons added to a glass of sparkling water tasted like ginger ale, it was finished. We were rewarded with almost two quarts of ginger syrup.
To make vanilla sugar: add (at least) three supple, moist 12 Madagascar Vanilla Beansinto a quart mason jar and cover with organic sugar of your choice. After about a month, you will have the most fragrant and smooth vanilla sugar to be used for making ice cream or to sweeten tea or bake sweet treats. We keep several mason jars full at all times and replace the sugar that we have used and rotate that jar to the back. Once the beans are no longer supple, you can grind them in a spice grinder (or dedicated coffee grinder) for ground vanilla beans. We also buy 3 oz Madagascar Pure Ground Vanilla to use in place of vanilla extract since corn-free vanilla extract is hard to find. (You can also use some of your whole vanilla beans to make the best vanilla extract using potato vodka.)
Vanilla Syrup (Corn-free and Home-made)
Now, for the vanilla syrup, the process was exactly the same using one or two tsp. ground vanilla beans instead of ginger slices. If I had any extra vanilla beans on hand, I probably would have split one or two and scraped the insides into the sugar/water mixture and then placed the entire bean into the syrup. I only had ground vanilla beans and a few less than supple whole beans (I need to re-order) so I used ground vanilla beans. We don't mind the tiny particles of vanilla that end up in our cream soda, but if you think it will bother you, simply use whole beans instead. The resulting two quarts of vanilla syrup makes the best cream soda we have ever tasted.
To make any of these syrups into a soft drink:
Just add 1 to 2 tbsp. syrup to a tall glass and fill the rest of the way with safe sparkling water. I believe that LaCroix is corn-free as well as Perrier. I am looking into one of the counter top carbonation machines like this one to make sure they are corn-free. It might make a nice family Xmas present. It would certainly make me feel better about soft drinks since I hate buying anything in plastic containers.