Ginger Beer

29 May 2007

This is some ginger beer I made last summer.
I also put up some tomato relish on that same day.
In days gone by, before Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper and Sprite, women used to make their own soft drinks and cordials. We gave away buying soft drinks years ago as it's full of preservatives and who knows what else. We wanted to know what was in the food and drinks we consumed so we rediscovered a few old fashioned favourites.

This is my recipe for ginger beer, which is made in two stages - making a ginger beer plant, then making and bottling the drink.

GINGER BEER PLANT
In a glass jar - a fowlers or canning jar is perfect - place:
1 dessertspoon of raw (or white) sugar. Raw sugar gives it a better colour
1 dessertspoon ground ginger - you can use raw ginger if you have it
A small pinch of dry yeast - the yeast you use for your bread
300mls rainwater, or tap water that has stood for 24 hours
4 sultanas (golden raisins) - for the wild yeast on the skin (optional)

Stir this together and cover it with a cloth or milk jug cover. It needs air but you don't want dust or insects crawling in. Leave it to sit on the kitchen bench. After about 2 or 3 days, depending on the temperatures in your house, it will begin to bubble and ferment. That is good. Fermentation is a healthy process,
Every day for 7 days, feed the plant 1 teaspoon ginger and 1 teaspoon sugar, and stir.

TO MAKE THE GINGER BEER
After 7 days take a clean piece of loosely woven cotton cloth, or a clean cotton tea towel and place it over a bowl. Pour the ginger plant into the fabric and twist the top of the cloth to make it into a ball. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can in to the bowl.

Dissolve 3 cups of sugar in 20 cups of water. Add juice of 2 lemons and the ginger mix. Stir and bottle in plastic bottles. Place the caps on the bottles but don't screw them on. Leave the ginger beer on the kitchen bench for a couple of days to ferment a little more, then tighten the caps and place the bottles in the fridge. Placing it in the fridge will slow the fermentation process to almost zero.

WARNING
Ginger beer can explode. It's wise to bottle in plastic and not glass until you know what you're doing.
A NON WARNING
Don't be afraid of making this delicious drink. I have been making this for yonks and it's never exploded, although sometimes it does gush out when I open a new bottle. You really can't tell how fizzy it will be because you'll have different wild yeasts in your home at different times of the year. Some will help the fermentation along, some won't.
If you notice the bottles puffing out, slowly release the lid to let the pressure off.
Serve your ginger beer when it's cold. It will be fizzy, gingery and very refreshing.