Ginger Beer

Ginger Beer

By
From
Real Food by Mike
Makes
1 litre
Photographer
Alan Benson

It’s fun to make your own ginger beer, but you need to understand the terminology. First, ‘ginger beer plant’ refers to the solids that remain when you strain the fermentation. You can keep this and use it each time you make ginger beer. It’s a living thing and full of healthy bacteria. Second, the liquid you squeeze out when you strain the ginger beer plant is called the ‘ginger beer bug liquid’, which is the natural fermented liquid that will make your ginger beer fizzy. You need to make the ginger beer plant first in order to make the ginger beer bug liquid. Every time you make ginger beer, you need to discard half the ginger beer plant. (I always try to give it to a friend, as it’s already developed for them to start the recipe immediately from day four.) The beauty of this recipe is that the more times you make it, the stronger the ginger beer plant and ginger beer bug liquid become, and the less time you need to ferment your ginger beer. This is due to the ginger beer plant increasing its bacteria count. Try playing with the sugar content or even use different sweeteners to change the flavours. (I try to make sure my children don’t eat too much sugar, so this recipe is conservative on the sugar front.)

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 pinches salt
440g sugar
4 x 5cm fresh ginger, peeled
250ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
500ml ginger beer bug liquid

Ginger beer plant

Quantity Ingredient
750ml water
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
75ml lemon juice
75g raisins

Ginger plant food

Quantity Ingredient
60g ground ginger
180g caster sugar

Method

  1. For the ginger beer plant, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and cover with muslin (cheesecloth). Allow to ferment in a dark place at room temperature for 3 days.
  2. On the fourth day, begin the feeding stage of the ginger beer plant. Add an eleventh of the ground ginger and an eleventh of the sugar from your ginger plant food. Stir vigorously to dissolve the sugar. Cover with muslin and leave in a dark place at room temperature for 24 hours. Repeat this feeding regime for the next 10 days.
  3. On the eleventh day, strain the ginger beer plant through muslin and squeeze out the juice. This juice is the ginger beer bug liquid.
  4. Place half of the ginger beer plant back in a bowl and start the recipe again from the day-four feeding stage. Discard the other half.
  5. To make the ginger beer, in a large saucepan, bring 2 litres (8 cups) water, the salt and sugar to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the fresh ginger. Allow to cool to room temperature. Add the fresh lemon juice and 500 ml (2 cups) of the ginger beer bug liquid that you strained from the ginger beer plant and mix very well. Strain into flip-top bottles and leave sealed in a dark place at room temperature for 1 week. After a week, turn the bottles upside down and then the right way up again to see if there are any bubbles rising. If there are, then the ginger beer is carbonated and ready to go. If not, leave the bottles out, and test them every day until you see bubbles. Store in the refrigerator. The ginger beer will last at least a month until opened and will keep its fizz for about a day once opened. Serve chilled.

Medicinal Benefit

  • Ginger has anti-inflamatory, carminative and antimicrobial properties, and is very effective against E. coli-induced diarrhoea.
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