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Ginger Beer – The way Grandma made it.

JLR - March 12, 2017 - 0 comments

Good old fashioned Ginger Beer that is easy to make and packed with a powerful punch of health.

I am afraid I can’t say that I remember my Grandma’s Ginger Beer, let alone if either of them ever tried their hands at the frothy brew. Ask me about my Mom’s cinnamon butter cookies and I can recount masses of stories of competing with my siblings about who got to lick the bowl and sitting staring at the oven in the hopes of speeding up the whole process of baking. I am afraid that the old adage of ‘a watch pot……’, well you know the rest of that one.

Something that I have always wanted to do, is to make Ginger Beer. I have a passion for anything with ginger in it, so I was delighted when my foray into Cultured and Fermented foods presented the perfect opportunity for me to dabble with this ferment.

Just as there are many ways to skin a cat, so too are there many ways to brew Ginger Beer. Being an old-fashioned kind of gal, I of course had to do it the genuine, real food way. With the added bonus of a plethora of health benefits. Not to mention the taste and smell!

So, if my Grandma ever made Ginger Beer, I reckon that this is the way that she did it, with a few of my own improvisations.

This Beer is lacto fermented which means that it contains masses of beneficial gut bacteria and enzymes. That is the technical, science mumbo jumbo over with, so let us commence with the fun!

To make two litres, this is what you are going to need –

  • Water – filtered and chlorine free
  • Ginger – unpeeled, organic, non-irradiated
  • White sugar. You can use honey but it will take longer to ferment
  • Raisins
  • Other flavourings – optional
  • A jar for the ‘bug’. Yes that is what I said!
  • Muslim or cheesecloth and elastic band to cover the jar.
  • Stainless steel pot to boil water.
  • Swing top bottles.
  • Plastic Strainer.
  • Patience. Up to about 10 days or more of it.

First things first we have to make the ‘bug’, which is your starter that is going to ferment.

  • To the jar add 2 tablespoons grated ginger. You don’t need to peel it.      
  • 2 Tablespoons of water
  • 2 Tablespoons of sugar.
  • Cover with a cloth and elastic band and leave in a warm spot. Not in the sunlight.
  • Repeat this process everyday adding the ingredients above and give it a good stir.
  • Continue until it starts to bubble and fizz and smells yeasty. This can take up to 7 days.

Now you are ready to make the ‘Wort’. ‘Bugs’ and ‘Worts’. I know it sounds a bit gross!

  • Put one litre of water and half a cup of sugar in a pot on the stove and bring to the boil. Simmer until the sugar dissolves.
  • At this stage, you can add other flavouring such as herbs and spices. I like to keep it authentic and I add extra ginger for more of a zing.
  • Add the rest of the water and allow to cool completely
  • Add half to one cup of the ‘bug’ liquid by straining it.
  • Add to the wort and stir well.
  • Strain the wort if it contains solids and place in swing top bottles.
  • I like to add a quarter spoon of sugar to each bottle to help with the fizz.
  • Place a few raisins in each bottle.
  • Keep the bottles at room temperature for about a week depending on the temperature.
  • Remember to burp the bottles daily so that that do not explode.
  • The raisins will float to the top as it becomes fizzier.
  • If it does not fizz enough, add some more ginger bug and a small amount of sugar
  • When you are happy with the flavour, place in the fridge.

Place a lid on the ‘bug’ jar and keep in the fridge. Feed it about once a week with a dose of ginger, sugar and water. When you want to make another batch of beer, take it out of the fridge a few days before and activate it by feeding every day.

Recounting my Mom’s cinnamon butter cookies has evoked sentimental memories. I am now obliged to share a recipe with you this week for Cinnamon Muffins. True to my ethos of cooking, they are simple to make, few ingredients, tasty and of course healthy. Look out for the recipe this week.

Remember that if you want to be the first to know about what is fermenting or being ‘Cultured’ in my kitchen, subscribe to follow my blog by email.

See you in My Cultured Kitchen.


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