How to Make Homemade Ginger Beer
When I was little, the only time I got to drink anything sugary and carbonated was when I was sick. A small glass of sweet ginger ale almost made it worth being being stuck on the couch. Looking back, I’m surprised my mother even allowed this.
It’s questionable how much ginger grocery store-bought ginger ale actually has in it. For example, here are the ingredients in Canada Dry Ginger Ale:
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium benzoate, natural flavors, caramel color.
Since the drink is branded as being made from “real ginger” we can only assume that falls into the “natural flavors” category.
In my personal opinion, ginger drinks should be as gingery as possible. The ginger shouldn’t sing; it should shout out a zingy tune that makes you want to get up and dance immediately. If you’ve ever had a good whiskey ginger, composed of a housemade ginger beer with the pieces of ginger beer still floating in it, you’ll know what I am talking about.
Ginger beer can come in an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic version (this recipe is for the non-alcoholic one). In comparison to ginger ale, ginger beer tends to be much more gingery. Fortunately, you don’t have to buy bottles of it at the store. If you’re up for it, a zingy ginger beer is just a few days of fermentation away.
If you have had some time to get your Ginger Bug started, you’re ready to do a batch of ginger beer.
The Ginger Bug acts as a starter for the ginger beer, helping it to ferment into the carbonated drink that you love. The process is fairly straightforward: mix a brew of water, sugar, lemon juice and ginger, then combining it with some of your Ginger Bug starter.
The only part that might put some people off is the time that it takes. This is not an immediate satisfaction kind of recipe; you do have to let the stuff sit and ferment after all. But, let’s remember this: good things do take time. Plus, that ginger beer can just hang out in your kitchen and ferment on its own, so you can practically forget about it until it gets bubbly and has a little funk to it.
I make this in a smaller batch because I only have so many glass jars at my disposal. But if you are the lucky owner of a gallon-sized glass jar, then you can happily double this recipe and make many more bottles of ginger beer at a time.
I like a very gingery ginger beer, so be prepared for a kick. If you want yours a little more mellow, use just a tablespoon of grated ginger instead.
Homemade Ginger Beer
Adapted from Mastering Fermentation
7 cups nonchlorinated water (see my note on using water in fermentation here)
Juice of 2 medium-sized lemons (about 1/4 cup, 60 milliliters)
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces, 150 grams) organic cane sugar or unrefined sugar
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) Ginger Bug
1/4 cup (about 1 ounce, 30 grams) grated organic ginger (grate with the skin on)
Place the water, lemon juice and sugar in a large pot and stir together until the sugar has dissolved. If you have a glass jar large enough to accommodate the whole batch, you can do this directly in the jar.
Add the Ginger Bug and grated ginger and stir together.
Let sit for a few minutes before pouring into a glass jar (if you haven’t prepared the liquid in one). Cover the glass jar with a cheesecloth or coffee filter, and cinch in place with a rubber band. Place in a warm place, like on top of your refrigerator.
Let ferment for about 3 to 5 days until you start to see the liquid bubbling. You can give the liquid a stir or two every day.
Strain the liquid into bottles to remove the ginger particles, then cap the bottles and let them sit at room temperature for an additional 3 to 5 days. This allows them to build up even more carbonation, making for extra fizz.
Store in the refrigerator and consume within a few weeks.
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