Ginger, sugar and lemons. That’s all you need to make ginger beer at home. Ok, you’ll need water too, but it still amazes me that I can make my own ginger brew at home with such quotidian ingredients. And you don’t need much special equipment besides a handy bottle capper and a good microplane.
Ginger beer, if you’ve never had it before, is an effervescent drink made from a mixture of ginger and syrup. It is nonalcoholic, like root beer. It’s bubbly like a soda, but its carbonation comes from fermentation. Over the course of a few days, you can easily turn some grated ginger, sugar and water into an active bug that will transform a ginger syrup mixture into the special drink that it is.
Making ginger beer was my way of dipping a toe into the world of fermentation. I am now totally hooked. In a recent newsletter, I wrote about three of my New Year’s resolutions, fermentation being one of them, and shared a ton of fermentation-related resources (check out the archive copy here). Sandor Katz‘s books were on the list, including Wild Fermentation, where I found this gem of a recipe. He was gracious enough to let me share the goodness with you.
I hope you’ll try it. I made a video of the process to show you how easy and fun it is! I saved a bottle from the last batch I made to crack open on camera just to show you how fantastic the natural carbonation can be! Dip your toe into this world like I did. Just don’t be surprised if you end up hooked and wanting to learn more.
*Check out this post for answers to frequently asked ginger beer questions.
Homemade Ginger Beer
From Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Katz
At least a 3-inch piece of ginger root, as fresh as you can find it
About 2 cups of sugar
Start the “ginger bug” by combining in a bowl 1 cup of water, 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of grated, fresh ginger, with the skin on.
Cover with cheesecloth and place in a warm place.
Everyday, “feed” the “bug” by adding 2 more teaspoons of sugar and 2 more teaspoons of ginger. Give it a little stir, cover it up with the cheesecloth, and set it aside.
Continue the process until the bug becomes active, about 2 – 5 days. I’ve never had this happen in two days. You will know your bug is active when you see that bubbles have formed. At first, if you’re like me, you’ll second guess yourself and see some miniscule change and think, Is that it? Are those the bubbles?
Probably not. The change will be pretty noticeable. It almost resembles a carbonated beverage a few minutes after it has been poured into a glass, little bubbles around the surface.
Strain the active bug and set it aside.
In a large Dutch oven, bring a half-gallon (2 quarts) of water to a boil. Then, add 1 1/2 cups sugar and 2 to 6 inches of grated ginger. The more ginger you add, the more gingery it will be. Let this mixture boil for 15 minutes and then let it cool completely (I’m serious – don’t get over-zealous) before continuing with the next step.
When the mixture is completely cool, strain it to remove the ginger. Then, add the juice of 2 lemons, the strained ginger bug, and enough water to make a gallon.
Bottle in sealable bottles. I invested in a bottle capper because it is just so cool to have my own “beer” bottles, but Sandor says you can also recycle soda bottles with screw tops or use rubber gasket bail-top bottles.
Leave the bottles in a warm spot to ferment for two weeks before opening.
Put in the refrigerator before serving and pop the cap off slowly or you’ll end up with ginger beer everywhere, but the glass. The carbonation that is formed through this process is amazing!Â Be sure to check out the video for additional tips and information!
*Post part of Wednesday Fresh Food Link Up!