Saturday, 19 June 2010

Adventures in ginger beer ... ...

I decided I was going to make some ginger beer, last time I tried was when I was a kid (a while ago now) and it got messy, although the beer fountains in the kitchen looked quite good :-)
I didn't want to make a shed load of the stuff, just enough to last a few days when the weather is hot, and because I like ginger beer.

Where to start ? well I looked around on-line to see what sort of recipe's I could find, and I found loads all a little different in method,ingredients so I kind of took parts from the various ones I found and made my own, and it worked, that's what I like about experiments, sometimes they work well, and sometimes they don't either way it's good fun :-)

So here it is, it's simple and only takes a couple of days (you can shorten the process if you want, or increase it)

Step 1 -

You will need, a medium sized jar (with a lid)
2litres of spring water (you can get a bottle from Tesco or Sainsburys for about 18p)
1 lemon, a chunk of fresh ginger (enough for about 3 tablespoons when grated) you can get this when you get the water, it should only be a few pence, you can also use powered ginger, but I prefer fresh.
Sugar, it's up to you how much you use, the more sugar the sweeter, use less and it's less sweet.
A small sachet of yeast, the stuff you can get for making bread is fine, we make our own bread so I had some already.
Some hot water from a kettle.
And something to strain with, a fine sieve or a tea strainer, you can also use a clean jay cloth or other fine material type thing, net curtain maybe, but don't go cutting bit's from the one's in the front room.
A tablespoon and a grater, if you don't have a grater you can finely chop the ginger etc.
And a jug.

Now at this point I should mention that I'm not making a plant, my madness will become clearer, perhaps :-) if you are interested in a ginger beer plant then have a read of this - ginger beer plant it mentions the plant about halfway down, under the " Brewed " section, but if you ask me it's an overly complicated way of doing things, and I'm a simple kind of chap, anyway onwards to step 2.

Step 2 - This part you can change about if you see fit, but this is what I did.

Get your jar and put some sugar in it, how much is up to you, I put about 6 heaped table spoons in, but you may want to use less or more depending on how sweet you want it.
Then either grate or chop finely the ginger, until you have about 3 heaped tablespoons, this again is something you can change, less ginger not so hot, more ginger more heat, I didn't peel my ginger, but you can if you want, but it doesn't matter.
Put the ginger in the jar as well.
Then add some lemon zest (peel) again grated of finely chopped, and then squeeze the juice of the lemon into the jar, don't worry if it looks bad, we aren't going to use the mush, we are making a kind of marinade.
Once all that's done add some hot water, this will help dissolve the sugar, top it up with little water if you want, the jar doesn't need to be full.
Then give it a shake (MAKE SURE THE LID IS ON TIGHTLY FIRST) especially if you used hot water from the kettle, shaking the jar will help get all the flavour out of the ginger and also help dissolve the sugar.

At this point I should explain what's going on, lot's of the recipes and methods I found just chucked all of the ingredients into the same tub,bottle and then when finished the ginger beer was strained to get all the bits out, so I thought I'd do it this way to save on straining it out at the end and letting the fizz out.

You can leave the jar of mush over night or for a few hours, it's up to you, I wouldn't leave it much more than a day though.

Step 3 -

Get your jar of mush, and you straining device, I used a tea strainer, but if you brew your own stuff anyway you might already have some muslin or a straining bag.
Strain the mush into a jug, you should be left with a cloudy liquid.

Next get you bottle of water and empty some of it out, fill up the kettle or water filter if you have one, drink it ? seems a shame to waste it. You only need to empty out enough so as the liquid you have will fit into the bottle and leave a gap at the top of about an inch.
Then add a small amount of the yeast to the liquid and give it a good stir to dissolve it, I only used about a third of a teaspoon of yeast, so you can always make some more ginger beer with what's left.
Add the yeasty gingery liquid to you bottle of water, screw the lid on tightly and give it a shake to mix everything up.

Now all you need to do is leave the bottle in a warm place, I left mine on a windowsill in the sun.

Right now this is important, the yeast will start to react with the sugar and start fermenting, this will produce gas, this is how your ginger beer will get it's fizz, but if you leave it too long then the bottle might go bang, or at least the top will blow off and you will have some cleaning to do :-) so you will need to check the bottle now and then to see how hard it is, if it starts to feel really firm you might want to put the bottle in the fridge, this will slow the reaction down.
It only took a couple of hours for mine to work, so I put it in the fridge over night, and then let it warm up again.
The whole process should take about 24 hours or so, the reaction you get will depend on how much yeast you use and how long you keep it warm for.

All in all it took 48 hours from start to finish, and now I have some ginger beer for hot days, I don't think it will keep for ages, but it should be okay for a week.
It's not alcoholic ginger beer, but I would guess that letting it ferment for longer would increase the alcohol content, but you would probably need some kind of fermentation bin or a demijohn with and airlock to do this ?

Have fun, and it may be wise to add a pack of cleaning cloths to you equipment list just incase of accidents :-)

Sorry there aren't any pictures, I will try and include pictures next time I post something like this.

Thanks for reading.

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