The recipe was passed down from my Nana to my Mum and then from my Mum to me. It has a special place in my heart. And I'm not lying when I say it's delicious. It'll knock your socks off. Seriously.
I'll also never forget the sound of ginger beer bottles exploding in the fireplace in the middle of the night. Best to use plastic bottles and store these in the shed while they ferment OK? Wouldn't want to be reponsible for any bombs exploding at your house.
So to make this, you'll first need to make what's known as a Ginger Beer Plant. It's not green and it doesn't have leaves, but it is a bubbling thing that you'll need to feed each day. Warm weather is best when making this type of ginger beer.
Making Homemade Ginger Beer from a Ginger Beer Plant
To make the plant you'll need:
- 10 sultanas (try and find good quality organic Australian grown ones if you can)
- the juice of 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon of lemon pulp
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 cups cold water (I use rain water. If you're using tap water make sure it's filtered)
Here's what I do:
Mix all ingredients into a very clean jar that can be closed tight. A screw top jar works well. I use a big fowlers jar and close it with a rubber seal and clip. You are trying to collect the yeast from the sultana skin and not unknown yeasts from the air, so this part is important.
Leave this mix in the jar for a few days, until you can see it start to ferment. What you are looking for is little bubbles starting to form, or a slight foam on top or the sultanas might start to float. This works faster when the weather is warmer.
Then add 2 teaspoons of ground ginger and 4 teaspoons of sugar to your plant, every day for a week. Mix well after each addition and replace the lid.
During the week, you should notice your plant starting to bubble away. If it doesn't, your plant isn't alive and you will need to start the process again.
At the end of 1 week you can start making up your ginger beer. Do this by making up 4 cups of sugar dissolved in 4 cups of boiling water and the juice of 4 lemons. Pour into a large pot or super clean bucket with 28 cups of cold water (again make sure your water is always filtered). Strain your ginger beer plant through a muslin cloth, allowing the liquids into your pot. Keep all solids in the muslin cloth and squeeze it dry. Mix the liquid well and pour into your sterilised plastic bottles (you'll need about 10-12 bottles).
Never fill bottles to the top. Always make sure you leave lots of headroom of air, as the fermenting beer produces gas. This headroom will help prevent your bottles from exploding. It's safest to bottle in plastic bottles. I always place my bottles in a esky or box, wrapped in a towel in our shed. It's a very gassy brew, and I don't want anyone with ginger bombs going off in their sheds. At Christmas time, I like to transfer my ginger beer after it has fermented into the old Grolsch bottles. It's a little bit festive. Fermenting ginger beer in glass is dangerous though. Those childhood memories of exploding bottles will never leave me. It's the stuff nightmares are made of.
The bottles need to be kept in the shed for a week or two to ferment, before being popped open. You can try a bottle at a week, if it's not fizzy, leave it to keep fermenting. The warmer the weather, the faster it will ferment.
Now you can take your plant (that is in the muslin cloth), halve it and put half back into your jar with 2 cups cold water, 2 teaspoons ground ginger and 4 teaspoons sugar and stir it well, to begin the process again. Feed the plant again for a week and repeat the process. The other half of the plant you can throw out, give away or start a second plant growing for more ginger beer. It's up to you.
I always find the flavour of the ginger beer and the fizz factor increases with the age of the plant. So if your first batch of ginger beer doesn't fizz up as much as you'd like, try again with an older plant. Summertime plants usually make the best ginger beer because of the warmth.
Good luck and don't forget to keep an eye on your bottles!
|A fermenting plant. It's not pretty, but this is how it should look!|