Traditional home made ginger beer is made using a ginger beer plant.
If a recipe calls for yeast it is not the genuine home made ginger beer! It is great to get children involved in the fascinating process of grow a living, breathing ginger beer 'plant' by simply mixing up ground ginger, sugar and water.
This 'plant' captures wild yeast, and is very similar to the starter used to make sour dough from scratch. Ginger itself has many health benefits. Making Homemade Root Beer is quite similar.
Making ginger beer was a fascinating part of my childhood. We made it in large batches.
The bottles were stored outside in the hot summer months for fear of explosions with potent batches with too much sugar that generated too much pressure in the bottle.
On one occasion we left a bottle under the house for several weeks. We gingerly carried into the house and placed it in the fridge to cool down.
When we opened one of the bottles on the kitchen sink after it got cold there was a geezer of ginger beer that shot up vertically and cleaned a circular patch on the ceiling. This mark remained there for months.
You should not let these stories put you off as home made ginger beer is fabulously refreshing and has a unique taste which is much better than the commercial carbonated varieties.
As kids we were always adding extra sugar, trying to generate more gas!
To make the plant you will need the following ingredients
Method - Mix the ingredients together in a jar and cover with a piece of coarse mesh held in place with a rubber band. The mesh covering should allow air exchange.
Place the jar outside in a shaded place. The mesh will keep flies and other insects out. The idea is to attract natural yeast spores that are floating about in the air.
Every day for the next week, add 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon sugar to the plant.
You can cheat by adding a teaspoon of dry yeast at the start, but capturing the wild yeast is a lot more fun.
After seven days divide the plant into two halves. Place one half in a glass jar with a cup of warm water.
You can start re-feeding this plant as before, adding one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of ginger each day. It will then be ready for the next batch.
The other half of the plant is used to make the current batch of ginger beer.
Ingredients for the Ginger Beer
Method - Mix the ingredients into a large bowl. Filter the ginger beer plant extract through two layers of fine muslin.
Then pour the liquid into the bowl and mix well. Pour the mixture into clean bottles that have been rinsed with boiling water to sterilise.
Seal the bottles. Screw types seals are a good ideal to relieve any excess pressure. Store the bottles in a cool place.
The beautiful homemade ginger beer should be ready to drink by the end of a week.
Refrigerate thoroughly before opening.