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With Summer promised to us, but yet to be delivered, I say it’s time we get in the mood regardless. First stop, homemade ginger beer, because why not.
Well, it might not feel like it, but Summer is almost upon us. As the season of abject laziness drags closer, it behooves one to have a beverage befitting the shab lifestyle. And your own ginger beer may very well be that. Plus, it’s very easy, so why not? Most ginger beer recipes use the same ingredients, however, it is the amounts that differ. These can be tweaked to suit individual tastes and it’s just a matter of experimenting to find out what you like.
Most people have a soft spot for real ginger beer. With Christmas looming, consider adding a few bottles to the festive table or to your homemade gift hampers, or as a gift for someone who has everything and would appreciate the effort as much as the end product (something a bit different to the usual shortbread). Ginger beer is often drunk with nostalgia, and lots of bottle inspection, particularly by elderly relatives! Just an observation.
- 2 3/4 cup of raw organic sugar/white sugar.
- 1 tsp yeast (any kind, bakers yeast works fine).
- 5L water.
- 1 lemon juiced.
- 130g fresh ginger grated (skin on is ok, just wash well first).
- Demijohn/carboy with airlock – alternatively you can use plastic soft drink/spring water bottles.
- Large jug.
- Measuring cup/jug/spoon.
- Plastic bottles for bottling (you can recycle old water bottles, or you can buy new brown ones from most bottle shops or home brew supply stores. Sometimes the supermarket has them as well.) Never use glass.
- Add all the ingredients to the demijohn or equally divide amongst your plastic bottles. If you are using an airlock, fill it to the correct level with sterilising solution or spirits. If you are using plastic bottles, loosely place the caps on so that air can escape but pests can’t get it.
- Place out of direct sunlight in a place with fairly constant temperature.
- After a few hours, you will notice air bubble forming in your ginger beer. This is the yeast working their magic. The yeast will eat up the sugar, and produce carbon dioxide (the fizz) and alcohol.
- For a child-friendly ginger beer, only ferment for 2-3 days before bottling. This time may vary depending on the ambient temp (i.e., the warmer it is, the more active the yeast are and the quicker to convert the sugar).
- For a pleasantly alcoholic ginger beer, leave for 4-5 days. Feel free to leave it for longer, but from experience, it can produce something that would easily fuel a rocket ship, read: moonshine.
- After your chosen brew time, decant your ginger beer through the sieve into your large jug to remove the grated ginger.
- Now funnel into your clean plastic bottles, leaving at least 4cm at the top of the bottle.
- IMPORTANT: Never use glass bottles to store your ginger beer. The yeast will continue to produce carbon dioxide until all the sugar is eaten up. This can cause so much pressure in the bottle that it will explode and shatter. Stick with plastic.
- Before you cap it add 1 tsp of sugar to each bottle to give the yeast one last feed.
- Don’t refrigerate yet. Leave out for a day or until your brew is carbonated. How do you tell? The bottle should feel tight to squeeze. If you feel it is too hard you may need to release some of the pressure before putting them in the fridge by unscrewing the lid.
- Refrigerate and serve over ice with a few mint leaves!
If you live in a warm-hot zone, when you are buying the ginger for your brew, buy a bit extra for the garden. It’s as simple as sticking it in the ground in Spring. You only need to pick it as you need it, and can easily produce more than enough for your ginger beer needs. It dies back over Winter and the rhizomes stay dormant under the ground until they are ready to sprout the following Spring. How amazing would that be? Home brewed ginger beer from your home grown ginger!!