Sunday, July 22, 2012

Homebrewed Ginger Beer

I started brewing kombucha at home several years ago now, and just recently became interested in expanding a bit further into other naturally fermented beverages (and foods!) Sourdough wasn't the biggest success for me, but a recent attempt at sauerkraut came out absolutely fantastic and has led me into a bit of an obsession. Oops.

I've been loving ginger beers for some time now, and the more I saw how simple the list of ingredients was the more I knew it was something I wanted to experiment with on my own. I recently picked up a copy of Wild Fermentation and the first recipe I found myself drawn to was of course- one for ginger beer.

I found this recipe unique, wherein most recipes for ginger beer that I've seen online rely on the addition of commercial yeast to create carbonation. This recipe has you first create a ginger "bug" a few days in advance that is added to the rest of your ingredients before bottling.

Homebrewed Ginger Beer (Gently adapted from Wild Fermentation)

Ingredients for Ginger Bug:
Several inches fresh ginger root
Pure cane sugar

Mix 2 tsp grated ginger root (skin is fine) with 2 tsp sugar, and 1 cup of water in a small jar. Stir well and store in a warm spot, covered by cheesecloth or paper towel. Continue adding 2 tsp of grated ginger and sugar daily, until ginger bug begins to look frothy or bubbly- 2 days to a week, depending. Once ginger bug is bubbling, you're ready to start your brew. If you decide to wait to brew- continuing adding sugar and ginger to your bug daily.

Ginger bug- pre-bubbles

Ingredients for Ginger Beer:
2-6 inches fresh ginger root, grated (depending on how gingery you'd like it to be)
1 1/2 cups pure cane sugar
Juice from 2 lemons

Boil 2 quarts of water. Add grated ginger root (I went for the full amount), and sugar. Boil mixture for 15 minutes, then allow to cool completely. Once mixture is cool- strain out ginger, then combine with lemon juice, and strained ginger bug. Add enough water to total 1 gallon (4 liters). Stir well, then carefully bottle. Store in a warm place for 2 weeks. Refrigerate at least several hours before opening- and open very carefully as carbonation may be very strong.

Tips on bottling: I used two 1/2 gallon growlers with screw-on lids from a local homebrew supply shop. You can also use recycled plastic soda or juice bottles, flip-top beer bottles with rubber seals, or standard beer bottles if you have a capper. Basically anything that you can safely seal. Large canning jars would also work.

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