How To Make Old Fashioned Ginger Beer
There’s nothing better than a cold refreshing ginger beer after a long hot day.
The following recipe is to make a batch of ginger beer using a ginger beer plant or living culture of ginger and yeast. The whole process takes almost 2 weeks. After further experimentation I have made a fizzy ginger beer without the addition of yeast. It turned out surprisingly well, just by leaving the ginger beer ‘plant’ out on the bench for 5 days open to the air, covered with mesh. I have adapted the recipe slightly for the yeast free ginger beer below.
1 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon of fresh yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 kg sugar (or less if you don’t like a very sweet drink)
6 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 L cold water
- use a sterilised* glass jar and mix together the yeast and water.
- add sugar and ginger, stir well.
- 24 hours later add another 2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp ginger.
- repeat step 3 for the next 5 days, stirring well after each addition
- mix sugar, boiling water and cream of tartar together stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool.
- add the cold water.
- juice lemons, strain the juice and add to syrup.
- strain ginger plant through a fine muslin cloth and add the liquid to the syrup.
- put in sterilised* bottles, seal and leave for 7 days. I have found leaving a 2 inch air gap in the bottle reduces the chances of explosions!
Store the ginger beer outside the house as bottles may explode with the buildup of gases and always open away from your face!
You can keep the plant going ready for your next brew by dividing the plant mass into 2 and discarding one half. Add 1 cup of water to the plant and repeat the feeding process for 6 days.
To sterilise the jar/bottles, I make sure they are very clean, then heat them up in the oven until all moisture has evaporated out, and they are hot. Be careful, they are usually VERY hot to touch. Let them cool before you add anything to them.
With normal alcoholic beer brewing, the brew is put into a large container for a week or so until the yeast consumes all of the sugar and converts it to alcohol so there is no more bubbling or gas being produced, we are not allowing the ginger plant to consume or ferment all of the sugar in the bottles hence why it still tastes very sweet, and therefore has a very minimal alcohol content.
Naturally Fermented Ginger Beer without Added Yeast
On the advice of For Greenies reader ‘Joe’ I have experimented with making a Ginger Beer Plant without the addition of yeast. It’s great when you find out you need even less ingredients to make something! So basically it is only grated/ground ginger, water and sugar and by leaving it open to the air natural yeasts and bacteria colonise the jar and begin the natural fermentation process.
I covered the jar with mesh and left the lid off. After about 5 days of being left out in a warm place on my kitchen bench it started bubbling – the natural fermentation process. I still added the sugar and ginger daily for those 5 days. I bottled and capped the ginger beer, (using 500 grams of raw sugar instead of the 1 kg) and put the bottles outside in a sheltered warm place away from direct sunlight. It is spring here, so fairly warm. We are having an average of 26℃ days…
After one week in the bottle, I tested one and it wasn’t fizzy, so I left in the bottles for another 2 weeks until they were fizzy. It takes a lot longer for the natural yeasts and bacteria to consume the sugar and produce the carbon dioxide fizz.
So I have adapted the recipe to make a non-alcoholic ginger beer, naturally fermented without added bakers or brewers yeast.
- 1 cup lukewarm unclorinated cooled boiled water
- 2 tsp raw organic sugar
- 2-3 inch long piece of grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger powder (fresh ginger is not as strong as ground ginger so add more if you are using fresh ginger)
Ginger Beer (without added yeast)
- 500g raw organic sugar
- 6 cups boiling water
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 L cold water
- 2 lemons
- add all ingredients to a jar. Cover with mesh or pantyhose or a chux cloth to allow the air to get in and critters to stay out. Leave in a warm spot like next to the oven/stove.
- 24 hours later add another 2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp ground ginger or 3 inch piece of grated ginger.
- repeat step 2 for the next 5 days, stirring well after each addition.
- when you begin to notice bubbles forming inside the jar (after about 5 days) you are ready to add the majority of water and sugar and then bottle.
- dissolve the 500g sugar into the 6 cups of boiling water. Leave to cool.
- add the cold water.
- juice lemons, strain the juice and add to sugar and water mixture.
- strain ginger plant through the mesh (or chux cloth or panthose on your jar) and add the liquid to the sugar and water mixture.
- put in sterilised* bottles, seal and leave for 3 weeks.
Not adding yeast means that you need to leave the ginger beer sealed in the bottles for much longer before they become fizzy and are ready to drink. I found 3 weeks was enough for me in my climate. Feel free to open a bottle and try it and if needed leave the other bottle for longer. I also found using the no added yeast method there was much more visible ‘sediment’ which is the natural yeast and bacteria colonies developing (just like a kombucha.)
Most importantly, it is best served icy cold after a hard day of work in the hot garden!