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Home-made Ginger Beer!

February 25, 2011

I do have a soft spot for Caribbean cooking as some of you may have noticed. Well, Ginger Beer is just one of those drinks that everybody should know and love. Although a couple of the commercially available brands are pretty shit don’t let them put you off. Idris I’m looking at the bland sugary turd you peddle! Old Jamaica is fairly good and is pretty much the only Ginger Beer I have seen drank by Jamaicans apart from home-made brews, and is certainly my favourite commercially available brand, so if you want an introduction to the stuff try Old Jamaica.

Anyway, I was looking through Caribbean and African Cookery for new recipes to try out when I noticed Ginger Beer in the Drinks section at the back, and well, I didn’t exactly think twice before deciding to give it a shot. I pretty much exactly followed Rosamund’s recipe the first time and made a pretty nice still Ginger Beer who’s flavour seemed to develop every time I opened another bottle. A week later I tried again, but this time adding yeast and got a texture more to my liking, bubbling, not quite as rapidly as with carbonation, but still, very refreshing.

A recommendation I would give is that you buy the Ginger at an Asian store, not a supermarket. Tesco’s fresh Root Ginger is roughly £9 per Kilo, my local Asian store R. L. Hira’s sells exactly the same stuff at roughly £3 a Kilo, no competition there!

– Recipe –

250g fresh Ginger Root

250g Sugar, brown for a darker colour or white for a lighter colour

slightly over 2 Litres water

Orange Peel

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

3 Cloves

5 Allspice (my own addition)

1/2 teaspoon Dried Yeast

  1. Chop or slice the Ginger finely, then chop more until in small pieces.
  2. Boil in the Water for 30 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the Sugar and then cool slightly before adding the spices and Orange. Transfer into a plastic 2 Litre bottle and when still warm but not hot (30 Celsius or so) add the Yeast. Put the lid on and shake vigorously.
  3. Unscrew the lid so it is sitting on very loosely and then store in a warm area.
  4. After 2 days it should be bubbling healthily, strain through a couple of sterile tea-towels (washed in boiling water) and then put into another 2 litre plastic container and refrigerate.
  5. After a day or so of cooling in the fridge I normally bottle the Ginger Beer in glass with my bottle capper.

HOWEVER, chances are there is still active Yeast in the Ginger Beer and well, I want that because it means bubbles, you have two options:

  1. Add a very small amount of Potassium Sorbate, non harmful, will stop the yeast from reproducing but make it less fizzy
  2. or keep any bottled Beer in the fridge (not that you would want to drink it at room temperature anyway), fill the bottles to just above the base of the neck (no higher) and consume within a week. Or else the pressure from the expanding gasses produced by fermentation may make the bottles explode if left in the warm or for long periods. As a side note, Its actually quite difficult to try and keep a batch of Ginger Beer for a week, it just gets drank too quickly!


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