Sunday, 2 August 2015

Ginger Beer

Look at these beauties all bottled and stored ready for drinking in August. I have my doubts that my children will like it but Jim, my lovely 80 year old neighbour, remembers his three children loving Ginger Beer when they were young.

So he came over yesterday to make sure it was all done properly. The bottles and syphon kit were purchased from The Range, costing £9.99 and £3.49 respectively and then 6 juicy lemons bought from Aldi. Oh and a new plastic bucket from B&Q which cost a £1. Add to this the cost of a bag of sugar, and ginger spice and this first batch of 12 bottles has cost about £19 so each one is approx £1.05 each. If I make another batch, and the original plant is already off and running again, I am only needing the food ingredients which will be £3.20 if I shop at Aldi, for another 12 bottles so each one is coming in at under 27 pence each.

So do you want to try it out for yourself?

The recipe

The plant:
One clean empty jar (large enough for 2 pints of water)
1 pint of fresh cold water
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 heaped tsp of sugar (white or brown, your choice but drink will colour accordingly)
1 tsp of yeast (I used some of a sachet of fast acting bread yeast)

Place all ingredients in a jar, shut the lid and give a good shake. Now open the lid, leave it open and place some clean kitchen towel paper over the top to stop anything getting in. Put the jar somewhere warm, where you will see it, otherwise if you are like me you will forget to feed it.

Feed it once a day, for the next 10 days, with 1 tsp of ginger and 1 tsp of sugar. You should notice a soft sediment forming on the bottom of the jar and the liquid going cloudy. This is good!

On the 11th day do not feed and leave at least 12 hours after the final feed before you take the next step.

Fill your bucket with 1 and 1/2 gallons of water. Mark the level of water on the outside of the bucket with a permanent marker or a piece of tape, whichever is easier. Empty the water onto your garden and dry off the bucket.

Take the very clean bucket and pour in a full kettle of boiling water. Add 1 and 1/2 lbs of sugar to the hot water and stir until dissolved. (This is for 1 and 1/2 gallons). Add a pint of cold water to cool it down. Feel the outside of the bucket. It needs to be warm not hot so add more water if you need to.

Juice your lemons and remove all pips as they will taint the taste of the ginger beer. Lemon bits are fine to leave in the juice. Leave the juice in a dish.

Now carefully bring your plant onto a table and place the bucket of sugar water on the floor nearby. Let the plant settle for a moment so the sediment remains undisturbed. When all is well, use the syphon to take off the ginger liquid from the plant into the bucket. Leave about a 1/2 inch of ginger liquid above the sediment in the plant jar, so to be clear, you are only taking the top liquid from the plant and not any of the sediment. You have to suck up the tube of the syphon to start the liquid coming into the bucket on the floor. Quite fun but tricky and easier with two people so you can hold everything in place.

Now add the lemon juice to the bucket and use a clean jug to add cold water up to the 1 and 1/2 gallon mark you made earlier. Congratulations you've made ginger beer.

Fun part next. Grab a jug and a funnel small enough to put into the neck of your clean empty bottles and start filling them one by one with the ginger beer from the bucket. *IMPORTANT*  Only fill up to the shoulder of the bottles, this stuff needs expansion room so at least a clear 2 inches from the top. Clip the tops on and wipe the outside of the bottles in case any residue leaked, and store them out of the way for now. Mine are going in the garden shed. Leave for a minimum of 10 days and the longer the better, so Jim says.

With the original plant, keep it and add a teaspoon of yeast, a heaped teaspoon each of sugar and ginger and 1 pint of clean cold water and restart the process if you want to make more.

When ready to open a bottle, an ADULT must take it outside and hold the top down firmly as you open it very slowly. If you have seen those guys spraying champagne when they have won a motor car race this will give you an idea of what can happen!  Enjoy a refreshing home made non alcoholic drink because you deserve it.