Here’s my recipe for a naturally fermented, traditional ginger beer that has beneficial probiotics and enzymes. The recipe makes use of a ginger bug instead of dumping a bunch of bread yeast into your soda. I think the bread yeast flavor really comes through in the finished product and overwhelms the ginger. My next attempts to make homemade ginger beer used whey for a starter. I always have tons of whey leftover from straining my yogurt. But the whey cultured ginger beer was a huge fiasco, too. Lots of islands of blue mold in my carboy. So, I broke down and tried another batch using a ginger bug. My ginger bug starter was started 10 days ago because I’ve been out-of-town and didn’t get a chance to use it. But it works really well! Here’s how to can make Ginger Beer:
Homemade Ginger Beer Ingredients
1 gallon of water
6 inch piece of fresh ginger root
1 cup raw cane sugar
2 lemons, juiced
1 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt (non-iodized!!!)
½ cup homemade ginger bug
Find a big pot and boil your water hard to get the chlorine out of it. Chlorine kills bacteria and yeast and everything else we’ve tried to grow in the ginger bug. If you have access to good clean water, you can skip this step. Bring it to a boil and keep it at a rolling boil for 10 minutes with no lid.
Grate the ginger root. I used a Ribbon Grater that my patisserie wife uses for chocolate. It did a nice job of slicing through the tough fibers in the root.
Once your dechlorination boil is complete, add the ginger and let it steep for 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar, salt, and lemon juice.
At this point, just let it sit overnight or at least allow to cool to room temperature before moving to the next step. You don’t want to cook the microbes when you pitch the yeast in your ginger bug culture.
Add the ginger bug. Give the pot a good stir.
Once you have the bottles filled, lock the caps in place and leave on the counter for 3 days. Let the fermentation gasses be captured and carbonate the soda. Test one of these time bombs from time to time. Don’t let this step go unsupervised. The carbon dioxide building up in these bottles can get pretty strong. Open one over the sink to keep apprised of the fermentation / carbonation progress. Once you have a champagne-like POP of the flip top, you can stash your ginger beer bottles in the refrigerator.
Finally, don’t forget to take care of your ginger bug for future ginger beer batches. Replace the liquid you removed from the jar with a 1/2 cup of (non-chlorinated) water and a couple of spoonfuls of sugar. Stash in the fridge. Next time you’re planning on making ginger beer, take the ginger bug out a couple of days beforehand and add a little sugar to get it going again. I like to screw the lid on tight, give it a little shake, and then release the lid slowly. If I hear the fizz, I know my ginger bug is ready!
Serving Ginger Beer
To enjoy an ice-cold ginger beer, open slowly over the sink. If the ginger beer has been completely chilled, you should get a good pop and very little foam up. Pour into a chilled glass, never over ice. It’s like serving beer! Leave the last 1/2 ounce in the bottom of the bottle. It’s mostly spent yeast cells. They’ll just cloud your glass–otherwise they’re harmless.
If you open a warm bottle or pour ginger beer over ice, you will lose all of your carbonation. Just like beer, keep it cold, serve it cold, and never over ice.