If I had to sum up this summer in two words it’d probably be yoga and fermentation.
I’ve been really proud of how much I’ve seen my yoga practice progress this summer. October will be my two year yoga-versary so I’ve been trying to push myself even more with poses like crow and trying headstands. If I can get over my fear of possibly falling in the water, I might even try doing yoga on a paddle board before the summer is up. (I’ll keep you posted.)
I’ve also been spending a lot of time fermenting things this summer. I’ve been going to fermentation classes, lectures, reading everything I can get my hands on, and of course, experimenting in my own kitchen. I’m so excited to finally share one of my favorite creations with you: homemade ginger beer!
I’ve always wanted to learn how to ferment ginger beer and I was surprised that it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Before we get too deep into how to make ginger beer, let me first clarify what ginger beer is. Ginger beer is not actually beer as it’s non-alcoholic. You can think of it like a really strong ginger ale full of good-for-you probiotics.
In all honesty, I think this might be one of the easiest fermentation processes there is. The supplies are minimal, it’s really affordable to make, and it’s pretty hard to mess up. So I guess there’s nothing left to do but show you how to ferment ginger beer!
First, let’s get our supplies:
4 – 6 inches of fresh ginger root
Microplane zester (optional, but helpful)
2 cups organic evaporated cane juice or organic sugar
1 organic lemon
1 gallon glass jar (optional, but helpful)
Funnel (optional, but helpful)
Now that you have your supplies, let’s make your ginger “bug” starter.
The first step is making your own ginger beer is to create the ginger “bug” starter. The ginger “bug” is a combination of sugar, ginger, and water and when left to sit for a couple of days, it will ferment and create lactic acid, thus creating carbonation. This is the catalyst for our ginger beer.
To make the ginger bug: combine 2 teaspoons grated ginger (with skin on) and 1 tablespoon evaporated cane juice/sugar and 1 cup of water. Mix well and add to a small glass jar or glass. Cover with a bit of cheesecloth (to allow air to circulate) and secure with a rubber band (to keep flies out).
Note: A microplane zester is handy for grating the ginger. If you don’t have one, you can also finely mince it with a knife. And if you don’t have a rubber band, a new hair tie also works wonders! (wink)
Let this sit in a warm spot for 2 days and up to 1 week. You must “feed” the ginger bug about every 2 days to keep it active so add another 2 teaspoons of grated ginger and 1 tablespoon sugar to the bug. The ginger bug is active once it’s fizzy and starts bubbling.
When it looks like the pictures below, you know you’re ready to make ginger beer!
To make the ginger beer:
To make the ginger beer we’ll start by making ginger tea and then add our ginger bug starter later once this mixture has cooled to the proper temperature.
Boil 2 quarts of filtered water. Grate 4 – 6 inches (depending on desired intensity of ginger flavor) of fresh ginger root and add to the boiling water, along with 1 1/2 cups evaporated cane juice or organic sugar. Boil this for about 15 minutes, then let cool for about 10 minutes. While the mixture is cooling, juice the lemon.
Take the cooled ginger tea and strain the ginger out. The liquid will still probably be very hot so be careful.
Note: I know the sugar content seems really high, but the sugar is necessary to feed the bacteria. The sugar content in the final drink will be much lower as the bacteria consumes it. If you have any concerns about your sugar consumption, you can lower the sugar content by diluting the final ginger beer. I’d recommend mixing half ginger beer with half plain sparkling water.
Add this warm liquid to the gallon jar, and then fill with cool filtered water, leaving about 2 inches at the top. (If you don’t have a gallon jar you can also use a large mixing bowl or other container.)
Temp this liquid. The ideal temperature for starting the fermentation process is 80 – 100 degrees F. If the liquid is still too hot, let it cool in the fridge or add a bit of ice to bring it down to this temperature range. Be sure to temp it frequently to ensure it doesn’t get too cold and you definitely don’t want to add the ginger bug when the liquid is too hot.
Note: temperature is very important to the fermentation process. You will definitely need a kitchen thermometer of some sort to ensure that the mixture is not too hot. If the liquid is above 100 degrees it will kill the ginger bug starter.
Once the mixture has cooled to 80 – 100 degrees F, add the lemon juice. Then add the strained ginger bug starter and mix well.
Store the ginger beer in the sealable bottles or glass jars. Let them sit in a warm spot for about 2 weeks. I would recommend “burping” the bottles or jars every few days by opening the lid slightly to let any gas out. (This ensures the bottles won’t shatter under pressure).
Once your ginger beer is ready, add ice and serve! Store in the refrigerator and use within 1 month.
Have you made ginger beer at home before? What are your tips and tricks? Leave a comment below!
**Update: Please note that I labeled this recipe as non-alcoholic as it is not alcoholic beer, but similar to any raw, fermented beverage – this recipe may contain trace amounts of alcohol (similar to raw, fermented kombucha)2