1 litre water, 1 cup of whole cane sugar (can be adjusted lower if too sweet), 1 lemon, 1 large ginger root (add more if you like it gingery there is no upper or lower limit) OR one-two tea-spoons of dried ginger, Ginger Beer Plant – one table-spoon is sufficient – it will grow especially during the warmer summer months.
Begin by chopping the ginger, with skin on, into small pieces and placing them into a blender. Adding some water helps blend the fibrous ginger root.
Place the mashed ginger into either a tea-towl or food mill and squeeze as much of the juice out as possible
Add the sugar and lemon juice into the squeezed ginger juice.
Cover the jar with a lid, a tea-towel, a piece of kitchen paper or handkerchief. This way air can get in but flies stay out. Leave to ferment on the window sill for anywhere from four to five days, stirring at least once a day. The longer you leave it to brew the more mature it will taste.
After the first day of preparing your brew you should see small air-bubbles heading for the surface.
Within two days you will see the ginger beer plant bobbing leisurely up and down the brew on a merry carbon-bubble-ride. The majority of the grains will be resting on the bottom of the jar. The bubbles will become more vigorous with time as the yeast in the GBP begin to consume the carbohydrates in the solution. When you are happy with the taste of your ginger beer you can decant the brew into clean plastic bottles.
Begin by placing a fine-mesh sieve over a glass jar and pouring into a clean pot. The sieve will catch the grains of your ginger beer plant for later use. Depending on the warmth in your kitchen the GBP may be more than the amount you originally started with. If so you can share with friends and family. If the ginger beer has not increased worry not – the most important thing is that the ginger beer plant is still alive, healthy looking and active. It tends to grow less in the winter when ambient temperatures in the kitchen are lower than in the summer.
The grains can be rinsed with fresh water in a fine-mesh sieve in between batches. This is not strictly necessary but can be handy if a lot of sediment and gunk has settled on the bottom of the glass jar and or the grains have been caught up in any other floating pieces.
If you are not planning on running a continuous line of ginger beer you can keep the grains of the GBP in a jam jar of sugared water in the fridge.
This effectively puts the GBP “on-hold” until you have time to prepare your next batch. You should probably try and brew fresh ginger beer at least once every two weeks. Sugared water will keep the GBP alive but it will not feed it with all the other nutrients that can be found in ginger and lemon juice. If left too long the environment will turn too alcoholic and kill the GBP.
When decanting into clean bottles you can add cloves or cinnamon mint or verbena or chilli – or all of them together – or raspberries or chilled tea. Decide what flavour combination you think works well for you.
People brewing ginger beer with a GBP should be aware that secondary fermentation can take place even when the grains of the GBP have been removed from the bottled beer. There are still plenty of yeasts and lactobacilli actively eating the available sugars in the bottle. This means that carbon from active yeasts can still build up inside the bottle leading to potentially explosive results. If you have any doubt bottle them in plastic bottles which will not shatter into thousands of shards. See my post on explosive tonics. Exploding bottles are not a joke. It does happen.