Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Recipe: Ginger Beer

Ginger is a spice perfect for any time of year. Its fragrance can perk up everything from chai tea to apple pie. This humble root can also add a gentle kick of heat to stir fries or soups.

The natural yeasts in the root can also be used to kick start a bubbly ginger beer. Give it a try!

The following recipe is from Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, by Sandor Katz.

This Caribbean-style soft drink uses a “ginger bug” to start the fermentation. I got this idea from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. The ginger bug is simply water, sugar, and grated ginger, which starts actively fermenting within a couple of days. This easy starter can be used as yeast in any alcohol ferment, or to start a sourdough.

This ginger beer is a soft drink, fermented just enough to create carbonation but not enough to contribute any appreciable level of alcohol. If the ginger is mild, kids love it.

TIMEFRAME: 2 to 3 weeks

INGREDIENTS (for 1 gallon/4 liters):

  • 3 inches/8 centimeters or more fresh gingerroot

  • 2 cups/500 milliliters sugar

  • 2 lemons (or limes)

  • Water

PROCESS:

  1. Start the “ginger bug”: Add 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) grated ginger (skin and all) and 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) sugar to 1 cup (250 milliliters) of water. Stir well and leave in a warm spot, covered with cheesecloth to allow free circulation of air while keeping flies out. Add this amount of ginger and sugar every day or two and stir, until the bug starts bubbling, in 2 days to about a week.

  2. Make the ginger beer any time after the bug becomes active. (If you wait more than a couple of days, keep feeding the bug fresh ginger and sugar every 2 days.) Boil 2 quarts (2 liters) of water. Add about 2 inches (5 centimeters) of gingerroot, grated, for a mild ginger flavor (up to 6 inches/15 centimeters for an intense ginger flavor) and 11/2 cups (375 milliliters) sugar. Boil this mixture for about 15 minutes. Cool.

  3. Once the ginger-sugar-water mixture has cooled, strain the ginger out and add the juice of the lemons (or limes) and the strained ginger bug. (If you intend to make this process an ongoing rhythm, reserve a few tablespoons of the active bug as a starter and replenish it with additional water, grated ginger, and sugar.) Add enough water to make 1 gallon (4 liters).

  4. Bottle in sealable bottles: Recycle plastic soda bottles with screw tops; rubber gasket “bail-top” bottles that Grolsch and some other premium beers use; sealable juice jugs; or capped beer bottles, as described in chapter 11. Leave bottles to ferment in a warm spot for about 2 weeks.

  5. Cool before opening. When you open ginger beer, be prepared with a glass, since carbonation can be strong and force liquid rushing out of the bottle.


Dig In: June Roundup

The latest news and opinions from Chelsea Green and our authors, as well as tips and techniques about how you can bring our books to life in your kitchen, backyard, or community, and special sales, promotions and new releases. Food Lover’s Guide: 25% Off ALL Food & Drink Books Whether you want to make the […] Read More..

New Look, New Tools, New Ways to Connect with Chelsea Green

Welcome to the new, redesigned digital home of Chelsea Green Publishing! Over the years you have asked for better ways to connect with our authors, to share information with friends and family, and to buy books from us. We listened to your feedback and integrated your wishes with a fresh design that allows you to […] Read More..

Permaculture Advice For Beginners. Hint: Start Small

Interested in applying a permaculture approach to your land, but not quite sure where to start? In the below Q&A, authors Olivia Rathbone (The Occidental Arts & Ecology Center Cookbook) and Tao Orion (Beyond the War on Invasive Species) share some advice for beginner permaculturalists. This series is part of our Permaculture Month celebration where a […] Read More..

Indoor Oyster Mushrooms: Big Yield, Small Spaces

Grow pounds of oyster mushrooms right in your home with fairly little effort and just a small amount of space. All you need is 16 square feet, a few plastic buckets, an organic material to the grow the mushrooms on, like spent coffee grounds, and some spawn. Use recycled or salvaged items and this hobby […] Read More..

Turn Barren Soil into Black Gold: 9 Simple Steps to Sheet Mulching

If you want to turn a barren lot into a permaculture paradise, you’ve got to start from the ground up. Sheet mulching is an easy way to start. You start with a biodegradable weed barrier like cardboard, and from there build a thick, layered substrate for your garden with compost and mulch. As the materials […] Read More..