Make ginger beer for a really refreshing drink to take on a picnic. When you're really thirsty sometimes nothing will do but a fizzy drink that tingles all the way down you're throat.
There are several ways to make it either the traditional way or by simpler, quicker methods.
When you are making the drink be sure to keep everything you use really clean.
is best to store the beer in screw-top plastic bottles. It is notorious
for exploding in bottles and broken glass is a dangerous thing.
While the beer is brewing store it in a cool outdoor shed for the same reason. You don't want sticky juice all over the pantry.
When you want to drink your beer unscrew the bottle gently with the bottle pointing away from you to avoid being sprayed.
To make sure your drink is cool when you reach your picnic carry your bottles in a cooler of ice.
Traditionally made with a ginger beer plant. You can easily grow one by mixing up ground ginger, sugar, yeast and water. Once you have a starter you can divide it and keep growing a new one continuosly.
Make the Ginger Beer Starter
Mix 1/2 teaspoon dried yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger and 1 cup of warm water in a large jar. Cover the jar with a cloth and leave it at room temperature for 8 days. Everyday add 1/2 teaspoon and 1/2 teaspoon of ginger to feed your plant.
To Make the Ginger Beer
After 8 days make some sugar syrup.
You will need 4 cups sugar, 1.5 litres cold water, 4.5 litres warm water and 1/2 cup strained lemon juice.
Heat the sugar and cold water in a large saucepan. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then remove from the heat and add the warm water and the lemon juice. Cool the syrup if necessary until it is just warm.
Strain your plant into the syrup through a sieve lined with a double thickness of muslin or stocking. Stir well and pour the mixture into strong, clean, plastic bottles with screw tops. If you don't have any you can buy them from any local homebrew shop. Fill the bottles to the base of the necks only, to allow for expansion, and seal. Leave in a cool, safe place for about five days – in hot weather, the beer will be ready in three or four days.
Return half the plant left on the muslin to the jar with 1 teaspoon each of ground ginger and sugar and 1 cup of water. There is no need to add any more yeast. This will form a new plant.
Repeat the plant feeding process with 1/2 teaspoon each of ginger and sugar daily. After 8 days, mix with more sugar syrup and make more bottles.
Mix 5 cups of water, 3/4 cup of sugar, 50 ml of lemon juice, 1tbls ginger and 1tsp of dried yeast to a large bowl.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set aside at room temperature
overnight to infuse.
In the morning skim off and discard the scum that has risen to the surface. Use a funnel to pour the mixture into a 2L plastic bottle (don't fill the bottle to the top) and place in the fridge to chill.
At the picnic add mint leaves and thin lemon slices to tall glasses and pour in the ginger beer.
The French Alternative
Jackie French from Burkes Backyard has a quick and easy version.
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root
chopped 2 lemons, washed and thickly sliced
41/2 litres water
1 teaspoon tartaric acid
50g sachet dried yeast
Place the lemons, ginger, water, tartaric acid and sugar into a pan. Bring to the boil then simmer for five minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool until it is just warm.
Sprinkle the yeast on top and put the lid on the pot. Leave for a few hours or even overnight.
Scoop out the lemon and ginger, then pour into clean bottles. Leave a space of at least 5cms from the top of each bottle. Check twice a day to see if you need to release some of the gas in the bottles (gently unscrew the cap to release pressure).
You'll know when the ginger beer is ready to drink, because as the pressure builds up bubbles will form and the bottles will feel tight to touch. This usually happens within 24 hours, but on a warm day it may be ready to drink within 12 hours.
When ready, put the bottles into the fridge to cool. Keep the ginger beer cold to take to a picnic.
Cheat's Non-Alcoholic Ginger Beer
Here is a recipe from the BBC Good Food Website for making a refreshing, alcohol-free version with only four ingredients.This version will not explode!!
Put the ginger and lemon in a bowl, pour over 300ml water. Blend until very smooth. Strain through a sieve into a bowl, then press the pulp to remove as much liquid as you can. Add the sugar to the bowl and blend again. Decant into a bottle. Chill until ready to use. Add the lemonade or sparkling water to dilute before serving.
If you are taking the drink to a picnic carry the lemonade or sparkling water in a seperate bottle and add it to the syrup at the picnic.
Its all a matter of taste. Some people like drinks sweeter than others, some like more of a tang. Some like more ginger, others more lemon.
So try out these different methods, adjust the ingredients to suit yourself and You will end up with the perfect refreshing drink for your family.