I remember my mother having plants in the house when I was a child and wondering why on earth you would possibly bother when you could just buy cola in the store opposite. Who would have thought that I would end up regularly making my own the same way nearly 30 years later! Soda was one of the first things we cut out when we chose to be more self-sufficient and live a healthier lifestyle. There are many reasons quitting shop bought soda and making your own makes sense, here are a few that swayed me:

– Shop bought sodas are often packed with sugar/high fructose corn syrup which is bad for health

soda has lower environmental footprint (less packaging, less transport, less processing etc.)

– You can chose to make the beer from organic, fair-trade and GM free foods

– It’s cheap to make and if you are on a tight budget, you can buy in bulk to make it even more cost effective

– There are no artificial colours, preservatives or flavourings in homemade ginger beer

– The drink contains actual ginger rather than just flavouring. Ginger has a number of health benefits including aiding digestion, easing nausea and soothing upset stomachs

– Ginger beer is a dairy free probiotic full of beneficial bacteria

– And last but not least, I have to admit I get a lot of satisfaction from making things myself and knowing where they come from

Don’t be put off by the sugar content in this recipe, the main reason for the sugar is to feed the friendly micro-organisms that carbonate the drink. Friendly bacteria and yeast (in this case introduced using sultanas) work together to break down the sugar and turn it into lactic acid and the carbon dioxide that makes it fizz. A trace amount of alcohol is also produced during the process, but it’s not at all noticeable and the drink is perfectly suitable for children.

Making the  

Ingredients for approximately 10 x 750ml bottles

– 8 natural unprocessed sultanas (also known as golden raisins)

– Juice of 2 lemons

– 1 teaspoon pulp

– 4 teaspoons of sugar (I use raw organic)

– 2 teaspoons ground ginger or fresh ginger grated/cut into small chunks

– 2 cups water

Notes on ingredients:

Ginger – Ground ginger produces a milder drink, similar to shop-bought and requires less fuss to feed each day as you don’t need to process anything. Fresh ginger has a sharper taste and is a little more refreshing. I mainly use powdered organic ground ginger at the moment as our ginger plants are not yielding enough for all our many needs yet, once they are I will switch entirely to fresh.

Sugar – I use raw organic sugar, but white granulated sugar works equally well

Water – I use rainwater as we are off-grid and have read elsewhere that chlorinated water may kill the yeasts and beneficial bacteria so that the plant does not work. I am unable to comment on this, but given that lemon juice is often used to-decholorinate water it may not actually be a problem if you put the lemon juice in the water first, then add the sultanas later.

Quantities – Depending on personal taste you can add more sugar or ginger to make it sweeter or more gingery, but I find this ratio to work well both from the perspective of taste and bottles not exploding.

Equipment 

– 1 litre Screw top jar

– measuring spoons

Method

1. Place the sultanas, lemon juice, lemon pulp, ginger, sugar and water in a screw top jar

Step 2. Stir the liquid to combine the ingredients and then place in a warm spot (about 23-29°C) out of direct sunlight. After a couple of days hold the jar up to the light and check for small bubbles rising up from the bottom of the jar. Check each day until they eventually appear, at which point has begun and you can start feeding. Other signs of include a layer of foam on the surface and the sultanas floating to the top of the jar. Generally here the mixture starts after about 4 days, but it may take longer in cooler conditions.

Step 3. Once fermentation begins, feed the plant 2 teaspoons of ginger and 4 teaspoons of sugar every day at around the same time. I set an alarm on my phone to remind me as generally if I miss a day the plant dies. The mixture becomes increasingly frothy over time and after 7-10 days it should look like the picture below and is ready to make the ginger beer.

Using the Ginger Beer Plant to Make Ginger Beer 

Ingredients

– Ginger beer plant

– 4 cups sugar

– juice of 4-6 lemons (I prefer mine more tangy so add six)

– 2 cups boiling water

– 28 cups cold water

Equipment 

– Measuring cups

– Large pans/ large buckets

– 10 -12 x 750ml bottles

– Colander and cheesecloth or sieve

– Funnel

Method

Step 1. Boil 2 cups of water in a large pan

Step 2. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve

Step 3. Juice 4 lemons, sieve to ensue no pips etc. and then add to the syrup

Step 4. Allow the liquid time to cool (boiling water will kill the ginger beer plant)

Step 5. Line a large colander with cheesecloth or similar material (not needed if you are using a sieve)

Step 6. Strain the ginger beer plant into the pan through cheesecloth or sieve

Step 7. Squeeze every drop of liquid into the pan, either by gathering together the cheesecloth and squeezing or pressing through a sieve with back of a spoon. Place the leftover residue to one side (you will use this to make your next plant)

Step 8 Add the cold water to mixture. I do this in two large pans but you could also use a clean bucket. Stir to combine

Step 9. Pour the liquid into bottles using a funnel. Be sure to leave about 4cm space at the top of each bottle. I use glass flip top bottles due to my aversion to plastic, but I will openly admit that opening them can be a white-knuckle experience. To open them I must vent the gas from the cap a tiny amount at a time under immense pressure. If I lift the lid too quickly the whole lot ends up on the ceiling. I also live in constant fear of explosion. I’m seriously considering switching to PET bottles (even more so after writing this paragraph!) with screw caps as they have less explosion risk, can be reused and can be placed in the fridge to slow fermentation once ready.

Step 10. Seal the bottles and store in a dark place, preferably where any leaks or explosions cannot harm anything. Leave for about 10-14 days to ferment before drinking. The time taken depends on the ambient temperature. I find the beer is ready much quicker in summer than winter, so it may take more than two weeks in a colder climate. If using plastic bottles store in the fridge to slow fermentation once ready.

I enjoy mine chilled with ice and a slice of lemon!

For your next batch of ginger beer just divide the leftover residue in two and place each half in a clean jar with 2 cups of cold water, then start feeding immediately as before. I generally throw one half away as we struggle to drink more than that.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Making Traditional Ginger Beer from Scratch
 
Traditional ginger beer made from a ginger beer plant has so many advantages over shop bought soda, not least the taste! Here's how to make your own at
Author:
Recipe type: Drink
Serves: 10 x 750ml bottles
Ingredients
Ginger Beer Plant
  • 8 natural unprocessed sultanas (also known as golden raisins)
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pulp
  • 4 teaspoons of sugar (I use raw organic)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger or fresh ginger grated/cut into small chunks
  • 2 cups water
Ginger Beer
  • Ginger beer plant
  • 4 cups sugar
  • Juice of 4-6 lemons (I prefer mine more tangy so add six)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 28 cups cold water
Instructions
Ginger Beer Plant
  1. Place the sultanas, lemon juice, lemon pulp, ginger, sugar and water in a screw top jar
  2. Stir the liquid to combine the ingredients and then place in a warm spot (about 23-29°C) out of direct sunlight. After a couple of days hold the jar up to the light and check for small bubbles rising up from the bottom of the jar. Check each day until they eventually appear, at which point fermentation has begun and you can start feeding. Other signs of fermentation include a layer of foam on the surface and the sultanas floating to the top of the jar. Generally here the mixture starts fermenting after about 4 days, but it may take longer in cooler conditions.
  3. Once fermentation begins, feed the plant 2 teaspoons of ginger and 4 teaspoons of sugar every day at around the same time. I set an alarm on my phone to remind me as generally if I miss a day the plant dies. The mixture becomes increasingly frothy over time and after 7-10 days it should look like the picture below and is ready to make the ginger beer.
Ginger Beer
  1. Boil 2 cups of water in a large pan
  2. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve
  3. Juice 4 lemons, sieve to ensue no pips etc. and then add to the syrup
  4. Allow the liquid time to cool (boiling water will kill the ginger beer plant)
  5. Line a large colander with cheesecloth or similar material (not needed if you are using a sieve
  6. Strain the ginger beer plant into the pan through cheesecloth or sieve
  7. Squeeze every drop of liquid into the pan, either by gathering together the cheesecloth and squeezing or pressing through a sieve with back of a spoon. Place the leftover residue to one side (you will use this to make your next plant)
  8. Add the cold water to mixture. I do this in two large pans but you could also use a clean bucket. Stir to combine
  9. Pour the liquid into bottles using a funnel. Be sure to leave about 4cm space at the top of each bottle. I use glass flip top bottles due to my aversion to plastic, but I will openly admit that opening them can be a white-knuckle experience. To open them I must vent the gas from the cap a tiny amount at a time under immense pressure. If I lift the lid too quickly the whole lot ends up on the ceiling. I also live in constant fear of explosion. I’m seriously considering switching to PET bottles (even more so after writing this paragraph!) with screw caps as they have less explosion risk, can be reused and can be placed in the fridge to slow fermentation once ready.
  10. Seal the bottles and store in a dark place, preferably where any leaks or explosions cannot harm anything. Leave for about 10-14 days to ferment before drinking. The time taken depends on the ambient temperature. I find the beer is ready much quicker in summer than winter, so it may take more than two weeks in a colder climate. If using plastic bottles store in the fridge to slow fermentation once ready.

 


Related Posts

18 Comments

  1. Hi Claire, my mum used to make ginger beer from plant also, I know we lived in town and our water was treated, dad was a water balif . Ive made it to, but like you I was off the grid, so tank wate, solar etc.
    sadly I won’t be making as I’m type 2 diabetic and my adult son is type 1 diabetic so it’s water, or soda stream soda watt with a dash of lemon juice for a treat. But home made ginger beer is soooo yummy.

    1. Hi Liz,So many people have told me that their mum made it this way since I put up the post. Seems to have stirred up memories for a lot of people! I just love the stuff. I’m sorry that neither you or your son will be able to make it. I have a great book called ‘Cool Waters’ by Brian-Preston Campbell, its full of great homemade drinks and infusions made from water (no sugar). I’ll post some of my favourite recipes when I have time. We make all our own homemade drinks so have a raneg of go-to recipes. Thanks for the comment, Claire

    1. Thanks Cynthia! I havent tried it with apple but it could work if you leave the lemon out of the ginger plant then substitute the lemon in the beer for freshly juiced apple. Let me know if you try it, I would be very interested to hear how it goes!

      1. Apples have a high sugar content, ferment them and the alcohol content will equate to a punchy ginger flavoured cider. I’d suggest more of an air gap on bottling and I’d have a bet on a high ratio of explosions.

  2. Hi Claire

    My grandmother always made ginger beer and so has my husband. Our oldest son who lives in the USA recently sent us a video of his two year old son, Jack, helping him make ginger beer. We’re so happy that the tradition continues.

  3. Hi Claire

    My grandmother always made ginger beer and so has my husband. Our oldest son who lives in the USA recently sent us a video of his two year old son, Jack, helping him make ginger beer. We’re so happy that the tradition continues.

    1. Hi Sandy, wonderful to hear, thanks so much for commenting. I love how ginger beer reminds so many people of their families! I bet in years to come Jack will be teaching his children.

  4. Gday Claire,

    This is great! Thank you very much 🙂 Just wondering is it an alcoholic beverage?

    Take care

    Shayne

    1. Thanks very much Shayne! This version only has a trace amount of alcohol but I hope to add alcoholic versions soon, and my favourite ‘hard lemonade’ 🙂 . All the best

  5. My mum made her own ginger beer same as this recipe. But instead of throwing away half the ginger beer plant she past it on to a friend or another family member. Waste not want not was her moto. And I remember her saying something about it was like a friend friendship chain.You pass it to one friend they inturn pass it onto another and the friendship chain.grows. Nice thought. Ginger beer brings back fond memories of my mother and family christmas gatherings

    1. Thats wonderful Annette, I am also a big believer in waste not want not. We are pretty isolated here so hard to give them away regularly enough, but I love the idea. Our leftovers still get composted so at least the plants gain some benefit..

  6. Well this is a winner for the whole family! Even my “fizz adverse” nine year old. Anything to get more fermented drinks into them all! 😉
    Thank you!

  7. Hello Claire, we have tried your GB recipe quite a few times and love it, I find that about 5 days of of Fermenting does the trick for us,
    Was wondering how Oranges would substitute for Lemons?? (I would still be using the original bug, made from lemons?)

    Thanks Gary.

    1. Hi Gary, glad you like it and thanks for the feedback! We love it too and make one batch after another here. I haven’t tried oranges, but I’m sure they would work for bottling if you are using the original bug. I’ve also made bugs from Turmeric and limes too and that works well. If you do try oranges please let me know how it goes, might give it a try myself! Good luck!

      All the best,
      Claire

      1. Hello Claire, we made a batch of GB substituting lemon juice with orange Juice, we loved it, although the kids found it a bit wried, the GB looked orange in colour (slightly) and just had a subtle orange taste, The Turmeric and Lime variant sounds nice,
        cheers, Gary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

Rate this recipe:  

After you have typed in some text, hit ENTER to start searching...