Thursday, 23 April 2009

Ginger Beer Plant

Not so long ago I was asked if I remembered making ginger beer as a young un, and I do, this might be a good way to entertain the kids during the holidays.
During the 50's and 60’s just about every family was growing one of these plants. At every friend's house you visited you were given ginger beer to drink and as far as I can remember it tasted superb! Then all of a sudden it all seemed to disappear. I was only about 10 at the time so didn't get to know the real reason why. Soon after I supposed it had a lot to do with the coming of the Corona pop man he called each week with a fantastic selection of fizzy drinks that didn't need feeding. I still miss that ginger beer though.

Serves: As many as you want
Time: A couple of hours to get it all ready and a little while longer before drinking it

You Will Need
  1. 25g (1 oz) fresh yeast or 15g (½ oz) of dried yeast
  2. 1 kg (2¼ lb) sugar
  3. 40ml (8 tsp) ground ginger
  4. Juice of 2 lemons
  5. Water
  6. Square of muslin
  7. 9 x 1 pint, or 5 x 2 pint cork topped bottles (Now I would use proper beer bottles available at all good home brew shops))
For making the ginger beer we used a glass sweetie jar borrowed from the corner shop if you can find one it would be ideal, up in Lancashire Ozzie mills sells this type of jar, full of sweets. It is best kept in a cool dark place, we used a shelf of the kitchen cupboards.
Put the yeast into a large clean jar, pour in 275 ml (10 fl oz) tepid, (blood temperature) warm water, stir in 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of ground ginger.
Cover and leave in a warm place for 24 hours, you have just made your starter plant, over the next week you just 'feed' it till it is ready to bottle.

Feeding The Plant

  • Feed the plant with 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, every day for the next 6 days. Make sure to stir and cover the jar each time.
  • After you have fed it on the 6th day, cover the plant and leave it for 24 hours.
  • After that, line a sieve with the muslin, (I remember using a tea towel) then strain the contents of the jar, reserving both the liquid and the sediment.
  • In a saucepan over gentle heat, dissolve 2 ponds of sugar) 1 pint of water. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil and boil for 3 minutes.
  • Allow to cool until almost cold, then pour the syrup into a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice and liquid from the plant.
  • Dilute this liquid with 6 pints of water, stir well and pour into clean, and sterilised bottles. Put a cork in each one and store somewhere preferably cool and dark for at least one week.
  • Then drink and enjoy, don't be tempted to save it as there will be a new batch coming along next week!
Wash out the large jar and the muslin, add half of the saved sediment, then continue from Feeding The Plant. Do as we all used to do pass the other half of the sediment to a friend with instructions as to how to proceed.