Ginger beer and Ginger Bug Recipe
Ingredients (to make 4 litres):
8 cm or more fresh ginger root
2 cups (500 ml) white sugar (don’t substitute honey)
Large cooking pot
Small piece of cloth
String or rubber band
Recycled plastic and glass bottles with caps (enough to fill 4 liters)
Strainer and funnel (optional)
Process for “ginger bug”:
- To make the “ginger bug” the first time, add 2 teaspoons (10 ml) grated ginger (with skin) and 2 teaspoons (10 ml) sugar to 1 cup (250 ml) of dechlorinated water.
- Stir well, cover with a breathable cloth and store in a dark place such as a pantry or cupboard at room temperature.
Add the same amount of ginger and sugar as above every day or two and stir until the ginger bug starts bubbling. This should take about 2 days to about a week depending on your climate. Fermentation occurs faster in warm, moist climates and slower in cold, dry climates. Once the ginger bug is bubbling, it is active and ready to be used to make ginger beer.
Step 3 is for maintenance of your ginger bug.
- When you make ginger beer you will use about 90% of your ginger bug and save 10% to keep your ginger bug alive. To remake your ginger bug simply add about the same amount of ginger, sugar, and dechlorinated water that you poured out. If you are making ginger beer frequently, leave the ginger bug out in your kitchen and feed it a little ginger and sugar every day or two. If you use it less frequently you can refrigerate it, feeding it a little ginger and sugar each week. If refrigerated, let it sit out for up to 12 hours prior to using to make ginger beer to let it become active again.
Process for Ginger Beer:
- Grate the ginger root. Use 5 cm for a mild ginger flavor or up to 15 cm for an intense ginger flavor.
- Juice the lemons.
- Boil 4 liters of water. Add the ginger and 1.5 cups sugar. Boil this mixture for about 15 minutes. Let it cool.
- Once the ginger-sugar-water mixture has cooled completely strain out the ginger for a smooth ginger beer. If you don’t have a strainer you don’t need to remove the ginger chunks. Add the juice of the lemons and 90% of the strained ginger bug.
- Bottle in sealable bottles (one in plastic bottle and the remainder in glass) and store in a dark place at room temperature such as a pantry. Your ginger beer should be ready in 2 days to 2 weeks depending on climate.
- How to know when it is ready: It is important to make one bottle in a plastic bottle to be used as a guage. We would not generally recommend using plastic but for ginger beer, for safety reasons, we suggest using one plastic bottle per batch (which you can reuse!). Ginger beer becomes highly carbonated to the point where it can explode glass bottles. This can be quite dangerous. To prevent this you can check your plastic bottle each day by squeezing it to gauge if the batch is ready. As the bottle fills with carbonation, a byproduct of fermentation, the bottle will become more firm. When the bottle is firm to the point where you can’t squeeze it in, then you know the batch is ready to drink. Place all of the glass bottles in the fridge to stop the fermentation so they will not become overly carbonated and explode. When bottling in glass it makes sense to leave extra space for carbonation.
When opening the ginger beer you may have to open it slowly and continue to “burp” it to avoid losing a lot of it on the floor!