Boozeday Tuesday – Hot and Spicy Ginger BeerPosted: September 10, 2013
I’ve been dabbling in homebrew for about 17 years now. It’s not a regular thing, but every so often I get a windfall of produce. I have a great memory from university days of finding a stack of organic blackcurrants in punnets in a supermarket which had been something like £1.50 a go, reduced at the end of the day to 9p each. I piled as many as would fit into my shopping basket and made a gorgeous wine out of them. (Being a broke student at the time, I also tried experimental wine making using fruit squash. I cannot stress enough that this does not work and produces something absolutely revolting!)
Much as the end results of winemaking can be delicious when using the right ingredients, there’s no denying it’s a bit time-consuming. It can also get expensive buying demijohns and airlocks etc., although there are cheap-skate ways around having to fork out too much on equipment. If you don’t want to wait more than a few days for your home-brew or worry about specialist equipment then ginger beer will answer your needs much better.
For this recipe I am (mildly) experimenting by adding green chillies, while I’ve only used smaller red chillies before. I’ve also not tried adding in dried ginger, I thought it would add depth of flavour and also I found a 100g bag best before October so thought I better start using it!
Just a note on measuring – The jug I use measures an imperial pint, i.e. 20 fluid ounces. I sort of gave up on trying to give different measurement options through the recipe, and I hope what I’ve ended up with is understandable, but please leave a comment if it’s not.
Hot and Spicy Ginger Beer
Equipment: Big saucepan with a lid that will hold all liquid in the recipe, measuring jug with pouring spout, sieve, empty clean plastic fizzy drinks bottles.
8 pints (4.5 litres/19 cups) cold water, divided – use 1/4 of the water for the first stage where you’re heating ingredients, and add 3/4 later to cool the mix down.
130g (just over 4 1/2 ounces) root ginger
2 green chillies
450g (16 oz/about 2 cups) granulated sugar
2 unwaxed lemons – zest and juice
2 teaspoons powdered dried ginger
1 teaspoon bread yeast (I use Dove’s Farm quick yeast)
Grate the ginger and chop up the chillies, or, if you are lazy like me, roughly chop the ginger and then stick it and the chillies in a powerful blender with a pint of water and blend them for about 10 seconds.
If you have used a blender, tip the blended ginger goop into your saucepan, then swill the blender container out with another pint of water and tip that into the saucepan too – basically you’ve added 1/4 of the total water in the recipe to the saucepan at this point, so If you’ve grated the ginger rather than blending, add it, the chillies and 2 pints (1/4 of the water) to the pan.
Turn the heat on high under the pan. While you’re waiting for the mixture to boil, zest the lemons. Add the zest to the pan. Juice the lemons and add that. Add in the powdered ginger too. When the mixture is boiling, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Turn off heat.
Now add the rest of the cold water. The mix will look bitty, but don’t worry, it gets strained later.
The final 3/4 of water cools the mixture down enough to add the yeast without killing it. Just get a teaspoon and sprinkle yeast over the top of the pan, stir it in then cover the pan with the lid and leave it somewhere of moderate temperature to ferment for a while. I generally give it about 24 hours. [This is the stage I am up to at the moment. To see pictures of the rest of the process and to find out how this tasted, come back in two days time on Thirsty Thursday!]
To bottle, I use 3 empty 2-litre plastic bottles. To save me having to rinse them I mostly use ones that have held ‘Value’ fizzy water (which I’ve previously enjoyed), but you can also ask around and see if people get through a lot of lemonade or other pop and will save their bottles for you.
Have a clean plate nearby to put the sieve and dipping equipment on while you’re pouring into bottles.
Place your sieve on top of the measuring jug. Use a mug, ladle or other measuring jug if you have one to scoop some ginger beer out of the saucepan, and pour it through the sieve. Pour the strained liquid into one of your plastic bottles (on the draining board or over the sink is the best place to do this). Continue until your bottle is 3/4 full, then squeeze the air out of the bottle and screw on the cap. Fill the other 2 bottles in the same way.
Leave the bottles of ginger beer at moderate room temperature for 12 hours or so and see them fill out as the yeast goes to work. When they have expanded to their original shape again you can either put them in the fridge now to greatly slow down the fermentation, meaning the drink will be fizzy but low alcohol, or you can loosen the cap a little and squeeze the gas out, so the yeast can continue to ferment at room temperature. Don’t continue to do this past 3-4 days though, as it’s not such a pleasant drink at higher alcohol content. The bottles are fairly robust, but avoid letting them build up too much pressure, as I have read of them occasionally not holding out, with predictably messy consequences.