This fizzy and refreshing childhood treat is made by fermenting sugar syrup with a yeast mixture called the ‘ginger beer mother’ or ‘ginger beer plant’. You could make it for the kids but you'll also have trouble keeping the adults away from it.
For the Ginger Beer Mother
1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons ground ginger
For the Sugar Syrup
4 cups sugar
1.5 litres cold water
4.5 litres warm water
1/2 cup strained lemon juice
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For the ginger beer mother, place the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar in a large jar and add the warm water and 1/2 teaspoon ginger. Mix well, cover the jar with a cloth and leave at room temperature for 8 days, mixing in 1/2 teaspoon each of sugar and ginger every day.
For the sugar syrup, put the sugar and cold water in a large saucepan and heat, stirring, just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the warm water and the lemon juice. Stand, if necessary, until just comfortably hand-warm.
Strain the yeast mixture into the syrup, through a sieve lined with a double thickness of muslin, and stir well. Keep the sediment on the muslin for making further batches of ginger beer. Stir the syrup mixture well and pour into clean, sturdy bottles, preferably fitted with clip-on seals, or else with screwtops. Fill the bottles only to the base of the necks, and seal. Leave in a cool, safe place for about five days – in hot weather, the ginger beer will be ready in three or four days.
To make further batches of ginger beer, return half the ginger beer mother left on the muslin to the jar (discard the rest) with 1 teaspoon each of ground ginger and sugar and 1 cup of water (no more yeast is added).
Repeat the process as before, feeding the mother with 1/2 teaspoon each of ginger and sugar daily. After 8 days, mix with the sugar syrup and bottle as before.
Just opened our first bottle of ginger beer from this recipe. I thought that it hadn't carbonised but found out differently when the top came off with a bang and we had a fountain of bubbles. Must work on my bottle opening technique. A mild ginger beer I fed the mother with a full teaspoon of ginger and sugar but next will change the proportions of sugar syrup to ginger mother to make a sharper ginger flavour. Will add a tweak if this works as my plant will be ready to bottle another batch in 4 days. - 13 Nov 2009
so glad to have found this recipe. Iused to make this ginger beer years ago when my children were small and wanted to make it for my grandchildren but had lost the recipe. Now I can make it after all. - 02 Dec 2008