09 July, 2007

Ginger Beer

I've started making my own ginger beer on occasions. It's tasty and fun. I'm using the following recipe that I got from the guardian a month ago.

Make your own ginger beer - Vincent Reid

When my kids have commercially produced carbonated soft drinks, I worry about their teeth. Though my concern is based on sugar levels, there are a host of other ingredients on the label with doubtful-sounding names.

There is one way to ensure you know exactly what goes into your offspring: you can make your own fizzy drink.

In order to make a wonderful ginger beer, free from colouring and additives, you will need a funnel and a clean two-litre plastic bottle with a lid. First, add one cup of sugar to the bottle. Then, according to taste, finely grate 1½ to 2 tablespoons of root ginger and put this into the bottle. Juice a lemon and pour this into the bottle. Now, add ¼ teaspoon of baking yeast and enough water to ¾ fill the bottle. Shake the bottle vigorously until the sugar is dissolved and the ingredients are clearly well combined. Now fill the bottle with water but leave a 4cm gap at the top. If you do not do this, the bottle might explode once the yeast does its work. Finally, seal the bottle tightly and put it somewhere warm for 24-48 hours.

You can test the bottle to see if the fermentation process has occurred by squeezing it. If it is rock hard, then you are finished. Place the bottle in the fridge for a few hours, which will stop the yeast from acting. This also stops a ginger beer fountain when you open the bottle. Bubbles can disturb the sediment upon opening, so it is best to use a tea strainer in order to avoid bits of ginger in your drink.

Yeast is a live ingredient that consumes sugars. In the process it produces carbon dioxide - the bubbles in soft drinks. It is what makes bread rise and creates the alcohol in most alcoholic beverages. There is a trace amount of alcohol in this ginger beer, anywhere from 0.2% to 0.4% in total. But, best of all, it tastes better than anything you can buy in the supermarket.

I might add to these recommendations that it costs something like a third of the price of a bottle of fentimans.

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