This Homemade Ginger Beer Is What You’ll Be Drinking All Summer Long
Get your fermentation on with this ginger beer recipe from Alexandra Daum's new book, Occasionally Eggs.
A ginger bug is like a sourdough starter. It’s fed daily, and using a little kick-starts the fermentation process for the beer. Homemade ginger beer is spicy and not too sweet, especially this version, sweetened largely with apple juice. I’ve tried with honey but it doesn’t produce consistent results. If you like carbonated drinks, this is like a healthier soda pop and great to add to a number of drinks and cocktails, like the floats on page 56. Ginger beer is probably the easiest thing to ferment at home.
Ginger beer and bug
Makes 2 pints (1 litre)
10 minutes prep time, 15 minutes cooking time, 5 days (ginger bug) plus 3 to 10 days (ginger beer) fermenting time
Ginger Bug, for Each Feeding
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon cane sugar
- 3 teaspoons water
- 3 cups (750 ml) water
- 1 large piece ginger (about 6 inches / 15 cm), sliced
- ¼ cup (60 ml) ginger bug
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup (250 ml) apple juice
- To make the ginger bug, add the ginger, sugar, and water to a jam jar or container—the 8-ounce (250 ml) Ball jars are ideal—and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cover with a thin cloth and secure to keep any insects out.
- Feed your bug the same amounts of ginger, sugar, and water on a daily basis, and you should see strong bubbling action after about 5 days. Once it’s very bubbly, it’s ready to use for the ginger beer. Continue to feed daily if you want to make a batch of ginger beer about once a week. If you plan on making ginger beer less frequently, refrigerate the bug until you want to use it, then feed once and leave it on the counter to use the next day (see note).
- Sterilize a 2-pint (1 litre) bottle with a flip-top. You can use boiling water or run it through a dishwasher cycle.
- To make the ginger beer, add the water and ginger to a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it smells strongly of ginger and is pale yellow. Remove from the heat and cool, with the lid on, until room temperature.
- Pour the ginger tea into a large non-metal bowl with a spout or any other non-metal bowl. Pour the ginger bug through a fine strainer into the tea, add the lemon juice, and gently stir with a wooden spoon.
- Pour the apple juice into the clean bottle, then top with the ginger tea mixture. Seal and set in a dark place for 3 to 10 days (see note). The timing is a wide range because temperature will play a large role. Pop (or burp) the bottle once a day to release any pressure buildup. After the ginger beer is very fizzy, the bottle is ready to refrigerate and drink. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
A ginger bug can stay dormant in the refrigerator for months. The longest I’ve kept it is about 4 months; I then fed it once and it was back in action the next day. If you want to keep it for a while without using, cover it with a lid or something non-permeable.
If your house is very hot, try to find a cool place for the ginger beer when it’s fermenting. The summer I wrote this book, I had a few bottles on the counter and one exploded after less than 2 days, even though I had burped it earlier that day. It was a record-breaking summer for heat, over 105°F (40°C), and as I mentioned before, Dutch houses are not built for heat! I’ve read that some people store their bottles in bins so that any explosions don’t hurt anyone nearby.
Excerpted from Occasionally Eggs: Simple Vegetarian Recipes for Every Season by Alexandra Daum. Copyright © 2021 Alexandra Daum. Photography by Alexandra Daum. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved