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Who knew that making a soda so delicious was so darn easy?! This office experiment is our most rewarding yet. I mean, Marlin is cool with his aquaponic system and all, but I definitely don’t want to drink fish water. (See "Office Trials: Aquaponic System.") Our ginger beer is so refreshing, surprisingly effervescent and just plain awesome! So you’d like to know how to make it yourself, right? Well, I will gladly share the steps and recipe with you.
It all started with a little ginger bug. I wanted to make the ginger beer from scratch which means I had to make the yeast or “live” part of the soda. In researching the ginger bug I came across an article from 1981 by none other than MOTHER EARTH NEWS about how to create your own! Always a trusty source.
The following recipe and instructions were loosely based around the article, but I made a few changes to make it my own. You can do the same!
Start a Ginger Bug
1½ cups filtered water
3 teaspoons finely chopped ginger root
3 teaspoons organic raw sugar
1 wide-mouth quart jar
Cheesecloth or coffee filter
Starting your ginger bug is ridiculously easy. Combine filtered water, finely chopped ginger root and organic sugar together in the quart jar. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Place cheesecloth or coffee filter over top of jar and secure with rubber band around mouth of jar. This allows the ginger bug to breathe, but keeps out any unwanted debris or creatures!
Daily, for about 7 to 8 days, add 2 teaspoons sugar and 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger root and stir. You’ll want to agitate the ginger bug twice a day by stirring to be sure it stays activated. I made the mistake of letting it sit for a day or two without any stirring and it went dormant. It can easily be brought back to life with the sugar, ginger and a little agitation.
You’ll know your ginger bug is ready to use when it starts to fizz upon adding ingredients and stirring. It should take 7 to 8 days, but depending on temperature and other variables, it may take a bit longer. Because I let it go dormant, it took our ginger bug about two weeks to be ready for the ginger beer process.
How to Make Ginger Beer
¾ cup organic raw sugar
½ gallon filtered water
½ gallon container
After your ginger bug is all fizzed and ready to go, you’ll need a larger container to store your ginger beer in. In my case, there is a brewery located conveniently down the road from the office so I bought a growler to make my ginger beer in. It is a glass container and I wouldn’t use any other material for fear of leaching, but you must be very, very careful with glass. When the pressure of the beer builds up it creates perfect conditions for the glass container to blow up! You must release the pressure daily once the beer has been concocted.
To start, strain the ginger bug through the cheesecloth (I found this worked much better as a strainer than a coffee filter) into the container. Be sure to keep the solid parts of your ginger bug! I’ll let you know what to do with it in the following section. Next, juice the three lemons through the cheesecloth to prevent the seeds from going into the mix. Finally add the sugar and fill the rest of the container with filtered water. Be sure to stop about an inch from the top to allow fermenting to occur. Give it a shake, seal the top down tight and put it on the shelf. This should take about 4 to 7 days to be ready!
As I said before, if you use a glass container be sure to release the pressure daily by opening the lid. You don’t want your bottle to bust everywhere. That would be one sticky mess! After 4 days here, we opened the bottle and it fizzed violently like a shaken soda bottle. It was obviously ready for consumption! Once you get this type of reaction from your ginger beer you’ll place it in the refrigerator to stop any fermentation. Once it’s cooled, it is ready to drink!
Back to the Bug
1½ cups filtered water
2 teaspoons organic raw sugar
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger root
To keep your ginger bug alive be sure to keep the solid portion of your ginger bug after straining. Add filtered water, sugar and ginger root back into your quart jar and repeat the steps for keeping the ginger bug. The cycle will keep going as long as you keep your ginger bug active!
To conclude, I had a great time with this process. It really is a fun soda to make and so easy. Every step was done at my desk… It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (trust me, I’m no chemist either!). If I can make it so can you and it takes no time at all. Over the course of the past three weeks I’ve grown oddly attached to my little ginger bug, and I’m sure to stir it twice a day to keep it kickin’. We’ll be making another batch of ginger beer after the holidays. It may become an office staple.
Stay tuned to the blog! We’ll be posting about our homemade (or office-made) apple cider vinegar, aquaponic system and we’ll keep you updated on our hydroponic system!