Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gingery Goodness

I was bored this weekend (well, bored from homework...) so I decided to make ginger beer.  For those of you of said to yourselves, "is that the same thing as ginger ale?", no, it's not.  It's BETTER.  (Although some use the terms interchangeably, I think there's a distinction.)  Ginger beer actually tastes like ginger, and has the spicy bite that all ginger flavored things should have.  Now, I realize that I am a little biased when it comes to ginger because I love it so much.  Whenever I make myself ginger tea, I put so much ginger in it, it burns.  I even put cayenne pepper in it if I'm in the mood for two kinds of burn.  mmmm...

Ok, back to ginger beer.  I started to search for an easy make it yourself recipe and I came across a familiar site.  This one!  Yep, it's Dr. Fankhauser, my cheese friend!  I love this guy.  I bet he's really cool, like Clancy.  He explains things so well and makes the most complicated tasks seem easy.  Once I found this website, I was finished searching so I started gratin' my ginger.

I put a gallon of water and a cup and a half of white sugar to boil in my stainless steel pot I bought at Goodwill for 10 bucks.  I think I ended up using about 1/2 cup of grated ginger... I think.  I started with a piece of ginger the size of maybe my palm, but kept adding more and tasting it until I felt there was enough bite.  I also added a couple tablespoons of lemon juice and let it get to a boil.  Then I turned the burner off and let it cool for a couple hours.  Once it cooled down to the point where it was just pleasantly warm, I added 1/2 tsp. of regular baker's yeast that had proofed in a bit of warm water for 10 minutes.  Then I poured the whole mixture into a gallon jug that I found at Goodwill for a buck.  I put some cheese cloth over the opening to catch all the pulp.  Make sure to squeeze out all the juice form the pulp because that's where a lot of the flavor is.  Then I just placed the cap on the jug to make sure nothing got in.  (Don't screw it down, there needs to be room for gas to escape.)  At this point I let it sit overnight at room temp so that the yeast could do its job. 

The next morning, there were bubbles on the walls of the jug (tell-tale signs of happy yeasties feasting on sugar,) and it was ready to bottle.  There was some stuff that had settled on the bottom so I mixed it up a bit.  As for the bottles, I just reused cleaned water bottles that I got from a certain friend who cannot seem to break the habit of buying bottled water.  (Thanks for the bottles! :D)   I filled them up to about an inch from the top, squeezed the air out so the liquid came up to the tip top and screwed the lids on.  I ended up with eight 16oz water bottles filled. 

Then it was waiting time again.  They sat on my dining table for the rest of the day, and spent the hours being harassed by me as I squeeze-checked them every time I walked by.  After several hours, the yeast was clearly working because the air I had initially kept out was replaced and the bottles were feeling pretty bloated.  I opened them several times throughout the day to release the pressure so they wouldn't explode.  I don't think I was supposed to do that, but the bottles weren't that sturdy and I didn't feel like dealing with sugary ginger explosions in my kitchen.

At the end of the day, I tossed them into my 'fridge.  I think they're still fermenting a tiny bit, but cooling them down pretty much stops the process.  And that's it, we've been enjoying them ever since.  Shawn has an addiction to sugary drinks so he loves them, and I love them because they are bottled in used bottles and are probably way better for him than the regular juice he buys.  Oh, and they're delicious.
This bottle of ginger beer is made much more interesting by the presence of Nikolai.


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