ginger beer

If you’re a fan of kombucha, you’ll love this fizzy, refreshing ginger beer made with kefir grains. Kefir is a mix of bacteria and yeasts that naturally takes the form of white “grains.” You can buy kefir grains online or look for them at your local health food store. Once you’ve got them in hand, it’s easy to homebrew up a probiotic, soda-like drink that supplements your body’s natural population of disease-fighting bacteria, improves your immune system and may even fight pain. Generations of Turkish shepherds swear by it, but the traditional kefir recipe is more like a thin, sour yogurt. While that’s delicious too, this “water kefir” drink is light, bubbly and refreshingly quaffable.

Being a fermented beverage, this has a small amount of alcohol that increases the longer you let it sit. Drink it within two days and you’ll stay relatively sober, plus avoid any risk of exploding jars.

Ingredients

8-cup glass Mason jar or something similar with a good strong sealing lid
5 clean, sealable bottles — old soda bottles with twist lids work perfectly
6 cups of water — not filtered. Well water or tap water is ideal.
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
About 2 ounces of fresh organic ginger root
1 slice of lemon
1 dry fig or 2 tablespoons of sultanas, sun muscat, raisins or a combination
2/3 to 1-cup of kefir grainsalt.
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.
OPTIONAL: 1 centimeter or 1/2 inch square piece of eggshell from a boiled egg, either used as flakes or coarsely ground to grit. The calcium helps kefir grow, but if you have good fresh grains it shouldn’t be necessary.

Method

Grate the ginger coarsely and muddle it with a small amount of sugar in the bottom of a glass. Press it through a strainer or cheesecloth, letting the juice drip into the jar. Alternatively, you can peel and slice the ginger very thinly and add it directly to the jar.

Add the baking soda, the rest of the sugar, molasses and eggshell to the jar. Mix them well, then add the remaining ingredients.

Seal the jar and let it stand at room temperature for 24 hours, up to 48 hours if you like a stronger-tasting beer. A longer fermentation increases the flavor and fizz, but not the probiotic power.

Strain the liquid into your bottles and seal them. Refrigerate them for one to two days before quaffing.

By the way — a similar mixture to kefir, the “ginger beer plant” does exist and is the traditional probiotic for authentic ginger beer. The problem can be finding the grains. Kefir is easier to come by, which is why I’ve shared this version.

Thanks to Love and Trash for the recipe

image: Ben Sutherland

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