First of all, let's be clear. This isn't really my recipe. Most of it I copied out from an old magazine, which I then lost. Did a few searches on the internet, found similar recipes and fiddled them to make it similar to what I had used before.
I will take credit for the grated ginger though. All the other recipes used dried powdered ginger. I buy a large amount of ginger and grate it all in one hit. Actually I now just chop it up in my thermomix, but that's another post. I then lay it out in layers (on baking trays covered in baking paper) and the freeze. You can then break it up and put it in a ziplock bag in the freezer for later use.
First step is to make the plant. Take:
- 8 sultanas
- 1 tsp citric acid (or juice of 2 lemons if you have them)
- 2 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 cups water
Feed the plant for 7 days by adding 1 tbsp of sugar and another 2 tbsp grated ginger each day and stirring well.
At the end of the week:
- In a clean 10L plastic bucket dissolve 4 cups sugar in a kettle full of boiling water (We often just add 2 cups of sugar for a lower-calorie version. Tastes much nicer with 4, but still drinkable with only 2).
- Add 2 tsp citric acid (or juice of 4 lemons)
- Strain the plant through a fine cloth into the syrup. (If you are using lemons, you could also juice through this cloth to avoid lemon seeds). Squeeze the plant dry. Reserve half the plant (see below) and throw the rest away.
- Top bucket up with cold water.
- Pour into PET bottles and seal. If you are game enough you could use proper glass beer bottles but beware, this ginger beer is fizzy.
I have read that it is important to release the pressure from the bottles every couple of days by quickly opening and closing the lids. I did that for quite some time until I couldn't be bothered, and nothing bad has ever happened (at least not while I have just been using plastic bottles).
To keep plant alive, put the reserved half of the plant back into the jar with additional water. Feed as before for another week before using again.
NB: Apparently the more times the plant is used, the more alcohol will be in the final product. Early batches shouldn't have more than a token amount of alcohol. I have usually replaced my plant every eight weeks.