Gingerbeer Anyone?

I ask approximately 100,000 questions in a day. You probably can’t tell because when I’m writing here it’s pretty much impossible to write cohesively in swaths of questions. Really though, buckets of questions. And now I have a couple of things I’ve been wondering about for you people peeking in from out there in the blogging ether.

So at this juncture I offer you a glass: gingerbeer, home made (of course). I’ve got a few things I was wondering about, and if you have some questions too, I’d love to hear them.

How was your Valentine’s day? Did you get to spend some time with a loved one? Or cheekily throw an anti-Valentine’s party? Mister and I played it pretty quiet this year. We just spent some good quality time together, one on one, snacking on bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and snuggling. It wasn’t something out of a romance movie, but it was just right for the day.

To do with recipes: often I read in a list of ingredients a measure of grated cheese, for example 1/4 Cup grated edam. Do you measure a 1/4 Cup of cheese and then grate it, or grate cheese and measure out a quarter cup. It’s a surprisingly different amount of cheese between the two methods. Yes, the nerd is showing through, I did check. Being not that careful of a measurer on a general basis, I suppose it doesn’t apply so terribly much to when I’m cooking, but I’ve been wondering over how other culinarily inclined people go about it.

And now to the gingerbeer: Are any of you beer makers? Or even better, gingerbeer makers? I got this recipe from Morgan Freeman & Friends: Carribean Cooking for a Cause, a cookbook that on first try gave me a rather dismal cake. The gingerbeer, though, I can see myself making it again and again. What tasty goodness! Having never brewed beer or gingerbeer of any sort before, I was just wondering about some of the ingredient ratios. How much yeast goes into a standard batch? I’m thinking of decreasing the sugar in the recipe next time I try it, because it was quite sweet, but I was also contemplating decreasing the yeast because the gingerbeer was quite a bit more bubbly than effervescent. I actually had two of the bottles explode! Decreasing both of these ingredients, though, worries me. Will there be enough going on that it still works out? Is there a ratio guide to these sort of things? I suppose it isn’t that expensive of an undertaking, I could just experiment…

Anyway, that’s what’s going on in my mind at the moment. Any input? Do any of you out there have any questions for me? I’d be happy to oblige your curiosity, you have obliged mine after all.

Gingerbeer

(adapted from Morgan Freeman & Friends: Carribean Cooking for a Cause, Chef Bradley Taylor’s Recipe)
Ingredients

1 pound fresh ginger, peeled (~1 hand)

2 3/4 Cups warm water (35-38° C)

1/8 tsp active dry yeast

2 Cups sugar

12 Cups hot water (48-52° C)

Directions
  • Grate the ginger into a large bowl, using the fine side of the grater. Add 2 Cups of the warm water to the bowl and stir. Allow this tea to steep for about 5 minutes.

  • Stir the mixture again, and then strain out the ginger, catching the tea in another bowl.
  • Collect the ginger pulp in your hands, or a cheesecloth, and squeeze thoroughly so that all the remaining liquid goes into the bowl. The better the squeeze, the stronger the flavor.
  • Stir this and measure out 1 3/4 Cups of the ginger extract. (I had about 4 Cups of extract, I froze what I didn’t use for the next batch!)
  • Combine the yeast with the remaining 3/4 Cup of warm water, stirring just to moisten. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Dissolve the sugar into the hot water completely, and then stir in the ginger extract, followed by the yeast mixture.
  • Using a funnel, transfer the liquid into resealable bottles, I used Grolsch bottles a beer drinking friend loaned me, leaving at least an inch of air space at the top of each bottle.
  • Seal the bottles tightly, and stand them rightside up in a warm dark place for about a week, until effervescent. If you are patient and wait longer, you may run into the explosion issue I had, but the alcohol will develop more.
  • Refrigerate before serving.

Gingerbeer is a pretty feisty beverage, I used a little less of the extract than the original recipe called for, so feel free to use 2 Cups of the extract the original uses. It pairs really well with a salty or spicy meal.

18 thoughts on “Gingerbeer Anyone?

  1. Valentines day at our house wasn’t one of our banner days I made one of the favorite desserts for everyone (molten chocolate cake)

    http://armchairchef-bryan.blogspot.com/2010/02/molten-chocolate-cakes.html

    I changed it some and that change was met with concern then I got all cheffy with my family (by cheffy I mean crabby and unpleasant)

    As for measuring I would grate that Edam into a 1/4 measuring cup until full… but my measuring my not be the best either.

    I am kind of fond of foodie nerds so keep it up

    As for Ginger Beer, I have never made it but yours sound so good that I may start and get back to you in a few weeks.

    Question for you… You talk about a lot of food, savory and sweet, what do you like best?

    • That sounds like quite a tasty dessert. I’ve never made a molten chocolate cake before, but I think you may have inspired me. Savory or sweet, which is best? That’s such a hard one! It’s a pretty close race, but I’ve been known as a snacker, and the majority of the things I like to snack on are savory. That’s not to say I don’t have a sweet tooth though. I like food way too much.

      If you give gingerbeer a try, let me know how it goes!

  2. Ooh, how cool. I’ve never tried this stuff, but have always been tempted to use it in cocktail form (like a Moscow Mule) when the temperature starts rising. So I guess that’s my question for you: do you plan to drink your ginger beer straight, or use it as a mixer in some other, harder drink?

    As for me, Valentine’s Day was spent packing up my apartment (how romantic!). We’re moving to Chicago over the next week—our stuff will be shipped first, then we’ll drive out there next Saturday. It’s exhausting, to be honest!

    • So far, I’ve enjoyed it on its own, but I do have a few cocktail recipes clipped out that I would like to mix it into. Moscow mules sound yummy! Good luck with your move!

    • Chicago is a great place to live! I lived in the Logan Square neighborhood for about a year. Now I live in the suburbs and work in the city. You will love it!

  3. This isn’t so much a question as an answer: KITCHEN SCALE. European cooks have been using weight rather than volume measures for centuries and due (I think, if I remember my high scool physics correctly) to the laws of conservation of mass you get a consistent measurement each time. Good news is you avoid those questions about “How much is a quarter cup of chopped parsley really?” Over the years I’ve weighed out problem ingredients that were listed by volume (1/4 cup edam cheese for example) and annotated my recipes accordingly. If I don’t like the resulting product I can note for next time that it needs fewer or more grams or ounces of the ingredient. The REALLY good news is that there don’t seem to be a whole lot of recipes, even in baking, that are going to stand or fall on whether you grated your cheese finely or coarsely and got more (or less) in the measuring cup than the author intended. As a very willing tester of experimental culinary product (hint, hint) I think the “keep experimenting” approach is perfect–and I bet the Mister does too.

    • I have been thinking I should invest in a kitchen scale. I’m pretty sure Mister will just vote for whichever means more cheese.

  4. The idea to use yeast for a beverage is new to me and I am excited to try it! Sounds wonderful, I make ginger tea all the time, but this is one step further into a really interesting beverage.

    • The blowing up isn’t too scary. For me, the tops of the bottles just popped off with a loud bang. As long as you choose your warm dark place with easy clean up in mind, it’s not too big a deal. I, on the other hand, put them in my Tupperware cupboard, so I had a lot of dishes to wash. :p

  5. Hey there Funky Lady!

    I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the subject of beer and wine lately (the 60L of brewing fluids in the basement needs monitoring you see), and I’ll break down what I’ve learned!

    Yeasts are living organisms with a finicky temper. They need lots of love and attention. First of all, they need to be warm (no less than 15C and no more than 30C, perfect at around 22C), they like a PH of around 5-7. If you feed them too much sugar, you can find that they have died out, leaving you with something that, tastes too sweet, has the wrong kinds of alcohol and tastes awful. If you do not feed them enough sugar, they will get ‘stuck’, and your ginger beer will taste, again, awful.
    With the kind of yeast you are using (active dry bakers yeast), you get Lots more fizz with a little less alcohol, than i do with the wine yeast. I would recommend opening the bottles halfway through if you are getting explosions!! We had to degass at 3 weeks, in order to keep our bottles safe.

    Ask me anytime!

    Cara

      • At the wine making store of course! I have a 19L batch of my favourite gingerbeer going as we speak so next time i make it ill show you!

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