Have you thought about making your own beer and other fizzy beverages?  I had massive success with making ginger beer and my father in law made beer for a short time (but didn’t have the space to store the stuff when he downsized).  The carbon savings in making your own beverages are enormous.  Drinks cartage and bottle wastage are the two greatest scandals of the food industry.  But you can avoid this with care.

Note that to make a pretty good adult lemonade you just add some lemon cordial to the ginger beer.  There is an interesting recipe for fizzy lemonade here but I haven’t tried it.

I have never brewed beer and am not a beer drinker anyway but friends tell me that these sites are their bibles:

You can also pick up brew kits on eBay second hand and many times unused!

Here are 2 ginger beer recipes that can get you started.

Easy Ginger beer #1: (This one doesn’t have the life of the #2 recipe but does use fresh ginger)

  • 8 litres warm water (blood heat as though you are making bread so that you don’t kill the yeast).
  • A few knobs of root ginger about as big as yur hand altogether (Buderim is best and relatively local!) (you need 8 tablespoons of grated ginger)
  • 4 large lemons or 16 small limes
  • 4 cups of sugar (any kind is fine but brown makes a darker product)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried yeast
  • You’ll also need a grater to grate the ginger, and a sterilised funnel for bottling, some crown caps if you are using beer bottles or some self-capping preserving bottles.
  • Bowl
  • Grater
  • Funnel
  • Ladle
  • Caps & capper & hammer
  • Milton to sterilize equipment
  • Old beer bottles stubbies or long neck or swish Grolsch ones that close (you can get these from the back of a boutique pub sometimes or ask them).
  • Cartons that can be closed.
  • Old towels.
  • A large bowl.  The best type is a huge old-fashioned mixing bowl such as those heavy ‘Greens’ ones for making Christmas pud in, but you could do this iin even larger quantities in a plastic rubbish bin (new and sterilized with Milton – reuse the steriliser to clean your bathroom).

Pour the sugar into the bowl. Add the yeast.

Grate the peeled ginger – you can vary this according to your taste.

Squeeze the juice from one lemon and mix with the ginger.  Pour into your bowl.

Add the water to the bottle and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Top the bottles up until there is approximately a 2 cm gap at the top. This gap is to prevent explosions once the yeast gets to work.  You can, at this stage, add 2 raisins which will accelerate the fermentation process.

Seal the bottles.

Leave in a cool, dark place in closed cartons sitting on old towels.  This is because in the fermenting process you may get explosions and the towels will absorb the liquid.  Note that the ginger will keep ants away.  We kept hundreds of bottles under our house for years and the occasional explosions were a bit confronting.  That process stops after a month or two!

This drink should be strained before drinking.

Ginger Beer #2 (Using an ongoing ‘plant’)

  • 25g (1 oz) fresh yeast or 15g (½ oz) of dried yeast
  • 1 kg (2¼ lb) sugar
  • 40ml (8 tsp) ground ginger
  • Juice of 2 lemons or 8 small limes
  • Water
  • Square of muslin or sterilized tea-towel for straining
  • 9 x ½ litre, or 5 x litre beer bottles.
  • Bowls and bottles as above.

The Plant:

••• Put the yeast into a large clean bowl, pour in 275 ml (10 fl oz) tepid, (blood temperature) warm water, stir in 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of ground ginger.

Cover and leave in a warm place for 24 hours, you have just made your starter plant, over the next week you need to ‘feed’ it till it is ready to bottle.

Maintenance (feeding)

Feed the plant with 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, every day for the next 6 days. Make sure to stir and cover bowl (tea towel is fine) each time.

After feeding on day 6, cover the plant and leave it for 24 hours.

Next day, line a sieve with the muslin, strain the contents of the bowl, reserving both the liquid and the sediment.

Place the following in a saucepan and cook over gentle heat: 1 kilo  of sugar) ½ litre of water. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil and boil for 3 minutes.

Cool then pour the syrup into a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice and yeasty ginger tea from the plant. (not the sludge – THAT is your starter plant).

Dilute this liquid with 6 pints of cold water, stir well and pour into sterilised bottles. Seal and store in a dark, cool place for at least one week but we would leave it for a month.  Again, you could put a raisin or two in to speed the process marked.  I think this also makes it mildly alcoholic.  Again, store with care as you may have a few explosions.  We made hundreds of bottles and they lasted for years.  We recently moved and found some way up in the depths of our ‘under house’ storage and opened them but after more than twenty years they were very musty so we just used them as ant repellent and poured them around the foundations of the house.

Next batch.

Divide the saved sediment that you have sieved, then continue with the feeding process  marked.
You now have TWO plants.  You can either give one to a friend, or write out the recipe, save the plants up and take them to a market and sell them when you have accumulated a heap.  That’s what we did!

TIP: You can buy excellent bottles from brew shops if beer bottles are impossible to find.  You will be re-using them so consider this outlay an investment.

I must admit I got mine from the back of the scout hall but I swapped them for wine bottles so technically it wasn’t stealing!!

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