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Homemade Ginger Ale, Part 2: Fermentation

It’s been a few days since I posted part 1 about how to make a ginger bug to make homemade ginger beer. If you did it right away then it will probably be nice and bubbly by now thanks to the nice hot weather we’ve been having. If it’s not very active then you may want to continue feeding daily for the full 7 days until there are plenty of bubbles on the surface.

Part 2 is the fermentation. You will need the following:

-1 cup of chopped ginger – To save time I chop this using my food processor until it is in small pieces. You can leave the skin on if it is organic.

-4 litres of unchlorinated water

-2 cups of sugar (I have used organic cane sugar and simple granulated white sugar, both work great!)

-2 tbsp lemon juice

-1 cup of your ginger bug

First, put the chopped ginger in a big pan with 2 litres of the unchlorinated water and bring to a boil.

Once boiling start a timer and boil for 10 minutes.

Take the pan off the hob and add the 2 cups of sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

You need to wait for the mixture to cool. Add the other 2 litres of unchlorinated water to start the process.

You can also transfer to a different pan and/or place the pan in a sink of ice cold water taking care not to get any in the pan.

Once cool add 2 tbsp of lemon juice. (I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if this is necessary or just to taste but I do it anyway!)

You will need a large jar that will hold around 4.5 litres of liquid. This will be your fermentation jar. I use a drinks dispenser container. You could split the mixture into two containers if needed. Pour the mixture from the pan through a sieve into the fermentation jar. Then give your ginger bug a swirl and add one cup of it to your fermentation jar through a sieve. You are now adding something living to your mixture. This is why it is so important that the mixture has cooled. If it has not cooled then it will kill your ginger bug.

Put a lid on your fermentation jar but do not tighten it. It shouldn’t be sealed but the lid will stop anything from getting into the mixture. As with the ginger bug, I like to write the start date on the side so I don't lose track of the days. Leave on the counter top away from direct sunlight for 3-4 days. During this time the mixture will start to ferment with the aid of the ginger bug. It will start to bubble and you will see foam develop on the top and a lovely pale yellow layer which is called the lees. Lees are leftover yeast particles from autolysis, which is the self-destruction of yeast cells by enzymes created from fermentation.

(In the meantime you can then replace the used liquid in your ginger bug with a cup of unchlorinated water, feed it another tsp of ginger and a tsp of sugar and then pop it in your fridge. When it lives in the fridge you can just feed it once a week until you need it again. You can remove the ginger pieces from time to time so that it doesn’t get too full.)

Part 3 will follow soon which is the bottling and finally, the drinking!


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