Tuesday, 1 April 2014

best ever homemade ginger beer recipe

OK I might be just a little bit biased when I call this recipe the best ever. But this drink takes me straight back to my childhood. There wouldn't be a Christmas go by that we wouldn't have some of this on the brew. The excitement over the fizz when you popped open a bottle. This drink is a celebration in itself.

The recipe was passed down from my Nana to my Mum and then from my Mum to me. It has a special place in my heart. And I'm not lying when I say it's delicious. It'll knock your socks off. Seriously.

I'll also never forget the sound of ginger beer bottles exploding in the fireplace in the middle of the night. Best to use plastic bottles and store these in the shed while they ferment OK? Wouldn't want to be reponsible for any bombs exploding at your house.

So to make this, you'll first need to make what's known as a Ginger Beer Plant. It's not green and it doesn't have leaves, but it is a bubbling thing that you'll need to feed each day. Warm weather is best when making this type of ginger beer.

Making Homemade Ginger Beer from a Ginger Beer Plant

To make the plant you'll need:

- 10 sultanas (try and find good quality organic Australian grown ones if you can)
- the juice of 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon of lemon pulp
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 cups cold water (I use rain water. If you're using tap water make sure it's filtered)

Here's what I do:

Mix all ingredients into a very clean jar that can be closed tight. A screw top jar works well. I use a big fowlers jar and close it with a rubber seal and clip. You are trying to collect the yeast from the sultana skin and not unknown yeasts from the air, so this part is important.

Leave this mix in the jar for a few days, until you can see it start to ferment. What you are looking for is little bubbles starting to form, or a slight foam on top or the sultanas might start to float. This works faster when the weather is warmer.

Then add 2 teaspoons of ground ginger and 4 teaspoons of sugar to your plant, every day for a week. Mix well after each addition and replace the lid.

During the week, you should notice your plant starting to bubble away. If it doesn't, your plant isn't alive and you will need to start the process again.

At the end of 1 week you can start making up your ginger beer. Do this by making up 4 cups of sugar dissolved in  4 cups of boiling water and the juice of 4 lemons. Pour into a large pot or super clean bucket with 28 cups of cold water (again make sure your water is always filtered). Strain your ginger beer plant through a muslin cloth, allowing the liquids into your pot. Keep all solids in the muslin cloth and squeeze it dry. Mix the liquid well and pour into your sterilised plastic bottles (you'll need about 10-12 bottles).

Never fill bottles to the top. Always make sure you leave lots of headroom of air, as the fermenting beer produces gas. This headroom will help prevent your bottles from exploding. It's safest to bottle in plastic bottles. I always place my bottles in a esky or box, wrapped in a towel in our shed. It's a very gassy brew, and I don't want anyone with ginger bombs going off in their sheds. At Christmas time, I like to transfer my ginger beer after it has fermented into the old Grolsch bottles. It's a little bit festive. Fermenting ginger beer in glass is dangerous though. Those childhood memories of exploding bottles will never leave me. It's the stuff nightmares are made of.

The bottles need to be kept in the shed for a week or two to ferment, before being popped open. You can try a bottle at a week, if it's not fizzy, leave it to keep fermenting. The warmer the weather, the faster it will ferment.

Now you can take your plant (that is in the muslin cloth), halve it and put half back into your jar with 2 cups cold water, 2 teaspoons ground ginger and 4 teaspoons sugar and stir it well, to begin the process again. Feed the plant again for a week and repeat the process. The other half of the plant you can throw out, give away or start a second plant growing for more ginger beer. It's up to you.

I always find the flavour of the ginger beer and the fizz factor increases with the age of the plant. So if your first batch of ginger beer doesn't fizz up as much as you'd like, try again with an older plant. Summertime plants usually make the best ginger beer because of the warmth.

Good luck and don't forget to keep an eye on your bottles! 

A fermenting plant. It's not pretty, but this is how it should look!


  1. Now this sounds awesome!!!! I bet it tastes yummy! I have never had this before! I would love to give this a go!! Happy day to you friend! Nicole xoxo

    1. Oh I'd love to know if you ever make it! We love it :)

  2. This looks fantastic. My husband brews his own beer and bottles it in the old Grolsch bottles. Maybe I should make him make me some ginger beer!

    1. You should! It's yum :) My husband loves it!

  3. Wow! Your Nana made way cooler things than mine. I really want to try this. Thanks for sharing the process.

    1. oh please let me know if you do try it! It's yummy :)

  4. Sounds wonderful!!!! I would love to try to make some or try someone elses.

  5. Thank you for sharing something so close to you heart with us, it's a very special gift that you have passed on.

    I love ginger beer and the thought of making it and having it ready for Christmas makes me smile (a little present for me!!!). I'm going to give it a try. I have lots and lots of plastic bottles due to the home brewing that goes on here but because we now use a keg system those bottles are free to be used for other things. Woohoo.

    I love the Grolsch bottles they look great.

    I'd have been terrified of the exploding bottles too!!

    1. It's so great to have at Christmas time! Popping them open always feels like a little present- we always got so excited (more excited about the ginger beer than christmas dinner I think- because we never got soft drinks normally!)

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks Denise. Just having a peek in your kitchen now :)

  7. (I hope this doesn't show up a second time as the first post I made didn't seem to show up.)
    I came across this recipe a couple of weeks ago and decided to give it a go. My first batch is just about finished fermenting, although I've had one bottle out to try every couple of days so I can keep an eye on how the rest of them are going. I'm quite pleased with the results so far and it's nice and refreshing, even though it probably still needs at least a few days before I get stuck into it. My only "issue" with it is that it doesn't seem all that gingery, as I like my ginger beer with plenty of flavour and a little bite. This may be due to the fact that I used fresh ginger and not ground, and maybe I didn't use enough in the plant. My ginger plant is currently on its second run, and I may halve the amount of water and sugar used for bottling but still use the whole plant. This will result in half the batch, but should be much stronger I think. Overall I'm quite happy with it, and I'll let you know how my half-batch goes.

    Thanks :)

    1. Thanks so much for your message Len. Glad to hear you enjoyed making the ginger beer. Ground ginger will give a much stronger flavour than fresh, which is probably why your flavour isn't as strong. Perhaps give the dried ground ginger a go and see what you think :) Good luck with your half batch (it will have more yeast which could affect the way it brews, so I'd keep an eye on it just in case!) I'd hate for it to explode on you!

    2. Haha yeah that's one thing I was concerned about. I buy the plastic home-brew PET bottles for my beer brewing, and they can handle a fair amount of pressure anyway, so we'll see :)

    3. Just for an update, after a week of waiting for my half-batch to brew, it's finally ready to test. Upon opening it does smell slightly yeastier than the first batch (which was to be expected), but it definitely has a bit more of a ginger kick to it and is still very nice. I'll probably have a go with the ground ginger soon as well, but I'm quite happy with the fresh ginger so far, and I don't mind having two plants on the go to make a full batch. Thanks again!


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