I have been enticed into making my own Ginger Beer. I first read the recipe on Homemade Trade's blog and followed the recipe around to WellPreserved. Once I aquired the bottles to use for ageing my Beer, I started my Ginger 'bug'. Amazingly it was foamy and bubbly the next morning. I wasn't sure what to do, so I kept feeding it for a couple days and it was happily fizzing the whole time.
My ingredients. I chose to add pears to the mix, as our tree in the backyard has been making them doubletime. I had to use two kinds of sugar to make the 1 1/2 cups needed.
Here is the 'bug' ready for action. This yeasty little guy will make the bubble action happen in my soda.
I decided about this much pears would be good added into the pot with the sugar, whole (rough chopped) ginger root and vanilla bean.
Okay, full disclosure. I am a cook. I am not a scientist. My co-blogger J.K. loves baking for its cups and measures. Recipes are nice, but I prefer to think of them as guidelines. I like to follow it the first time and see how it goes, but I'm liable to mix it up (hence pears and vanilla bean, instead of the lemon juice suggested in the original recipe). However. It disturbed not to know How Long to boil this medley. It roiled along for about 5 or 10 minutes and then I tasted it, decided it was yummy and turned it off. Time was wasting!
In interest of time, I chilled the 'syrup' (see that was my dilemma, how can it be syrup if it's thin? Was it supposed to be thick? If so, how the heck would it yield 4 liters of soda/beer??) the quick way, using ice packs in addition to stirring to help it get to room temperature.
I strained it several times after stirring in the bug using a small strainer lined with cheese cloth. Some commenters on WellPreserved had made me nervous with stories of mold and bad Beer due to food left in the Beer. Sadly this meant much of my vanilla seeds were left in the cloth. Next time I would boil the bean whole with the fruit and then slice it to add the vanilla nuggets before bottling.
Once the final water was added, I gave it a stir and then bottled it. Yay, Ginger Beer! We will see what happens. I didn't want any explosions (even though the bottles are in the basement in a cardboard box.) so I left room for air at the top. I have no idea if that choice will affect the fermentation process. I suppose I should have looked it up. I'll update in a week or so after the first taste. Fingers crossed!