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Making a Probiotic Ginger Beer

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Incorporate probiotic bacterial into ginger-based beverages!  Yum.  

Some simple ingredients, a few items from around the kitchen and within 2-3 weeks you can have your own DIY probiotic ginger beer.
 
 
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Step 1: Starting the Ginger Bug

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Place 1 cup of filtered water in a pint jar
Add 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger root (skin and all)
Stir in 2 teaspoons of evaporated cane sugar, tighten lid and shake.  

Cover* and Store in a warm place, add 2 teaspoons of cane sugar and ginger root each day.  In 2-7 days, when it starts bubbling, it is active and ready for the next step.  

Use right away for best results.

* I use a coffee filter and rubber-band to cover the pint jar.

Step 2: Making the Ginger Beer

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Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil
Add about 2 inches of ginger root, grated, for a mild flavor (up to 6 inches of ginger for a more intense flavor)
Add 1-1/2 cups of sugar.
Boil the mixture for about 15 minutes.  
Let mixture come to room temperature
When cool strain the ginger out.

Add the juice of two lemons

Add the strained ginger bug

And  now add enough water to make a 1 gallon.  - Ginger beer plant does not tolerate chlorinated water.  Tap water left out overnight or mineral water should be fine. 
 

Step 3: Bottle your Ginger Beer

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When bottling use sealable bottles.  Screw-top recycled plastic bottles, rubber gasket  style or gallon jug jars can be used.

Transfer from mason jar to sealable bottle using a funnel.  Leave to ferment in a warm place for about two weeks

Refrigerate before opening.  Carbonation. The force is strong.
cantharis1 month ago

I recently made this ginger beer - and it was brilliant! Flavour, colour, smell, fizz - all like the stuff I had as a kid.

And I bottled it in screw-top glass beer bottles - with plenty of headspace (Boyle´s Law !!!). I relieved the pressure every couple of days, refrigerated after about 10 days, and have had no problems.

sbastarrd8 months ago
Is there any way to screw this up and make poison?? What if I leave my brew to eat all the sugar and turn booze... Are there any risks to drinking something unsafe??? Personally I don't mind but I would hate to serve it to someone and give them sick lol
jrossetti3 years ago
You allow it to ferment in a sealed container? Where did you find those clear swing-top bottles?
Ikea sells them. Also there is a type of French sparkling lemonade that comes in swingtop bottles.
Some commercial beer comes in swing-top bottles; you can reuse those. I'm also surprised that this step implies all the fermentation is done in a sealed bottle. Is that right? Usually you ferment in something that isn't sealed, then after 2 weeks or so the fermentation stops, so you add a little more sugar and then seal it to make it ferment a bit more to carbonate it.
Step 1 describes the initial culture fermentation, and the rest is the sealed fermentation for carbonation.
Usually there are three stages when I've made Ginger Beer.

#1 is making the bug, as described.
#2 is boiling the water-ginger mixture, adding the lemons, letting it cool and adding the bug, then letting it ferment in a vat of some sort for a week or two.
#3 is transferring the Ginger Beer into individual bottles and letting them sit another week or two to finish up fermentation.

It looks like this recipe combines the last two stages. I don't how it would affect the taste of the brew, but it seems like less work.
Yeah I was just wondering about those particular bottles.  Clear (non-green, non-brown) swing tops aren't exactly common.  
You can buy ceramic swing tops and bottles at most homebrew stores.
Or drink a lot of Grolsch.
I've bought some of those in Ikea
mikeltv12 years ago
Is it okay to use limes instead of lemons? Does it even make a difference?

Also I used a glass gallon jug with a screw top lid. Will it help ferment?
As far as their acid content goes, limes are functionally the same as lemons. It might make a slight difference in taste.
insomniaSAH3 years ago
I've heard that sealing 'active' brewing items - that is, brews where something is still alive and can create carbonation, like some forms of mead brewing - in a tightly sealed container (eg a swingtop) can result in explosions from the pressure that builds up - have you had any issues with this in the past?

Great 'ible, I look forward to trying this :)
Leave plenty of space in the bottle for the air/pressure build-up and there should not be a problem - I have filled my bottle too close to the top and had the container burst.That stuff needs somewhere to go.
jjaeger1 AltonB3 years ago
Is that really you Alton Brown?? If so, you are my favorite.
Alas, Alton B's profile says his name is Alton B. Johnson, so not Alton Brown.

No offense intended to Mr. Johnson of course. :)

Alton Brown does have a recipe for Ginger Beer, but he uses Yeast in his.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/ginger-ale-recipe/index.html
Actually, "headspace" (the amount of air at the top of the container) is counterintuitive. The more airspace, the greater the chance of explosions. Not enough airspace will prevent your drink from carbonating. For a twelve ounce bottle, 1 to 1.5 inches of space is about right.

Glass bottles are certainly more dangerous, but also more elegant and allow better flavor. Use heavy antique bottles ("refillables") and use a capper, because they will withstand tremendous pressure before exploding. Do not use twist-offs, jars, jugs, growlers, or anything other glass containers. They explode very easily.
I am familiar with "headspace" and the only time I have had bottles fracture was when there was not enough of it. I have bottled beer in everything from plastic to mason jars, and currently I use grolsch bottles (because they are reusable-not because of fear of fracture). The end product was basically the same regardless of what it was bottled in. To say a glass bottle is "dangerous" is a little melodramatic - if they burst - it is not likley to cause any more harm than a pain in the a.. cleanup. As much as we would like to make beer making a science - it ain't - all your doing is mixing soup on a diffirent level - and using rot to make alcohol. The rest is about how it tastes. :)
Actually, beer making IS a science, but you're right that it can be just a hobby. I appreciate that not everyone wants to get so involved, and I certainly don't want to tell anyone what brewing should be to them. However I do want to explain why and how soda can explode, and why it can be dangerous.

I think you and I have had different experiences because you bottle beer while I do soda. Bottling soda is different in some important ways. Explosions are much more common as soda has much higher potential for carbonation after bottling because of its higher sugar content. Bottling beer in mason jars might work fine (I don't know; I have never done it) but bottling soda in them will cause explosions. For more explanation on this (and for more good soda information in general), I recommend Stephen Cresswell's "Homemade Root Beer, Soda, and Pop". In fact, check any published literature about soda brewing and they all contain warnings about both using thin glass and about too much headspace.

I won't argue the point that beverages taste better from glass than from plastic. They do to me, but if you have no preference, then go on doing what you're doing.

Finally, exploding bottles ARE dangerous. Maybe your explosions have not been violent, but some of mine have. I once wanted to bottle in a growler to save time and bottle caps, and the growler exploded while it was in the fridge when the door was opened. I had used the recommended amount of fermentation time, sugar and headspace. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but there were bits of glass in the next room. Flying glass is dangerous and can cause eye injuries. In fact, read the comment below this from Pattus, who had an exploding bottle of soda destroy a refrigerator. If it can do that, I'd call it dangerous.

Maybe you are a better brewer than I am and have had fewer explosions, but I certainly don't want to be responsible for anyone who reads these threads to be injured.
I have made beer at home before and this seems to be an analogous process. It essentially has two fermentation steps: First in an 'open' container (usually a 1 way valve) to convert sugar to alcohol (letting all the CO2 escape) and then in a closed container (such as the final bottle) to carbonate the beverage.
If the first fermentation consumes most of the sugars (a week or two) and you only add like a tea spoon per bottle, then the container should be capable of handling the secondary fermentation without a problem.
I agree with you 100 percent.
The thing is and many posters have pointed out is the glass container exploding.
Just think if your office as mentioned in one post container explodes and the boss or some one walking by is hit?
Beer making is done most of the time the way you mentioned. First stage you make "wort". Then it is done in a sealed metal container with it totally sterilized. The sugar already in it it the sole source of food for the yeast. Then when the fermentation gets to a point or stops you drain the "mung" sentiment from the bottom; while keeping things clean. This "mung" is the yeast culture or in this case the bacteria culture. Brewers keep this "mung" for future brewing. Then "bottled" and then letting the fermentation to complete. The process is more involved than I mentioned; but for simplicity sakes I just mentioned the two minimum stages.
One post let it ferment with what ever critters are on the Ginger. Not a real good idea since these "critters" ARE NOT YEAST BUT BACTERIA INSTEAD. Since Ginger grows in the ground the bacteria most likely would be Staphylococcus at a minimum.
The first "beer" was mead. Made similarly as this post but it was a sweet mushy mixture like wort. Set to ferment and hope they got it right to get alcohol instead of food poisoning.
There are no known pathogens that can live in the environment you are describing. If you were to ferment meat you might get that result, but the only recipe I know of that uses an animal product to make an alcoholic beverage is fermented Mare's milk from Mongolia.
I've made this similarly in the past, and it might. That is a lot of sugar and they could turn into glass grenades. I kept mine in a box and lost one to pressure.

There are several ways to stopping the microbes from processing more sugar. The best way is to chill it to 34 degrees Fahrenheit (around 1 degree Celsius). That would either drop the microbes out of suspension or stop them from processing the sugar.

I would recommend instead of using a mystery culture to carbonate like in the steps above (and possibly skunk your drink) is to use something more reliable. Two good options are yeast for beer or whey from yogurt. The yeast can create alcohol and the whey will add a tang to the brew.
Using some potassium metabisulfite and potasium sorbate as stabilizing agents may help.
When I was a kid in a small town my parents had a grocery store. One year, one of the locals sold home made ginger beer in glass bottles in our shop. We had a couple of explosions in the shop and one customer had a bottle explode in her fridge and a sliver of glass pierce the refigerant coil. She had to replace the fridge.

It may not look as nice but when I make ginger beer I use the PET plastic bottles, either old softdrink bottles cleaned or ones Ive bought new from the home brew store. They take a lot of pressure and if they do burst are more likely to tear then explode.

If you wanted to gift them in the swing top glass bottles, I guess you could carefully decant it from plastic to glass with a tiny bit of sugar a day or two before.

You are correct!  Yeast takes the sugar molecule, strips oxygen from it, and releases alcohol.  It starts in an aerobic environment, then scrubs the environment of oxygen utilizing the oxygen in the sugar for metabolism.

If carefully controlled the amount of sugar in the sealed container will allow the yeast to produce just the right amount of carbonation.  Too much the pressure goes beyond the breaking point.

I found out the hard way when I tried to keep outside organisms from invading my primary fermentation by screwing the top down and releasing it when I went by.  I didn't have the experience or equipment at the time.  The jug blew up, embedding glass into a solid oak desk, scaring the crap out of the dog who wouldn't come back in for days, and leaving sugar water flavored with sunflower petals all over the floor. 
Ivriniel1 year ago
So am I right in thinking you strained the ginger bug out before pouring the ginger beer into the bottles? Your mason jars appear to have the bug in it, while the final bottles do not.

If so, how long do you need to leave the bug in before straining it out?
I have a (possibly stupid) question. Is this an alcoholic ginger beer, or is it a soft drink?
Because it is being fermented, there will be some alcohol in it. Probably not much.
Editor_adp2 years ago
I just found a couple of swing-top bottles like these at a store called Tuesday Morning. It's a secong-hand store like Ross, TJ Max, etc. that sells miscellaneous stuff other department stores couldn't sell. So the best part is, they were about $2 each. With shipping the same are about $8 ea on Amazon.
Jhmdean2 years ago
Just finished the second batch of this. This stuff is delicious. I like a little lime juice as well to give it a little more kick. Thanks for sharing!
Can you use pure lime juice? Also, is this drink alcoholic or is the "beer" in the name just a monicker? Thank you for your time.
I'm pretty sure its not alcoholic or if it is its incredibly low. I've downed over a liter of the stuff in an hour and never even felt a twinkle. As for the lime juice, I just added straight lime juice to the mixture when I added the lemon juice. We like things with a bit of punch. You can taste the mixture and add it to you liking before bottling (probably before you stick the bug in) but remember it should taste sweeter than you like because some of the sugar will be eaten by the yeast and they pay you with carbonation!
marccase2 years ago
I know this may be a silly question but scanning the comments I didn't find anyone asking this. Is this an alcoholic version of the drink or a non-alcoholic version?
vernors2 years ago
This stuff is great. I'm still perfecting my sterilization process so each bottle/batch has given my different results; however, It tastes great and i like to add some vanilla extract to make it more refreshing.
nrwright3 years ago
Am I missing something? Where are the pro-biotic ingredients?
Wouldn't the yeasty fermentation add to the yeastiness of the gut?
I'm not sure I understand.
The ginger IS a probiotic. The yeast used in fermentation is from the initial ginger bug, there's no additional yeast added.
a probiotic is a bacteria. Generally a lactobacillus or a yeast. The ginger itself isn't a probiotic, but the bacteria ON the ginger is.
I stand corrected. :)
heh, ginger IS very good for you though. I am a bit of a details freak so please excuse me.
Thanks, I was struggling to understand that myself! :-)
Yeah, the yeast is naturally found in the skin of the ginger. Not sure if it actually is yeast or a different bacteria, but the effect is the same.
timbit19852 years ago
The use of lemon is often seen during the initial growth stage of the ginger bug. Natually occuring lactobacillus and wild yeast like an acidic environment. Other beasties do not. Adding lemon helps slow down the other bacteria and fungus that you don't want to grow.
vernors2 years ago
im just starting week 2 of fermenting, all the bottles have something floating on the top. it tastes fine however there is no carbonation. is this the natural bacteria im seeing or is there something wrong?
vernors2 years ago
This is great; I got 2 gallons of this bottled, but i accidentally added the lemon juice before boiling (i boiled the lemon juice with the other stuff instead of adding it when it cooled). Will this affect how it comes out?
Shadowmeph3 years ago
I am wondering something and that is what is the strained ginger bug do you mean that I am to strain out all the Liquid and then add the strained ginger bug "loosely" into the the strained ginger and Lemon mixture? basically just dropping the strained ginger bug ( not in a tea ball of anything like that ) ?
speedhump3 years ago
LEMONS - LEMONS - - - I got my first drunk experience from the good old ginger beer that my sister used to make. She used ground ginger, bakers yeast, sugar and I believe lemon juice. Not sure when the lemons came in to the concoction, but the result was very palatable.
S20090027803 years ago
I will surely try out this probiotic ginger beer and see how it tastes.
karvakalle3 years ago
cool!
Shadowmeph3 years ago
isn't Sugar sugar?
I am going to try this but I am going to use normal sugar :)
Sugar is just that - I have used sugar in beer and wine with good results - seems like the homebrew suppliers have a way getting your money by saying theirs is a little diffirent or special (I think they call that marketing). I do however recommend the fine sugar for botteling / carbonation.
I used to think that, too, but this presentation at the University of California changed my opinion:

http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showid=16717

After the long introduction, he goes into how the human body processes food and in particular, sugars. It turns out that there is high fructose corn syrup is an insidious chemical that, when processed by our body, has devastating effects on our health. Avoid it like the plague that it is.
I meant to say alternatives that do not require me to order from Ireland, England, or drive 100 miles to get from a "supplier" - the brew supply people will sell you all kinds of things that you "MUST" have that in reality you really do not need. That has been my experience ( and at times a costly one).
I agree re: sugar, but what is the alternative when making beer or wine? I guess "honey" for mead...but I like beer :). If you have any suggestions or ideas let me know re: alternatives to sugar. Thanks, Alton B.
Not really. Maple syrup, honey, raw organic cane sugar are just a few natural sweeteners that are real sugars. The so-called "normal" sugars are poisons that are responsible for several diseases and epidemics in the US and around the world including obesity.

I'm sorry, there really wasn't any other way to phrase it and be genuine. :-)

This is a 10 minute presentation: http://bewellmyfriends.blogspot.com/2011/04/dr-oz-on-sugar.html

This one is longer: http://bewellmyfriends.blogspot.com/2011/04/robert-h-lustig-md.html

No matter what you choose to use, stay well!
There is a big difference between the different types of sugar and how microbes and macrobes (IE people) process them. If you used fructose, that would ferment differently then sucrose, which is different then lactose. All are sugars but bacteria and yeast can't process them the same (same with humans too).

If you wanted to sweeten it up without fermentation from yeast, use lactose. If bacteria are in there, specifically ones of the lactobacillus genus, they will add a tang because they can process the lactose.

If you use refined white sugar, off flavors can arise. Microbes process it differently then other sugars.

Honey will be completely different then the above two because it imparts a honey flavor addition to the mix after it's sugars have been processed.

If you want little to no flavor contribution of the sugar (from yeast fermentation), then use corn sugar. This is the sugar of choice for home brewers for bottling for the above reasons. For carbonation at room temperatures, go with 3/4 to 1 cup per 5 gallons of brew.

Use a trusted culture and be aware that different flavors can arise from the sugars you use.
GOOD LORD! This statement about different types of sugar is so true! There is a HUGE difference in the "result" of the fermented juice.

Following are the most significant "results" from using the different sugars. This is according to me, so if you feel different, that is up to you. Not all are by "taste", some are by "drunk feel" and side effects.

Malt sugar: very clean, "unoffensive" malty flavor, with a yellowish color. Not sour. Almost no post-sobriety wooziness. Tastes good up to about 7%, then gets a noticeable "texture" - almost a touch syrupy, which is not always bad, but not always good. Once you sober up, you are good to go, however, which is NOT the case with the other sugars!

Corn sugar: This is the "glucose" corn sugar, NOT the high-fructose corn syrup! Clean, clear beer, but with a bit of apple-ish tang. May leave you a touch nauseas or groggy after the alcoholic high wears off, but very mild.

Fruit sugar (Fructose?) from fruit (grapes, apples, etc and I believe is a fructose blend): This stuff is pretty rough, in the wrong hands. It goes from "tasty juice" to "toilet wine" in a flash. Can have a potent alcoholic high, but also is wracked with nausea and grogginess, which can lead to going "Mel Gibson". My theory is: the charcoal in the oak wine barrels "charcoal filters" whatever byproduct the fermentation makes. Without the charcoal barrel aging, this is a hangover and headache creator. This is just my theory, derived from years of wine tasting, and stand by it. This is also expensive sugar, compared to the other sugars, unless you access to the fruit.

White sugar: Slightly cloudy, and hard to clarify. Not tangy. If not-too-strong (<4% alcohol), tastes really, really pleasant, but higher strength is not-so-clean tasting. The alcohol effect is only half the high - a "pirate drunk on Nyquil" feel comes on along with the alcohol effect, like you are in a cloud, and can stick around for a few HOURS, so it is not necessarily a good thing, or maybe it is! This "drunk pirate" effect can actually be STRONGER than the alcoholic effect. It is like drinking a cheap tequila vs well aged scotch, where this is the cheap tequila. Still, it is MUCH more predictable than fruit sugar.

Brown sugar: Similar to white sugar. Tasty, but use with caution.

Molasses: Similar to white sugar, but very expensive.

High-fructose corn syrup: Similar to fruit juice (fructose). This has a high percentage of fructose, and can really kick you in the head. The result is "clear", but with apple-like tang. Not a benign or easy sugar to ferment.

The combination of "ginger" and "white sugar" make a really fantastic tasting brew. It tastes pleasant, and makes you wish you were sitting by a pool sipping it cold from the fridge. In low concentrations, the drunk pirate effect is minimized, but trying to put down a 6-pack of it would be ill-advised, unless you used maltose as the main fermenting sugar, but then, it tastes like malt. In concentrations over 5%, the "drunken pirate" kicks in hard.
amazing..
marcintosh3 years ago
Just a technical comment and nothing to do with yeast or anything else being commented on.

#1 Nice write up, thank you.

#2 Over the years I have found that freezing the ginger makes it easier to grate, shave or otherwise manipulate.

I hate to think of all the grated knuckles *shiver*.
Celesmeh3 years ago
Has anyone actually made this recipe? im a bit hesitant to try it :O
mlmaynard3 years ago
This sounds very much like a recipe from Sandor Katz "Wild Fermentation". I tried this a few weeks ago and ended up with a white mold growing on top of the starter before the natural yeast took over.

Does anyone have suggestions on cheap sources of yeast rather than relying on what might have been on the root or in the air to start with?

I'll try again when wild grapes are on the vines for a source of yeast. It will be many months before that time rolls around again. Anyone tried baking yeast or perhaps other brewing yeast?
The homebrew "purists" may disagree but I have made a lot of beer and wine, and it worked off just, fine with bakers yeast ($1.29 at the grocery store), it has been my experience that yeast is yeast - those gifts from god that eat bacteria and poop alcohol.
Using a beer or champagne yeast from a homebrew store would be your best bet.
Check out Red Star or Lavlin. There are a multitude of homebrew suppliers that can be found online or locally. The yeast typically cost about $1 for a packet. Not a bad investment to ensure a good final product as known yeast strains are known to have less off flavors if used correctly.
About 55 years ago, 'Ginger Beer Plants' were all the rage around the offices with everyone having a jam jar on their desk.

Recipe was a spoon or two of ground ginger - real stuff was not available then.
Sugar and bakers real yeast. Drop of water and let ferment for a couple of weeks adding sugar each day, I think.

After a couple of weeks pour off the liquid, add water and leave for a week.

The residue was divided. Keep one, give the other to a friend.

I believe that any yeast will do from the 'specials' for bread machines to dried brewers stuff.

We are all getting too far away from the basics with the yeast. IMHO (Hope that isn't too nasty, wouldn't want to be banned!!)
Just a tip: bread yeast leaves a bad aftertaste.
Check out a local home brew store. If none are near you try
http://www.northernbrewer.com or do a search for lalvin yeast on amazon.com Red Star is also another yeast. These yeasts are used in wines and meads but, will work here too. They finish up clean and unlike bread yeast they will not impart that weird flavor. Unless you are looking to make jail house hooch. LOL

frenzy3 years ago
I Love brewed soda, i have to try this
efahrenholz3 years ago
When I made my homebrew alcohol, I was taught to use a balloon over the lid with a few holes poked into it to allow excess gas to escape. It does two things--tells you that you are actually creating the gas from fermentation and relieving the excess pressure so you don't have an explosion on your hands.
jrossetti3 years ago
Or use bottled spring water by the gallon from your grocery store. My tap water is treated with chloramine, which does not evaporate like chlorine does. Whenever I brew mead or beer, I buy the bottled stuff, rather than risk ruining the Good Stuff.
You can also boil the water. This will kill all the microbes and release the gases. After you let it cool you will need to pour half into a clean jug and shake it up and add air (oxygen) back into the water. (pour into your fermentor and repeat with the remaining) Yeast need oxygen to grow when they first start out. They will grow in an environment without oxygen but, to speed up the process and have your yeast be the predominate organisim in your batch. It helps to oxygenate the water as you drove all the gases out during the boil.
a41capt3 years ago
When I brew anything that requires "priming" (adding sugar to the yeast bugs) in order to carbonate, I have taken to force carbonation using CO2 gas and one of the relatively inexpensive devices for this purpose sold on eBay, etc.

This insure two things: First, no more bottle explosions, and second, consistent carbonation without the mung in the bottom of the bottle and the terrible after-tastes associated with accidentally pouring this into your glass.

I have even taken the step up in this process and bought Cornelius kegs to do batch carbonation and I counter-pressure bottle (using a counter-pressure bottle filler of course) thereby allowing me to cap my bottles and seal them to exclude outside microbes and retain their carbonation longer.

Safer storage, more "sparkle" to your carbonated drinks, and better flavor!
tim_n3 years ago
Lemon juice (citric acid) removes the chlorine. No worries there.

I'd look at fermenting in a warm place only for a week, then store in a cool/cold place.

Obviously this is alcoholic btw, just not likely to be very alcoholic.

Plastic bottles are safer than glass ones - give them a squeeze and if they're too solid let a little pressure out.
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