How to make homemade ginger beer, including photos! This simply recipe is lower in sugar than store-bought ginger beer, contains vitamins and probiotics, and is a healthier alternative to most carbonated drinks.
Ginger beer is all the rage right now, and for a very good reason. The sweet and spicy bevvie is tasty by itself, plus adds pep to all sorts of cocktails and mocktails. If you’re anything like me, you could add ginger beer to all of your cocktails from now until doomsday. Most of us think of ginger beer in the context of the Dark n’ Stormy and other cocktails that involve the brew. But didyouknow you can make a stellar ginger beer at home, and not only is it easy, but it’s also great for you?
Because we like to do things in the legit-est of ways, we’re going to put on our DIY cap and learn how to make fermented ginger beer at home. And it’s going to be healthier than the store-bought version, because that’s the way we roll.
There are about a zillion ways to make ginger beer. Most people make a simple syrup using ginger, sugar, and water, and then combine the simple syrup with soda water. While this is the least time consuming way of making ginger beer, and definitely comes out tasting great, we can take it a step farther by fermenting ginger beer into a healthful drink.
All it takes is fresh grated ginger, cream of tartar, lemon juice, baker’s yeast, and water. I like preparing ginger beer in this way because the yeast consumes the sugar as it reproduces, which means that while the finished product tastes sweet, it is actually very low in sugar.
Keep in mind, the recipe I am sharing in this post is the easy version of fermented ginger beer. The authentic version uses a “ginger bug” which is ginger that has fermented in sugar and water to the point that its natural enzymes and probiotics are released. Once a ginger bug is formed, it is then brewed into a batch of ginger brew, which results in a probiotic-rich effervescent drink. This method of making ginger beer takes between 4 and 6 weeks, and is the method I describe in my cookbook, Delicious Probiotic Drinks.
But for those of us who want ginger beer like yesterday, this easy version only takes 3 days from start to finish. It still has health benefits from the yeast, but because it is not fermented for as long as the authentic version, it isn’t as probiotic-rich.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GINGER Root
Ginger is a root, and has been used as a natural remedy for upset stomach and nausea across many civilizations for hundreds of years. It is an anti-inflammatory, and studies show fresh ginger prevents and fights several types of cancer cells including breast, colon, ovarian, prostate, and lung cancer. Ginger is also known for cleansing the body of toxic chemicals, as it is full of antioxidants. When fermented, ginger releases enzymes and probiotics, which help maintain healthy gut microflora.
How to Make Ginger Beer:
- Peel and grate the fresh ginger using a box grater. You want about 1/4 cup of grated ginger.
- Add the cream of tartar (1/2 teaspoon), lemon juice (1/4 cup), and ginger to a large pot.
- Add 4 cups of water, and bring the mixture to a full boil.
- Turn the heat down to medium, add the sugar and stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the rest of the (cold) water to the pot (5 cups) and allow it to cool to around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius). Add the yeast (1 teaspoon), stir well.
- Cover the pot with a kitchen towel and place in a warm, dark part of your house for 3 hours. The mixture should smell gingery and yeasty!
- Using a fine strainer, strain the liquid into a large pitcher to remove all the bits of ginger.
- Pour the brew into a clean 2-liter plastic bottle (empty soda water bottles work perfectly, and you can also use 2 one-liter bottles) but do not fill up the bottles all the way because the fermentation will yield carbon dioxide.
Place the ginger beer in a dark, warm room for 2 to 3 days. One to three times a day, carefully loosen the caps to relieve some of the pressure (without opening the bottles all the way). The drink becomes very pressurized and fizzy, so skipping this step could result in a ginger beer bottle explosion < – true story. Be very careful in this process and do not point the bottles at anyone’s (or your own face).
After your brew is finished fermenting, you can either add fruit, simple syrup, juice, or liquor to it to create a customized treat, or drink it as is. If you choose to bottle the ginger beer in glass bottles, allow the ginger beer to lose much of its fizz prior to bottling, as it will continue to carbonate in the bottles, which could result in them exploding if there is too much pressure.
During fermentation, DO NOT use glass bottles, because the glass can explode under pressure (yes, it builds up that much pressure!), be sure to use plastic bottles with screw tops, as noted in the recipe, so that you can relieve pressure during fermentation. After 24 hours, you will notice yeast colonies on top of the liquid and settled at the bottom. This is normal!
Once the ginger beer has finished fermenting, glass bottles may be used for bottling and storing. You must be very careful when opening the bottles because the beverage will still be very carbonated. Always point glass bottles away from your face or anyone else’s face while opening.
The longer you allow the ginger beer to ferment, the more sugar will be metabolized by the yeast, resulting in a less sweet, drier beverage. If you prefer a sweeter beverage, consider fermenting the ginger beer for one to two days only or simply start with more sugar (about 1-1/4 cups instead of 1 cup) than you need.
While I was writing my cookbook, Delicious Probiotic Drinks, I had a great deal of fun with the ginger beer section – for me the challenge of making authentic ginger beer was even more interesting than brewing the perfect batch of kombucha. Although ginger beer takes the longest to brew out of all the fermented drinks in the book, once it finishes fermenting, it is one of the tastiest and spunkiest probiotic drinks. To try out the super duper authentic version of homemade ginger beer, be sure to get your paws on my book!
Now go forth and ferment you some ginger juice.
I used the following kitchen tools to prepare this recipe:
How to Make Ginger Beer
- 9 cups spring or well water
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar*
- 1/3 cup fresh ginger peeled and grated
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice**
- 1 cup granulated cane sugar***
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast****
You Also Need:
- 1 (2-liter) plastic bottle with screw top . a soda water bottle that has been carefully cleaned works great
- A medium to large sized pot for heating water
Add the cream of tartar, lemon juice and fresh grated ginger to a large pot along with 4 cups of the water. Bring to a full boil.
Turn the heat down to medium, add the sugar and stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.
Add the rest of the (cold) water to the pot and allow it to cool to around 75 degrees F (23 degrees C).
Add the yeast, stir and cover the pot with a kitchen towel.
Place pot in a dark place for 3 hours.
Using a fine strainer, strain the liquid into a pitcher to remove all the bits of ginger.
Pour the brew into one clean 2-liter plastic bottle (or two 1-liter bottles) but do not fill up the bottle all the way because the fermentation will yield carbon dioxide, causing gases to build in the bottle - you will need to give the liquid some room to build the gas.
Place the bottles in a dark, warm room for 2 to 3 days (two days if you want a sweeter ginger beer, and 3 days if you prefer a drier ginger beer).
Once to three times a day, carefully loosen the caps to relieve some of the pressure (without opening the bottles all the way). Be very careful in this process and do not point the bottles at anyone’s (or your own face).
Once the ginger beer has finished brewing, store it in the refrigerator to chill. This will also slow the fermentation process.
Pour in a glass and enjoy as is, or add a splash of rum and lime juice for a Dark n' Stormy. Ginger beer keeps for 10 days - be sure to store in air-tight bottles in your refrigerator.
*You can replace the cream of tarter with 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
**I used a meyer lemon - it only took one for 1/4 cup of juice.
***If you don't do cane sugar, you can use coconut sugar.
****Yup, this is the same yeast you use for baking bread. After your brew is finished fermenting, you can either add fruit, simple syrup, juice, or liquor to it to create a customized treat, or drink it as is. If you choose to bottle the ginger beer in glass bottles, allow the ginger beer to lose much of its fizz prior to bottling, as it will continue to carbonate in the bottles, which could result in them exploding if there is too much pressure.