Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ginger Bug

A couple of bottles of our ginger ale. I love having a worthy purpose for old bottles!

I never thought I'd ever get this excited about a non-alcoholic drink. But guess what folks? I have just made ginger ale!! (or ginger beer, as the recipe I used calls it)

And I'm just going to go on and say it: It's amazing.

It's dry and spicy and zingy. It is reminiscent of that lovely Reed's stuff you spend a fortune on at EarthFare. It was so fizzy that when we Birch and I opened the first bottle this morning it fizzed out like champagne! Very exciting!

I used the recipe from one of my kitchen bibles as follows:

3 inches or more of fresh grated ginger root

2 cups sugar

2 lemons



Make a ginger bug to start the fermentation: Add 2 tsp grated ginger (skin and all) and 2 tsp sugar to 1 cup of water. Stir well and leave in a warm spot covered with a cloth to allow air circulation. Add same amount of ginger and sugar every day or two and stir until the bug starts to bubble (2 days - 1 week

Make the ginger beer anytime after the bug becomes active. Boil 2 quarts water. Add 2-6 inches of grated ginger root (depending on how spicy/gingery you want your drink to be!) and 1-1/2 cups sugar. Boil the mixture for about 15 minutes. Cool.

Strain out ginger and add juice of the lemons and the strained ginger bug. (If you want, you can keep a bit of the ginger bug to jumpstart future batches. Simply replenish with water ginger and sugar.) Add enough water to make 1 gallon.

Bottle in resealable bottles. Bail-top beer bottles or soda bottles work well. Leave bottles to ferment in a warm spot for about 2 weeks.

Chill before opening. Remember -- when you open your bottles, have a glass handy for the champagne-like fizz!

So that's it. So easy! And yummy. And seriously...who doesn't love the sound of the words "ginger bug"?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Mad Kitchen Scientist

That's a lot of funky cherries! Notice the brown slush in the bottom of the box. But even such nastiness will not deter the diehard fermenter. Hey...all those cherries on top are Perfectly Good.

I am totally obsessed with fermentation. At a party at the house of some friends a little more than a year ago, I picked up the book "Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Food" by Sandor Ellix Katz. Check him out here. I haven't looked back since.

Using this book and various resources on the internet, as well as the book "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon , I have made my own kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, carrot-ginger pickles, goat cheese, vinegar, hard cider and ginger ale. The ginger ale is still brewing, but all the other things have been shockingly successful. Well...except for that one terrifying batch of vinegar. But that's for another post.

I have a clandestine source (as in, if I tell you I'll have to kill you) of mass quantities of random organic produce and fruits. It's not a regular supply, so I have to be prepared when a windfall arrives to start fermenting.

Last night on the summer solstice, soon after I had gotten the little one down to sleep, I was just getting ready to do some reading or crochet, when I received a sudden windfall of past-their-prime organic cherries at my door step. About 25 lbs of them! It wasn't pretty folks. These cherries needed to be dealt with immediately!

I dropped my plans for a peaceful evening and immediately went to work sorting, cleaning and then mashing them up for a nice solstice wine. Well, I hope it's nice anyway. I think part of the fun of fermentation is that it's always a gamble of sorts.

Cherries all mashed up and ready to become solstice wine. Too bad it will be almost a year before it's ready to drink.