One of my favorite summer beverages in Jamaican Ginger Beer. It's so refreshing and spicy and sweet! Now that I've learned how to make it at home, it's become my favorite year-round drink!
Ginger is a major staple in my pantry. Since it's used in many of my favorite recipes like curry, thai sesame salads, teriyaki or sweet and sour sauces, I always have some on hand. Not only is ginger root extremely tasty and potent, it promotes gut health and fights inflammation when consumed in a beverage.
Traditionally, Jamaican ginger beer is non-fizzy and sweetened with cane sugar. To make it fizzy you can always mix in seltzer water. Although it is a non-alcoholic drink, its medium fermentation produces small traces of alcohol naturally. Jamaican ginger beer is produced by the natural fermentation process of ginger, lime juice, sugar, and water. So simple!
During the colonial spice trade, ginger was among the most popular spices, along with black pepper. Ginger was originally consumed for its medicinal purposes, such as its aid in digestion, relief from headaches, and anti-inflammatory properties that helped many diseases at the time. It has also been known to soothe sore throats, treat nausea, and improve circulation. I always prepare a hot cup of boiled ginger water with lemon when I'm sick. This strong drink has become a staple beverage of Jamaican and West Indian culture.
How to Prepare Ginger Beer at Home
The below recipe should make 2-3, 20oz bottles of brew:
1-1/2 lbs fresh ginger root
10 cups of hot water
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1-1/2 cup brown sugar or use h0ney! (taste and add more sweetener to your liking)
5 Steps to Preparing Ginger Beer:
1. Blend the water and ginger together in batches.
If you try to blend the entire pound of ginger at once, it will likely distress your blender, so take your time and add in piece by piece. Slice the ginger into pieces and keep the blender running as you slowly add in the ginger. You can make this even easier by leaving the skin on the ginger as you add it to the blender, as it will be strained out at the end of this recipe.
2. Add one heaping tablespoon of cream of tartar.
This will help the fermenting process begin. Pour ginger mix into a big pot or bowl. Let this mixture sit on the counter for at least four hours or overnight.
** I tend to leave my ginger beer to ferment for 4 or more days versus hours. This allows the flavor to get stronger and really amp up the probiotics. You can split your mixture into 2 jars leaving one on the counter top and one in the fridge overnight; or leave one jar on the counter for a few days, shaking daily.
3. Flavor: you can add cloves, cinnamon (ground or sticks), or rosemary.
4. Strain the beer. Use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to separate out the shreds from the liquid ginger beer.
5. Sweetener. Add a half cup of lime juice and your brown sugar sweetener. Mix the ginger beer well so the sugar dissolves and the lime juice is distributed evenly.
Now you can enjoy a refreshing cup of ginger beer with your meal or make your own Dark n' Stormy at home just add rum!
** If brew is too potent for your liking, slowly stir in more water to dilute or pour over ice.
Bottle up your ginger beer and store in the refrigerator to halt the fermenting.
Don't be alarmed if after a few days the yeast formed from the fermentation begins to form at the top of the liquid. Just stir. This lets you know the fermentation is working.
You can even make your brew herb infused by adding rosemary, mint, or basil during Step 3 in the instructions above.