Ginger Beer Plant

Ginger beer ready to drink.

I have never been a great fan of ginger ale but I love ginger. My first experience with Ginger Beer was sitting alongside Lake Burly Griffin in Canberra, Australia with my then boyfriend, now husband. I LOVED it. I used to drink the occasional sweet thing back then before my sugar sensitivity went through the roof and I developed hypothyroidism. More on that another day. When I was venturing in to the world of Fermenting I started with three cultures: Milk Kefir, Water Kefir and Ginger Beer (Plant). I loved the control I could have over it and the flavor and the fact that I could culture pretty much ALL the sugar content out of it. Yay for me! This particular strain has only about as much alcohol as water kefir or kombucha, so basically near none. But it is SUPER probiotic so to me that is a boon. I have an abundance, so I am listing some for sale; as available.

If you want to get started culturing beverages, but specifically this one or water kefir you’ll need to get ready.

You will need: 

  • (2) glass or plastic 1-2 liter bottles (non-BPA)
  • Nylon Mesh strainer
  • Wide Mouth & Slim Funnels for pouring into jars/bottles
  • Fresh ginger root
  • Cream of tartar
  • Sugar: my preference is coconut sugar, because I prefer not to feed another living organism something I would not feed myself. That being said, brown sugar of some sort, like Demerara, or white sugar if you want a crisp non-molasses taste will work. Organic only. Otherwise it will kill the plant.
  • Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt
  • 100g ginger root per liter/quart of water. 
  • 1 Tbsp Ginger Beer Plant per 1-2 liters, but more is fine

I weigh my grains in a glass jar using a kitchen scale with a zero/tare button. I use this one from OXO. 1.5 cups/approx 200g brown sugar (I use Demerara, golden caster, coconut sugar or rapadura) with 1 tsp cream of tartar and a piece of ginger root (blanched) the size of your palm in 1.5-2 liters mineral (non chlorinated) water. If your water is not high in minerals then add a bit of pink or Celtic sea salt. 

Basic Process:

Sieve blended ginger mixture through the mesh sieve into your glass jar and add the grains/ginger beer plant (the crazy clear rubbery looking things) back in with the appropriate amount of sugar. Leave 1″ of space at the top or it can explode.  Leave in a cupboard for 3-14 days (depending on temperature it will brew at different times) and pull when it is at your desired level of sweetness. Taste to see how it is and bottle when it is a little sweeter than you would like. Or add a dash of sugar to the bottles. I prefer to culture mine for 10-14 days to make sure there is no sugar left. 

If you would like to buy some ginger beer plant, there is a link to the right.  You will need supplies, so please read through the care and directions before purchasing.

Care & Directions:

If you cannot take care of your plant when it arrives just place it in the fridge. It will be okay for a couple days.

The plant needs new ginger, sugar and non-chlorinated water every 3-14 days. You will need 2 glass jars with plastic or spring/clamp lids, a nylon mesh sieve and an appropriate size funnel. You can place cultures in the fridge to slow them down, up to six months with fresh ingredients.

I use a 5.5” stainless steel funnel, 5.5” nylon mesh strainer from this set, and glass mason jars with plastic lids loosely fitted or a swing top lid. Both need to be covered with cheesecloth to prevent bacteria from getting in.

When you are ready, place the ginger beer plant in a nylon mesh sieve. Aluminum will kill the grains. They are live probiotics. Transfer and weigh the grains in a glass jar and add ginger, sugar and water proportionally.  I blend my ginger in a high powered blender and then pour it through a strainer into the ginger beer plant and sugar mix, but some people just stick the ginger root straight in the jar. You will get more of a ginger ale if you do it that way. Leave the jar loose or open if it’s a clip and cover with cheesecloth or a tea towel and a rubber band.

Store on counter out of direct sunlight for 3-14 days.  Optimal temperature is 22 degrees Celsius/ 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit.  The process will be slower at lower temperatures and faster at higher temp.

Second fermentation (when you strain out the final product and bottle it) is best done in swing top bottles. 750ml is recommended. 500ml is okay, but if you get a fizzy batch you can lose half of it. Anything smaller and the pressure is too high and you’ll find you can lose all your hard work onto the kitchen ceiling… making more work. I used to use a bottle capper but I found it is easier to preserve the ginger beer if the pressure can be let out gradually. The Japanese ginger beer is less fizzy than my old Irish strain, but it propagates more quickly, is fine for children to drink, and it is much easier to get a good batch. It ranges from a sweet ginger beer to something like a ginger sour patch kid if you ferment nearly all the sugar out of it. Taste it along the way and see what you like. For me, I do NOT cope with sugar well so I ferment it until there is NO sugar. About 11-14 days. I check it with a hydrometer. You can also use a brix refractometer to test alcohol levels and sugar content. The sugar content takes some math for both. Or if you’re like me, you can take a sip and see how your body handles it. I have immunity issues so I know almost immediately if there was residual sugar… but as that’s not my preference I use tools.

Think of your plant (and all probiotic organisms you plan to culture) like a beloved pet and you’ll find you fare better in keeping it alive.  It’s needs and wants periodically change and you’ll need to be adaptable.

Message me if you would like some.  I mail grains out on Mondays only to avoid having them stuck in the mail over the weekend.  When you receive them rinse them out in your mesh sieve with non-chlorinated water and either follow the recipe or if you’re not ready put them in a clean glass jar with the appropriate proportions of sugar, non-chlorinated water and a piece of clean sliced ginger, leaving 1-2″ of room at the top to avoid explosions. 

Again, here are the supplies you’ll need:

Grocery Items:

Ginger root (100g per liter/quart of desired finished product)

Organic coconut sugar or sugar of choice (150-200g per liter/quart of finished product)

Himalayan Pink Salt or Celtic Sea Salt, for troubleshooting

Cream of tartar, to smooth out the flavor

Sometimes I add baking soda if I want it more fizzy.

Ginger beer plant (a teaspoon has been known to culture a quart but I recommend a tablespoon per liter)

Equipment:

5.5” stainless steel wide mouth funnel and 5.5″ stainless steel narrow mouth funnel

5.5” nylon mesh strainer or the middle one from this set

Cheesecloth and a rubber band to keep bacteria out of plant

750ml swing top bottles for second fermentation and storing

ONE of these sizes:

1 Quart/32oz/1 Liter Glass Mason

2 Quart/64oz/2 Liter Glass Mason

1 Gallon/128oz/3.79 Liter Glass Jar or 4 Liter Fido Glass Swing Top Jar

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