Gingerbeer Anyone?

I ask approximately 100,000 questions in a day. You probably can’t tell because when I’m writing here it’s pretty much impossible to write cohesively in swaths of questions. Really though, buckets of questions. And now I have a couple of things I’ve been wondering about for you people peeking in from out there in the blogging ether.

So at this juncture I offer you a glass: gingerbeer, home made (of course). I’ve got a few things I was wondering about, and if you have some questions too, I’d love to hear them. How was your Valentine’s day? Did you get to spend some time with a loved one? Or cheekily throw an anti-Valentine’s party? Mister and I played it pretty quiet this year. We just spent some good quality time together, one on one, snacking on bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and snuggling. It wasn’t something out of a romance movie, but it was just right for the day. To do with recipes: often I read in a list of ingredients a measure of grated cheese, for example 1/4 Cup grated edam. Do you measure a 1/4 Cup of cheese and then grate it, or grate cheese and measure out a quarter cup. It’s a surprisingly different amount of cheese between the two methods. Yes, the nerd is showing through, I did check. Being not that careful of a measurer on a general basis, I suppose it doesn’t apply so terribly much to when I’m cooking, but I’ve been wondering over how other culinarily inclined people go about it. And now to the gingerbeer: Are any of you beer makers? Or even better, gingerbeer makers? I got this recipe from Morgan Freeman & Friends: Carribean Cooking for a Cause, a cookbook that on first try gave me a rather dismal cake. The gingerbeer, though, I can see myself making it again and again. What tasty goodness! Having never brewed beer or gingerbeer of any sort before, I was just wondering about some of the ingredient ratios. How much yeast goes into a standard batch? I’m thinking of decreasing the sugar in the recipe next time I try it, because it was quite sweet, but I was also contemplating decreasing the yeast because the gingerbeer was quite a bit more bubbly than effervescent. I actually had two of the bottles explode! Decreasing both of these ingredients, though, worries me. Will there be enough going on that it still works out? Is there a ratio guide to these sort of things? I suppose it isn’t that expensive of an undertaking, I could just experiment…

Anyway, that’s what’s going on in my mind at the moment. Any input? Do any of you out there have any questions for me? I’d be happy to oblige your curiosity, you have obliged mine after all.

Gingerbeer

(adapted from Morgan Freeman & Friends: Carribean Cooking for a Cause, Chef Bradley Taylor’s Recipe)
Ingredients

1 pound fresh ginger, peeled (~1 hand) 2 3/4 Cups warm water (35-38° C) 1/8 tsp active dry yeast 2 Cups sugar 12 Cups hot water (48-52° C)

Directions
  • Grate the ginger into a large bowl, using the fine side of the grater. Add 2 Cups of the warm water to the bowl and stir. Allow this tea to steep for about 5 minutes.

    • Stir the mixture again, and then strain out the ginger, catching the tea in another bowl.
    • Collect the ginger pulp in your hands, or a cheesecloth, and squeeze thoroughly so that all the remaining liquid goes into the bowl. The better the squeeze, the stronger the flavor.
    • Stir this and measure out 1 3/4 Cups of the ginger extract. (I had about 4 Cups of extract, I froze what I didn’t use for the next batch!)

  • Combine the yeast with the remaining 3/4 Cup of warm water, stirring just to moisten. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Dissolve the sugar into the hot water completely, and then stir in the ginger extract, followed by the yeast mixture.
  • Using a funnel, transfer the liquid into resealable bottles, I used Grolsch bottles a beer drinking friend loaned me, leaving at least an inch of air space at the top of each bottle.
  • Seal the bottles tightly, and stand them rightside up in a warm dark place for about a week, until effervescent. If you are patient and wait longer, you may run into the explosion issue I had, but the alcohol will develop more.
  • Refrigerate before serving.

Gingerbeer is a pretty feisty beverage, I used a little less of the extract than the original recipe called for, so feel free to use 2 Cups of the extract the original uses. It pairs really well with a salty or spicy meal.

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