Ginger beer is a Caribbean style spicy-soft drink prepared using a ginger starter of grated ginger, water, sugar and wild yeasts from the air. Ginger root has natural yeasts on the skin which feed on the sugars, creating a low-calorie drink in the end of fermentation. This sugar-feeding process can can build up a lot of carbonation, so bottling in food-safe plastic bottles is best advised (Why? See our blog all about carbonation). With plastic, one can feel the pressure building up, and be aware to be careful opening the bottle. It’s alive – pro-biotic. Minerals and vitamins are released in the fermentation process and creates a healthy drink full of probiotics that are great for for digestion, drink mixes and general enjoyment. Letting your ginger soda ferment longer and in a sealed container means the gradual build-up of not only carbonation, but also alcohol which you may desire or avoid.
This recipe is very diverse and one can add many different spices and quantities to find the level of spice that fits individually. Cardamom is a favourite of mine. Cloves. Anise. Chilli. All spice…etc.
YOU WILL NEED
– grater / knife
– jar for the starter
– cloth and elastic band for the starter
– mortar and pestle
– pot to boil the ginger-spice flavour
– sieve to filter the spices from your finished drink
– plastic bottle to store your soda
To make the soda starter: (Want a visual? check out the webinar on how to get that fizz)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger or turmeric root (including skin)
2 tsp sugar (brown cane sugar, white sugar, palm sugar, it all works)
1 cup water
Basic soda recipe:
2 litres water
3 inches (8 cm) fresh ginger or turmeric root – more for a stronger flavour
4 – 6 crushed cardamom pods
5 black pepper corns
1 dried or fresh spicy chilli pepper
1 ½ cups sugar
lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup soda starter
bottles (use plastic ones if it’s your first batch so you can feel how fizzy it gets by just squeezing the bottle)
Basic Soda starter:
1. Combine and stir ingredients together well.
2. Leave in a warm spot covered with a cloth to allow free movement of air.
3. Stir in the same amount of ginger and sugar every day or two until it begins to bubble (somewhere between 2-7 days).
Tip: The starter likes to be agitated, stirred or shaken often, this helps to capture yeasts and air
1. Bring water to a boil.
2. Grate the ginger or turmeric and add with the sugar to the water. *Add other herbs and spices of your choice*
3. Simmer, covered for 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool and strain into a bottle.
4. Add juice or lime or lemon and half a cup of your active ginger or turmeric starter to the bottle. Seal tightly and allow to ferment for 1-3 days, checking regularly.
**IMPORTANT** This type of soda does accumulate a great deal of carbonation and should be handled with care. Check your bottles often and open the lid to let the fizz out. Be careful if you use glass bottles! Fizzy liquids can cause glass to explode so wrap it with a cloth or use a plastic bottle. When the drink is fizzy the plastic bottle will feel hard.
15 thoughts on “The Original Ginger Beer recipe”
How does ginger retain its natural yeast if it has to be washed? I am a bit confused …..
p.s.: thanks for all your great info!
yeasts are pretty resilient and wouldn’t totally be obliterated from a washing. even natural yeasts on grapes, cabbage and other wild yeasts can withstand a washing. it would be a cooking or boiling that would kill them rather. So dont be afraid to wash your ginger or other veggies before fermenting 🙂
Hi I have made my ginger bug, it looks good. Would it be ok to ferment the soda in plastic bottles then transfer to glass? I’m nervous about explosions. Thanks xx
with ginger beer, as it is very explosive compared to other fermented drinks that too are active (such as kombucha and water kefir), i always ferment mine in food safe hard plastic bottles. i can then feel the pressure of the bottle and not worry about Explosion. the fermentation will only stop once the sugar count is low or its become alcoholic enough that the yeasts present can no longer handle that environment. its okay to ferment this long, but you might not enjoy the taste as much. i put mine also in the fridge and it slows the yeasts down.
Thanks. I’m excited but nervous.
What’s a good ratio of spices to the ginger beer? Like if I wanted to use allspice or cinnamon, how much would you use in a 2 liter batch?
I would say for a two liter batch, depending on your preference for a flavorful drink, id put in a couple cardamom pods, about 5 cloves, three peppercorn, one mini chili… it also depends on how fresh /old your spices are… i often like mine pretty spicy so i boil the spices in the ginger syrup for quite some time. if you come up with some amazing recipe, share it here- im always curious to try something new :D!
What’s the purpose of boiling the water when making the soda? Is this to de-chlorinate the water? If I am using Berlin tap water, can I skip this step?
yes, usually this is to get rid of any chlorine or dirt in the water – but in Berlin the water is great to use directly. i often make the bug and then separately a ginger syrup and combine them to make lots of bubbles 😀 dont boil the starter of course- any temp over 60°C will kill off all the good yeasts we want in there
In your videos you show a small amount of starter in the jar but the starter in your plastic bottles is alot more. Do you keep adding starter batches to the same plastic bottle until the bottle is almost full? And also, how often and how much sugar and ginger do you feed the starter once you put it in the plastic bottle?
Hey Jessica, you are able to expand the starter to as large as you like. start off small, in a jar (aerobic) and once it starts bubbling, go big and capture those bubbles and that living pressure (anaerobic in the bottle). usually i have a full bottle of starter and use that for making more sodas. the rough ingredients would be about 50-70 grams of sugar per 1 liter bottle, one new ‘thumb’ of ginger, and top up with water. i always leave at least 5-10% old starter to help create more new starter. in a warm area it will BOOM and become fully activated! hope this helps 🙂
Once you bottle your active bug, how often do you need to feed it, and do you keep it on the counter, if you plan to make ale regularly?
Once you bottle your active bug, how often do you need to feed it, and do you keep it on the counter, if you plan to make ale regularly? I know at first you feed it every day…ginger, water and sugar…but after its active and bottled, how often do you feed it?
once your bug is bubbling and ready – transfer it into a bottle (plastic to be safe as it will build a lot of pressure) and then let it be and only use it when you need it and feed it again when there is not much in there. sometimes i even leave it along in the bottle for 4 or 5 months as i am not brewing much ginger beer, and then when i am ready to use it, it has held its full power patiently and is ready for me. i use 90% and then feed it with new sugar and water and some ginger.