Here is a lovely recipe to make your own sweet and mild Ginger Beer – perfect to enjoy on a scorcher of a day.
5 litres water
4 cups (1 litre) sugar (increase to 5 cups if you like it sweet)
1/2 cup raisins, or 1/4 cup if you add pineapple peel
Note that raisins that still have their seeds will speed up the fermentation
70 to 90 gram fresh ginger root, chopped or finely sliced
1 whole clove
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons (7 to 10 ml) active dry yeast – NOT breadmaker (Surebake) yeast!
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) tartaric acid (wynsteensuur)
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 ml) cream of tartar (kremetart)
Optional: pineapple peel, washed and cut into squares
Boil the water in a large (6 litre) saucepan and add the sugar.
When the sugar has dissolved, add ginger, clove and the raisins and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Allow the large pot to cool down for an hour or two.
Pour half a cup of the cooling sugar-and-ginger water into a bowl. Let it cool down until it is tepid, that is, when you can hold your finger in it for 10 seconds without burning. This is the correct temperature for the yeast, warmer water will kill it.
When tepid, dissolve the active dry yeast in this water and leave to ferment for at least 10 minutes.
When the large pot has cooled down sufficiently so that it is tepid too, add the tartaric acid and cream of tartar and stir well.
Add fermented yeast mixture to large pot.
Leave the ginger beer to ferment until its tastes right: it should still be a little sweet, with a mild ginger taste. If the ginger starts burning the back of your throat, it is definitely time to stop the fermentation, because it will become bitter if you leave it much longer.
The time it will take depends on the weather. On a hot summer night it takes only 12 hours, but it may take 24 hours or more in colder weather.
To stop the fermentation, pour the ginger beer into a wide jug, through a sieve that has been lined with eight to twelve layers of fine muslin (cheese cloth).
Pour the ginger beer into clean bottles, using a funnel.
We use old wine bottles with screw tops, but do not fill the necks of the bottles, allowing some pressure to build up without causing the bottles to explode. You can also use empty plastic fizzy drink bottles.
This recipe and photo is from the Rainbow Cooking website, where you will find a collection of mostly South African recipes, both traditional and modern.