Ginger Beer

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Love your ginger? You’ll need a lot of it–that’s 2 1/2 lbs. pictured above, to make this uber-strong ginger beer. I found it necessary to have plenty of soda water and ice on hand, and I especially liked it with a shot or two of Canadian whiskey added . . . perfect for the hot weather that’s finally arrived here in Seattle.

I’m traditionally not much of soda drinker. I only buy two kinds. My apartment is impossible to cool down even with all the fans going, so I always have a case of Fresca on hand (fun fact: Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the U.S., loved Fresca so much he had a button installed on the desk in the Oval Office which would summon his military aide to bring him the drink), and the occasional 4-bottle case of Reed’s Ginger Brew, a spicy, honeyish gingerbready soda I love, even though it’s a bit pricey. Home-brewing ginger beer was made popular by the British in the mid 1700s, and so I figured if the Brits can do it, then so can I. After nearly killing my blender to make this, the potent result is such that if I make it again, I’ll have a party in the works to share it around, since it doesn’t work for me as a daily soft drink…well, and like I mentioned, I’m not much of a soda drinker. But I do love ginger, and if you do, too . . . then you’ll find this delicious. Let the cocktail hour begin!

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Jamaican Ginger Beer (from jam it, pickle it, cure it by Karen Solomon)

  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh ginger, roughly peeled
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 8 to 10 limes)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups of sugar

In a blender or food processor, liquefy the ginger and 2 cups of  the water for 3 minutes, then strain the juice into a large bowl or pitcher. Transfer the ginger pulp back to to the blender or food processor, add another cup of the water, and liquefy again. Strain again, adding the liquid to the first batch. Again transfer the pulp along with another cup of water, liquefy again, and add to the liquid. Press on the solids as much as possible to squeeze out as much of the juice as you can.

Once the ginger has given up all that it’s got, discard the mashed solids. Add the lime juice and 2 1/2 cups of the sugar. Mix well and taste. Add more sugar, a little at a time, until it reaches your preferred sweetness.

Refrigerate up to 3 weeks. Shake before serving.

Makes about 8 cups.

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p.s. Happy Anniversary, Cookrookery!

A year ago, Chris, Daniel, and I embarked on our separate culinary journeys and brought them together here. While our predilections and processes may differ, I’d say our appetites and passion for food complement each others’ well. I hope all of you, our loyal readers, have picked up some memorable flavors along the way. I raise my glass of ginger beer in toast to another year of great taste!  -Matt

7 comments to Ginger Beer

  • WarPig

    That does sound a little strong. But I, too, like ginger. I have found ginger ale cuts many things we have to take that are nasty (magnesium citrate for certain medical tests) very well.

    I like candied ginger, just to eat, and I use ginger “tea” (actually an infusion) to settle my stomach when I have a cold or something. I have a lady friend who does get motion sickness pretty easily and pretty bad, and she says candied ginger really does work well for motion sickness. Works as well as Dramamine and doesn’t leave her groggy.

    If you remember Robin Leach from “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”, he too, supposedly loved Fresca and used to have 4 footlockers of it carried about with him wherever he went.

    LBJ’s other love was peach ice cream.

  • Is that a request for peach ice cream I’m reading?

    By the way, if you like eating candied ginger, then this should be no problem. In retrospect, I’d probably have used more sugar (or agave nectar). I used less than what the recipe called for, trying to keep the empty calories down, but *cough* it’s still a bit strong…more whiskey, mayhap?

  • MadCalicoJess

    Happy Anniversary! One year can seem like very little but on the internet lasting that long is a milestone.

    I have been seeing this version around the internet lately, most likely due to it’s properties of being refreshing during the summer. I have yet to try it, although I have tried one where you throw ginger, sugar and yeast into a 2 liter bottle and let it set until the bottle has no give. The nice thing being that it has a taste along the lines of Reed’s Ginger Brew, but the best part is if it goes flat you leave it out of the fridge for a bit and it re-carbonates itself!

  • yikes! Mad Scientist Ginger Ale. Sounds fun.

  • A year already? But… that makes me a year older!

    Happy anniversary, guys. Many more!

  • Sara

    I got tired of grating ginger when cooking Indian food, and started buying big jars of “ginger paste” which is liquified ginger (plus some preservatives). Since I have a jar in the fridge already, I might try mixing this up a glass at a time. On-demand homemade ginger beer sounds pretty good. :-)

  • Just made this. It’s great! Although it almost killed my blender too.