Wednesday, April 8, 2015

It's Not A Bug

Ginger Beer Bug which is not a bug at all!
Years ago our family would periodically make ginger beer: until we killed the 'bug' or had more ginger beer than we knew what to do with. And then we started hearing from health professionals about how 'bad' sugar is for your health and how much sugar there is in a glass of fizzy drink, and so we stopped making it ... or only made it occasionally as a 'treat'.

I have since learnt that the sugar in ginger beer is not for us but for the 'bug' (or yeast) to feed off. I'm guessing that some of the sugar is still for taste but I feel a little better now about offering my family homemade ginger beer. Especially now when it's being labelled as 'probiotic'. Tastes good and is good for you: an irresistible combination.

Except for one thing. No one seems to be able to decide if it's non-alcoholic or not. Recipes for alcoholic and non-alcoholic ginger beer look exactly the same to me, and the recipe that our family has used for years claims to produce a small amount of alcohol (I've read that some have an alcohol content as high as 11 percent. Eleven percent!) Now I would prefer no alcohol at all, but apart from making a syrup and adding it to soda water or carbonated mineral water (which defeats the purpose of so-called probiotic ginger beer and/or making something from scratch) I can't see how I can ensure that my ginger beer is non-alcoholic.

I've read conflicting advice: use less sugar, a shorter fermenting time, don't add yeast (I don't). Today as an experiment, I decided to use less sugar when mixing up the ginger beer and prior to bottling it so I'll see how that turns out. My last batch didn't even 'fizz' (not a problem for me since I'm not that fond of carbonated drinks anyway and usually only have about a quarter of a glass when we do open a bottle) but I suspect that's because we didn't let it ferment long enough (I tried a new recipe and it said to leave three days which is far shorter than the usual two weeks we've done in the past). Hopefully this batch will work ... and will not be alcoholic ... although how do I tell?

So we wait ... and wait ... and hope the bottles don't explode (which is why I use plastic and not glass despite preferring glass over plastic any day) ...



I'll let you know in two weeks how it turned out.

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