Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ginger Beer Magic

As the self-proclaimed "Ginger Gypsy", one might suspect that I have a special place in my heart and my palate for ginger root. Well, I do...and especially for ginger beer (the spicier, the better!) 

Unfortunately, finding ginger beer is not an easy task here in Spain, and I've mainly had to rely on friends and family to ship it or smuggle it over from abroad. However, I've learned that with a little work you can skip the bottled stuff and make it yourself. Your homemade soda can also be used to create tempting cocktail combinations that are perfect for any gathering of ginger-lovers! (see below) 

First of all, let me clarify what Ginger Beer is...  

The Origin
It all started with brewed ginger beer, which is said to have originated in Yorkshire, England in the late 1700s. Eventually the popularity spread across the pond and Americans were also enjoying this refreshing beverage. Ginger beer was brewed with ginger, sugar, water, lemon juice and a bacteria/yeast mix called "ginger beer plant" (GBP) -- the final product orginally had an alcohol content of up to 11 percent.
So, what's the difference between Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale?
The main difference between ginger beer and ginger ale is that ginger beer is brewed (fermented) but ginger ale is just carbonated water that's been flavored with ginger.  Ginger ale is said to have been first invented in Ireland in 1851, but modern-style ginger ale was created many years later, in  1907, by a Canadian, and it eventually became Canada Dry. Today's brewed ginger beers are categorized as non-alcoholic drinks because their alcohol content is less than 0.5 %. 
Since ginger beers are naturally fermented, they have less carbonation and often develop a beer-like head when poured into a glass. However, the difference isn't so clear cut anymore. Many small soda companies naturally brew both their ginger beers and ginger ales. And some large-scale soda companies that still produce ginger beer actually make it by adding a stronger ginger flavor to carbonated water. So really the difference becomes merely one of taste.

Try this recipe for Authentic Ginger Beer:        
     Old Fashioned Ginger Beer Recipe

Ginger Beer Concentrate
Mix this fiery ginger beer concentrate with soda water to make a homemade non-alcoholic ginger beer. Adjust the amounts of sweetener, soda water and lime to suit your taste. Preserve leftover concentrate by freezing it in ice cube trays.
  • 1 1/4 pounds fresh ginger, roughly peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups filtered water, divided
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 4 to 5 limes), plus more as garnish
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of agave nectar, honey or pure cane sugar syrup (to taste)
  • soda water
  1. In a blender or food processor, liquefy the ginger and 1 cup of water for 3 minutes. Strain the juice into a large bowl or pitcher. Transfer the ginger pulp back to to the blender or food processor, add another 1/2 cup of water, and liquefy again. Strain again, adding the liquid to the first batch. Again transfer the pulp along with another 1/2 cup water, liquefy again, and add to the liquid. Press on the solids with the back of a big spoon to squeeze out as much of the juice as you can.
  2. Discard the mashed solids and rinse out your blender/food processor. Pour the liquid into the blender/food processor. Pour in the lime juice and 1 1/4 cups sweetener. Blend for 30 seconds. To taste for sweetness, pour about 2 ounces ginger concentrate into a glass along with about 8 ounces of soda water. If it’s not sweet enough, blend in more sweetener until it reaches your preferred sweetness.
  3. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks. Shake before serving. Add a squeeze of fresh lime to your ginger beer before serving. Fresh mint and/or candied ginger make nice garnishes as well.

Cocktails Calling?

The ginger beer soda recipe above, or the bottled stuff, can be mixed with a variety of ingredients to create new and festive taste sensations. Try it with dark rum  for the Carribean flair of Dark 'N' Stormy. Add it to vodka for a Moscow Mule or gin for a Foghorn .

However, I've recently discovered my favorite cocktail, which I stumbled upon by accident. I call it the "Ginger Daniels".

Ginger Daniels

- fill glass with ice 
- add a generous shot of Jack Daniels whiskey
- natural lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
- top with ginger beer
- add a couple of fresh basil leaves (slighty bruised) as garnish 

For the true ginger beer connoiseur...
Best Ginger Beers of 2013

                                                        May ginger beer bring you lots of autumn cheer!!

No comments:

Post a Comment