Ginger Bug in Action

Today, my friend was delivered her long-craved ginger beer. Yay, me!

The “wild” fermentation still seems rather motionless. The other two continue to eat, drink and be merry. But the two ginger beers I started have made their way to completion. The first to reach completion was the beer-yeast trial, in less than 24 hours. The wine-yeast took over 48, to reach a similar level of carbonation and pressure in the jug. In both cases, that is some definite speed, I think. Based on sampling each, I chose to add an additional 1/2 cup of white sugar to each. Looking back at my older ginger ale/beer without the bug, this was morer consistent with the proportions, though not exact.

My friend got the beer-yeast version this morning, and this evening I put the wine-yeast version in the refrigerator to chill for tomorrow. Thus, not a lot to say about flavor. Looking forward to that, tomorrow!

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Using The Ginger Bug

Today was the day to start making use of the ginger bugs I’ve created. The “wild” ferment is not yet bubbling visibly, so I’m going to give it more time to build strength before using. The other two were ready to go!

I may try some teas or other “soda” types of beverages in the future, but for now, it is ginger beer/ale I am interested in. With that in mind, I washed up two plastic juice containers (previously emptied) and added a liter and a half of distilled water to each. To each I added the juice of one half of a lime and one half of a lemon. I added 1/2 cup of white sugar to each, as well. I cut up a 5-6″ piece of ginger and split it between the two bottles.

Such was the prep work. To one of the bottles I added about a half cup of the strained liquid from the bread-yeast ginger beer. The other received a half cup of the Pasteur Champagne yeast ginger bug. I tightened the lids down and shook to mix things together. Now all that is left to do is wait!

I guess there was a little bit more, though. To replenish the bugs, I added 2 tbsp. of honey, 2 tbsp. chopped ginger and 2 tbsp. of water to each of the ginger bugs that were used for ginger beer.

Where Am I Going To Age Them?!

Now that it is the wee hours of Monday morning, I am looking back at the activities of the weekend.

I finally got around to labeling the peach wine, the blueberry wine, the blueberry melomel, the fig wine and the raspberry cyser on Friday evening. Should have done it quite a bit ago, but just hadn’t. Finally!

On Saturday, after guiltily having forgotten to make a friend ginger ale for almost a year, I decided to get things started. This time, I wanted a starter that I could keep going past a single batch of ginger ale, and as usual, I had a lot of options. So I started three ginger bug trials (proportions based for the most part on this ginger bug recipe). What is the same amongst the trials is I am feeding the critters with local honey, and using distilled water. But the similarities end there.

Ginger Bug Trials 1, 2 and 3, just begun

Ginger Bug Trials 1, 2 and 3, just begun

The first of the trials is a wild fermentation. I started with 2 tbsp. of honey, 2 tbsp. of water, and 2 tbsp. of chopped ginger, and applied no yeast. Yesterday afternoon (the 22nd) I added another 2 tbsp. of chopped ginger, 2 tbsp. of water and 2 tbsp. of honey. I’ll continue this for another 4 days (starting with today, later in the afternoon). After that, hopefully it will be fermenting – as long as the local microbial flora is not a problem. No real activity visible so far. I hear online that local yeast and microbes make for a more “unique” ginger ale/beer. Honestly, I’m more interested in just seeing it work, as I have not had good results so far with wild fermentation. It is the last third of February, maybe not the best of times…

The second trial is based on bread yeast. I used 1 tsp. of bread yeast, with the container saying it is well out of date, but me guessing that there would be no issue in this setting (and I seem right so far). Since I don’t have to wait on the local flora to catch up, I decided to simply use the same quantities all at once. So that meant 12 tbsp. of chopped ginger, 12 tbsp. of the honey (3/4 cup) and 12 tbsp. (3/4 cup) of the water. That is bubbling nicely. I could probably use it now… but will give it some more time working on itself.

The third and final trial is based on Pasteur Champagne wine yeast, and after a day and some, is the most pleasant smelling to me (not that the others smell bad!). As with the bread yeast trial, I started with all ingredients right at the start – and the ingredients are the same: 3/4 cup each honey and water plus 12 tbsp. of chopped ginger. I didn’t prepare the yeast per normal package directions… just added it to the mixture (that is, only 1 tsp. of the packet, about 2/3 of it). No ill effects, as far as I can see. Bubble aggressiveness is about the same as for the bread yeast.

Mid-stream (punny!) bottling the Saturn grape wine

Mid-stream (punny!) bottling the Saturn grape wine

So with that continuing on its own, I got back to bottling this evening. Couple hours later I had another 45 bottles filled. The first fifteen bottles were blackberry wine, the next 15 Mars grape wine and the last 15 Saturn grape wine. Actually, the last Mars grape had to be topped up with just a bit of blackberry and some Saturn grape wine to fill the bottle.

Now, time for some sleep…

 

Ginger Ale, Take 2

Ginger Ale/Beer, Just Started

Ginger Ale/Beer, Just Started

My first effort at ginger ale was a definite success, with Kim especially pleased. It required adding additional club soda each glass, and there was still plenty of ginger flavor to go around. But that was the “cheat” method. Now, it is time to try it the “old-fashioned” way. Little bit of yeast, little bit of time…

But first, I had to check out “ginger beer”. Was there any technical difference? Well. Seems with some, no. But with most, ginger beer is the alcoholic (even if only slightly, as is typical), while ginger ale is not. Seems added to that the fermented tends to be more gingery (which may explain the fact that the recipe for the same quantity uses much less ginger). And “ginger beer” tends to be less carbonated and less sweet (though the recipes I have used both called for equivalent amounts of sugar). Then again, the limited amount of alcohol and carbonation and ginger beer would consume some of that sugar, thus making it less sweet.

This all seems to make sense.

So, I threw 1 cup of sugar in a 2Q jug (sanitized, for the safety of all involved). I added 1/4 tsp. of bread yeast. Hopefully that won’t come off bready. I mixed that up well, and proceeded to grate the ginger until I had about 2 tbsp. of finally grated ginger, both skin and pulp. I added the juice of one lemon to that (removing the seeds). While the recipe did not mention it, there was a noticeable color change, with the ginger-lemon mixture turning a pink/reddish shade, rather than its previous yellow. And you could tell it was the lemon hitting the ginger pulp, as the stuff untouched by the ginger remained yellow. This I mixed with a little water  and then added to the jug (funnel handy). I used some more water to clean out what was left in the ginger-lemon bowl, adding it to the mix. A little bit more water, to about three-quarters full, and then I shook the living daylights out of it. Topped up to about 1 inch from the top, shook once more briefly, and set it out of the way.

And now we wait. All that was finished at around 4PM, so should be pre-dinner either today or tomorrow.

I’d Love Some Ginger Ale!

A friend on facebook asked if anyone liked ginger ale. I’ve always wanted to try making it, and so given a spare moment, thought, “Why not now?”

Not bad for a first time, only took about 30 minutes or so. I have hopes in the future to do a naturally carbonated version (or two), but tonight I cheated and used the syrup method, with club soda. Didn’t pull it off as well as I might have hoped, so I think it is a bit under-carbonated…but we’ll get to that.

I started with a recipe over at wikihow. I’m in no way endorsing the site or any of its ads… And with that out of the way, I did “modify” the recipe. That recipe is really geared around individual glasses, and fairly small ones in my mind. I wanted a solid 2Q worth to share with friends tomorrow morning. That meant calculating out the right portions.

Basically, the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of ginger water : 1/3 cup sugar syrup : 1/2 cup club soda. 2Q is 8 cups, so do the math, and that is multiplying the recipe by 6. So, 3 cups of ginger water, 2 cups of sugar water and 3 cups of club soda. But…but…

If you check out the recipe, it calls for 2 cups of water and 1 cup of peeled and diced ginger. And that is just not going to cut it here. Not to mention that we need 2 cups of sugar syrup, and that is not going to be the end result of 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. So we wing it a bit. Guesstimate. Approximate. I started by throwing 3 cups of water in one pan and 1.5 cups water in another, and setting them on to boil. To the former I added 1.5 cups of peeled and diced ginger. To the later I added 1.5 cups of sugar. And then we wait for a boil to begin.

Boil on, I let the ginger boil at a slightly lower heat for 5 minutes, and then steep it for 20 off the heat. The syrup, I just take it off once the sugar is completely dissolved. Once it was cooled a bit I added it to the 2Q jug sitting waiting, with a small dribble of lemon juice. Once the 20 minutes were up, I strained and added the ginger water. And finally, I measured out the 3 cups of club soda, adding it to the top.

So first, I think there is a tad too much lemon. Better luck next time. Second, don’t measure your club soda before putting it in the glass. Wing it and trust your vision. Because I think I lost a lot of bubble in the process, sort of defeating the purpose a bit. Then again, I didn’t want to sample too much, so maybe it was just the limited ginger ale, mostly still warm, over ice to cool a bit. Maybe chilled the experience will be better.

Of course, it still tastes decent. There is that definite ginger tickle/burn on the edges of the tongue. So we’ll just wait and see in the morning.

Update:
Kim decided to try it and did so without ice. She then proceeded to remark on how much of a bite it had (still noting that it was very good). She forced me to try some more, without ice this time, so still slightly warm. The burn goes all the way down to the lungs, but the taste is quite good. Apparently the ice just watered it down too much when I sampled. So, yay!