How to start a Ginger Beer plant

I have fond memories of going up to Branstone Beck near Bentham as a nipper with my gran to see Uncle Fred and Auntie Dora.  My memories are of the Morris Traveller clicking its way carefully along narrow lanes full of wild flowers and verdant hedging, the sun shone brightly and of course it was always hot and sunny.  Auntie Dora was a gentle, kindly soul who always wore a home-made pinny and produced ginger beer from the pantry to quench the thirst of her visitors along with home-made scones and currant buns.  Now Auntie Dora was a real master when it came to ginger beer, a magical potion which fascinated me as the little ‘plant’ rose to the top of the brewing bottles, then fell slowly back to the bottom ……

So for those of you who have lost your treasured hand-me-down recipe, try this …

Grow your Ginger Beer Plant with 2 oz Baker’s yeast (buy at a bakers).  Put the yeast into a jar and add half a pint of water, two level teaspoons of sugar and two level teaspoons of ground ginger.

Feed it each day for the next seven to ten days. by adding one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of ground ginger.  The ‘plant’ will grow each day.

Strain the mixture through a piece of muslin or fine household sieve (keep the sediment), and add the juice of two lemons, 1 lb granulated sugar and 1 pint boiling water.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved then make up to one gallon with cold water.

Bottle the ginger beer, filling the bottles to about 3 inches from the top, and leave for two hours, take care not to put them on a stone floor, unless standing on a piece of wood.  After two hours cork lightly.  Keep for seven to ten days before drinking.

And now you can start again.  The sediment left when you strained the liquid is divided in half and put into separate jars.  This is the ‘yeast’ starter and you can begin the recipe again, with “To your recipe add half a pint of cold water …..”  Don’t forget to give a friend the other half of the ‘starter’, and a copy of the recipe!