Bug to Beer. And Growing Ginger and Turmeric

Bubbles!

The Ginger Bug is bubbling so I’m moving on to the next stage of brewing a good beer: adding the culture to the base (water, more ginger and sugar/honey) and letting it ferment away some more. I’m making a little less than a gallon,  about 6 wine bottles, I should say.

DH made some wine a many years ago (it was really good), and so we have carboys in several sizes. You could use a milk container but 1) they’re plastic and 2) they’re not clear, which makes keeping an eye on the fermentation difficult. Also, 3) you need to find a way of closing the container, and that flimsy cap won’t do it, it’ll blow right off as the fermentation keeps going. DH’s carboy comes with a stopper with an airlock. Perfect!

A week to two weeks to my first ginger beer!

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I want to grow ginger root, or rather, ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale). It seems challenging in a cold climate – it needs about 8-10 months of growing time and is not cold-hardy, so it has to come inside for a large part of the year. And inside I am still struggling with the whiteflies and the aphids – the neem seems to have gotten the majority, but the survivors are recolonizing rapidly. Keeping humidity-loving, pest-prone exotics happy in the extra dry winter indoors is not easy.

Nevertheless I want to give it a try, and while I’m at it I’ll also try to grow ginger’s relative, turmeric (Curcuma longa), another great medicinal and culinary rhizome, if I can find a fresh root somewhere.

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More snow is coming down. It’ll have added 7 to 8 inches by the time it’s done. I  don’t think that  I’ve ever seen so much accumulated snow in the twelve years that I’ve lived in the Boston area. School is canceled for an unprecedented second day int he history of our town. I will have to go out to dig out the hoop house and the beehive. I’ll have to wade through snow up to my knees. A plus is that it is making me take a closer look at where to put the chicken coop.

If we want to make a snowman we’ll have to do it today. After today we’re looking at a couple of days of excrutiating cold – minus 5 (F) Sunday night!

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3 Comments

  1. Well, you’ve definitely got the snow!

    I’m glad your ginger bug seems to be doing well. I’ll be curious about how well your ginger beer does. Maybe I’ll have to try it again soon.

    I need to grow my own ginger as well. It’s a staple at our house, so good for digestion. I tried it potted once, a long time ago, but had no success. My challenge is the same as yours, but still, success doesn’t seem impossible, does it?

  2. Hi! I have also been inspired recently to try making ginger beer, and I found your awesome blog as a result! I live in JP and was also at the NOFA winter conference, we should get together sometime and talk backyard bees :)So, re: ginger beer — My question is: after you add the bubbling bug to the base, do you need to keep the mixture airtight before bottling? I’m confused about whether you need a carboy with an airlock, or whether I can keep my mixture in a big pot with cheesecloth on top to continue fermenting before bottling.
    Thanks for your help!

  3. Hi there eat beets (love the name – I’ve not been able to grow a beet – yet!). Were you at the soda making class?
    Yes, let’s get together some time. Maybe come Spring?
    I have been wondering about this as well. Sarah Shields, who led the workshop, says to leave it open for a couple of days, but I must say the fermentation quickly seemed to die down as I did this, not get more vigorous. Keep an eye on it.
    At some point (when the soda is “ripe” I guess) you want carbonation: to trap the release of the CO2 in the liquid, not let it escape. (cf. http://blog.bolandbol.com/2011/01/16/ginger-bug-and-ginger-beer/).
    I’m still experimenting. My second, very ambitious batch (cf. http://blog.bolandbol.com/2011/01/29/ginger-chamomile-and-berry-soda/) died when I added the bug to the wort.
    So I’m back to the simple recipe. The bug is brewing. I’ll try different methods and timings, and report!

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