Rachel De Thample's Rhubarb Ginger Beer
The perfect refreshment on a sunny spring day when fresh rhubarb in season from our preserves and fermentation tutor. Making your own ginger beer is surprisingly easy and extremely satisfying. It takes just over a week to make in total, but the hands-on time is only 5-10 mins every day. The rhubarb can we swapped with any seasonal fruit, or experiment with herbs and spices like star anise, cinnamon, cardamom and more...
Makes 1 litre
Finely grate your ginger. Keep the skin on. Place the ginger in a jam jar (500ml is ideal). Mix with the sugar to form a paste. Add the water. Stir to mix
Cover with a piece of muslin or a thin, clean tea towel. Let it ferment in a dark, cool place for 24 hours. Stir it up a little anytime you think of it.
Then, much like a sourdough starter, you need to feed it again. So do the same as before, add 1 tbsp grated ginger, 1 tsp sugar, and a little bit of water.
Feed and stir it every day, and after a couple of days you should start to see some bubble action, about 5 days.
Pretty soon your jar will start to get full. That’s when it’s time to put your ginger bug to good use.
Thinly slice the rhubarb. Add to a saucepan with the sugar and water. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the rhubarb is tender. Cool fully. Pour into a 1.5 litre glass, lidded preserving jar. Add about half of your ginger, bug, more or less, to taste. You can keep topping the rest of the ginger bug up to make future batches. Store in the fridge between batches.
Cover the jar with a clean cloth or cheesecloth and a rubber band. Set in a dark, cool place. Stir once or twice daily. Taste it as the days go by, as it will continue to ferment and become less sweet.
Once the sweetness level is to your liking, 2-3 days, it’s ready to bottle.
Strain out the rhubarb and ginger and pour into sterilised bottles. Flip top or plastic water bottles work nicely. Let the bottles sit at room temperature for a day or two, then refrigerate. If it’s really warm out, you may want to ‘burp’ your bottles once or twice by opening then resealing them to release the pressure. You want to make sure that your bottles don’t explode.
Once refrigerated drink within 2 weeks.
*Organic is important here because you are leaving the skin on and it houses all of the lovely bacteria and yeasts that you want. Also, non-organic ginger is often treated and thus, loses the ability to get your fermentation started.
TIP If your rhubarb wasn’t terribly pink, you can add a drop of beetroot juice or powdered beetroot (which you can find in health food shops or online) for a hint of colour.
1 tbsp grated organic unpeeled ginger root
1 tsp unrefined caster sugar
3 tbsp filtered or bottled mineral water
A whole organic ginger root
5 tsp unrefined caster sugar
200ml filtered or bottled mineral water
1 to 2 sticks of rhubarb
200g unrefined sugar
1 litre filtered or bottled mineral water
If you like this recipe, you might like the following course...
Seasonal Fermentation Workshop
Come and immerse yourself in the magical world of seasonal fermentation with our preserving guru and author of River Cottage Handbook No...