Ginger Kefir / Beer

April 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s been a while! I’ve spent this whole time playing with my water kefir. It’s been growing slowly but steadily, maybe tripled in volume in two months. Lena has made nut cheese with some of the spare grains which turned out pretty good too!

My cycle at the moment uses two jars. Every two days tip out the liquids, but save a bit of the jar that smells/tastes better. Split this liquid between the two jars, fill each with water and add brown sugar (2-3tsp). This leaves room for experimentation. After a week the jars build up quite a bit of gunk, so I strain out the grains, put them in new jars with fresh water and add more nutrients and lemon. Some notes:

Time: It might be due to the heat here, but after more than two days the kefir starts to get distinctly vinegary and sometimes develops what looks like a vinegar mother. If the acetobacter seems to be taking over, adding musty fruit like sultanas seems to give it the yeast to balance it back out.

Nutrients: Calcium seems to be quite important. Dried figs work well – possibly too well since it just speeds up the process and you have to change the water sooner before it gets funky. Brown sugar or raw sugar with a bit of molasses keeps it going most of the time.

Ginger I try to keep some form of ginger in there so the culture gets accustomed to it. Powder works fine, but fresh ginger juice is tastier. I’ve found young ginger (soft, light colour) doesn’t yield as much juice but tastes better post-fermentation. To juice, peel with a spoon, grate it and mix with some sugar. After 10 minutes or so the juice can be mashed, squeezed or pressed out with a spoon.

I’ve tried three ginger beer brews using the kefir liquid. The first two were a lot like the ginger bug – overbearingly lactic.  Since then the kefir has gotten better, perhaps due to the cooler weather? The most recent brew I used my housemate Drea’s new super juicer, HEAPS of ginger and yarrow to hinder the lactobacillus (kudos to Home Brew Root Beer Blog for the idea).

1.25L brew
2 young ginger rhizomes
1tbsp allspice
4tbsp chrysanthemum flowers
2tbsp yarrow
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp tartaric acid
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup kefir liquid

Fancy juicer w/ kefir jar

Ginger beer w/ yeasty sediment

Straining the ginger beer. Still cloudy...

The juicer makes things super quick and pumps out a lot of ginger (though cloudy, but I don’t mind!). I had to add some sugar and kefir a couple times before it started to ferment. Perhaps the yarrow was working too well? I tried the rice malt trick again but I don’t think it worked. That aside, this ginger beer went down pretty well! It’s pretty dry but super spicy, almost throat-burny. It’s a little thick, like cloudy apple juice. Housemates cited a bit of mediciney taste. I think a bit less ginger and we might be onto a winner.


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