The Ginger Beer Plant - Homemade Recipe Circa 1930s, Mouthwatering and Refreshing.
During and immediately following the Second World War anything sweet was still on ration or was unobtainable. Proprietary soft drinks were pretty much unheard of or were too expensive but most households had bubbling away in a dark cupboard a closely guarded “Ginger Beer Plant”
This was the basis of a delicious ginger flavoured cordial which we had as a treat from time to time, as sugar ration allowed There seemed to be no specific recipe, with the ingredients and method being handed down through the families.
I asked my sister to look out the faded scrap of paper from my mother’s cookery book and this is what it said. I can make no claim to its originality as people used to freely swap such information then.
To start we first need to make the actual ginger beer "plant”
Recipe for the Ginger Beer Plant
Using a clean jar add 1/2 pint of water (preferably bottled still water rather than tap water)(in the 1950s we would have used filtered rainwater)
To this add a large pinch of fresh or dried yeast
1 heaped dessertspoon of ground ginger
1 heaped dessertspoon of sugar (you can use any type or even honey)
Stir the ingredients thoroughly together. Cover the top of the jar with a porous material (muslin or similar) and hold in place with a rubber band or string. This will allow the yeast to react with the air.
Over the next week remove the muslin each day and add another teaspoon of ground ginger and sugar and stir. You will notice that the “Ginger Beer Plant” will start frothing and this is caused by the action of the yeast. At the end of the week the plant can be used to make the first batch of ginger beer.
Prepare the plant for use.
Strain the entire Ginger Beer Plant through muslin or a very fine sieve.
Retain the liquid for making the ginger beer and divide the residue from the sieve into two equal parts.
Use one half of residue to make a new “Ginger Beer Plant” and the other half you can give to family or friends or make a second plant for yourself.
Let’s make the Ginger Beer
Measure 10 pints of good quality water into a large saucepan and add 24oz of sugar (or you could use 3 cups of honey or molasses). If you use molasses expect the ginger beer to have a slightly burnt taste which may not be to everyones liking. Gently heat and stir until everything is completely dissolved, then add the juice of two unwaxed lemons including the zest of one of them. Once mixed add the strained liquid from “The Ginger Beer Plant” and continue to mix well. Allow to cool before bottling (particularly if you are putting into plastic bottles)
You should have prepared sufficient clean plastic bottles and pour the ginger beer into them, capping loosely. These should then be placed in your larder for around 7 days to allow them to ferment. (You will see small bubbles rising or sticking to the bottle sides). From then on you can tighten the caps, cool in the fridge and drink ice cold.
I would suggest you use plastic bottles as during the fermentation process considerable gas pressure can build up and plastic is more flexible than glass and will do less damage if they explode.
I should mention that as an added bonus to us children, this ginger beer is slightly alcoholic and can make you a little tipsy if you drink a lot of it. It is more of an adult drink.
Although homemade the taste is clean and pure without the nasty back taste of modern synthetic drinks, although far from sugar-free, which diabetics should note.
Every time I look at the photo I can taste, in my mind, the wonderful, but simple taste which takes me back to my childhood.
Have you ever tried home-made ginger beer
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© 2012 Peter Geekie