Ginger Beer

When the weather turns cold it’s time to pull the last of the season’s ginger, and that also means it’s time to make ginger beer! This is a fun and relatively fool-proof recipe from the essential book Wild Fermentation by the guru of ferments, Sandor Katz.

ginger bug.jpg

Ginger Beer
From Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz

This Caribbean-style soft drink uses a “ginger bug” to start the fermentation. The ginger bug is simply water, sugar, and grated ginger, which starts actively fermenting within a couple of days. This ginger beer is a soft drink, fermented just enough to create carbonation but not enough to contribute any appreciable level of alcohol. If the ginger is mild, kids love it.

TIMEFRAME: 2 to 3 weeks

INGREDIENTS (for 1 gallon):
3 inches or more fresh ginger root
2 cups sugar
2 lemons


Start the “ginger bug”: Add 2 teaspoons grated ginger (skin and all) and 2 teaspoons sugar to 1 cup of water. Stir well and leave in a warm spot, covered with cheesecloth to allow free circulation of air while keeping flies out. Add this amount of ginger and sugar every day or two and stir, until the bug starts bubbling, in about 2 days to about a week.

Make the ginger beer any time after the bug becomes active. (If you wait more then a couple of days, keep feeding the bug fresh ginger and sugar every 2 days.) Boil 2 quarts of water. Add about 2 inches of ginger, grated, for a mild ginger flavor (up to 6 inches for an intense ginger flavor) and 1.5 cups sugar. Boil this mixture for about 15 minutes. Cool.

Once the ginger-sugar-water mixture has cooled, strain the ginger out and add the juice of the lemons and the strained ginger bug. (If you intend to make this process and ongoing rhythm, reserve a few tablespoons of the active bug as a starter and replenish it with additional water, grated ginger, and sugar.) Add enough water to make 1 gallon.

Bottle in sealable bottles: recycle plastic soda bottles with screw tops; rubber gasket “bail-top” bottles that Grolsch and some other premium beers use; sealable juice jugs; or capped beer bottles. Leave bottles to ferment in a warm spot for about 2 weeks.

Cool before opening. When you open ginger beer, be prepared with a glass, since carbonation can be strong and force liquid rushing out of the bottle.

Candied Ginger

A perfect way to savor the last of the fall harvest, and a great holiday gift! If you're feeling fancy, dip the end of each piece into melted chocolate.


Adapted from David Lebovitz:

1 pound (500g) fresh ginger, peeled
4 cups (800g) sugar, plus additional sugar for coating the ginger slices, if desired
4 cups (1L) water
pinch of salt

1. Slice the ginger as thinly as possible. It can’t be too thin, so use a sharp knife or a mandolin (don't cut yourself!).

2. Put the ginger slices in a nonreactive pot, add enough water to cover the ginger, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let ginger simmer for ten minutes. Drain, and repeat, simmering the ginger slices one more time.

3. Mix the sugar and 4 cups (1l) water in the pot, along with a pinch of salt and the ginger slices, and cook until the temperature reaches 225F (106C.)

4. Remove from heat and let stand for at least an hour, or as long as overnight. Or if you want to coat the slices with sugar, drain very well while the ginger is hot, so the syrup will drain away better.

5. Store ginger slices in its syrup, or toss the drained slices in granulated sugar. Shake off excess sugar, and spread the ginger slices on a cooling rack overnight, until they’re somewhat dry. The sugar can be reused in a batter or ice cream base, or for another purpose. (FRF note: We had to let our slices dry flat on a baking sheet for three days before they had the right dried texture, then coated them in more sugar. If you coat them in sugar before they are dried they will just continue to absorb the sugar without getting the wonderful crystalized texture, so don't be afraid to wait a few days until they are nice and dried!)

Storage: The ginger, packed in its syrup, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one year. If you’re concerned with it crystallizing, add a tablespoon or two of corn syrup or glucose to the sugar syrup at the beginning of step #3. If tossed in sugar, the pieces can be stored at room temperature for a few months.


Care & Storage

For Eating Fresh: Store as is in your fridge for up to a month. Ginger may turn rubbery after a few weeks, but it is still delicious to eat (remove any hardened scales before eating).

To Freeze: Peel ginger and freeze it in chunks. Take out and grate / cut up as needed.


September - October


Ginger Scallion Noodles
Adapted from Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan

2 ½ cups thinly slices scallions
½ C finely minced peeled fresh ginger
¼ C grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
1 ½ tsp soy sauce
3/4 tsp sherry vinegar
3/4 tsp salt

Some sort of noodles (ramen, soba, or regular pasta)
Plus whatever else you want! Stir-fried or roasted veggies, tofu, pickled veggies, etc.

So, this is easy: Mix the sauce fixings in a bowl and let them stand for 20 minutes. Boil your noodles, drain, and toss with the sauce. Use about 6 tbsp of sauce per serving of pasta. Then top the noodles with anything you’d like. From our experience, this dish is begging for pan-roasted cauliflower (over high heat in a pan with some oil until the florets are slightly browned), sautéed eggplant and zucchini, and crispy pan-fried tofu. Super fresh cucumber pickles on top don’t hurt. Good news: it’s still amazing the next day, straight out of the fridge.