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How about some homemade ginger beer

Wednesday, December 3 2008

click on pic to zoom in
Whole fresh ginger roots provide the freshest taste....
Whole fresh ginger roots provide the freshest taste....

ONE of the drinks that is very popular at this time of year is ginger beer. But while we savour this seasonal favourite, few of us are aware that ginger beer is a healthy indulgence which has been enjoyed throughout the Caribbean and North America for many years.

In fact, ginger beer recipes were among the first carbonated soft drink recipes published. The rich, gingery flavour of this refreshing nonalcoholic beer is still popular today. Homemade ginger beer sparkles in the glass and has a very pleasant and truly unique flavour — fresh, spicy, yeasty, and with just the slightest hint of alcohol. Ginger, which is native to India and China, takes its name from the Sanskrit word stringa-vera, which means “with a body like a horn”, as in antlers. It has been important in Chinese medicine for many centuries, and is mentioned in the writings of Confucius. It is also named in the Koran, the sacred book of the Muslims, indicating it was known in Arab countries as far back as 650 AD.

It was one of the earliest spices known in Western Europe, used since the ninth century. It became so popular in Europe that it was included in every table setting, like salt and pepper. A common article of medieval and Renaissance trade, it was one of the spices used against the plague. In English pubs and taverns in the nineteenth century, barkeepers put out small containers of ground ginger, for people to sprinkle into their beer — the origin of ginger ale. Ginger root, as it is commonly known, is available in various forms, the most common of which are as follows:

Whole raw roots are generally referred to as fresh ginger. A piece of the rhizome, called a ‘hand’. It has a pale yellow interior and a skin varying in colour from brown to off-white. Caribbean ginger, which is pale buff, is regarded as the best variety. African and Indian ginger is darker skinned and generally inferior, with the exception of Kenya ginger.

Whole fresh ginger roots provide the freshest taste. The roots are collected and shipped when they are still immature, the outer skin is a light green colour. Dried roots are sold either “black” with the root skin left on, or “white” with the skin peeled off. The dried root is available whole or sliced. Powdered ginger is the buff-coloured ground spice made from dried root.

Fresh ginger is essential to Asian and oriental cookery. It is used in pickles, chutneys and curry pastes and the ground dried root is a constituent of many curry powders. Tender young ginger can be sliced and eaten as a salad. Sometimes the roots will produce green sprouts which can be finely chopped and added to a green salad. In our part of the world, dried ginger is mainly used in cakes and biscuits, especially ginger snaps and gingerbread. Ginger is also used in drinks like ginger beer. Ginger is most commonly known for its effectiveness as a digestive aid. Ginger helps relieve indigestion, gas pains, diarrhea and stomach cramping. It is also used to treat nausea related to both motion sickness and morning sickness.

Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties help relieve pain and reduce inflammation associated with arthritis, rheumatism and muscle spasms. Ginger’s therapeutic properties effectively stimulate circulation of the blood, removing toxins from the body, cleansing the bowels and kidneys, and nourishing the skin.

Other uses for Ginger Root include the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems. It may also be used to help break fevers by warming the body and increasing perspiration. Try one of these ginger beer recipes. Once you taste it, you will love it



Ginger Beer

1-1/2 ounces round ginger

1-1/2 ounces cream of tartar

1 pound brown sugar

2 lemons, sliced

4 quarts boiling water

1 package dry yeast in one pint of the water, lukewarm

Mix all ingredients together in a large stone crock or crockery bowl. Allow to ferment for 24 hours. Bottle. Brew will be ready for use in two weeks.



Old Fashioned Ginger Beer

1 pound sugar

1 ounce rasped ginger

1 ounce cream of tartar

1 gallon boiling water

Mix ingredients and cover them up close for one hour, then add 15 drops of essence of lemon, and two spoonfuls of yeast. Strain and bottle.

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