Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Ginger Beer and a repeat of an old favourite.

When we lived on the coast ,every summer I would make home made ginger  beer from a plant  and it would be consumed at alarming rates, not until many years later did  we realize that it was probably "slightly" alcoholic ???( still not sure  to this day)
Then when we started coming up here to the farm  I decided that we needed to have some for when we were up  visiting and working so once again I made a few batches and stored them in my nice cool laundry off the kitchen and went home again to the coast.
On returning a few weeks later with friends we were met  immediately inside the front door with  the lovely  sweet gingery smell of the ginger beer, no longer tucked away safely in my laundry but now exploded  all over the kitchen and living area of the house. The were shards of glass from one end of the house to the other, we found glass in the most  unbelievable spots for months and possibly years.
Lesson learned, never bottle ginger beer in glass bottles.!!
So last week, I said to hubby, "let's make some ginger beer again", ...he looked at me  with trepidation and said" are you really sure", and I said  "of course  plastic bottles though"..
I couldn't find me  old recipe , I looked high and low( still in a box somewhere safe I imagine), so  instead googled  a new one to try, this one from  Nigella Lawson who stated that it was a family recipe.
To start the plant you  pick a decent sized jar and combine, 8 raisins( or sultanas),  1/4 cup lemon juice,1 tspn grated lemon zest, 1 tblspn  white sugar, 2 tspns ground ginger, and  2  1/2 cups water
 Cover with a clean  cloth and  let it sit for the next 2 to 3 days, then after that feed it  2 tspns ginger and 1 tblspn of sugar each day.
When the 7 days have elapsed, strain the contents of the jar through a couple of layers of fine muslin or a clean tea towel.
Then  squeeze and strain the juice of 3  good lemons.
In a big pot  add 3 cups white sugar to 5 cups of boiling water and stir until disolved, add the strained ginger plant liquid,
Then add the lemon juice,
and then add 14.1 pints ( about 8 litres) of  cold water.
Get all the bottles( I now use recycled  soft drink bottles and buy new seals  each time) I have made rhubarb champagne and use these bottles and seals for that also, so had caps on hand. Fill the bottles with a funnel, leaving a good space at the top to allow for expansion, cap and seal.

You then take the residue that was left after straining the plant and divide it into two,
and place it into two jars, cover with clean cloth and start feeding them both as before for the next 7 days, at which time you can make 2 batches. (you can always pass the  spare plant to a friend or just throw away)

It has been 2 days since I bottled  the ginger beer, and on checking  early this morning I can see that it  is beginning to "work".
Nigella's recipe said tto wait 3 or 4 days, but on a Don Bourke  recipe nearly identical, it said to wait a couple of weeks, so time will tell, I will watch cautiously as I  did break my golden rule and actually filled 2 glass bottles, as I  was 2 plastic bottles short, but have put a call out and will be  able to be 100% plastic bottles next time. Those 2 glass bottles will certainly be the first two sampled.

I also made another old favourite this week,  something that I have  posted on here about before, but as there are many new people popping in and out I thought I would share  it again this time.
We and most of our acquaintences  adore Habanero Gold, that delicious sweet  pepper jelly with a hit of chilli to eat with  camembert cheese, mix with cream cheese for a delicious dip or use as a baste  or a dip for spring rolls, it's uses are endless.!
For this sweet treat you first need to  finely chop  1/3 cup of dried apricots and soak it overnight in a  bowl  with  3/4 cup white vinegar.  The next morning  , after preparing your jars ,lids and rings and canner ,
  you need to   finely chop and de seed  1/4  cup  Habanero chillies,

Then you    finely chop 1/4   red Spanish onion, and 1/4 cup finely chopped red capsicum(bell pepper)
In a  deep  stainless steel saucepan  you then add all the chopped  ingredients and  3 cups white sugar,
You then heat on high heat until a rolling boil that can't be stirred down is achieved,
Then you add 1 pouch of (30z/85ml) of liquid pectin and boil hard for exactly 1 minute.
Remove from heat and immediately skim off any foam and then pour into  pre-prepared jars.
After capping , place in a boiling water bath and process for 15 minutes( 20 for higher altitudes)
When the correct time has elapsed, turn off heat, remove jars out onto a heat proof area to cool and seal.
After the seals or pop as the jelly slowly starts to cool, you must  move the jars around, tipping slightly to  try and get the chopped particles  to suspend within the jelly, this may take  a period of several hours, if this step isn't taken you will end up with "layered " jelly.
This jelly is just so delicious,  everyone that tries it falls in love with it, I just can't make enough.( my issue is that liquid pectin isn't  easy to purchase, it has to be ordered from a supplier and be posted to you.) , But it is so worth the effort.Now I must state that this recipe is  from "The Ball  Complete Book Of Home Preserving" and to make the amount of jelly above, that this was double the recipe.It's not advisable to make  more than this amount as jelly  can be a tricky thing when it chooses to be.

While I have been playing around in the kitchen, hubby decided that he would  finally close off the old back laundry ( now my canning pantry ) doorway as we no longer need it.
I then took a photo of my pantry with all that light coming in for the last time we always kept the door shut) but now it is much better.
I also removed a small garden bed that  will have to be gone when we add our back verandah,
and hubby slowly worked his way up the door matching the rows as best he could.
It is still obvious at the moment but with a little filler up on the top left and right hand corners and a coat of paint all over the outside, I think it will look great. A cupboard will sit in front of it anyway and no one will ever know.
He then went inside and  squeezed a large amount of gap filler into all the  spaces to block out any chance the creepy crawlies had,  and next week will put in some insulation and repair the inside with a sheeting as well. Then I can finally  errect my final set of shelving in there to increase  and better utilize the storage area. We also plan to put a high shelf up above the chest freezer to store the canners and big pots.
We have  preserved 2 batches of  bread and butter zuchini pickle and have another batch to go tomorrow and probably another next week, the way the zuchini's keep producing, but they are delicious and will be great to have in the pantry for year round use, we are loving them just with our salads on plates for lunch.
It's been a busy, hot few weeks but we are  seeing results for our efforts and that's all that matters,
The mad summer canning season is nearly over, it will be good to back off a bit.
 I hope  that  we catch up again a little further down the track,
Take care everyone,


  1. Love the team work between you two.

    Gosh, your little story of the exploding ginger beer brought back so many memories. Lucky The Big Bank occurred in a room off the back of the verandah and all the glass was contained.
    Cannot beat home made brew though.

    1. sorry, The Big Bang!!! All six of us will still bring this one up whenever we get together. It was just one of those memorable childhood events that stay with you forever.

    2. I think we all have exploding ginger beer in our family history, Brian talks of it exploding under a bed that a cat had delivered kittens on out on the verandah and scaring the living daylights out of the cats.

      and the glass bottles

  2. Saw the recipe on your FB page but am so glad to have this tutorial to follow. I don't have the habanero chilled but do have a lot of birds eye chillies. I'll play around and see what it all ends up like. Chilli anything is a big favourite in this household. All the mango chilli chutney I made over Christmas is just about gone. We preserve our food to be eaten I know, but I did think it might last just a bit longer. It's almost cool enough to get my seedlings in the ground. We've had lettuce and tiny Tom tomatoes each day from the pots on the veranda. The toms are starting to look a bit sad as it's been extremely humid of late. Zucchini slice is a huge fav here. Also slice zucchini using a vege peeler and pop on a hot Barby plate. Spray with a garlic flavoured oil and turn. Just yummy with any meal. Thanks again for the tutorial.

    1. Pepper jelly is so good, also have a friend who makes green pepper jelly and it is great too.Thank Mano chilli chutney sounds good and I can understand it would be devoured quickly, I too preserve hoping it will last longer, some things do, some doesn't..
      Great idea for the zuchini, I love tge thin strios on the barbie, we often do thick slices,, but that sounds better.
      Happy preserving,

    2. So sorry about the spelling mistakes Jane, on the tablet and hitting wrong letters, "mango" not "mano" and "strips" not "strios" and "the" not "tge"
      Hope you were able to read it.

  3. I love reading your preserving posts, Jane. All those jars in your pantry look fab, you must get a lot of satisfaction from just looking at them. I know I would.
    Must try the chilli jelly too one day - so unusual but sounds delicious. :-)

  4. Thanks Nicky,
    Yes, i do love looking at those jars, i am always playing and rearranging it all the time. That chilli jelly is a winner everywhere I go, definately worh a try..
    Take care

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