Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Thoughts: Ginger Beer

Like all my culinary habits, the frequency of my fermentation projects come in waves. After a fairly lengthly dry spell from fermentation I am back fermenting with a vengeance. I've started a batch of kimchi and made borscht with fermented beets. I have made yet another attempt at a fermented ginger beer.

Homemade soda was one of the first culinary projects I undertook. I was living in my horrible basement apartment in Saskatoon while I attended university. I read about a soda equivalent that was fermented in a 2 L plastic bottle and used bread yeast so I decided to give it a try. It was unsuccessful but that did not stop me from being terrified that the bottle would explode. To combat my fear I lined a cardboard box with a trash bag and stored the supposedly fermenting bottle in there. Nothing happened. 

(Bottled plain and grapefruit/rosemary ginger beer)
Years later, with multiple successful fermentation projects to my name I attempted a ginger-beer made with a ginger bug. The ginger bug never achieved 'active' status due, perhaps, to imported ginger. A few weeks ago, I decided to give home brewed ginger-beer another go. This time, due to organic ginger, the ginger bug was soon bubbling away. I managed to make a gingery and sweet beverage but it did not carbonate in the bottles the way I wanted. This could be due to my extreme fear of bottle bombs and/or I may have rushed the process a bit and should have let my active ginger bug get slightly more active. 

(In addition to failing to carbonate, I had severe problems capping my bottles!) 
(Tasted delightlful but sadly no carbonation.)
I have high hopes for the next attempt!

I've been really enjoying the tactile nature of fermentation. I loved getting my hands in that kimchi and mixing it up! But fermentation projects have the potential to remind us of several important aspects of the food industry. While we, as city dwellers, may not have much opportunity to interact with our food in the ground or even with the farmers that grow it – we do have the opportunity to interact with our food before we consume it. Fermentation and other food projects also allow us, as individuals, to quietly and in a small way, resist corporate domination and offers us an activity in which to produce more than we consume.
Why do you ferment?

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