|Double, double toil and trouble;|
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
What I didn't reckon on was the alcoholic content in this homemade brew!
But of course! I make bread, I should have realised that yeast reacts with sugar and creates carbon dioxide and alcohol. No wonder I felt woozy after gulping down a whole glass, expecting it to be just like any other refreshing fruitade.
It's not potently alcoholic, but for someone who hardly imbibes, it went straight to my head.
In Toast, Nigel Slater talks about waiting for the man who sells pop and that his second favourite drink is cream soda. I can't remember if he mentions ginger beer in his memoir, but if cream soda is like drinking a sponge cake, as he says, this ginger beer is like drinking Asia – ginger, lemongrass, cloves...
This recipe does not involve toil and trouble or burning fires under cauldrons: Place lemons, fresh ginger, cloves, cream of tartar and sugar in a large bowl; pour in boiling water. Wait till the mixture cools down enough to add the dried yeast. Leave overnight before straining and bottling. Allow to mature for two or three days.
Mr Slater suggests the option of adding lemongrass, which I did. That gave it an extra level of tang. He didn't say to squeeze the lemons before straining, but I did that too. The result was a lemony flavour together with the ginger and lemongrass. I won't do that next time – the taste of ginger should dominate.
One addition that I think is necessary is salt. Pour yourself a glass of ginger beer and add a pinch of salt to it – it's subtle but I think you will be able to appreciate the difference in taste. There are people who like to add a pinch of salt to their Coke, swearing that this makes the drink fizzier. I just think salt, even a small amount, makes anything taste good. My mother doesn't call me Salty Mama for nothing.