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Real Ginger Beer

It's best to make this soft drink for an occasion when you know there
will be a number of people around to help finish it off, since it has
to be consumed before it builds up too much fizziness.

Makes about 18 glasses.


300 g/10 oz ginger root (preferably tender and young)
2 or 3 stems lemon grass
or finely peeled zest of 1 lemon
5 litres/10 pints water
1 kg/2 lb sugar
1 whole nutmeg, broken into pieces
few blades of mace (optional)
5 cm/2 in cinnamon stick
whites and shells of 2 eggs
2 limes or 1 lemon, sliced and seeds removed
juice of 3 limes or 2 lemons
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)


Wash ginger well and scrape away any tough skin. Cut into thin slices.
Discard tough outer layers of lemon grass and the green leaves. Use
only the tender white lower stem, cut across into thin slices. Soak
ginger and lemon grass overnight in the measured water. Next day bring
to the boil in a large pan, add sugar and spices and bring to simmering
point. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add the crushed egg shells and the
whites which have been beaten until frothy but not stiff. Whisk and
simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add slices and juice of limes
or lemons and leave until cold. Strain through muslin.

Dissolve yeast in a little of the liquid and stir in. Have clean
bottles ready, preferably those with clip-on tops. Put a few sultanas
into each bottle and, using a funnel, three-quarters fill the bottles
with the ginger mixture. If using bottles with corks, tie the corks
securely with string. Leave at room temperature for 24 hours, by which
time the ginger beer will have a nice fizz and be ready to drink. Chill
well and if ginger flavor is too strong, dilute with iced soda water
when serving. Serve within 36-48 hours.


Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)

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