Ginger Root Beer (Ginger Root Water Kefir)
Interesting Facts about Ginger Root Beet (Ginger Lemonade) – Special Water Kefir with Ginger and Molasses
America’s traditional fermented drink: Our insider tip for you
Everyone in England and America knows it; in Europe it’s almost still unknown: the “Ginger Beer” or “Ginger Root Beer”.
The “Ginger Root Beer” has actually very little to do with real beer. The world famous ginger lemonade which reminds in taste of the well-known Ginger Ale does not contain any hops or malt. Even though Ginger Root Beer contains small amounts of alcohol (just like Kombucha, Kefir and Water Kefir), the traditional name is misleading.
Strictly speaking, it is a fermented beverage which production process is somewhat similar to Water Kefir but with two additional ingredients that literally pack a punch: Firstly, the delicious and healthy ginger that has long conquered Europes kitchens already as the Asian energy booster, and secondly, the mineral-rich sugar cane molasses (as juice) which is produced through pressing of sugar cane. The natural, unrefined molasses still fully contains all valuable nutrients which are missing in white sugar, as there are: important trace elements such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron, as well as phosphorus, copper and chromium.
So it’s about time to make the specially grown Water Kefir culture known as “Ginger Root Plant” and used for producing Ginger Root Beer also more popular in Europe. The Ginger Kefir crystals from Wellness-Drinks are being nurtured with ginger and molasses for over 10 years by now and have accordingly adjusted to this special mix very well as its explosive growth may testify.
The biologically active Ginger Lemonade with a Twist
When you enjoy Ginger Root Beer, the valuable ingredients produced by the Water Kefir (such as lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, etc.) combine with the ingredients of the ginger root which has been used for thousands of years, and also with the natural molasses. (For more information on the beneficial and healthy effects of the Ginger root, please visit our dedicated page: Ingredients of the Ginger Root Beer).
Just like our well-known Water Kefir culture, the Ginger Root Plant also consists of Kefir grains (Kefir crystals). The difference is the color: The single crystals are not bright as rock crystals or diamonds but reddish brown due to the Ginger and the molasses. In many cases, this culture grows faster than regular Water Kefir: the Kefir crystals do greatly value the minerals of the molasses for their growth as well. The hearty, spicy drink they produce in the meantime may remind you of Ginger Ale but is more savory and intense because of the concentrated, fresh Ginger we have added.
The production of Ginger Root Beer is similar to Water Kefir. You prepare a batch with our special Kefir grains, dried fruits, Ginger, lemon juice, molasses and sugar with then allowing it to rest for a while. The microorganisms will process parts of the sugar into many different and healthy ingredients for your drink within about 1 or 2 days. (To learn more about these complicated fermentation processes in the Ginger Root Beer, please also read our dedicated page about Ingredients and Effects of Water Kefir because they are basically the same.)
The fermentation starts very quickly, usually just a few minutes right upon your preparation. Carbon dioxide develops and the Kefir crystals will rise to the top and start to split after a while. Responsible for this turbulent transformation process are mainly the live yeasts contained in the Ginger Root Plant which start to ferment the sugar. This also produces some alcohol (about 0.5 to 2.5 % after one or two days) and makes the name Ginger Root Beer a bit more plausible. The alcohol, on the other hand, is desired by the various bacteria of your culture which subsequently process the alcohol and other substances into organic acids (lactic acid, etc.).
As you can see, during the fermentation a great amount of yeasts and bacteria enter the Ginger Root Beer. These microorganisms are just like all other yeasts very rich in vitamins (in particular B vitamins) and the lactic acid bacteria may additionally get into your intestinal tract supporting your well-being and digestion.
Where does the Culture for Ginger Root Beer come from?
It is generally assumed that the traditional recipe for Ginger Beer was imported by British soldiers on their return from the Crimean War (1853-1856). Therefore, the culture most probably originates from the Caucasus or Baltic States. Just like the question of the mysterious origin of the Kombucha fungus, it is difficult to clearly prove such an ancestry. Due to the historical sources and descriptions, we can only guess that it must have had been the same culture which is also in use today. A profound answer about the composition of the reported Ginger Root Plant may only be given by a genetic analysis if someone somewhere in the United States of America coincidentally finds a leftover from these times – which is unfortunately pretty unlikely.
The Ginger Root Beer, however, should not be confused with the classical “Root Beer” which was distributed at approximately the same time in the United States and is completely produced without Ginger. There is a long tradition in the States of home-brewed herbal drinks and healing potions made from plants. The actual, still very popular Root Beer was made from root bark of the sassasfras tree. Similar recipes should likely have had some alcohol and included juniper berries, vanilla, hops and or licorice. Many of the American herbal lemonades rendered a distinct medical-bittersweet taste. The world-famous cola lemonade for example also stems from this tradition and contains even up today various plant extracts.
The actual Ginger Root Plant was described first by Mr. H. Marshall Ward (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. B, Vol. 183) and many sources today assume that this text is about a specially grown Water Kefir culture. The beverage became quickly popular, first in England, later in the States, but soon ended up out of fashion. Through various wars and trade conflicts, shortages of sugar and exotic spices have repeatedly occurred and the drink was also frowned upon during the prohibition period because of his (small) amount of alcohol. Nevertheless, colonialism spread the recipe all over the world – the Ginger Root Beer is very popular especially in East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania).
There are more and more fans today in England and America who want to produce the traditional genuine Ginger Root Beer again. The final products sold as "Ginger Root Beer" are nowadays usually synthetic soft drinks which are not only produced without alcohol but also without any fermentation processes done by bacteria and yeasts. So, anyone who wants to enjoy the fresh and natural ingredients ginger and molasses, and also values a biological active drink, will have to produce his very own Ginger Root Beer at home still today. Wellness-Drinks is the first supplier offering Ginger Root drinks made from this specially grown Water Kefir culture in Germany and Europe.
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