After 7 years of coveting a Vitamix, aka the most powerful, multitasker of a blender in the universe, with my whole being I finally broke down and got one about two months ago. I had various reasons for not getting one at various times: sometimes it was money, sometimes it was space and sometimes it was time. But I finally found a loophole: husband’s birthday! Think me one of those annoying people who buy gifts for others that are secretly really for themselves if you will, but I swear, he was as happy as I was. Happier even, maybe. Yes, I’m blessed with a husband who loves cooking and eating his veggies as much as I do.
And it’s been awesome! Green smoothies have a satin-y, delicious texture, quick soups are breezy and homemade almond milk has become a simple task rather than a messy chore. The other thing I’m crazy about using my Vitamix for is super fast, amazing fermented ginger beer. It’s ginger beer, made the real, old-fashioned way: from the ginger beer plant, which is no plant at all, it’s a SCOBY! If you fiend ginger beer, or like to age it (like we do) then getting your hands on these little guys is a must! I got mine from a kind citizen who grows his own, but you can order dried ginger beer plant here.
Now, as I’ve said many times before (like when I wrote about making ginger beer with the ginger bug), don’t freak out about the sugar. Sugar is the food of the microbes and they need it to survive and thrive! You can and should experiment with different types of sugar, but if your goal is to ingest as little sugar as possible, using less processed sugars is not the way to go, as it will result in more residual sugar for you, since it’s harder for the microbes to “digest” it. I’ve used brown, coconut and plain old cane sugar so far with these guys and they seem pretty happy in all cases. As always with fermentation, use caution with honey and maple syrup as their natural antibacterial properties could affect your culture. (I recommend growing an extra batch of ginger beer plant and experimenting with different sugars on that!)
The process is simple, and although the ginger beer plant looks quite similar to water kefir grains, it is different from a microbial standpoint AND it is definitely a heartier culture, in my experience. Water kefir grains get unhappy very quickly in a slightly-too-acidic environment. Ginger beer plant is the Californian of cultures. It moves slow but seems to coolly roll right over any bumps in the road.
It takes about 30 seconds (plus 3-5 days of fermentation) to make with the Vitamix, and even without the good old blender of the gods it only takes about 4-5 minutes, so if you can get your hands on this culture, definitely go for it!
GINGER BEER FROM THE GINGER BEER PLANT
I adapted this recipe from one I found on a website dedicated to the Ginger Beer Plant. I HIGHLY recommend that you visit them. Not only do they have ginger beer plant for sale, but they have tons of information on this fascinating culture as well.
Note: I like a very spicy ginger beer. If you like yours less spicy, use less ginger. As little as an inch will do.
1/2 gallon brew container, preferably larger
Non-metallic fine mesh strainer
~2 Tablespoons of ginger beer plant
6 inches of fresh ginger, thoroughly washed in hot water (see note)
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 quarts of filtered water, divided
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (Optional. I use it every 3-4 batches)
1. Place ginger, sugar, lemon juice and 1 quart of water into your Vitamix, blender or food processor and turn it on. In my Vitamix, the ginger is paste and the sugar is completely dissolved in about 10 seconds. In my beloved, workhorse food processor, it’s about 1-2 minutes.
2. Place ginger beer plant into your clean fermenting vessel. If using, mix cream of tartar into the remain quart of water and pour that over your GBP.
3. Put a fine mesh strainer over the fermenting vessel and slowly pour in the ginger/sugar mix. Stop periodically to push all possible liquid out of your ginger pulp. Do this until you have added all of the gingery liquid to the container with GBP in it.
4. Stir it with a wooden or plastic spoon, then cover with a clean kitchen cloth or paper towel and secure that with a rubber band. Let your ginger beer sit at room temperature for three to five days (I like it at 5 days). Feel free to taste it (NEVER double dipping!) to see when it has reached your desired balance of sweet and acidic. The longer it ferments, the less sweet and more acidic it will be.
5. Once it tastes how you like it, you can bottle it, as you would kombucha or soda and refrigerate. It will continue to ferment slowly in the fridge, so be aware that your ginger beer will increase in acidity the longer it sits and that bottling in glass can be dangerous in case of an explosion, so better to drink it on the quick side. You can read about these issues and how to prevent them in my soda and ginger beer (with the ginger bug) posts.
VITAMIX 5200 GIVEAWAY
And now for the good stuff! I’ve teamed up with this group of awesome from-scratch/whole foodsy/fermenting bloggers to give away a Vitamix 5200. The lovely and talented Abby and Jeanne over at O’Mamas have graciously organized this whole shebang, so that you don’t have to wait seven years to get your Vitamix like I stupidly did! And why you’ve got your finger clicking, feel very free to check out any and all of the other amazing blogs that made this giveaway happen!