Portion/Yield:Makes about 2 litres gooseberry ginger beer/Serves 8–10
My late grandmother (we known her as Ouma Leen) was a wonderful cook and she kept the most amazing recipe book. This precious book is now in the hands of my very lucky mother. When visiting me a few years ago, mum brought this book with her. We had a wonderful trip down memory lane, leafing through the book, and amongst the tears, there was a lot of laughter as we came across some of the most bizarre recipes you could possibly imagine in my grandmother’s collection. There were recipes for making soap and homemade golden syrup, through to ginger beer, atjar, spiced sausages, tripe, brawn and many more interesting delights.
With freshly picked gooseberries sitting in a basket on the kitchen table I was inspired to make gooseberry ginger beer. We found three recipes for ginger beer in my grandmother’s recipe book. One was unusable as it called for crystals – we are still wondering today exactly what kind of crystals she was referring to. We eventually settled for the third recipe, and after a bit of tweaking, the end result was this wonderful recipe for gooseberry ginger beer.
Ingredients & Method
- 300g fresh gooseberries, topped and tailed
- 400g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 50g fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 100g sultanas
- juice of 2 lemons
- 2 litres cold water
- 1 sachet (7g) fast-action/easy-blend dried yeast
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Set aside. Rinse the gooseberries, then drain. Put the gooseberries in a large mixing bowl with the sugar and ground ginger and stir to mix. Transfer the gooseberry mixture to the prepared baking tray, spreading it out evenly, then roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until tender. By this stage, the gooseberries will have started to burst and some will probably have started to go golden brown.
Transfer the roasted gooseberry mixture to a food processor, scraping in all the syrupy bits, then add the root ginger and sultanas and blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan, add the lemon juice, plus the squeezed-out lemon halves, then add the water. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until the mixture is cool enough for you to be able to hold your finger comfortably in it (about 37°C or blood temperature). Stir in the yeast until dissolved. Cover the pan with cling film and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, pass the ginger beer through a fine sieve or muslin cloth into a clean bowl, then pour it into sterilised bottles to about three-quarters full. Cover and seal the bottles, but do not tighten them too tightly, otherwise they may have the potential to explode. Refrigerate for 2 days before serving to allow the mixture to ferment, and then use within 1 week (after a few days or so the ginger beer will start to lose its fizz).