Thursday, October 04, 2007

Real Ginger Beer Plant

I've lost the cable that connects the camera to the computer again, so I can't show you the cute pictures of the kids drinking ginger beer. They loved it, and I had to ration them or they would have drunk the whole lot at once.

Whilst surfing the web looking for ginger beer links, I found something very surprising. Apparently I haven't made a ginger beer plant at all. What I've made is a ginger beer yeast culture. It's very nice, but it's not the real deal.

The authentic traditional ginger beer plant (pictured) is a gelatinous symbiotic organism consisting of a yeast and a bacillus. You can't just make one, you have to get it from someone who already has one. Where did the first one come from? And who figured out that you could use it to make ginger beer?

I find myself fascinated by this weird compound organism that can make delicious spicy drinks. It's like the bit in the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy where someone says that the babel fish (which can translate any language if you drop it in your ear) is proof of God, because how could anything so fantastically useful have evolved by accident? Or the Eddie Izzard sketch where he expresses amazement that bees make honey. He says "Do earwigs make chutney? Do spiders make gravy?".

I'm trying to get my hands on an authentic ginger beer plant, so I can compare the ginger beer made that way with the yeast culture method.

13 comments:

heather t said...

Oh, I'm sorry, but you're quote on the Babel fish is incorrect. The whole bit is rather long, but so funny I have to see if Blogger will take it (maybe in parts):

Now it is such a bizarrely improbably coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the nonexistence of God.

The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist," says Gold, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."

"Oh, dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.


I have some issues with the idea that "proof denies faith" - it's not in the Bible, anyway. Adams was a raging evolutionist. I love his writing, but, personally, I like your quote better.

heather t said...

Oh, by the way, I find your ginger beer process quite fascinating!

heather t said...

Also, I just realized I spelled "your" wrong on the initial comment. Sorry. Shutting up now.

Kamrin said...

Hmmm...I kinda like the look of the frothy bowl better. I am learning a lot though! Eddie Izzard is funny! Now I gotta find that clip on YouTube...

benjymous said...

What sort of memory card does your camera take? You should be able to pick up a USB card reader for £5-10 that you can just keep attached to your computer all the time, which has the added bonus of letting you download photos even when your camera's battery is flat.

-- benjymous (also a Hitchhiker's reference, if people hadn't noticed!)

Melanie Rimmer said...

Thanks, benjy. I've found it now.

Great Big Veg Challenge said...

We always did this as children - had a ginger beer plant brewing in the scullery.
Its a fun thing to do and I love the taste of homemade ginger beer.

Hedgewizard said...

The question in the case of honey is of course posed the wrong way round; life has evolved to make use of products around us, rather than it being astonishing that the products just happen to suit us. That isn't an anti-god argument of course, just an observation.

Similarly, I got the chance to talk to Bryan Adams some years ago and he was talking about writing lyrics. I asked him how he avoided rhymes sounding contrived and he said he always wrote the second line first - so the awkward bit for the first line, and was already forgotten. So honey is gorgeous - therefore make some bees ;-)

Dora Renee' Wilkerson said...

Hello!
I too have been looking for a "Real" Ginger beer plant. I have been told you can use Milk kefir grains to make it and that is what I am trying this week (I LOVE my kefir grains!)
There is a site that say it has ginger beer plant but I am not sure if it's the real thing or not. You can check it out at the Happy Herbalist online (I get a kick out of that name..lol..)
Well good luck with your search. I'll try to come back too if I do find the "real" thing and let you know where I found it at.

Dora Renee' Wilkerson

Scott B said...

Here is another site for Ginger Beer Plant.
http://www.fermentedtreasures.com/gingerbp.html
I have been reading up on GBP and found this site and then found your post. They have milk kefir and water kefir grains also. I recently have started fermenting milk with kefir grains and I wish to try the water kefir and GBP.

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