This 'ginger beer' recipe enhanced with wheatgrass juice is an excellent way to preserve the bioactive substances found in wheatgrass. It is also a more enjoyable way to drink wheatgrass than mixing it with fruit juice or sculling it by itself. As an alternative to fresh wheatgrass juice you may wish to experiment with powdered wheatgrass, speltgrass, barley green, spirulina and so on. You could start with the equivalent of 2 tablespoons per 750 mls. Raw honey is used in preference to barley malt to help sweeten the brew.
There are four main steps to brewing a lacto fermented beverage.
1. Obtain a suitable
primary starter culture that contains the required microbial organisms.
2. Activate the starter by fermenting a starter extension.
3. Ferment the sugars with the bulk of the liquid.
4. Add any additives such as plant material, minerals and salt, and top up the liquid to the final volume.
Makes 3 litres,
4 x 750ml bottles. You need a suitable 4 litre container made from glass,
stainless steel, ceramic or food grade plastic, and equipment to make the wheatgrass.
Step 1. Obtain a suitable primary starter culture that contains the required microbial organisms.
Step 2. Activate the starter by fermenting a starter extension.
3. Ferment the sugars with the bulk of the liquid.
Calibrate the fermentation vessel at the 3 litre mark. Add 1 litre of water, the raw honey and blackstrap molasses to the fermentation vessel, stir until dissolved. Add the starter extension and stir once again. Leave for 12 hours then stir gently. After 24 hours add the rest of the ingredients as follows.
4. Add any additives such as plant material, minerals and salt, and top
up the liquid to the final volume.
Peel and grate the ginger and strain the ginger pulp through a piece of muslin, using tongs to squeeze out the juice into a glass bowl. Add the ginger juice to the fermentation vessel. Then add the ginger pulp to a saucepan with just enough water to cover it then add the licorice root and simmer for about 20 minutes, with the lid on. Turn off the heat and add the gingko biloba and leave to steep for a few minutes.
Strain the tea through a sieve or colander lined with muslin into bowl. Use a pair of tongs to squeeze out the liquid. (Take care as it will be very hot.) Put the pulp back into the saucepan, add enough water to cover the cover the pulp and simmer for a further 15 minutes, then strain once again. Add the sea salt and optional minerals to the tea, and stir. When the herbal tea is cooled to less than 30C add it to the fermentation vessel. Add the lime/lemon juice to the fermentation vessel.
Juice the wheatgrass through a slow speed juicer and add the juice to the fermentation vessel then make up the volume to 3 litres with water. Stir the brew then cover the container with a cloth held in place with an elastic band to prevent the entry of insects. Gently stir the brew after 12 hours and then after another 12 hours to mix the sediment and scum back into the liquid. If it looks like the scum could be drying out you may wish to gently stir the scum back into the liquid every day, though you should leave the liquid undisturbed as possible to assist the development of an anaerobic state. Ferment for about 5 days at 20-25C.
the Wheatgrass Ginger Beer
After five days most of the sugars should have been digested but the fermentation may continue for some months. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of rice syrup in one cup of water and stir into the ferment. This small quantity of rice syrup should create enough carbon dioxide to give the wheatgrass ginger beer a light fizz. If you add too much rice syrup you risk creating dangerous gas pressures. Also take note that some sugars (especially honey) may take months to be completely digested and will continue to generate gas.
Divide the beer amongst 4 large beer bottles (750ml), top up with filtered water if necessary, cork then gently invert the bottle to mix the contents, label and leave to ferment for a further 2 days. The levels of antioxidants may continue to increase over a period of 1-3 months. Refrigerate before use and serve with a dash of kombucha tea.
Notes on Growing the Wheatgrass
You will need about one tray of wheatgrass per 750 ml bottle of beer. I use black plastic seed trays (13 x 11 x 2 inches) available from some garden suppliers.
Use about 3/4 cup of wheat grains per tray. If the wheatgrass is too dense then it will encourage the growth of mould. Make sure you use organic wheat grain from a health food shop as grain for farmers will probably contain dangerous pesticides.
Put the wheat grains in a large mason jar or food grade plastic bucket. Fill the container with water to a level about 6 inches above the wheat. Stir to remove air bubbles and leave for 12 hours. Pour off the water, rinse then spread the grain on a large stainless steel tray so that the grain is about 1/2 inch deep. Tilt the tray to drain off excess water and leave the grain to sprout. Every 4 hours either mist the grain with water or rinse thoroughly. Once the grain has sprouted roots about 1 mm in length then it is time to plant it.
Line the seed trays with butchers paper or hand towels. Avoid using anything with newsprint or ink as the chemicals may leach into soil and be taken up by the wheat. Fill each tray with organic compost, that has been mineralised with rock dust, to a depth of 1 inch. Level off the compost, then scatter the sprouted wheat grain evenly over the soil. The grain should cover about 80% of the soil, so that there are still patches of soil showing through.
Place the trays in the shade, away from direct sunlight, and out of the wind. Gently water the grains with a watering can. Needless to say you should use the best quality water you can get. Cover the trays with paper to protect the seed from drying out, then use some upturned seed trays to hold the paper in place. Every 6 hours for 1-2 days you should check that the seedlings are not drying out. It may help to mist them with water at regular intervals but take care not to over water or they will rot.
Once the seedlings are showing tiny bits of green, remove the paper and cover with with a piece of 50% shade cloth that is supported about 1-2 inches above the trays. In this way the humidity should stay high enough to prevent the roots from drying out. Once the green shoots are about 1/2 high you should be able to remove the shade cloth but you still need to take that the wheatgrass seedlings do not dry out, or get exposed to direct sunlight in the heat of the day Grow the wheatgrass to about 5 inches high. Each tray should yield about 110ml of wheatgrass juice. If the wheatgrass develops mould, throw it out and start again.
Some plastics used for growing plants may out-gas toxic chemicals. Food grade plastic seed trays would be preferable to the plastic that is used to grow flowers, though I have yet to find any. You may wish to try a supplier of hydroponics equipment and let me know what you find.
1 teaspoon = 5 ml / 5 gm. 1 tablespoon = 15 ml / 15 gm. 15 tablespoons = 1 cup / 225 ml. 1 cup = 8 fluid oz / 225 ml. 1 US gallon = 3.6 litres. 1 lb = 16 oz / 454 gm. Temperature 20C = 68F. Conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius: C = (F - 32) / 1.8. Conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit: F = C x 1.8 + 32
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