Here's a delicious experiment I did the other day, Ginger-Burdock beer. It's a fizzy drink, brewed with wild yeast captured from the air. It's a lot like ginger beer, but with a deep earthy undertone to it. At first it tastes strange, sweet, but not sweet like sugar is, but also tangy. It grows on you, and after the first sip, I found myself wanting more and more.
Burdock, also known as Gobo, is a vigorous weed in these parts. It has these nasty seeds, that hitchhike by attaching themselves to clothing or hair or wool of any animal (people included) who happen to come just a little too close to it. Though most people here consider it a nuisance, it has a long history of use in Europe and Asia.
Just like making a ginger beer, you need a bug to capture the yeast from the air. You can use a simple ginger bug, or what I find works better is a burdock bug.
- Fill a jar half full with water (if you are on city water, use water that has been boiled and cooled to room temperature).
- Add 4 Tbs grated or finely chopped burdock root (washed but keep the skin on)
- And 2 tsp of sugar.
- Stir vigorously and cover with a cheesecloth.
- Twice a day, add 2 tsp of sugar and give it a vigorous stir. It's ready when it starts to have bubbles, or sometimes froth on top.
- If it's not active in 4 days, add another 2 tbs of burdock root.
Ginger Burdock Beer
Per 2 gallon of water you need...
1 burdock root
hand sized piece of ginger
2 cups sugar
- Chop the burdock and ginger and put in a large pot with the water. If you are making a huge batch, then only use half the water for this and add the rest after you've made the tea.
- Boil the ginger and burdock for 30 min. Cool to room temperature.
- Strain out the ginger, and add the sugar to the water. Add the liquid from the bug. Stir vigorously.
- Cover with a towel and leave at room temperature for 1 to 3 days. It should start to make small bubbles and then subside, but I don't always notice this happening, so I usually bottle when I get around to it instead of relying on the fermentation. The longer you leave it at this stage, the more alcoholic it will be. A normal ginger-burdock beer should be less than 1% alcohol. Think more soda than beer.
- Bottle in bottles that can handle pressure. Burdock has a lot more sugar in it than you may think, and I find it carbonates quickly and with great enthusiasm. Mine was ready for drinking 3 hours after I bottled it (opposed to the 3 or 4 days the ginger beer takes).
- Be careful when you open it. Best drunk outside.
When I strained the ginger burdock tea, I was impressed with the fluorescent green colour of the liquid.
Although it quickly oxidized into a more natural looking brown - green.
The finished drink clarified quite a bit. I think that next time I make this, I may try cutting the sugar in half and see how that tastes.
Affordable cooking: yes, I think so. I harvest the burdock from the garden, and ginger is affordable these days.
Vegan friendly: Yes.
Healthy: I think so. Both burdock and ginger have healing properties in most traditional medicines. Compared to commercially carbonated drinks, there is very little sugar in this. Also, it's excellent for replenishing electrolytes on a hot day.