Ginger beer takes many different forms. The original homemade variety was a product of fermentation, originating in Britain. Most ginger beer now is no longer homemade but store bought, although there are numerous recipes available online for do-it-yourself versions. Fresh ginger is a part of many ginger beer recipes, and it is known for its health benefits.
In North America, the production of ginger beer as a drink dates back to the 1700s when British colonists brewed it in homes and in public taverns. Its commercial production began after the American Civil War. An independent bottler in South Carolina carries on a tradition that began in 1903 of manufacturing ginger ale near the Blenheim Artesian Mineral Springs. James Spears, a Whig fleeing from Tory troops, happened upon the springs by chance in 1781. He paved the way for the use of the mineral waters that make the production of ginger ale possible.
Some manufacturers recommend chilling ginger beer and drinking it in a tall, frosty glass, to derive maximum enjoyment of this refreshing drink. They also suggest combining it with other products, like rum. It is available in a diet form too. In Scotland, alcoholic ginger beer is a popular drink. One variety contains four secret ingredients that are part of a recipe that combines them with steeped ginger from the Far East.
Ginger has a long history in Chinese medicine, particularly in easing digestive disorders. Ginger beer may ease various health conditions, including motion sickness, queasy stomachs, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Ginger has high concentrations of gingerols and other valuable nutrients, according to Dr. Ben Kim's "Experience Your Best Health" website, and a small amount of ginger goes a long way. In particular, Dr. Kim cites a study published in the April 2005 issue of "Obstetrics and Gynecology" that found ginger decreased nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, and did not cause any side effects as with some conventional drugs.
In The Kitchen
Ginger beer is as popular as it is versatile, judging from the number of appealing recipes that focus on this drink. For example, British chef Jamie Oliver uses fresh ginger in his "Easy Peasy Ginger Beer" recipe while All Recipes includes a family recipe for ginger beer dating back to Tudor times. An easy recipe for a ginger beer glaze comes from the CD Kitchen website: Bake a ham drizzled with 1 cup of ginger beer, then in the last 30 minutes of baking, add a mixture of 1/4 cup each of brown sugar and ginger beer. The site also has a more detailed recipe for almond ginger beer bread. Another recipe, on Food.com, is for ginger beer battered fish utilizing about 12 oz., of ginger beer in a standard batter mix of flour, baking powder and cornstarch.
- Photo Credit fresh ginger image by Brett Mulcahy from Fotolia.com
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