Ginger Beer: A Probiotic Summer Drink

I try to get as many beneficial bacteria in my diet as possible. Right now in my kitchen I have a healthy, bubbly sourdough starter, a jar of sauerkraut fermenting away on the counter, a jug of kombucha on top of the fridge, a gallon of fermented lemonade inside the fridge that’s almost gone, a ginger beer bug on my night stand, and homemade yogurt sitting on the dryer.

I try to keep the ferments at least 15 feet away from each other (which is a challenge in a tiny 1 bedroom apartment) so they don’t cross ferment. You don’t really want bacteria from another strain landing on your kombucha or yogurt, because over long periods of time it will change your scoby/culture into something else entirely. It can weaken your cultures, mutate the strains of bacteria and even kill your “bug”.

I am having a lot of fun with fermented beverages right now. We are really enjoying the lacto-fermented lemonade, and it goes really fast. As the weather warms up, it is the perfect time to start experimenting. Ginger Beer is another really easy beverage to make yourself. It is tangy and sweet and bubbly and would be an excellent soda pop replacement for anyone trying to break that addiction.

Ginger Beer Bug

Small glass jar

1 1/2 cups purified water

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp ground ginger powder

Mix ginger, sugar and water. Cover jar with a coffee filter or towel and leave on the counter at room temperature. Every day feed the bug 2 tsp of sugar and 2 tsp of ground ginger. Around day 7 you should see bubbles when you stir the bug. That means it’s ready. Don’t panic if this takes longer, I have had it take almost 3 weeks in the winter.

While it’s fermenting away, work on finding a good container for your ginger beer. Most people use empty 2 liter soda bottles, because it is easy to tell if your beer is ready with plastic (by squeezing). I have used plastic bottles and 2 small beer jugs that we got from a local micro-brewery. (a great source for cheap fermenting supplies BTW) You can also reuse 1 gallon milk or water containers. What I really should do is buy a fermentation lock for these glass jugs. They are like $2, I don’t know what I’m waiting for….

Ginger Beer

3/4 cup sugar

4 lemons

1 gallon purified water

your finished Ginger Bug

  • If you’re  using several smaller containers, just mix this in a 1 gallon pitcher and pour into the smaller containers by funnel.
  • Let the sediment settle to the bottom of your ginger bug. Pour the liquid off of the top, into the pitcher.
  • Add the juice of 4 lemons, sugar and water. Stir to mix it all up. (leave the sediment in the original jar, you’re going to need to keep this alive for future batches)
  • Pour the beverage into the gallon jug, pop bottles etc…leave 1 inch of head space. Cap tightly.
  • Leave to ferment for at least 7 days. The longer it sits the more sugar the bacteria consume.  Now comes the fun part (and this is why plastic is easier)

Every day squeeze your plastic bottle or jug. When it gets really tight and full of air and there is no more ‘give” it’s ready and should be placed in the refrigerator immediately. If you are using glass, you look for bubbles and can test for carbonation by opening the jug. You’ll see an explosion of bubbles in the jar when you remove the cap, just like when you open a soda pop. It’s ready.

You can also (and I have) not carbonate it at all. I have mixed this in a 1 gallon juice pitcher and covered it loosely with the lid and just let it sit there for 7-14 days. It tasted exactly the same and was delicious, just not carbonated like soda. I honestly don’t particularly like carbonation, I never was a big fan of soda. So I usually bottle half of it tightly and the other half I leave uncovered so the fermentation gasses can escape.

How to Keep Your Ginger Bug Alive

After you’re finished making your ginger beer, you are left with your original “bug”. Which is a glass jar with about 1/2 inch of ginger sediment in it.

Add 1 1/2 cups purified water to the jar

Mix in 2 tsp sugar

Mix in 2 tsp ground ginger powder

Every day (or when you remember) feed the bug with ginger and sugar and stir. After you are finished drinking up your ginger beer, your bug will be ready to make more. It is a very easy “scoby” to maintain and almost impossible to kill once it gets really bubbly. Every time  you make a batch of ginger beer, remember to reserve that sediment in the bottom of the jar, and you can make ginger beer forever.

Has anyone tried making this with fresh grated ginger? I tried it twice, and both times it was a flop. I don’t know what I was doing wrong.

50 Ways Caffeine Affects the Human Body

I have actually given up coffee twice. I did it cold turkey about two years ago and the horrible, pounding headache and extreme fatigue made it almost unbearable. I didn’t know that caffeine narrows the main artery going to your brain (maybe that’s why I’m getting stupider 🙂 and when you stop drinking caffeine cold-turkey all of a sudden, that artery opens up wide and you have a huge amount of blood rushing to your head. Hence the reason you feel every heartbeat right in the back of your brain when you quit. Ouch!

This time I did a little more research. I found the book Caffeine Blues by Stephen Cherniske, M.S. He is a researcher and clinical nutritionist. He 100% convinced me that caffeine is bad news and I committed myself to “getting off the bean”, as he says in his book. Here is what I discovered. Tomorrow I will post about HOW I quit coffee without any headache or fatigue. Yes, it can be done.

Move that rainforest. Lets make room for coffee beans!

 WHY QUIT CAFFEINE?

Believe it or not these 50 points are not an exhaustive list, but just a few key points.

1. Caffeine is a powerful drug with dangerous side effects and needs to be used with caution

2. Caffeine accumulates in the body

3. Damages the adrenals, blood vessels, breasts, brain, gastrointestinal tract, DNA, immune system and bones.

4. Caffeine is very taxing on the liver and kidneys who are continuously removing caffeine and it’s many by-products

5. Caffeine easily crosses the blood brain barrier and enters every organ, tissue and bodily fluid.

6. Caffeine contains a large amount of chemicals, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (carcinogens)

7. Caffeine is broken down into 25 by-products that all have detrimental effects on the body

8. Caffeine contains aldehydes, alcohols and sulfides. All of which have to be removed by your poor liver

9. Caffeine reduces the effectiveness of your prescription drugs.

10. Prescription drugs reduce the livers effectiveness at removing caffeine from the body

11. Some prescription drugs raise blood caffeine levels by as much as 600%.

12. Caffeine disrupts your normal adenosine receptors, which control the brain, kidneys, gastrointestinal system, cardiovascular system and respiratory system. Caffeine triggers the neurons to fire uncontrollably throughout the body.

13. Because of this excess neuron activity, it triggers an “emergency’ response from the body. We’ve all heard of the “fight or flight” response. The adrenal glands pump out large amounts of stress hormones. EVERY DAY! This has very bad long-term effects on adrenal function, blood pressure, heart rate, and thyroid hormone levels.

14. Caffeine’s by-products are reabsorbed into the blood stream. Living in the gastrointestinal tract and causing putrefaction, maldigestion, gas, bloating and increasing your risk of gastrointestinal disease.

15. Caffeine significantly increases your chance of having a heart attack or stroke by causing vascular resistance (your peripheral blood vessels restrict) and damages blood vessels throughout the body.

16. Caffeine causes your body to be less metabolically efficient. Less oxygen gets to the cells, therefore less waste is removed from the cells, increasing your risk of every type of cancer.

17. Caffeine causes the blood vessels in the brain to constrict and blood flow to your brain is literally reduced. One study showed that a single 12 oz cup of coffee reduced cerebral blood flow by 40%.

18. Caffeine reduces the quality and quantity of sleep.

19. Caffeine fights against your immune system and can turn it against you, causing auto-immune disease. This condition, known as immune dysregulation, is responsible for Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Muscular Dystrophy and Fibromyalgia.

20. Caffeine accelerates age-related deterioration.

21. Caffeine raises dopamine levels and interacts with opiate receptors in exactly the same way the amphetamines and cocaine do, making it a highly addictive drug!

22. Caffeine is a known factor in several illnesses including: anxiety disorders, insomnia, bipolar disorder, depression, ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, hypoglycemia, asthma, herpes, hypertension, hepatitis, diabetes, heart disease and many others..

23. Caffeine has horrible long-term effects on the adrenal glands, affecting every one of the 150 hormones produced and metabolized by these glands.

24. Caffeine cuts your DHEA levels drastically. DHEA is known as the “vitality hormone” and “the anti-aging hormone”. This causes decreased energy, decreased immune function, decreased sex drive, and reduced ability to repair and rebuild tissue.

25. Caffeine causes negative moods, anger, violence, anxiety, excess worry, frustration and depression.

26. Caffeine decreases your ability to deal with stress by lowering the GABA levels in your blood, at the same time increasing the amount of stress hormones flowing through your bloodstream. This equals big anxiety and stress!

27. Caffeine is the first thing we reach for when we are fatigued. Caffeine is the cause of our fatigue. A vicious cycle.

28. Clinical evidence shows that at a certain point, stress and caffeine-related alterations of hormones and metabolic functions may not be reversible! That scares me!

29. Caffeine causes increases loss of thiamin and other B-vitamins. Caffeine also decreases your ability to absorb these nutrients from food or supplements. Vitamin B deficiency is one major cause of neurological damage.

30. Caffeine decreases your ability to absorb calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc and chloride. This increases your risk of a whole host of illnesses including osteoporosis.

31. Caffeine oxidizes available iron by as much as 75% (this study was with ONE cup of coffee)!

32. Caffeine decreases melatonin production (the hormone that protects your cellular DNA).

33. Caffeine directly affects the neurotransmitters involved with memory and learning, decreasing mental acuity and causing brain fog.

34. Caffeine raises blood sugar levels and disrupts the blood sugar-regulating effect of insulin.

35. Caffeine raises fatty acid levels in the blood.

36. Caffeine raises homocysteine levels, increasing your risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

37. Coffee, in addition to caffeine, contains pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, which all have a cumulative effect in the body. Coffee is the most heavily sprayed food ever grown. It is also unregulated because most coffee is grown outside of the USA. Many of the chemicals used are so dangerous they are banned in the United States.

38. Caffeine lowers sperm count as well as decreasing the virility and mobility of existing sperm.

39. Caffeine causes uric acid crystals to be deposited in the cartilage & joints (gout) feet (bone spurs) and kidneys (kidney stones)

40. Caffeine significantly increases intra-ocular pressure in the eyes, contributing to glaucoma and macular degeneration.

41. Women consuming even one cup/150mg of caffeine per day are 7 times more likely to suffer from PMS.

42. Caffeine drinkers have abnormally high levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) in their breast tissue, which is directly related to fibrocystic breast disease. One study showed 82% of women experienced complete disappearance of breast lumps after eliminating caffeine for 30-45 days.

43. Your risk of miscarriage increases by 200% if you drink more than 160 mg of caffeine per day while pregnant.

44. Because of its effects on vitamin and mineral absorption, caffeine increases the likelihood of birth defects.

45. Because of its effects on oxygen delivery, caffeine increases the likelihood of birth defects and low birth weight.

46. Babies born addicted to caffeine are more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

47. A recent study showed high levels DDT, BHC, lindane, aldrin and chlordane on all brazilian coffee beans tested. These chemicals are not ‘burned off’ during the roasting process as previously thought.

48. Run off from coffee plantations decimates rain forests, kills fish, pollutes lakes and streams and eventually finds its way to the ocean. Coral reefs thousands of miles out from shore are dying from this pollution

49. Workers in third world countries use no protection or safety equipment while spraying these chemicals. This is a major health risk for the growers and processors who come in contact with a massive quantity of these drugs.

50. In the 20 years between 1975 and 1995 more than 500,000 square kilometers of Amazonian rain forest was leveled to make room for coffee plantations, in Brazil alone!

Many children never go to school in Brazil and Columbia because they are needed on the coffee plantations.

Folgers Field in Brazil. This used to be 985 square miles of rainforest.

So what are you waiting for? I just gave you 50 good reasons to put down the coffee mug, the pop bottle, the diet pills and the chocolate bar. Ok, maybe you can have just a little bite of chocolate 🙂

Tomorrow I will post the routine I used to quit coffee addiction. Stay tuned!

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