There was a time when ginger beer bugs were found on many a Formica kitchen bench, merrily blip blipping away. Old fashioned ginger beer bugs are something many of us remember from our childhood, and although you can google recipes for making ginger beer that involve yeast and seem to be ready to drink pretty much immediately, that is not the ginger beer that I remember from mine.
As the saying goes: Good things take time. Ginger beer as my folks used to make, involved a mysterious "bug" that sat on the kitchen bench and needed to be fed every day. It bubbled away, sending out little lava explosions of ginger now and then that could entertain a bored child for longer than you'd expect. The liquid was drained off it once a week and mixed with sugar, water and lemon juice, then poured into glass bottles and capped with a cruel-looking clampy thing.
The bottles went into wooden crates, then into a cool place under the house, accessed by the trap-door in the wardrobe floor (true story), in the bedroom that my sister and I shared. Dad would go and fish out a few bottles as required and it was the best ginger beer you ever tasted. Dry and spicy and the perfect drink to quench a summer thirst.
The problem was, that summer under the house, it wasn't quite as cool as you'd think and one night the ginger beer went off like BOMBS. My sister and I were petrified and the remaining bottles were "gingerly" removed by Dad. So ended my childhood memories of ginger beer.
Some years ago, my sister and I decided to have a stall together to make use of the mass of lemons we both had. Thinking about what to sell we hit upon the idea of selling the ginger beer recipe with all the ingredients needed to make the cherished drink of our childhood memories.
So the Old Fashioned Ginger Beer Bug Kit was born.
We measured our ingredients, downsized the recipe to fit in a preserving jar and did some trial runs. The taste was a trip down memory lane and unsurprisingly the debut of this product at the Ngatimoti fair in early 2008 was a runaway success. The Country Trading Co. store was founded later the same year and the Old Fashioned Ginger Beer Bug was one of the founding products.
The rest, as they say, is history and in the following eight years we sold thousands of these little jars of nostalgia. We sold that many of them that I often wondered if spice traders in NZ wondered why the demand for ground ginger suddenly spiked. But all good things come to an end and eventually, we decided to retire the Ginger Beer Bug.
Now the recipe is yours to enjoy. We had a lot of joy from it and I hope you will too. So here it is folks - the Country Trading Co. Old Fashioned Ginger Beer Bug recipe. Share it around, bottle it in recycled plastic soft drink bottles if you can find them - they are food safe and safer than glass - and store it somewhere cool.