GINGER: simply amazing

Its numerous health benefits AND how to make homemade Ginger Beer!

You’re no doubt quite familiar with Ginger as a spice or herbal supplement, but it’s also the primary ingredient for a delicious, satisfying, naturally healthy beverage that’s been regularly consumed by cultures around the world for hundreds if not thousands of years: Ginger Beer.

Ginger beer (just like ginger itself) has wide ranging and well-researched health benefits, including being antimicrobial and anti-fungal (Semwal et al., 2015), a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant (Dugasani et al., 2010), and even anti-cancer (Mohd Yusof, 2016). The active phenols in Ginger are numerous and include [6]-gingerol, [8]-gingerol, [10]-gingerol and [6]-shogaol in varying amounts (based upon freshness). [6]-shogaol and [10]-gingerol are present in much higher quantities in dried ginger (making dried ginger stronger in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties), while [6]-gingerol is the primary phenol in fresh ginger, making fresh ginger a potent anti-tumor agent (Bode & Dong, 2011).

Ginger in all its forms has a host of benefits for many other chronic diseases and conditions which, while beyond the scope of this article, are readily accessible for further reading and research. The bibliography at the end of this article is a good place to start. If all this isn’t enough to convince you already, then how about the fact that ginger beer is fermented, which means it’s also loaded with probiotics which aid in digestion and encourage a healthy gut biome. Additionally, while technically a beer, it actually has little to no alcoholic content, meaning kids can drink it too. But we drink ginger beer simply because it's good for us? No! We drink it because it TASTES GREAT and it’s amazingly easy to make. Try it and you’ll see!

Here’s how: What you’ll need (depending upon how large a quantity you make):

  • Fresh ginger root and/or dried ginger.
  • Sugar (I use raw Demerara sugar).
  • Lemon or lime juice (fresh is best).
  • Brewer’s yeast (any kind that’s suitable for beer or wine will work).
  • A large pot (I use an 8 quart dutch oven type).
  • A grater. A strainer/sieve. A kitchen funnel.
  • One or two one-gallon glass jars
  • Six to 12 stoppered glass or ceramic bottles.

You can readily find suitable bottles, jars, and yeast on Amazon. Most supermarkets have fresh ginger root, although most store-bought ginger root is not fully organic. You can often find high-quality ginger root at Asian markets or even locally grown ginger at farmer’s markets. There are many, many recipes available online, but here’s how I make mine:


  1. Fill an 8 quart pan to about 2 inches from the top with filtered water (tap water is fine, but will take longer to ferment due to chlorination). Place over medium-high heat on stove.
  2. Grate fresh ginger until you have approximately one to two cups (depending on your tastes...I like to use a half pound or more of fresh ginger root) and add to water. OPTIONAL: Add one to two heaping tablespoons of dried ginger, or substitute ¼ to ½ cup dried ginger in place of fresh ginger root (again, depending on your taste).
  3. Add the juice of ½ to 2 lemons or limes. I actually use about a cup of Key Lime juice in mine. While the acid can enhance taste, it’s primary use is to encourage the action of fermentation. My personal taste is to use enough to enhance the natural citrusy taste and smell of fresh ginger.
  4. Add approximately ½ to 1 pound of demerara or turbinado sugar, OPTIONAL: substitute with honey or maple syrup. As a general rule of thumb, I try to sweeten just enough to achieve a “lemonade” level of sweetness. Most of this sugar will be converted in the fermentation process. Some recipes call for using lesser amounts initially and then sweetening to taste after fermentation, but I find it works just about right as outlined.
  5. Bring liquid to a boil and then remove from heat.
  6. Ladle liquid through a sieve into one of the one gallon glass jars until the level reaches approximately 2-3 inches from the top. Switch to the other glass jar and continue the straining process until all the liquid is transferred.
  7. Allow the jars to cool to “blood warm” which means you can just barely detect any warmth to the glass. The purpose is to have the liquid cool enough that it won’t kill the yeast when it’s added (less than 110 degrees F), but if you wish to be precise, the temperature of the liquid should be between 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Add approximately ½ teaspoon of brewer’s yeast to each jar and stir until dissolved. TIP: Adding the yeast directly to the jars can sometimes result in a sulfury odor when first opening a finished bottle. This is because the yeast is sometimes “stressed”, depending on the characteristics of the particular yeast you buy. I’ve found that “conditioning” the yeast by pre-mixing it in a small amount of water and a bit of sugar/honey/maple syrup beforehand and then adding it to the liquid after 5-10 minutes eliminates the problem.
  9. Cover the mouth of each jar with cloth. A clean kitchen towel is fine. This is to allow the yeast to “breathe” as it ferments.
  10. Place the jars in a space out of direct room light or sunlight. I’ve found inside or under a cabinet to be fine.
  11. Let stand for 12-36 hours, again, this will depend upon the characteristics of the yeast, the room temperature, etc., until you can see active bubbling on the surface of the liquid when looking into the jar.
  12. Using a funnel, ladle the liquid into the stoppered bottles just until the liquid covers the point where the body of the bottle meets the neck. When finished, stopper bottles and refrigerate immediately. Your ginger beer will be ready to drink within 24-48 hours after refrigeration. You’ll know it’s ready when you open a bottle and get a satisfying “pop”. Simply reset the stopper and return to the fridge if it’s not quite ready.

I really enjoy trying different things to see how it changes the results, including adding fresh juices such as blueberry, pineapple, carrot, etc., just before adding the yeast, varying the types and amounts of sugars I use, and so on. It’s hard to “mess up” when making ginger beer, so experiment and find YOUR perfect recipe while enjoying a tremendously satisfying AND healthy beverage!

Bode, A. M., & Dong, Z. (2011). The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. In I. F. F. Benzie & S. Wachtel-Galor (Eds.), Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects (2nd ed.). CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.

Dugasani, S., Pichika, M. R., Nadarajah, V. D., Balijepalli, M. K., Tandra, S., & Korlakunta, J. N. (2010). Comparative antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of [6]-gingerol, [8]-gingerol, [10]-gingerol and [6]-shogaol. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 127(2), 515–520. Mohd Yusof,

Y. A. (2016). Gingerol and Its Role in Chronic Diseases. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 929, 177–207.

Semwal, R. B., Semwal, D. K., Combrinck, S., & Viljoen, A. M. (2015). Gingerols and shogaols: Important nutraceutical principles from ginger. Phytochemistry, 117, 554–568.