It’s that time of year again! Time for decorative gourds and lattes made with pumpkin spice. Time for jack o lanterns and scarves, candy skulls and marigolds, witches and wizards and ghouls and ghosts. A Harry Potter kind of time.
We’ve never wanted to sample the Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans described in the Harry Potter series, with flavors ranging from Earthworm to Booger to Soap. But the series always did make a mug of Pumpkin Beer sound like just the thing on a cold autumn day, warm with spices and the round orange essence of pumpkin, brewed for kids as a non-alcoholic refreshment. So we decided to create our own, using the Ginger Bug.
If you’re not familiar with the ginger bug, check out some of our previous posts on how to make one, or follow these abbreviated instructions. Proper ginger bug takes about a week to get going, so plan accordingly.
In a mason jar, combine a pint of unchlorinated water with about 2 tablespoons of grated, raw organic ginger, and an equal amount of white sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, and cover the jar with a clean kitchen towel. Leave it out on the counter at room temperature. Every day, feed the bug by grating in 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, and adding 1 tablespoon more sugar. After a few days, the mixture should be bubbly and active. Once it is bubbling, you don’t need to add any more ginger to keep it active, but continue feeding the tablespoon of sugar daily until you are ready to use the bug. Ideally, you should feed the bug well before using it in a recipe such as this Pumpkin Beer, to ensure that the yeast and bacteria are at their most active. Strain out the grated ginger, and use only the liquid for this recipe.
Use this liquid to kick off fermentation in wild sodas, like this warming, non-alcoholic Pumpkin Beer. It will keep your spirit fortified for the fight against He Who Must Not Be Named.
Do note that although this recipe is similar in many ways to the Fermented Pumpkin Syrup that we published last year around this time, this is, in fact, a different recipe. The sugar levels are different, as well as the ginger bug measurement. While the Pumpkin Syrup (also a worthy and fun recipe!) is meant to be used as a flavoring syrup over foods and in beverages, the Pumpkin Beer is more similar to a Ginger Beer, making a thinner, spicier, less sweet and more carbonated beverage. If there’s anything (anything!) we’ve learned over the years, it’s that there is more than one way to ferment a pumpkin. See also: Fermented Winter Squash
Makes about 4 pints
In a saucepan, combine the grated pumpkin with 1 quart of the water, sugar, freshly grated ginger, and the spices.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. For a stronger pumpkin flavor, allow this mixture to cool naturally while the pumpkin soaks.
Strain the solids out of the liquid, into a half gallon jar, pressing them to remove the last of the juices. These solids are wonderful incorporated into quick breads like this cranberry pumpkin loaf from a few years back. Just reduce the sugar in the loaf recipe to taste if you want less sweetness.
Add the remaining quart of cool water to the strained pumpkin ginger liquid to cool it. Test the temperature with your finger; it should be at body temperature or below. If it is still too warm, allow the mixture to cool at room temperature or in the fridge until it has cooled sufficiently. Too much heat will destroy the probiotic action of the ginger bug.
When the pumpkin liquid is cool, add the lemon juice and a tablespoon of active ginger bug liquid. Stir to combine.
Using a funnel, pour the combined liquid into clamp top bottles suitable for carbonated beverages and secure the lids.
Allow the pumpkin beer to ferment at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 10 to 15 days. Taste it occasionally, to ascertain how the ferment is progressing. It should end up as a sparkling, not-too-sweet beverage. When the pumpkin beer has reached a flavor to your liking, place the bottles in the refrigerator to stop fermentation and over-carbonation. (Pumpkin beer, like kombucha or ginger beer made from the ginger bug, is not shelf-stable).
It’s part of our mission here at Mountain Feed to help you make delicious, sustainable, homemade food more often. Stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Or, as always, you can do it the old fashioned way and come by the store to speak with one of our in-house experts.