To every quart of honey allow six Wine-quarts of water; half an Ounce of Nutmegs, and the Peel of a Limon, and the meat of two or three, as you make the quantity. Boil these together, till the scum rise no more; It must stand till it be quite cold, and when you Tun it, you squeese into it the juyce of some Limons, and this will make it ripen quickly. It will be ready in less then a month.
(From The Closet of... Sir Kenelme Digby... Opened, 1669. )
Take three Pound of White-honey, or the best Hampshire-honey, and dissolve it in a Gallon of water, and then boil it; and when it beginneth first to boil; put into it half a quarter of an Ounce of Ginger a little bruised; and a very little Cloves and Mace bruised, and a small quantity of Agrimony. Let all this boil together a full hour, and keep it constantly skimmed, as long as any Scum will rise upon it. Then strain it forth into some clean Kiver or other vessel, and let stand a cooling; and when it is cold, let it stand, till it be all creamed over with a blackish cream, and that it make a kind of hissing noise; then put it up into your vessel, and in two or three months time it will be fit to drink.
Look how much you intend to make, the same quantities must be allowed to every Gallon of water.
Note: in both these recipes no mention is made of the addition of yeast. In older houses, where brewing and baking have been done for many years under less than sterile conditions, yeasts have taken up residence, their spores swirling freely in the air and falling into vats and kneading troughs, raising the bread and fermenting the beer without human intervention. It is possible that those recipes which leave out the yeast come from homes with such resident yeast colonies. Or, it may simply have been an oversight.
To every gallon of spring water add one ounce of sliced white ginger, one pound of common loaf sugar, and two ounces of lemon juice, or three large tablespoonfuls; boil it near an hour, and take off the scum; then run it through a hair sieve into a tub, and when cool (viz. 70 degrees) add yeast in proportion of half a pint to nine gallons; keep it in a temperate situation two days, during which it may be stirred six or eight times; then put it into a cask, which must be kept full, and the yeast taken off at the bung-hole with a spoon. In a fortnight add half a pint of fining (isinglass picked and steeped in beer) to nine gallons, which will, if it has been properly fermented, clear it by ascent. The cask must be kept full, and the rising particles taken off at the bung-hole. When fine (which may be expected in twenty-four hours) bottle cork it well, and in summer it will be ripe and fit to drink in a fortnight.
(From the Family Receipt Book, etc., 1819.)
...Ginger beer is made in the following proportions: - One cup of ginger, one pint of molasses, one pail and a half of water, and a cup of lively yeast. Most people scald the ginger in half a pail of water, and then fill it up with a pailful of cold; but in very hot weather some people stir it up cold. Yeast must not be put in till it is cold, or nearly cold. If not to be drank within twenty-four hours, it must be bottled as soon as it works...
(From The American Frugal Housewife, by Mrs. Child, 1832, p. 86)
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