Saving the Planet, One Drink at a Time Pt. 2

In the previous post, I talked about finding ways to reuse cucumber outside of infusions, syrups and tinctures. I made mention of Cucumber Beer. I want to share the process I use to lightly ferment Cucumbers and make carbonated beverage similar to Ginger Beer, which this recipe is based on.

This recipe isn’t possible without learning from it in Jeffrey Morganthaler’s The Bar Book. Up until that point I was exclusively using Gosling’s canned Ginger Beer, a great product but it leans on the sweet side. Since the reintroduction of the Moscow Mule, it’s been annoying tossing out all those cans into trash bins, most places I have worked that serves Mules didn’t want to fuss with the extra work to recycle the cans. There has to be a different solution: see a need, fill a need. And that solution came in the form of Jeffrey’s recipe, which requires a small amount of labor, but it is something that can be easily scaled up and adjusted in different ways.

Cucumber Beer

2200 ml. Filtered Water at 35 * Celsius (this temp will help bloom the yeast)

300 ml. Juiced Cucumbers (peeled)

480 ml. Fresh Pressed Lemon Juice finely strained

840 ml. 1:1 Cane Syrup

Champagne Yeast

Roll up your sleeves, it’s time to prep. Start will cutting the end of the cucumbers followed by peeling them. Set aside in a metal bowl or plate, weigh your cane sugar and water then stir to dissolve, set aside to rest at room temperature. In a large stock pot or using small pots in sequence, bring the water up to temperature. The point is to create an environment suitable for the yeast to do the job of breaking down sugars and converting that energy into CO2. Measure the lemon juice and be sure its close to room temperature and double strained, you want, fresh out of the refrigerator will lower to temperature of the simmered water. The last step is to juice the cucumbers by using a blender or passing through a juicer. Extract as much juice as possible until you’ve measured out the amount listed above.

Combine everything, leaving the champagne yeast for last. Make sure your mixture is fully homogenized. All that’s left is to bottle and store. Bottling can be anything from 8oz. glass bottles to 2liter soda bottles, just take into consideration your planned usage and maintaining freshness. Slowly fill your bottles leaving space at towards to top to allow for gases to build up without causing any messy disruptions. Once filled, add a small pinch of champagne yeast into the bottle, seal and shake to incorporate.

Time to wait.

Two days of fermentation should be the sweet spot, in the past I have found going a little longer develops a sort of pickled flavor, which in itself is quite interesting, something along the lines of a celery soda. After two days have elapsed, the final step is to refrigerate to stop the fermentation. Once your bottles are chilled and ready to serve, crack it open and give it a taste.

Southside Mule

2 oz. Hendricks Gin

1/4 oz. Fresh Pressed Lime Juice

4 oz. Cucumber Beer

Small Bouquet of Mint

Build in preferred glass or mule mug, start with lime juice, gin then cucumber beer add pebble ice and finish with a small bouquet of mint.

I did say this recipe is easily adjusted and modified, and I mean it. Previous recipes I’ve made with various degrees of success include:

  • Rhubarb + Strawberry
  • Blackberry + Orange Flower Water
  • Carrot + Ginger
  • Sweet Potato + Ginger
  • Cucumber + Cardamon

Try it out, make mistakes. It’s time to explore.


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