Dad's Ginger Beer

Recipe from the book, Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad & Tobago (Hippocrene Books, NY), by Ramin Ganeshram.

• 1/2 lb. of fresh ginger, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace • 1 1/2 cups of light brown sugar • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise • 6 sprigs mint

Put ginger, lime juice, mace and 3/4 cup of the sugar into a wide mouthed gallon glass or ceramic jar. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into jar and add the pod. Add 12 cups boiling water to jar and stir until sugar dissolves. Set ginger mixture side to steep and cool to room temperature. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for 1 week.

Line a large sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth. Strain ginger mixture through sieve into another wide mouthed gallon glass or ceramic jar, firmly pressing on solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much flavor as possible. Discard solids. Add the remaining sugar to ginger beer and stir until it dissolves. Serve in glasses over crushed ice, garnished with mint sprigs.

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