Cloudy traditional Gemmer (Home made Ginger Beer)

Having grown up in Soweto, when my parents would tell us there was a funeral or a wedding my heart would skip a beat in excitement, not for the dry as dust cakes they’d call “scones” nor the bland yellow rice and beetroot we’d be served. Nahhhh, my excitement was in anticipation of having gemmer (the Afrikaans for Ginger, most indigenous language speakers refer to it as gemere…with the last ‘e’ pronounced).

I soon discovered with time that no one quite had a recipe, the old mama’s in the kitchen, my folks, my gran, NO ONE. I assume just like how they make the dry scones people just guess quantities of ingredients. So after much fiddling, I’ve come up with the ratios and quantities. Apparently the raisins are added to absorb the alcohol that rises to the top as the yeast ferments (I don’t know how true this is though!). You’re meant to actually strain it once its done but I’ve never seen anyone do this. To prevent it fermenting further, place in a really cold fridge. Don’t worry about it becoming alcoholic ginger beer…it takes 2 weeks minimum for this to happen.

Note: There are other techniques to making gemere that involve adding cream of tartar and tartaric acid and making use of ground ginger instead of fresh. For a less cloudy and more clarified gemere those recipes are the ones used. This recipe is for the traditional, typically cloudy variety which doesn’t make use of chemicals.


  • 3 litres cold water
  • 3 litres hot water
  • 3 cups sugar (you can add more if you want it sweeter)
  • 3 heaped spoons of freshly grated ginger
  • 1x10g packet of brewers yeast
  • Handful of raisins


  1. Stir the sugar into the hot water with the ginger for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add the cold water to the bucket as well as the yeast and raisins. Stir again.
  3. Stir the mixture every hour for the first 3 hours and then cover loosely with a lid.
  4. Set aside at room temperature for at least 2 days (it’s best served after 3 days but that’s up to you.)
  5. If you prefer your gemere less cloudy, strain through a clean muslin cloth or clean pillow case.

24 thoughts on “Cloudy traditional Gemmer (Home made Ginger Beer)

  1. Ke leboha. It seems in Cape Town, the Robertson’s Ginger packet doesn’t have instructions and since bo-Mama aren’t here to help step by step, this is muchos appreciated! Although if it comes out shady, we shall have a tutorial with Mama again:-)

  2. Hi Lesego

    I see you love ginger beer. My granny, Farida Gafoor from Lenasia, has been making her well known homemade ginger beer since I know her and her parents have been making it for all their lives in Vryburg before her. Their secret family recipe. I’ll share it with you and you can make her proud. If you need to know anything else from her, drop me a mail then i’ll hook you up with phone number.

    here it is..

    Farida Gafoor’s Home-made Ginger Beer

    • 3kg golden brown sugar
    • 1 cup raisins
    • ½ packet instant yeast
    • ½ packet cream of tartar
    • ½ packet tartaric acid
    • 100g ginger powder

    1. In a Big Pot, ad all your sugar, Fill ¾ with water and boil the sugar dissolves.
    2. Add ginger powder and boil 30 minutes or an hour.
    3. Pour into a bucket and fill with cold water.
    4. Add yeast, cream of tartar and tartaric acid to the bucket.
    5. When cooled off, add raisins.
    6. Close the bucket.
    7. The next day, check if the raisins have surfaced. If they have – then it’s ready.
    8. YOU MUST Sift the ginger beer TWICE through a new, clean cheesecloth, or new, clean cotton scarf.
    9. Bottle and refrigerate.

    1. Hi Basheera,
      The cream of tartar and tartaric acid are the two ingredients I remember my mother never would leave out of her gemmer. 🙂
      Mind to give an indication of the amount of water or the size of the bucket required. Is this like a large 20 liter bucket or the smaller 10 liter? I want to try make this but I want it to come out perfect the first time as I want to surprise my friends. They love ginger beer and are forever talking about how they’re craving gemmer 🙂

      1. Hi Cuba

        I’m not sure how many litres the pot is, but I use my biggest pot, I assume it’s about 5Lt. The bucket is 20Lt. I was also worried the first time but it came out perfect, my granny waits for us to make it now. Hope you all enjoy it.

    2. hi…this is a truenorth west province ginger beer..thanks for sharing….Grace Matshane
      from Vryburg…nice trip back to memory lain using ur taste buds

  3. Hi Lesego,

    Your way is a new variation to the one my mom always makes.

    I do not wait for funerals etc if I’m home I make it a point to buy the ingredients for my mom to make.

    She makes it almost the same way as Basheera’s gran but, we do not use yeast and you do not need to wait one to three days to drink it.

    mix a box(100g) of ginger powder
    five cups of white sugar(i use brown)
    and 2 litre of water in a pot, bring to the boil(1 – 1 1/2 hours), stirring occasionaly for sugar to disolve,
    take off the stove, pour into a 20l bucket and add cold/tap water, mix well;
    add 1 packet of cream of tartar and tartaric acid;
    add whatever fruits you want, pineapples/raisins(optional)
    pour into bottles to cool in the refrigerator and drink at your leisure.

    1. Thank u Lesego for ur recipe. Hi Kabelo I took ur recipe in December 2015 and made that gemmer uuùuuuuuuu and I am telling you now I was happy it came soo nice, my very first time making home made gemmer and it was soooooooooo good. Thou I added 2 bottles of sweeto naartjie flavour. It was too good it was I made it before, the sweeto part I heard my friend’s Mom saying something about mixing sweeto when u prepare your gemmer. Thank u I enjoyed it.


  4. Hi, lesego, thanks a lot for the recipe, my late mother was good at making gemmer, she taught my daughter , now my daughter doesn’t want to share the recipe, she keeps promising to send me the recipe, but never honours her prms, but anyway thanks for your help, i will surprise her.

    1. Rather not. You can simmer rather ginger with he sugar but rather add the tartaric and cream of tartar afterwards.

  5. Hi Lesego thank you for the recipe I am making Gemmer as we speak my first time though but hope I follow your instruction and will let you know about results God bless

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