I am making ginger beer, the old fashioned way with a plant. The plant is a jamjar which I feed with one teaspoon of sugar and powdered ginger daily.
I'm going on holiday soon, for several weeks. I've been nurturing this plant for a couple of months and it's getting really nice, and I don't want to have to start again from scratch. What can I do to preserve it while I'm away?
I have access to a fridge (about 3ºC) and a freezer (about -10ºC). Given that the plant is a rather complex symbiotic mixture of yeast and bacteria, can I halt both their metabolism simply by putting it in the fridge? Can I freeze it without killing it off completely?
The other thing I'm worried about is that given that the plant lives at room temperature and covered only by a cloth, secondary infections are prevented partly by the sterilising effect of the ginger and ethanol, but mostly by the way that there's a hell of a lot of plant there and it's simply outcompeting any wild yeast or bacteria. If I damage the plant too much it won't be able to do this any more, and I run the risk of poisoning the plant.
Update: I'm not posting this as an answer become someone else already has that honour, but...
After forgetting about the one in the fridge for too long it went manky and I threw it away. However, I recently brought the one in the freezer out of cryosuspension, fed it up for a week, and bottled.
Turns out that freezing thoroughly kills a ginger beer plant. After a week and a half the bottles are totally failing to pressurise. And now one of the bottles is going mouldy on top (the mould is floating on the surface of the liquid). To me this suggests that the ethanol content isn't high enough to kill off the mould. So I reckon that's a total failure.
I think now I'm going to have to start again from scratch; which is a shame, as I was getting a really good flavour out of it. It may be possible to salvage some of that by recycling the liquid from the culture, but it's probably not worth the risk.