Did you know that you can make homemade fermented sodas with only water, fresh ginger root, and sugar? It’s true! Ginger bug is made from a free-range culture that is easy to catch and maintain. It’s the easiest way to make your own probiotic sodas!
It is my favorite probiotic soda pop. It’s easy to brew and maintain. It doesn’t require a special starter.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR GINGER BUG
Once you’ve made your ginger bug starter (by following the recipe at the bottom of the post), it’s important to know how to care for it.
There are really two options for taking care of your starter:
1. USE UP THE STARTER
The ginger bug starter recipe makes enough starter for about 12 batches of soda. Once you’ve caught the starter, it will last in the fridge for at least 1 month without feeding. If you don’t have the time or interest in taking care of the starter, then just use it up, and make a new starter the next time you want to make ginger beer!
This is often my approach for the summer months. I want soda, but don’t have time to take care of the starter. Usually, one batch of starter is enough to last us for all of July and August.
Best of all, it’s really quick to catch the ginger bug the second time around. Your house will already have the necessary wild-yeast cultures. So if it took you 7 days the first time, expect it to take only 3 days the second time you make it.
2. MAINTAIN THE STARTER
If you want to continuously use the ginger bug starter, then you’ll need to replenish it whenever you brew. Here’s how to feed and care for your starter.
- Store the starter in the fridge, with an airtight lid, until you are ready to make soda. It will remain vigorous for at least 1 month without feeding.
- When you make sodas (removing 1/4 cup of starter to brew the soda), feed the starter 1 Tbsp of ginger, 1 Tbsp of sugar, and 1/4 cup of water.
- Cover the starter with a cloth and leave it out at room temperature for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, give it a good stir, cap with an airtight lid, and put it back in the fridge.
- If it starts to accumulate a lot of ginger remove some. The spent ginger is perfect for baking!
Ginger bug can be used to brew all sorts of different sodas. It’s also useful for making other types of ferments. Here are a few recipes to get you started!
- Make traditional ginger beer (ginger ale). This spicy, sweet probiotic drink is delicious in cocktails. It’s also a traditional remedy for nausea and digestive issues.
- Try a Canadian winter favorite, cranberry ginger ale.
- Use the starter to make all sorts of different flavors of homemade soda pop. It can be mixed with fruit juice, tea, herbs, and spices.
- Ginger bug can be used as a starter for all sorts of sweet ferments. It’s ideal for fermenting fruit.
Ginger Bug Starter
The ginger bug starter is easy to make in your own home. It’s the simplest way to make a probiotic sparkling beverage. Unlike kombucha, all you need to get started is sugar and ginger root!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 3 1/4 cups 1x
- Category: Beverages
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: British
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 1 large piece of fresh organic ginger (enough to make 5 Tbsp grated ginger)
- 5 Tbsp sugar (divided)
- 3 1/4 cups of water (chlorine-free)
- Mix 3 1/4 cup of the water with 3 Tbsp of sugar in a glass quart jar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Wash the ginger root, then grate 3 Tbsp of ginger into the quart jar. Don’t peel the ginger because the skin helps with fermentation.
- Cover with a cloth (cheesecloth or coffee filter) and secure in place with a rubber band or jar ring.
- Place the jar somewhere warm and dark to ferment (a kitchen cupboard is ideal).
- Give the ginger bug a good stir once or twice a day.
- After 3 to 7 days it should start to bubble. Once it’s started to bubble, feed it 1 Tbsp of sugar and 1 Tbsp of grated ginger each of the next two days.
- Once it is really bubbly you are ready to make ginger ale or ginger bug sodas. See the section above for information on how to maintain your ginger bug starter and links to recipes for ginger ale and ginger bug sodas.
- Don’t use a ginger root that is moldy, you don’t want that mold to grow in your starter.
- Fresh turmeric root can be used instead of ginger or in combination with ginger. Perfect for making a bright yellow turmeric soda.
- The ginger bug needs to feed on sucrose, so don’t use alternative sweeteners. Coconut sugar is fine, but honey and maple syrup are not. I like to use panela sugar, which is unrefined and makes a deep brown soda. If you use white sugar then you’ll have a pale soda.
- Expect a bit of scum to form on the top. These will be strands of yeast that are eating the sugar and ginger. Watch out for mold or a bad smell, which means it’s gone off.
- The amount of time it takes to catch a ginger bug depends on a lot of things: temperature, the strains of wild yeasts in your home, how fresh the ginger is. Don’t start feeding your starter until it’s started bubbling, or you’ll end up adding too much sugar, resulting in a thick, syrupy starter.
- Certain strains of bacteria can cause ginger bug (and other ferments) to end up thick and syrupy. This will often resolve as the fermentation continues and acidifies. If you’re concerned, add a bit of fresh turmeric to the ginger bug. Turmeric and ginger have the same culture, but I’ve found that fresh turmeric is just a bit better at promoting the right cultures. I suspect it’s because fresh turmeric doesn’t have the same industrial process behind it and is more likely to still have the natural culture on its skin.
Keywords: ginger ale, ginger beer, probiotic, turmeric, natural, soda, pop, summer, spring, vegan, gluten free, nausea, stomach flu, pregnancy