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
Mineed has not started to bubble and it’s been 5 days, any troubleshooting ideas for me?
Odd… I would start again. My thoughts are: is it warm enough? Is your water chlorine free? Try organic ginger? Also, unless it’s capped you wont have heavily active bubbles. So before you throw it away, try bottling it (in a plastic pop bottle or swing top beer bottle) and see if you can get it to carbonate in 24 hours left on the counter. Good luck!
Thano you! Capped it and the bubbles came forth!
At what do you cap this? I don’t see that in the directions
Hi there, I’m on day four of my ginger bug. For the last three days it was bubbling – it started almost overnight (it’s hot here in Aus) but now on day four it seems to have stopped bubbling! I’m using a sealed jar. Is it likely to pick up?
You may want to carefully open the lid as it might have built up quite a bit of pressure! Otherwise, I would be surprised if it suddenly stopped fermenting. Have you been feeding it more sugar and ginger? If not, then give it a bit more of each, then if it starts bubbling, you’re ready to brew your ginger ale. Good luck!
I get a wonderful bubbling bug, I can’t seem to get it carbonated. I take out some liquid, mix it with some more cooled and sweetened ginger and lemon tea and let it sit in the refrigerator in a sealed mason jar. It bubbles like the starter but it fizzes out when I pour it into a glass. What am I doing wrong?
It sounds like you have a good brew… you just need to let it carbonate at room temperature. It will fizz better at room temperature. However, I don’t recommend using a mason jar, because the glass is a bit thin and might not be able to handle the pressure of high carbonation.
I accidentally added 5tbs of sugar at the beginning, should I redo this or will it just have a ton of food?
I wouldn’t start over. Just keep feeding it ginger, and it should ferment and use the sugar that’s already there..
Do i mix when i add the ginger and sugar each day?
If the sugar isn’t dissolving then you will need to stir. Otherwise, I usually don’t bother.
My bug started off all right. I’m using organic ginger, bottled water, and coconut sugar. This worked last time (my first attempt) and I’m making this batch in the same place in my kitchen (roughly 20c, 68f). It started to bubble a little at day 2, but died down on day 3 and there are almost no bubbles now on day 4. When I stirred it today I noticed it’s more viscous. Thicker than syrup, almost like snot. What’s up with that? Can it be saved?
Hi Sammy, If the ginger bug smells fine, then thickness might just be too much sugar (from a sluggish ferment). Try feeding the bug another tbsp of ginger then leaving it out for a few more days. Hopefully, it picks up and starts to ferment.
It’s funny how ferments don’t always work out exactly the way we want them to. Just starting a new batch of ginger bug myself (for my nauseously pregnant sister). Going well so far! But the last batch I did a batch in November wasn’t very good. This time I’m fermenting in a different room, which might make the difference. (Last time it was in my dining room, where I usually have sourdough fermenting).
I started my bug 7 days ago , been keeping in my oven with the light on for heat, 78* -8o* no bubbles yet so today I covered the jar with a black sock, hope it works, smells good
I don’t think the heat matters as much as access to air. You may want to pull your bug out of the stove and try it on the counter for a few days. Stir everyday and maybe stop feeding it until it starts to bubble. (I imagine it’s got quite a bit of sugar and ginger at this point.)
Yes, you definitely CAN use raw unpasteurized honey. Not sure why you said it can’t be used because it certainly can.
Hi Holly, Unpasteurized honey is great at fermenting. However, this recipe is to create the ginger bug culture which feeds on ginger and sucrose (sugar) not glucose/fructose (honey). Using raw honey for ferments is great, but it won’t feed or catch the ginger bug. Cheers!
Hello! I am worried about my ginger bug. It was looking great – almost all of the ginger was floating and had lots of bubbles this morning. I fed it its usual 1 TBSP sugar & water and now 12 hours later hardly any of it is floating or bubbling – help! 🙁
If it was bubbly yesterday, then it’s probably fine. Did you also feed it ginger? My only other thought is that city water is often treated to prevent unwanted bacteria… so if you used straight tap water it might have curbed some of the fermenting. Don’t worry, it should come back! Also, the ginger often sinks. So that isn’t unusual. Good luck!
I am curious why we don’t need to seal the fermentation for the bug or for the actual ginger beer, like with one of those one-way valves. Won’t the oxygen get in the way of the fermentation? I am super new to fermentation so any advice is greatly appreciated, and it is super cool you are still active in the comments 3 whole years after posting!
For some ferments, sterile is best (cheese, alcohol). Ginger bug, like sourdough, actually relies on the free-range bacteria and yeasts in your home for the culture. It’s best to leave it to ferment in open-air, mixing daily to bring more air into the ferment. Then it should have a good strong culture bubbling by the time you bottle it. Enjoy!
Hey again, I’m on my second batch of beer do I brought the starter out if the fridge to bring it back but on the second day that most of grated ginger is literally lifting out of the water, a full 1 1/2 inch before stirring. Is that alright? Should I wait for it to calm down before starting my next beer?
It sounds like it is ready to go! Feel free to brew your beer. Just keep an eye on it, because it might ferment quicker than your last batch. Good luck!
After I created the ginger bug.
How do I store it in the fridge? Covered or uncovered? Closed or unclosed?
Hope to be hearing!
Thanks for the great recipe.
You can store your extra ginger bug in the fridge in a jar with a lid on. It won’t build up much carbonation in the fridge and you should probably feed it every week or so. Cheers!
I was hunting for the same question… so glad to find the answer.
My ginger bug is sitting out for 4 days without being fed on day 5 made the beer do you it will work and ginger bug will be live if I refrigerate it now?
And feed it one a week right?
To figure out if your ginger bug is ready, give it a good stir, then lick the spoon. It should be slightly sparkling (not a lot because you’re not capturing the bubbles). And the ginger bug should stay live in the fridge. And feeding it once a week is sufficient. The best way to keep it active is to take it out of the fridge once a month for a day or two to get it active again.
HI! When do I discard ginger from my ginger bug? I am assuming I need to at some point, if I keep feeding it?
Usually, I swirl my starter so that some of the ginger from the bug ends up in my brewing batch. And I pretty much brew 2-3 bottles a month, so I’m never building up extra starter. If it looks like you have too much, just take out a spoonful or two.
It’s a pretty forgiving ferment, so precision is not necessary. That’s why it’s one of my favourites! 🙂
Thanks for the recipe and guidance on creating a Ginger Bug. I’m on day 3 of mine. It got really active early on, bubbling from about 12 hours in. Temperature here is 22/23°C. Since yesterday afternoon it’s stopped bubbling. I fed it last night equal weights grated skin-on bio ginger and white caster sugar and still nothing. I’ve tasted it today and it’s a balance of fermented sour and sweet. I’ve got it in a roomy glass jar with a lid on, but I’m removing to stir every 12 hours or so. No pressure seems to have built up at any time. I’m careful to keep everything clean. Why has it lost the fermentation and how can I troubleshoot it?
Thanks in advance,
Hum… I’m taking a bit of a guess here… The early bubbling might have been because you have other ferments in your house that cultured the ginger bug? (Sourdough, sauerkraut, milk kefir). So now you’ve got to catch the ginger bug, which will have its own culture, different from that of your other ferments. Give it another few days, hopefully it will catch the right culture. 🙂
Oh, how interesting. I am trying to grow a scoby in another room. Going well so far in week 2. I’ll be more patient.
Maybe that’s it then. Hope it works! I’ll admit I’ve never had both ginger bug and kombucha going at the same time. 🙂
My finger bug is on day 6, it’s very thick and is starting to turn pink. Is that bad? I also am confused about how much bubbling there should be. I have made a few other fermented things and there is a ton of bubbles. The jars almost or do overflow from so much bubbling. The ginger bug has some bubbles, but I don’t know if it’s just air trapped in the liquid since it’s so thick. It’s my first time trying this. I also have it in a sealed jar I don’t know if that makes a difference. I open it 1-2 times a day.
Hi Gina, Ginger bug is a free-range culture, similar to sourdough. So it really depends on the air in your home. (Rather than its own culture like sauerkraut, kombucha, etc.). That’s why I recommend covering it with a cloth. In a closed container won’t bubble up… but it should carbonate.
It shouldn’t be thick or pink. I’m guessing you started feeding it sugar before it really caught? Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like a healthy ginger bug. Try again with a cloth-covered jar. Since you’ve already done some fermenting, it should catch nicely (all fermentation helps build good yeasts and bacteria in the air of your home). Good luck!
I am so loving this – I am on my second brew – its so rewarding
I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the left over grated ginger, after straining and bottling so I made it into balls about a Tablespoon and place them on a flat tray lined with greaseproof paper (baking parchment). Then I put it in the freezer overnight – In the morning I put all the ginger balls into a freezer bag for easy culinary use.
Then I used them to make ginger biscuits …..
Makes 40 biscuits (approx 5cm diameter)
¼ cup (60ml) of oil (I used Olive Oil)
¼ cup golden syrup
75g light brown soft sugar (I used demerara) Add an extra 25g for a sweeter recipe
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (2 Tbsp sized balls straight from the freezer)
Add an extra Tbsp for a more gingery recipe
250g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 small egg yolk,
Heat the oven to 175C fan/gas 5.
Line two large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Melt the oil , sugar, fresh ginger and golden syrup in a saucepan and then leave to cool.
You might want to cut some of the ginger into smaller pieces depending on preference.
Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and egg yolk together in a bowl with a wooden spoon.
Gradually stir in the cooled ginger mixture and knead briefly to make a dough.
Take a teaspoon of dough and roll into a ball and put on the prepared baking trays.
If you cook them in a ball shape you’ll get little dome shaped biscuits, or you can flatten them for a more traditional biscuit shape…..we liked both.
They do spread a little when cooking, so leave a couple of cm between each one.
Bake for 8-10 mins until golden brown.
Leave to cool on the trays briefly then place on a cooling rack.
Sounds amazing! I will definitely try baking some ginger biscuits. Thanks!
Hi Emillie! I have had a ginger bug going for some time now. Made several batches of different flavored sodas, & made up a few of my own. I have found that it is VERY important to use organic sugars since run of the mill sugars, like C & H, are heavily processed. Reading other’s comments, maybe this might be their problem.
Love your posts!
Oh! I never thought of that. I just naturally use organic and it never occurred to met that non-organic sugar might be a problem. I’ll add it to the notes. Thanks!
I’m new to fermentation. When I was An au Pair in Seattle, my host mom used to make a lot of fermented food and I’m trying to do the same here in France.
I put my ginger bug in a sealed jar but I leave it open, and I store it in a cupboard. It’s full of white bubbles on the top, is that okay?
And it kind of smell a bit funny. Not quite bad but not very gingerly, so I’m a bit worried that it had turned bad.
What do you think?
Hum… White bubbles are fine… if it looks a bit more white then you expect, it could be kahm yeast. Which isn’t bad… it’s just not great. The ginger smell and flavour do decrease with fermentation. It’s why I usually add a lot when brewing ginger beer. If you think it might be kahm yeast, you can check out this post for a bit more info: https://www.fermentingforfoodies.com/kahm-yeast-mold/ Good luck!
My ginger bug started to active within 24 hours , but suddenly stopped, is that OK? what should i do ? i fed it with sugar and ginger again, but still, it is still
Do you do lots of fermenting? Often other are the first to colonize a new ferment, but since it’s not right for them, they die off quickly. You don’t need to do anything, just let it keep fermenting for the 3 to 5 days required to get a good strong starter. Good luck!
Hello how to I keep it going to always have a mother for ginger beer?
Hi, the section on Taking care of your ginger bug at the top of the post explains how to keep your ginger bug starter going. Enjoy!
I used to do water kefir years ago. I bought a ginger bug from a guy and the email community was so rude to me when I asked a question (the admin/seller told me the group was only for his customers (of which I was one), other members called me names and then I was blocked), so I haven’t attempted a ginger bug again.
I have a regular sourdough starter that I’ve been working with for months, and am attempting to do a gf sourdough starter so I thought I’d revisit the ginger bug (I have an obsession with ginger beer).
When I did water kefir my second fermentation always included turmeric so I was delighted to see that listed as an option. If I do ginger and turmeric do I halve the amount of ginger in the recipe (the other half being turmeric) or do I double the sugar and water?
Hi, Sorry to hear you had so much trouble with that online community! How rude!
Ginger and turmeric are completely interchangeable in this recipe. So feel free to use half ginger and half turmeric. It might catch quick because you already do sourdough… however, give it the full five days so that it can get the right mix of yeast and bacteria before trying to brew ginger beer.
This recipe worked great for me to get my bug started! I’m making my first batch of ginger beer now. The starter bug that’s kept in the fridge, do I need to strain out the (old) ginger now or ever in the future?
I never strain out my ginger… unless it starts to really build up with feeding. However, I brew frequently enough and usually include a bit of the starter ginger in my brew. So it’s seldom an issue. Enjoy!
Aloha! Trying this for the first time… i am on day 6, not tooo many bubbles but i am going to try to start a soda ferment from the mother. Question…. after the mother is going and the ferment has caught, is an airlock ok while fermenting the soda or should i leave it covered like kombucha? I am trying to make gallon volumes and want to make sure I stay sterile. Thanks!!
I usually leave my ginger bug to ferment covered with a cloth (like kombucha). I really recommend it, especially if you’re concerned that there aren’t too many bubbles. If you want to make sure that your large batch will work out, start with a small test batch first. If the ginger bug has caught properly then it should be a very reliable ferment. And if you’re making kombucha too, then I recommend keeping it separate from your ginger bug. I have ferments stashed all around my house. 🙂 Good luck!
very new to fermenting. I’m on day 3 of this and not seeing any bubbling. Now I used a Mason Top pipe lid on it. Should I not?
Also wondered about the ginger I used. Is it possible that the ginger is cleaned so much that it wouldn’t have any natural yeast on it?
Hi, I definitely recommend exposure to air for catching a ginger bug. Like sourdough and other wild yeast ferments, it really needs local culture. Try covering it with a cloth or coffee filter instead of a pickle pipe. If you’re new to yeast-based fermentation, it can take up to 7 days to catch a starter. (The more you ferment, the easier it is to ferment because of the increase in wild cultures in your home.)
thank you. I do have this setting next to a jar of onions and a jar of carrots I’m fermenting as well. changed it to a coffee filter. Will see how it goes.
Great! I typically try to keep different kinds of ferments in different rooms or parts of my house. Not always possible (have ACV, ginger bug and pineapple vinegar all in my bedroom at the moment.) Most likely the ginger bug won’t impact the veg, but it might cause yeast issues. Hope it picks up!
I have been trying g to make my first Ginger Bug. I used 1tbsp finely chopped ginger, 1 tbsp raw sugar, and one cup filtered water. I loosely covered it, and fed it daily for about 1 week. I found that the sugar didn’t want to dissolve after a while, but kept going anyways.
At about 1 week it was bubbling away nicely.
I then made the ginger concentrate – boiled 4 c water, 1 cup sugar, and about 1 cup finely chopped ginger. I let it cool, then strained it and added 1/2 cup of strained ginger bug liquid, then bottled it in Grolsch type bottles.
I added 1/2 cup water to the remaining ginger bug (I didn’t strain out the existing ginger) and fed it 1 tbsp ginger and 1 tbsp sugar.
The first day after bottling there was not much activity when I burped the bottles. By the third day there was a good pop. I put the bottles in the fridge to chill. When I popped open the first bottle to give it a try, I was surprised – it was thick and stringy, the consistency of very fresh raw egg white! Definitely not drinkable. Not only that, but the ginger big had also turned thick and gelatinous.
Why did this happen? What should I do?
Hi, I’m sorry that it didn’t work out for you! There are two potential issues: 1. It might be that you have too much sugar? I don’t really feed my ginger bug until it’s a few days old. I also don’t use that much sugar in my ginger beer recipe.
2. It’s more likely that you have too much of the wrong kind of yeast. Which isn’t poisonous, but it’s definitely not pleasant. It’s probably related to #1 (too much sugar in both the starter and the ginger beer recipe) and boiling the ginger for brewing ginger beer.
I know that a few websites and cookbooks recommend making ginger tea for their ginger beer. However, I use fresh ginger in my ginger beer, which will help feed the ferment. It is a two-step process of brewing, then bottling, and I’ve never had the stringy issue. You aren’t alone with having failures with the recipe you used (I’ve had several comments about it). But because I personally haven’t tried it, so I can’t really say why it’s failing beyond feeding the ferment with too much sugar and no ginger. Here’s my recipe if you want to try it again! https://www.fermentingforfoodies.com/homemade-ginger-beer/
Be well, Emillie
I am on day 5 of making my bug and about to make a batch of of turmeric/ginger soda, it looks like it is all working properly! I did have a question about the stater. I was curious if at some point in the future will I need to swap out the grated ginger/turmeric that is in the starter? It seem like some will get replaced when making the soda and refreshed during feeding, but do you ever need to refresh all of it periodically?
If I’m brewing ginger bug for a few months, then I usually do take out some of the spent ginger/turmeric. However, I usually try to add some of the ginger bug ginger/turmeric to each batch of ginger beer or ginger soda. I was on a major ginger bug kick for most of this year. Really loved playing with flavour and felt like I was keeping my immune system going strong with the fermented turmeric. Enjoy!
Thanks so much!
Maybe a silly question but, if scum forms on the top, should I be skimming it off? Thanks! 🙂
You can see in the picture at the top of the post that ginger and yeasts float to the top. I usually don’t worry about it as you won’t be drinking the starter and it’s full of good culture! If it seems excessive, then feel free to skim it off.
Hi. I didn’t have a quart jar, so I used a slightly smaller one and it doesn’t have much rooms at the top. I covered it with cloth and elastic bands. Then put it in the same cupboard that has my Scoby hotel, with my seed heating pad. Should I go out and get a quart jar and transfer when I need to feed it more ginger? Another question is if I can use the already grated ginger from today to feed in 3 days?
Ginger bug doesn’t bubble up like vegetable ferments… and because it’s open to air the CO2 will release, so as long as you have room to stir in the ginger and sugar, you should be fine. I usually grate fresh each day… but pre-grated should work. As long as it’s from fresh ginger (with the skin on) not from a pre-grated package of ginger bought at a store. Packaged grated ginger might have preservatives to prevent fermentation. Good luck!
Thank you so much. I realized after that I put all 5 tbsp ginger and 5 tbsp sugar in at the start. I just actually read the recipe and it says to just put 3. Oh well. I will just add more ginger, not sugar and stir.
That’s a good plan. Otherwise, it will end up a bit syrupy. Enjoy!
Hello…. I started last week or so, up to day three it was super bubbly then when I started adding more ginger and sugar it kind of stopped. Got to my 5th day and tried to make soda….
NOW DO I NEED TO STRAIN THE BUG and then to make soda add it’s own ginger and sugar, or in the 1/4 cup I take out I leave in the original grated ginger?
The bug that I put in the fridge, before feeding it again (since I took out 1/4) do I need to take the original ginger out or leave it in there… it will be A LOT OF GINGER in there…
Odd that it stopped being bubbly when you started to feed it. Perhaps your sugar had sulfites? If you used regular white sugar that could be it. But it should continue to bubble in a day or two. The sulfites will just slow it down.
As for brewing ginger beer (or sodas), I typically take some of the ginger when I measure out the ginger bug, or it will start to build up. It will get filtered out when bottling, but it needs ginger to feed the ferment in the first place. And if you end up with too much ginger in your starter, just take some out the next time you feed the starter. Enjoy!
Can non organic ginger be used. I have trouble getting organic ginger?
Yes, just give it a good wash. Cheers
I have taken 1/4 cup of bug out to start ginger beer. I’ve replenished with 1/4 water and tbsp ginger/sugar. It’s day two since I replenished it and the bubbles are gone. Should I still feed it each day until I get bubbles? Or should I just wait?
If you’re leaving it out at room temperature you need to feed it each day. Otherwise, you can replenish it once and pop it back in the fridge. Cheers!
I loved this recipe and had great success for about two batches of soda..I however failed in maintaining my bug..I kept in the fridge, and fed it every week or so but I noticed that that the taste became very yeasty almost beer like..then I kept it on the counter and fed it daily but it never got its bubbly nature back and my third batch of soda ended up with kahm yeast..eventually after multiple feedings and tries my bug turned pink and I had to throw it..can you please help me trouble shoot this problem? I plan on making a new bug but how do I maintain it better in the fridge? Feed it every week? Remove some first if not making soda? Also why did it become so yeasty? Thanks in advance! The ginger beer recipe was amazing! My toddler loved it, though his eyes watered from the spice levels ha!
Hum… I’ve only had my ginger bug go off if I’ve forgotten to feed it for more than a month. It sounds like you had a bit of bad luck with kahm yeast. It’s quite common with certain ferments, and ginger bug is one of them. It’s not harmful… but obviously, it’s not ideal.
I have a few ideas… 1. Try to brew every 2 to 3 weeks. Feed the starter and leave it out for at least 24 hours. Or if you don’t want to brew that often, then remove 1-batch worth of starter, so you don’t end up with too much sugar and ginger in your starter.
2. Just brew a bunch of bottles with the starter (You can get 5-6 out of a batch of starter). Then start a new starter the next time you want to brew. It will probably catch more quickly the second time.
I’m on day 5, and it is looking good! I am wondering how do I replenish my bug once I make a batch of soda? Also, is it best to keep the bug in the fridge or on the counter?
Hi Yvonne, The post includes a section on Taking Care of Your Ginger Bug (towards the top). If you’re brewing lots of ginger beer, then you should probably leave your bug out on the counter. Otherwise, feel free to stash it in the fridge. Cheers!
in the first few paragraphs you answered any question that had been left unanswered (literally for almost ten years on some pages!) on the more “popular” google results for ginger bug. thank you for a simple yet thorough explanation of the entire process! quickly becoming my favorite fermenting resource ♥
Thanks! Glad that it was helpful!
Just started my ginger bug two days ago, and it’s already super bubbly! I am just a bit confused as to how to maintain the bug once it’s been established….. every time I take out a 1/4 cup or so of the liquid to use in a recipe, do I also remove some of the ginger pieces (to even it out?), and then simply refeed with a tablespoon of sugar, ginger, and a 1/4 cup water? (I’ve also heard some sources say that you don’t even need to refeed with ginger, since it’s already inoculated….. something like that??) Should I let it sit out on the counter to refeed, or can I just put it back in the fridge? Also, how often do you recommend using/refeeding? (weekly, monthly, etc.?)
Hi Hannah, Ginger bug is probably one of the easiest and most forgiving ferments. 🙂 I do remove some of the ginger whenever I culture. However, if it starts to build up in the bottom of the jar, then I make a point of taking out a few spoonfuls. I also feed with ginger, sugar, and water. It may already be inoculated, but adding a bit of extra ginger definitely helps to keep it vigorous!
I always have a lot of ferments on the go… so I often forget my ginger bug at the back of my fridge for up to a month. Then, when I want to brew, I pull it out, remove the bit for brewing. At that point, I feed it and leave it out for 24 hours. Overfeeding tends to result in too much sugar and syrupy ginger bug.
Hopefully, that answers all your questions? Really, the trickiest part is catching the ginger bug in the first place. But it sounds like you’ve got that covered! Enjoy!
That helps, thank you! I now have another question haha…. While my ginger bug was very bubbly the second/third day, it has not been near as much both yesterday and today. (I’ve been feeding it same amount everyday, around the same time). Also, today I just noticed a bit of mold on the surface (actually some of the ginger pieces that were floating towards the top)….. other than that, it smells and looks fine, but there are hardly any bubbles now. ??
I’m guessing that you have other ferments in your house? Sometimes a ferment seems to catch quickly, but it’s actually the yeast from a different culture. Then it takes a little bit longer to catch the actual culture. Oddly, I’ve found that my sourdough seems to compete with my ginger bug.
Mold is also a concern. Are you sure it’s not kahm yeast, which is more common in ginger bug. https://www.fermentingforfoodies.com/kahm-yeast-mold/
My last question is, if my ginger bug has been the fridge for a while, and I want to use some for a recipe, do you think it’s fine to just take out some of the cold liquid and add immediately to my recipe/ferment, and of course refeed the bug that’s in the fridge….. or take the entire bug out, refeed, and then use the liquid?
Test comment: I am extremely baffled as to what’s going on right now with my computer; I have tried about six times now to post a reply (I tried that a few days ago), and now just a comment, on this page, and every single time I click “submit,” the comment doesn’t post (yet, oddly my other “testing 123” ones did).
Is there a word limit perhaps?
Sorry to hear that you had issues. I don’t think there’s a word limit… maybe it was a server glitch?
i was very much impressed with your blog. right now trying ginger bug ,turmeric and sour dough starter.
for ginger bug and turmeric I took only 1/4 cup of water missed that it is 3 and 1/4 th . I still saw the bubbles on day 3 but added water on day 3 will that be OK?
Great! I’m impressed with all your ferments! Ginger bug is quite forgiving once you’ve got the bubbles. Adding a bit of extra water on Day 3 should be fine. Enjoy!
saludos otra pregunta del neófito, ¿este tipo de fermentos carbonatados pueden funcionar como como sustituto de la levadura para una masa destinada para hacer pan?.
Google translate did a much better job with this question. Yes, you can use ginger bug to make a quick fermented bread. I haven’t tried it with ginger bug, because it would definitely flavor the bread. But I have done it with a few other fermented beverages. Here’s a post on the subject: https://www.fermentingforfoodies.com/quick-and-easy-sourdough-starter/ Cheers, Emillie
Hello, I was wondering. When you use the bug to make the ginger beer, can you use it right out of the fridge or should the bug be out at room temperature for a certain amount of time before you use it in the ginger beer? Thank you in advance.
You can use the bug right out of the fridge. My personal pattern is to brew ginger beer, then feed the bug (to replenish it). Then I leave it out for 24 hours before popping it back in the fridge. Enjoy!
Can you make this with left over Kefir Whey? I’m new to Kefir am loving trying different recipes. Thanks!
Glad you’re enjoying your kefir! You can definitely make fermented beverages with kefir whey. However, ginger bug is its own culture. So I wouldn’t use it to create ginger bug. Instead, use the whey to make a ginger-flavored drink as a separate ferment. I haven’t personally tried it (because I usually have ginger bug brewing). However, I have used whey to ferment all sorts of things. I enjoy it mixed with juice: 1/3 whey to 2/3 juice.
I’m so excited that this ginger bug seems to have turned out nice and bubbly. I have been trying other recipes that start small and you have to feed it every day. Many of them just flopped too. This recipe is amazing. Thank you! It makes much more sense to start it big, let it go, and then store it in the fridge for later. I just started a gallon of berry soda and I can’t wait to try the other recipes.
I do have a question though. Can I use the starter straight out of the fridge, or do I need to wake it up for 24 hours before making the soda?
I use the starter directly out of the fridge. Glad it worked for you! It’s definitely a favorite. Cheers, Emillie
I’ve made a ginger bug a few times over this past year, but I only get one good bottle from it, and then the rest turns to alcohol. Last time I put it in the fridge as soon as it started to bubble, and it still happened! Any tips? (I actually gasped out loud when you said it could rest unfed in the fridge for a month, because mine turned to alcohol after a week or two.)
Wow! Have you added a commercial yeast to your ginger bug? Typically wild yeast can’t ferment too much higher than 1 or 2% ABV. However, fermenting always involves whatever cultures are naturally in your environment. Maybe your wild yeasts are similar to the specifically bred commercial yeasts? Hum… and it continues to ferment, even in the fridge?
Try freezing your starter in 1/4 cup (or whatever you need for a batch) servings. Cultures generally can last for several months in the freezer. This is what I do for all my dairy cultures, in part because I don’t have room for too many starters in my fridge. But also because it keeps the culture fresh and healthy. Good luck!
Thank you, I will try the freezing idea! I can’t say how strong an alcohol it becomes, just that it is obviously alcoholic. I haven’t added anything other than water, sugar, and ginger, so maybe my wild yeasts are just really strong – it starts bubbling on day 2 or 3 too. Thank you for taking the time to respond!
Interesting… it really must be a very active wild yeast strain! Hope that freezing the starter works for you. Cheers!
Hi! I made a gingerbug using your recipe a few years ago and made some great fermented ginger beer and root beer using it which were amazing! I haven’t had a gingerbug since and I went and bought a huge amount of organic ginger recently to make a new one. I have realised since re-reading the instructions that I probably have enough to feed a gingerbug for a year haha- any idea if I can chop and freeze the ginger and feed the gingerbug thawed ginger? I’d hate to waste it! Thanks for any advice x x
Hi Laura, I haven’t tried making ginger bug with frozen ginger root, however, I don’t think it should be an issue. I freeze all sorts of other cultures as it’s a great way to preserve them when I don’t have time to ferment. Pregrated ginger would also be a super-easy way to feed your bug. If you try it out, let me know how it goes! I’m curious. Cheers, Emillie
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! I think I am going to have to try it because I have so much and there’s no way I’ll use it all if I don’t. I suppose if the gingerbug doesn’t get on with the frozen ginger I can always use it in other cooking. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂
Hi, I am struggling to get my ginger bug going. I’m on day 5 and nothing is happening. I used organic ginger, white sugar, and filtered water. I use the same water for kombucha and tepache with no problem. Actually, on days 2 and 3 the whole thing foamed up and fizzed when I stirred it, and there were residual foam/bubbles all around the edges of the liquid in the jar. Then I fed it 2 more days and now the whole thing is dead. It smells and tastes like sweet ginger liquid. There is no fermented or yeasty taste or smell. Should I keep feeding it, should I start over? No bubbles anywhere Any ideas?
Hum… that is surprising. Maybe it’s not dead. Ginger bug doesn’t smell or taste yeasty. And it might not have as many visible bubbles as other ferments. (It is much more subtle than tepache and kombucha). I mostly know that it’s happy because it’s slightly sparkly. Maybe try feeding it for another day or two? If you’ve made tepache, then you definitely have the yeasts to make ginger bug. Good luck!
I tested a tsp of your ginger bug starter in about 1/3 cup of juice after it stopped bubbling and I thought it was dead. In one day, the juice had lots of bubbles. So to all those questions people post about their ginger bug starter stopping bubbling after a few days, I think it’s best to test it out in a small amount of juice, and I’m pretty sure that it will be viable. Additionally, I found that after giving it more water and feeding it, the bubbles stopped, but when I fed it for a couple of days at room temperature, the bubbles came back. I hope this helps someone. Thank you for your excellent ginger bug recipe. I also just made lemon soda following your recipe.
Great! Thanks for sharing!
Can I use a fermenter cap once I add my ginger bug to the ginger boiled water, or do I have to cap it?
The fermenter cap allows gas to be released so I’m curious.
My recipe doesn’t use ginger-boiled water, so you must be looking at a different site? My version of ginger bug is a raw, open-air ferment, so it needs to be covered with cloth or a coffee filter for the wild yeasts to culture it. If you’re making ginger beer following my recipe, it is also a raw, open-air ferment. It is only capped when bottling (to build up the carbonation). Cheers, Emillie
Hello, this is my 3rd attempt at getting the ginger bug going. My first one was steadily bubbling from day 4-6 then started becoming mouldy day 7 (I suspect it was contaminated ginger that my partner cut up after cutting meat). My second one started bubbling day 3-5 but then stopped. This is my 3rd one, it started bubbling quite a lot within 12 hours and looked just like your picture, once I fed it the first time there were no more bubbles. I’ve been feeding it since, it’s day 6 now and still no bubbles. What is happening? It seems like the same thing happens everytime where the bubbles disappear after a feed.
I’m using the same root of ginger, same equipment, same spot, bottled spring water, no direct sunlight. I sterilized the jar between each attempt. I’ve tried to google and troubleshoot but still can’t figure out where I’ve gone wrong – hope you can help!
Hi I’m sorry that you’ve had so much trouble getting your ginger bug going. I’m impressed at how determined you are! I’ve never seen mold in ginger bug, but it makes sense if your partner used a contaminated knife.
About the ginger bug starting, then stopping… it sounds like you’re doing everything right. I have two thoughts: is it very cold in your house? That might slow it down. My main guess is that you also make sourdough. For some reason, the yeast from sourdough loves ginger bug, (and vice versa). However, it’s not the same strains, so while it’s initially vigorous it doesn’t do well over the long run. I do keep both sourdough and ginger bug going, but if I haven’t done ginger bug for a while, it can take up to 7 days for it to properly catch.
If your current batch doesn’t start going, maybe try a different brand of ginger. Or if you can find fresh turmeric root, use a mix of turmeric and ginger, which is really good at catching. Then you can switch to feeding it with just ginger. Ginger and turmeric have the same culture. I just find the culture on the skin of turmeric to be more vigorous. Hope this helps! Emillie
If I make a double portion of ginger beer. Can I feed the ginger bug double as well – instead of 1/4 cup water then add 1/2 cup of water and same with the sugar and ginger?
Yes! That’s important if you want to keep brewing. Enjoy!
Hi! Just found your site and am so excited to try your ginger beer recipe! I made a ginger bug and tumeric bug starter and all was going well. They started bubbling right about three days so I started feeding them. Unfortunately I misread the instructions and put them in the fridge right when I started feeding them and fed them each the 1 T of grated ginger/tumeric + 1 T of sugar each for two days before I realized they weren’t supposed to be in the fridge for this part and they weren’t bubbling anymore. Do I need to start over or can I just pull them out and allow them to sit at room temperature and start bubbling again? Do I feed them anymore or when they start bubbling will they be ready? Thanks!
Refrigerating your ginger/turmeric bug will only have slowed it down a little. It’s fine to bring it back out. Hopefully, it will start bubbling in 24 hours and you can go back to feeding it. Cheers, Emillie
hi, I made the ginger bug using quick dissolve sugar and stored my bug in a Mason jar inside a cabinet, after 2 days it was bubbling so I waited till the third day to feed it. I used organic cane sugar to feed it and equal parts ginger. the bubbles have since gone. I fed it a 2nd time/day still nothing. how should I continue
Hello, I’m guessing that you keep other ferments around? Often when something bubbles quickly and then dies out, it’s because it “caught” something else’s culture. (I find ginger bug and sourdough to cross over into each other). I would keep feeding it for at least 5 more days (though maybe skip the sugar if it’s not being eaten by the culture). If you’re using raw ginger with the skin on, it should eventually out-compete the wild culture already in your home. Cheers!