If you are looking to make flavour packed and naturally fermented soft drinks then this is the guide for you.
Ginger Bug is a symbiotic relationship of bacteria and yeasts that we will use to naturally ferment bubbly and delicious drinks. To make ginger bug we will simply let ginger ferment with sugar over the course of a week and use this starter culture to ferment any flavour soda we like.
What you need to make a ginger bug starter
Making ginger bug is simple and all you need is ginger, sugar, water and time.
Most fermenters prefer using organic ginger but normal ginger will also work well. To prepare the ginger simply wash it in water and brush off any dirt trapped, breaking it into smaller pieces can make it easier to wash the ginger. We do not want to peel it as a lot of the bacteria and yeast we want to cultivate are present in the skin of the ginger itself.
Do not try to make ginger bug with an old and shriveled ginger root or one that has begun sprouting. As with all fermentation we prefer fresh and crispy ingredients for the best results.
You can use both refined white sugar or brown sugar to make ginger bug. Some people find that using white sugar gets them an active ginger bug starter faster. But both white and brown sugar are very similar nutritionally so we have not found much of a difference.
The sugar is food for the fermentation process and most of it will be consumed by the bacteria and yeasts in the ginger bug.
You can use any drinkable water for the ferment. If your water is heavily chlorinated (smell it) we recommend you first boil it (and let cool) or leave the water out overnight to let the chlorine dissipate.
What container should I use?
We recommend using a glass container for making ginger bug. Glass jars are easy to clean, are non reactive and it lets you keep an eye on how bubbly and active your ginger bug is as it’s developing.
Making the ginger bug starter
It could not be easier to make a ginger bug starter, all you need to do is wash and chop a ginger root, then feed it with sugar daily for about a week and you will have a ginger bug starter ready to use to make fermented sodas.
Day 1 – Cut ginger and add sugar
- Chop a large ginger root (about 200g / 7 oz) and add to the fermentation jar.
- Place your fermentation jar on digital scale and press tare/zero
- Cover ginger with water.
- Record the water weight
- Add 5°Bx of sugar
Chop the ginger into slices or chunks and place it into your fermentation jar. We prefer larger chunks over smaller or grated ginger pieces since it’s easier to keep larger chunks submerged under the water.
Cover the ginger chunks with water and make sure they are completely submerged under the water.
Record how much water you have and add 5% sugar to that. For example if you had 350g of water you would need to add 17.5 grams of sugar.
Keep the ginger bug in a warm and dark part of your kitchen making sure to keep it out of direct sunlight or sources of heat.
Day 2-7: Daily Sugar Feedings
For the next week we will continue feeding our bug with sugar. There is no need to add in anymore ginger. Simply add a tablespoon of sugar to your fermentation jar each day and shake or mix it in well.
How do I know when the ginger bug is done?
Unlike sourdough starter that triples or quadruples in volume when it’s done. It can be harder to tell when the ginger bug is ready. If your ginger bug is frothy, bubbling and smells slightly yeasty after 7 days of daily feedings you can be sure that your ginger bug is ready to use.
Making fermented soda with the ginger bug
Now that we have an active ginger bug starter it’s time to make some delicious fermented soda. You can use any fruit you like to make the ginger bug. Popular choices include:
- Strawberry, Raspberry, Blueberry
- Lemon or Lime
- Fruit juice
- Herbal teas such as chrysanthemum