I love ginger. It adds a bright, peppery zing to many savoury dishes and is considered to help alleviate nausea. I usually add it as a flavouring to my kombucha or to jazz up sparkling water. When I used to drink soda as a teenager, my favourite was ginger ale. But if you look at the label, there is no mention of ginger in the ingredients- just a lot of sugar, preservatives and “natural flavour”. You can make your own healthier version of ginger ale (or ginger beer) as well as other sodas at home using a ginger bug.
WHAT IS A GINGER BUG?
A ginger bug (also known as a “wort”) is a starter culture used to ferment sweetened beverages. The bug is a wild ferment, utilizing the naturally present lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in the ginger root. As with kombucha and kefir cultures, when added to liquid and sugar, these beneficial bacteria and yeasts consume the sugar and produce carbon dioxide and ethanol. The result is a fizzy, tart, crisp and flavourful fermented beverage.
Ginger bugs are easy to start and maintain. Once established, the bug can survive for a long time with some simple care (see instructions below). For best results, try to use organic ginger. You can find it at most natural health stores and in the organic section of your grocery store. I personally only buy organic ginger since I find the taste stronger and it is more active than non-organic ginger when added to fermented beverages. If you are not using organic ginger, remove the peel to reduce pesticide contamination.
GINGER BUGS- NOT JUST FOR GINGER BEER!
Ginger bugs can also be used as a base for any other flavoured fizzy drink you enjoy! I recommend using ? to 1 cup of ginger bug per litre/quart of water + flavouring, fruit juice or herbal tea. Ginger bugs can also be used as an alternative to milk kefir whey to make sodas, such as this delicious lemon raspberry soda.
HOW TO MAKE A GINGER BUG
Fermentation Time: 4 days-1 week
- 500 ml (2 cups) filtered water
- 2 tablespoons grated ginger (for best results, use organic)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- glass jar
- Add grated ginger and sugar to the jar.
2. Add water and stir well.
3. Cover jar with a coffee filter or clean cloth. Leave to ferment at room temperature (18-22?C (55-75?F ))
FEEDING THE BUG
- For the next 4 days, add 1 tablespoon of grated ginger and 1 tablespoon of sugar to the bug. Stir the mixture well after each feeding.
- After about a week, the bug should be bubbly, healthy and ready to be used as a starter.