Delicious and naturally fermented using a ginger bug

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by Jody Gowans in Beverages, Recipes
November 27, 2017

If you’re a fan of ginger ale or ginger beer, then you need to try making this homemade version!  It is much healthier and actually contains ginger, not the elusive “natural flavours” found in commercial beverages. Homemade ginger beer also does not contain added preservatives, colouring and you can control the sugar content to your taste preference.

Ginger beer originated as a popular alcoholic beverage in England in the 1700’s.  It is still enjoyed today in a non-alcoholic version.  Ginger beer has also become popular again as it is a key ingredient in the trendy cocktail, Moscow Mule.


The below recipe is adapted from Sandor Katz’s recipe for Ginger Beer from his book Wild Fermentation (2016) .

Fermentation Time: 1-2 weeks


Organic Ginger Root

  • Fresh Ginger Root (4″/10 cm for mild flavour), (12″/30cm for strong flavour)
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 quarts/4 litres water
  • ½c Strained Ginger Bug starter (using liquid only)
  • fermentation container  (glass jar is best)


  1. Grate ginger.  
  2. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.  Add grated ginger and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Strain ginger, add sugar and stir to dissolve. 
  4. Add remaining 2 quarts cold water.  Let mixture cool to room temperature.
  5. Add ginger bug starter and lemon juice.
  6. Transfer mixture to fermentation container.  Cover container with lid.  You can also transfer the mixture to individual bottles if you prefer.
  7. Let ferment at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks.  The mixture should become bubbly and tart.  Taste periodically and when you are satisfied with the taste, transfer to bottles and refrigerate.
  1. Martyn says:

    Do you top up the ginger bug with 1/2 cup water to keep it going or rely on dissolved sugar to regain volume?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Martyn- thanks for your interest and question. You can absolutely top off the ginger bug with water, just make sure to also feed it with sugar. When the bug is no longer bubbly after being fed, it is no longer active and you will need to start over with fresh ginger. Good luck and enjoy, ginger beer is amazing!

  2. Taylor Cavale says:

    Sandor Katz advises to cover the containers with cheesecloth and leave them open during the fermentation process, not close with a plastic lid. I’ve done this, and after a week, it tastes tart and amazing! So I guess questions are: 1) Is it safe to ferment for a week with only cheesecloth covering the top of the container? 2) After 1 week of “open fermentation”, will the drink carbonate after bottling? 3) Is it even possible to achieve a carbonated beverage that is strictly probiotic and non-alcoholic?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Taylor- thanks for your questions. When I make my ginger bug, I keep the jar covered with a cloth. When I make ginger beer or use the ginger bug for other sodas, I always use close the bottles for extra carbonation. So to answer your questions, I have had no safety issues using an aerobic fermentation (open fermentation). After the ginger bug is established and I make ginger beer, the mixture does carbonate in the closed bottles as the ginger bug is active and consumes the sugars in the ginger beer mixture. My bottled ginger beer gets super fizzy (I have some photos of it on Instagram). I let my ginger beer ferment for 4-5 days. I haven’t tested the alcoholic content, but I don’t feel any buzz at all. Hope this helps!

  3. Aarzu Maknojia says:

    In step 6, do you let it ferment in the container you boiled the water in, just open? Or do you transfer it to bottles at this point?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Aarzu- thanks for you question, sorry for the confusion. I edited the steps in the recipe. The room-temperature ginger mixture should be put in a fermentation container (I use 1-2 gallon glass jar) with the lid on. You can also skip this step and transfer the ginger mixture directly to individual bottles instead of using 1 large glass container.

      1. Aarzu Maknojia says:

        That’s very helpful Jody! Additionally, do you “burp” the bottles or otherwise do anything to manage the gasses? I’m nervous about any explosions in my kitchen.

      2. Jody Gowans says:

        I always encourage burping at least once when I make ginger beer- it can be very active. My ginger beer is so active that it still really fizzes even after having had sat in the fridge for a month! also very important to use bottles that can withstand the carbonation pressure. If you are using repurposed bottles, make sure that they once held CARBONATED beverages.

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