A fizzy, golden soda starter made using wild yeasts and beneficial bacteria

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by Jody Gowans in Beverages, Recipes
July 3, 2018

A turmeric 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 turmeric 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.  I use it to make my favourite beverage, turmeric soda.

Turmeric bugs are very similar to ginger bugs, but I find they are more active, and we get the bonus of the golden colour from the turmeric root.  Be careful and wear gloves when handling turmeric.  That golden yellow will quickly stain your hands and everything else it comes into contact with! 

Wear gloves when handling turmeric to avoid stains!

As with ginger bugs, turmeric 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 turmeric.  You can find it at most natural health stores and in the organic section of your grocery store.  If you are not using organic turmeric, remove the peel to reduce pesticide contamination.


Fermentation Time: 4 days-1 week


  • 500 ml (2 cups) filtered water 
  • 2 tablespoons grated turmeric (for best results, use organic)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • glass jar


  1. Add grated turmeric and sugar to the jar.

    Grated turmeric and sugar

  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 ))


  1. For the next 4 days,  add 1 tablespoon of grated turmeric and 1 tablespoon of sugar to the bug per day.  Stir the mixture well after each feeding.  
  2. After about a week, the bug should be bubbly, healthy and ready to be used as a starter.

    Bubbly turmeric bug, Day 3

  3. To maintain the bug, feed it 1 tablespoon of sugar every other day. 
  4. Prior to using it in a recipe, it is helpful to feed the bug an extra tablespoon of sugar to make it more active.
  5. If you need to take a break, store the turmeric bug in the refrigerator.  To revive it, leave it at room temperature and resume feeding it until the mixture becomes bubbly again.
  6. Try to avoid storing the turmeric bug near other ferments to avoid cross-contamination 
  1. Dan says:

    How do you know if it’s the bug is working? Mine looks very cloudy after the 5th night but I wouldn’t call it bubbly?
    Do I persevere or is it a write off?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Dan- if after 5 days, you aren’t seeing any activity, you should start over. It could have been that the turmeric was not fresh enough, it was irradiated and therefore didn’t contain any living microbes. I like to use organic turmeric for optimal success.

  2. Lissa B says:

    Thanks for sharing! Could one use raw honey instead of sugar?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Lissa- thanks for your interest and question. I have seen a few success stories using honey in ginger and/or turmeric bugs. However, for optimal success I would advise using cane sugar. I have also used jaggery (unrefined cane sugar used in Indian cuisine). It works well and adds a caramel taste, but my go-to sugar is cane sugar. It gives me great results and healthy ginger and turmeric bugs.

  3. Catherine O Dubhda says:

    How long does the tumeric bug last for when stored in an airtight container in fridge?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Catherine- thanks for your interest. I have left my bug in the fridge for about a month and was able to revive it. It’s hard to gauge since the amount of microbes in your bug can vary. It helps to add fresh turmeric with the sugar to your bug to help revive it.

  4. Marie-Ève Tremblay says:

    How do you use it? Add sparkling water?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Marie-Eve- turmeric bugs can be used as starters to make turmeric soda. The recipe will be posted tonight, but it is the same method as making ginger beer (, except you use turmeric in place of ginger

  5. Kim Bridgett says:

    Am definitely trying this! Love turmeric! Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Thanks Kim! It’s my favourite and my little daughter loves it!

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