turmeric bug


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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 has been used for ages in cuisine and has purportedly been found to have health benefits due to its curcumin content.  Some of the benefits of turmeric curcumin include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, as well as blood sugar stabilization. 

Wear gloves when handling turmeric to avoid stains!

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! 

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.

Grated turmeric and sugar
Bubbly turmeric bug, Day 3


Recipe by Jody GowansCourse: Beverages, Recipes
Fermentation Time

4 – 7 days


  • 500 ml (2 cups) filtered water 

  • 2 tablespoons grated turmeric (for best results, use organic)

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • glass jar


  • Add grated turmeric and sugar to the jar
  • 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. After about a week, the bug should be bubbly, healthy and ready to be used as a starter.
  • To maintain the bug, feed it 1 tablespoon of sugar every other day. 
  • Prior to using it in a recipe, it is helpful to feed the bug an extra tablespoon of sugar to make it more active.
  • 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.
  • Try to avoid storing the turmeric bug near other ferments to avoid cross-contamination 

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