Learn how to make a homemade ginger bug using a wild ferment. It’s a very easy beginner fermentation recipe, can be a base for all kinds of naturally fermented soda drinks, including traditional ginger beer. Here is everything you need to know about this traditionally fermented ginger starter for homemade natural sodas!
Fermenting Ginger as a Starter for Sodas
The coolest thing to me about fermenting is that it is one of the oldest methods of food preservation, along with salting and drying.
I love the thought of humans discovering the fermentation process many hundreds of years ago, and love the revival it has been experiencing in recent times.
One very traditional method of fermenting is to make ginger beer. No, not what you traditionally know as “ginger ale” which in most cases is usually just sugar water with ginger flavoring.
I’m talking about real ginger beer, which is made with a ginger bug starter.
I’m going to show you how to make a ginger bug, which is started by a wild ferment. This means that no commercial yeast is added, but rather comes from the local environment.
It’s super simple to make and can be a base for all kinds of homemade soda drinks, not only just ginger beer.
Ginger has been used as a spice and medicinally for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Somewhere along the line it was discovered that if you mix it with sugar and water it will ferment until bubbly fairly quickly.
Ginger root has a large amount of naturally occurring yeast and lactic acid on its surface, so it doesn’t take much for it to produce a “ginger bug.”
Ginger Bug Recipe
All that is needed to make a ginger bug is organic unpeeled ginger root, raw sugar, and filtered water. That’s it!
Some people suggest adding a squeeze of lemon juice, and I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt, but I usually just keep it simple.
Mix Ginger, Sugar & Water
First, get yourself a good sized hunk of organic ginger. Organic is important here because you are leaving the skin on and it houses all of the lovely bacteria and yeasts that you want.
Grate the ginger until you have about one tablespoon. A cheese grater with small holes or a microplane work well for this.
Then add the ginger to a pint jar with the sugar.
Next add the water and stir it all around well until the sugar completely dissolves.
That’s the slurry that you start with. Cover it up with a cheesecloth or other breathable cloth and a rubber band and let it sit on your counter for 24 hours.
Stir it up a little anytime you think of it, every few hours or so.
Feed the Ginger Bug Daily
Then, much like a sourdough starter, you need to feed it again after 24 hours. Same as before, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, 1 teaspoon sugar, and a little bit of water.
Keep feeding it and stirring it every day, and after a couple of days you should start to see some bubbles forming in the jar.
How to Use a Ginger Bug
After feeding your ginger bug daily for a week or so, the jar will start to get full and should have some nice bubbles.
That’s when it’s time to use it as a base to jump start homemade fermented sodas!
Ginger beer is a common way to use a ginger bug, but I like making all kinds of delicious wild sodas with it.
Related: 12 Fermented Soda Recipes
One of my favorite ways to use a ginger bug is to make this apple ginger beer! It’s absolutely delicious!
Homemade strawberry rhubarb soda is another favorite around here.
A refreshing homemade soda sure does sound good, especially when you can choose your own favorite flavors.
Who needs the store bought stuff with all of its high fructose nonsense when you can make your own healthy, probiotic soda?
Making a homemade ginger bug is such a simple concept that uses easy to find ingredients to make a wonderfully healthy base for homemade sodas! You couldn’t ask for anything more.
Naturally Fermented Soda Recipes Made With a Ginger Bug
Here are some more recipes I have for using your ginger bug.
- 1 Tablespoon organic fresh ginger unpeeled, grated
- 1 teaspoon raw sugar
- 3 Tablespoons filtered water unchlorinated
- Put the unpeeled grated ginger and the sugar into a jar.
- Add the water and stir it all around well until the sugar completely dissolves.
- Cover the jar with a cheesecloth or other breathable cloth and a rubber band and let it sit on your counter for 24 hours. Stir it up a little every few hours or anytime you think of it.
- Feed the ginger bug daily by adding 1 tablespoon grated ginger, 1 teaspoon sugar, and a little bit of water.
- Keep feeding it and stirring it every day, and after a few days you should start to see some bubble action. When the jar is full and bubbly, it's ready to use.
- Total fermentation time before the ginger bug is ready to use is 5-7 days.
- Soda recipes will require about ½-1 cup of ginger bug depending on how large a batch your are making.