If you love soda but aren’t interested in consuming all of that unnatural stuff they put in them, then a ginger bug might be exactly what you’re looking for!
A ginger bug falls into the glorious category of fermented foods. Joined by heavy weights such as sauerkraut, yogurt, sourdough and kombucha, a ginger bug is a lacto-fermented starter culture that can then be used to make natural sodas.
When you use lacto-fermentation to make your sodas, you are taking something that is normally thought of as unhealthy and making it something that’s good for you. By using ginger as the base of your culture, you are pulling the vitamins and minerals from the root. And by letting it ferment into a soda starter culture, you are adding the benefit of microorganisms to your diet, which will help in the digestion and assimilation of your food!
How a Ginger Bug Works
A ginger bug works in a very similar way to a sourdough starter. The wild microorganisms (found within and on the skin of the ginger root) eat the sugar found in the ginger bug and produce carbon dioxide (bubbles) as a result. Once the culture is ready to be used in soda making, the production of carbon dioxide continues once it’s mixed with your soda syrup (which also contains sugar). If soda isn’t your thing, you can mix it with juice or sweet tea as an alternative.
How to Make Your Very Own Ginger Bug
- Ginger root (organic if you can get your hands on it)
- Sugar (white sugar or cane sugar are the best options)
- Mason jar
- Flip top bottles (needed later for bottling your soda)
A Note About Sugar
It seems the addition of sugar is unhealthy, yes? In this case, it’s necessary. The sugar is actually food for the ginger bug, not for you. Without sugar to consume the culture will quickly die. Think of it as a food source so the bug can create all those lovely bubbles you want for your soda.
Fill your mason jar about 3/4 full of filtered water
Add to this
- 1 tbsp of grated or finely chopped ginger root (with the skin on)
- 2 tsp of sugar
Stir well and cover with cheese cloth, coffee filter or paper towel (held on by an elastic)
Every 24 hours you need to feel your ginger bug (for about 3-5 days)
- Add 2 tsp of sugar and 2 tsp of grated/chopped ginger root
- Stir well
If possible, stir 2-3 more times each day
After about a 3-5 days you will have a slightly bubbly and yummy smelling soda culture ready for use. If it’s bubbly before you stir it you know it’s ready!
The simplest option is to brew a litre of your favourite herbal tea and sweeten it with sugar. Then add to it 1/4 cup of your ginger bug culture. Bottle (in bottles that seal well) and let sit for about 3 days at room temperature. This will further the fermentation. Then enjoy either cooled in the fridge or at room temperature.
My plan is to make ginger beer with our ginger bug culture. I will be posting the recipe for that blog soon so keep your eyes peeled!