Making Ginger Bug Soda Culture an easy one week process in warm climates that only requires two ingredients. Once you have a live ginger bug, it can be kept indefinitely. I’ve lost track of how long I’ve had my faithful culture in the refrigerator. I am going to guess it’s been well over 2 years. Just imagine, all I have had to do is feed it periodically. As a result, we have been rewarded with countless bottles of naturally carbonated homemade soda.
Perhaps you are wondering why I would consider making soda when it’s such an unhealthy beverage? Well, that’s the thing. If you can handle a little sugar, this recipe will give you a sparkling refreshment that has a justification for its indulgence. You see, when ginger and sugar ferment together, it creates gut-healthy probiotics. You can even flavor future batches of soda with honey or maple syrup and concentrated, unsweetened fruit juice if you want to lower the sugar even more.
In the same way, beneficial bacteria in kombucha, yogurt, and kimchee aid digestion, natural sodas made with ginger bug culture support a healthy gut. I reserve my soda sipping for special occasions and never experience unpleasant effects from the modest amount of sugar. In my book, the pure pleasure and joy from these ginger-bug sodas combined with helpful microbes feed my over-all health.
Unlike kombucha, which takes up to a month to brew, ferment, and become fizzy, probiotic ginger sodas made with a ready ginger bug take less than 24 hours in a warm climate. The effervescence is over the top without any artificial carbonation. It seems almost too good to be true when you pop open a swing-top bottle, and all those bubbles rush to the top.
The best tasting homemade ginger ale you’ve ever had is just the start of what you can do with a ginger bug. From there, you can move on to endless flavor options. Some of the favorite varieties in our house are tamarind, pineapple, elderberry, and grape soda. I’ve had the best results using fruit juices or homemade syrups for flavoring and carbonation. Whole fruits and spices can yield off flavors, but it’s worth experimenting with your own combinations.
Isn’t it remarkable that all that pure magic is because of the pet ginger bug you grow yourself? Now it’s true it won’t purr or need to be taken on walks. But let me explain why I call it a pet. You know how some people give their sourdough starters nicknames? Well, I am giving you fair warning. Once you taste what your ginger bug can do, you may feel enough pride and affection to want to name it. I won’t tell if you do.
The recipe below has everything you need to create your first ginger bug. After that, you can look forward to making extra gingery Homemade Ginger Ale and 4 new soda flavors. Welcome to the world of additive-free, totally natural, sweet bubbly brews you make yourself.
Making Ginger Bug For Sodas
Start Ginger Bug:
- 2 cups filtered or bottled spring water
- 1 TB skin on organic ginger, chopped 1/8 inch pieces
- 1 TB organic raw cane sugar
For Feeding 4-7 days:
- 1/4 cup each chopped ginger and raw sugar
- Wash whole ginger and dry with a clean paper towel. Leave skin on. Chop into 1/8 inch dice. You can chop all the ginger in advance and keep in refrigerator to use each day as needed.
Start Ginger Bug
- Pour filtered water into a one quart jar, add 1 tablespoon each chopped ginger and raw sugar. Stir to mix. Cover jar with a double layer of paper towel or breathable cotton cloth cut to size. Secure with rubber band. Set aside at room temperature out of direct sunlight. A counter-top or table is fine.
- Every day, remove cover from jar and add 2 teaspoons each raw sugar and chopped ginger, skin included. Give a quick stir and replace cover. Don't over feed your ginger bug. It needs time to digest and convert sugar.
- In a couple days the ginger bug may show bubbles or signs of fizziness. Don’t worry if you don’t see obvious signs. Your culture is working behind the scenes growing beneficial probiotics. If your culture grows mold or smells bad, toss it out and start over.
- After 4-7 days your healthy culture will be ready. If you aren’t sure, just give it the full 7 days to ferment. Strain your ginger bug into a clean jar and toss away all the old ginger. Now you can use it to make homemade, naturally carbonated sodas.
- Once you have measured out the needed ginger bug to make your first soda, replace the liquid with an equal amount of filtered water and add 2 teaspoons each of finely chopped ginger and raw sugar.
- Store your freshly fed ginger bug in the refrigerator.