How To Make A Ginger Bug (How To, Care Instructions & Recipe Suggestions)

Ginger Bug Starter Guide for Natural Sodas, How-To, Care & Recipe Suggestions

I first learned how to make a ginger bug from Jane over at Fermenter’s Kitchen. Since then I have enjoyed the natural sodas I can use the bug to create even more than water kefir!

Ginger bug creates super fizzy, refreshing sodas such as this pineapple ginger soda. It is also the ultimate choice for anyone struggling with soda addiction. With clean flavors that leave you feeling better than you did before consuming instead of worse, you will be able to say no to soda cravings!

The best part is that it is very easy to make. All you need is a jar, water, ginger, sugar, and a little time (about 5-7 days).

Ginger Bug Starter

Course: Ferment
Keyword: Ginger Bug, Starter Culture
Author: nourishingtime.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 pound fresh ginger (preferably organic, with skin)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (approximately)

Instructions

  • Put a cup of water in your jar, and add 3 tsp grated ginger and 2 tsp
    of sugar and stir, stir, stir! You want to incorporate LOTS of bubbles.
    If you just slice the ginger finely, it will still be OK.
  • Add 3 tsp ginger and 2 tsp sugar every day, and stir as often as you can.
  • Once your bug starts to fizz, you’re almost there! I suggest closing the jar at this point.
  • Keep repeating Step 2 until it’s really fizzy and hisses at you.

Notes

Sugar: I use brown sugar, but you can also use white. If you choose to use white sugar, I suggest adding a few drops of molasses as well.
Closing jar: Closing the jar during fermentation allows the bubbles to get trapped inside. It can help you determine if your starter is progressing properly.

Now you are ready to start making delicious, naturally fermented sodas that are healthy for you and teeming with probiotics! You can start making your first probiotic soda right away, or close your jar and stick it in the fridge for storage until you’re ready to use it.

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How To Use

It is very easy to use your ginger bug to make healthy sodas for you, your family and your friends. Please do share the love & delicious gut bugs! All you have to is strain out 1/4 cup for every 1-2 quarts of soda you are about to make. My house is kept very warm (78 degrees) and things ferment very quickly, so I use 1/4 cup per quart. If you keep your house 75 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, you may need to use more. Experiment and make notes so that you know what works for you!

Mix up the soda you want to make. For example, if you want to make a peppermint lemonade soda, brew the peppermint first. Add the sugar, allow to cool, add the lemon juice, and then add in your ginger bug. Mix well.

Once your soda concoction is ready, pour into jars. Funnels are very helpful when filling the jars, especially if you don’t have a steady hand. Swing-top jars are the best jars for making fizzy homemade sodas, but drink jars such as the ones kombucha is sold in at stores will work well. I have used mason jars as well, but sometimes they take longer to get fizzy. The 8.5oz swing-top jars are perfect for individual serving sizes, especially for children.

Caring For Your Ginger Bug

  • Always reserve at least 1/4 cup of your starter and replace as much water as you removed. Also add a tbsp of sugar and ginger. This step is crucial for keeping your ginger bug going. Some people have kept their ginger bugs alive and healthy for years!
  • Leave your bug out for a day so the probiotics propagate well throughout your starter. Then you can resume storing the ginger bug in the fridge.
  • Ideally you will feed it a bit more sugar and ginger every week.
  • Sometimes I forget to feed mine for weeks and it gets really alcoholic but it still makes great soda. If I want the hint of alcohol gone, I’ll pour out most of the liquid (maybe leaving a tbsp) and all the ginger, add lots of fresh ginger and a couple tablespoons of sugar and let it sit out and get bubbly again. But most of the time I just use as is.

Recipes To Use Your New Starter In!

If you have any questions, just let me know. Leave a comment or send an e-mail using the contact form. I’m happy to help you get started because I believe a variety of naturally cultivated probiotic foods & beverages are essential for your health and wellbeing.

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34 Comments

  1. Naturally Fermented Pineapple Ginger Soda | Nourishing Time

    […] Ingredients 48oz Pineapple Juice (canned will work, but it should just be pineapple!) 0.5-1oz Ginger Juice (freshly pressed please!) ¼ cup Active Ginger Bug […]

  2. Lorilei

    What do you think about using organic raw honey in place of sugar as I try to cut out processed foods.

    1. Jo

      I am pretty sure honey will work, the bacteria in ginger bug love it! (I’ve used it for fruit ferments before). I have read it may get started more slowly, and in my opinion it may turn towards alcohol more quickly.

      I will try and experiment next week, if you try it out before I do let me know how it goes! Also less processed sugar like sucanat/Rapadura is another great option. I use a mix of brown sugar and a touch of blackstrap molasses right now.

      1. Jo K.

        If I were to use honey in place of sugar, would the ratio be the same?

        – Another Jo

  3. Ginger Bug (to make ginger soda) - HippyMom - An Evolution of Female Community Parenting Board

    […] Bug (to make ginger soda) How To Make A Ginger Bug | Nourishing Time and here is the recipe for pinapple ginger soda: Naturally Fermented Pineapple Ginger Soda | […]

  4. Ret

    What about using coconut sugar?

    1. Jo

      I’ve tried coconut sugar in water kefir and while it worked, it gave it an “off” flavor. I have heard others say the same. I would have to try it out with ginger bug to be sure!

      1. Ret

        What about maple syrup then? I’m diabetic (type 2) and I like to use low GI minimally processed sugars.

        Also, instead of the Boss, what do you think about using the Fermenta Lock caps? (http://www.fermentacap.com/index.php?option=com_hikashop&ctrl=product&task=show&cid=59&name=fermenta-lock-airlock-cap&Itemid=121&category_pathway=2)

        1. Jo

          I am not sure, but I imagine that would work similar to honey and it may turn towards alcohol more quickly. The fermenta caps would work fine for the ginger bug, it is not a very picky ferment and some people make it without any lid. I don’t know if it would make a good 12-week sauerkraut, though!

  5. Susan

    Hi , I was just wondering if anyone ever ended up trying this with honey. We don’t have any sugar in the house and I would hate to buy it for such a small amount.

    1. Jo

      I haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet, unfortunately. I will update in a couple weeks.

    2. Joinikas

      Susan, can you not buy sugar in the Bulk Section at a local supermarket? God luck. πŸ™‚

  6. Dona

    What covering should be used??? A lid (white plastic) or a cloth with rubber band?

    1. Jo

      Either one would work just fine! The important part is stirring vigorously as often as you can πŸ™‚ I personally keep mine closed in a Boss Pickler, it allows some of the gas buildup to get out.

  7. Meg

    The actual bug in the ginger bug… It’s probably a mix of bacteria and yeast? I ask bc I have tested for an antibody reaction to both brewer’s and baker’s yeast, so I need to stay away from both for awhile. I love fizzy though, and having to drop kombucha is a bummer for me. I’m wondering about this as an alternative, but figured as in much of fermentation, I’d still be getting the yeast.

    1. Jo

      It is a mix of bacteria and yeasts. I encourage you to buy a Boss Pickler or similar fermenting vessel and make your ferments in those. It has reduced or eliminated reactions to ferments for many people. It is a more controlled environment, and will help you get the good bacteria you need to clear that issue up. Because Kombucha is aerobic, it will always contain random strains based on where it’s brewed and what’s around. You can read more about the Boss Pickler by clicking here.

      I have also heard of using whey to make sodas, but I have not tried it yet so can’t say how well it works as far as fizz/taste. Hope that helps πŸ™‚

      1. Marlene Taylor

        Whey works great! And it usually takes a week to 3 weeks to get to super bubbly (depends on heat). I use the whey leftover from making soft cheeses like ricotta and mozzarella. You just have to be patient if using whey.

  8. Raw Ginger Beer Recipe | Nourishing Time

    […] 4 inches ginger, juiced 1-2 lemons, juiced 2 quarts water 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup active ginger bug […]

  9. Jessica

    I have tried making a ginger bug twice now. I was hoping to make the pineapple ginger soda for Christmas. They started to get fizzy about 4-5 days in. It seems after continuing to adding to it for day 5, 6, and 7, it loses it’s fizz. I went ahead and bottled it today and will leave it out for a day or two, but I’m getting bummed because I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong or if it’s normal.

    1. Jessica

      I think maybe I need to close it at day 5. I use a papertowel and rubberband. Maybe too much gas escapes?

      1. Jo

        You can definitely try capping it. I do mine in an airlock vessel so much of the air does stay in. And in the fridge I’ve been keeping it with a regular lid so pretty much all the bubbles stay in (but do remember to burp it every now and then!). Also make sure you are stirring vigorously. And if you use white or light brown sugar, you can try adding some molasses. Another thought is whether or not you’re leaving the ginger’s skin on, that helps as well πŸ™‚

        1. Jessica

          Thank you! I do leave the skin on. I will try capping it sooner. Merry Christmas!

          1. Jo

            Hope you had a great Christmas as well, and that it’s bubbling away πŸ™‚

  10. Robbin R

    Please help! I have been so excited to use this but my bug is 10 days old and still isn’t fizzy. What do I do? Also, does it make a difference if my bug is covered or should it be uncovered? I had it covered for about 4 or 5 days.

    1. Jo

      Leave it uncovered at first if you aren’t using a jar that allows air to escape.

      If you aren’t using a dark brown sugar, you can try adding some molasses. That worked for me.

      It may also take a bit more time this time of year because of the cold, you can try storing it on top of the fridge, near the stove, or in some other warm area and see if that helps πŸ™‚

  11. groovygrrrl

    OMG I love The Fermenter’s Kitchen! Great use of social media. They are so helpful and I think Jane is awesome. She’s always helpful and encouraging. πŸ™‚ Thanks for this recipe. I often misplace mine. I can’t wait to try your pineapple soda version! Yay!

  12. Matt Miller

    Interesting. I’m beginning the bug tonight! I had some fresh mint on hand…it’s a “chocolate” mint varietal that I’m growing. I decided to pinch it back and had about a heaping tablespoon of stems/leaves. I didn’t bother chopping them…just added them to my jar. Gave it a good shake and loosened the lid. Let’s see how it goes! Have you ever tried bottling and letting it carbonate a couple of days and then pasteurizing it? I ferment cider and brew beer, so I have the stuff to try it. Did a Mexican Tepache recently and that turned out very well.

    1. Jo

      One of the things I love about these ferments is the live active cultures that provide a cheap probiotic! So, I do not pasteurize πŸ™‚ But I do bottle it up and let it carbonate to make a natural, healthy soda. I haven’t tried tepache…yet!

      1. Matt Miller

        Cool, Jo! Try the Tepache! You don’t have to add beer and the longer it ferments, the more alcohol is produced. But after around 60 hours, there wouldn’t be much, but the fermentation process should be started well enough to carbonate. To me, it’s too sweet, so I mix with beer, but you could use ginger ale instead.

        One warning about bottling sweet stuff: if you don’t pasteurize, you could get a bottle bomb. Once carbonated to your liking, refrigerate and don’t let it warm up again or the yeast/cultures could revive and cause the same. You may know this…but I don’t want anyone that is new to doing this to get hurt!

  13. John MacDowall

    Yep! Works better than expected. Here’s another take on the same process.

    http://www.betterdoneyourself.com/2014/05/29/homemade-ginger-beer/

  14. Ms Michelle Grant

    I would love to try, but I absolutely cannot have ANY alcohol. Is there a wy to really have it alcohol free?

    1. Jo

      You can test with a hydrometer (click here for more info). If I have it as soon as it’s ready, I don’t taste any alcohol at all. The longer something ferments, the more alcohol is produced. So you may want to make in small quantities that you’d enjoy quickly.

  15. queenie

    i want to ask the jar, do i need to tighten the jar with lid or just the same as first fermentation of kombucha?

    1. Jo

      I prefer to tighten it, but it is easier to get it going first before doing so to capture the wild bacteria/yeasts in the air.

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