Skip to Content

Ginger Bug 101

A ginger bug is a naturally effervescent slurry made from ginger, sugar, and water. The wild yeasts and beneficial bacteria on ginger naturally populate to create a naturally fizzy drink!

I found something online last week and I haven't slept well since - I've been up too late reading, absorbing, learning.

I found the /r/fermentation subreddit, and read about fermenting all sorts of foods:

  • The difference between lacto-fermentation and yeast-fermentation.
  • That you ferment hot sauce, that one was news to me.
  • How to make kraut.

And this weird little thing called a ginger bug. There were lots of threads about ginger bugs - apparently, these are popular.

I had to try.

This recipe is dedicated to trying new things!

Looking down into a jar filled with minced ginger and water slurry. It has fermented and created bubbles.
8 days, and my bug is doing great

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Jump to:

What is fermentation?

There are 2 main types of fermentation:

  • Lacto-fermentation is the fermentation started either with salt (the traditional way) or whey (a different whey - get it! ha). The premise behind it is to create a probiotic food using salt/salt brine to keep the bad bacteria at bay and help proliferate the good bacteria. *Lacto-fermentation the traditional way is dairy free - the bacteria produce lactic acid, not lactose, but those with dairy issues should avoid eating foods fermented with whey. *
  • Yeast fermentation is pretty straight forward - just like when making bread - the yeast eats the sugar and creates waste, namely CO2 and Ethanol. The CO2 is what makes things bubble and gives rise to bread, and beer. The Ethanol is what makes you feel good. Ha.

Why would I eat something fermented?!

The benefits of fermented ginger are numerous! This fermented ginger bug is a powerhouse.

It is very beneficial to your health to eat fermented foods, especially lacto-fermented foods as they are probiotic. Probiotic intake is incredibly important for your gut health, and as some of us know, gut health leads to all over better health.

I know the word fermentation is kind of a major turn off, but don't think of it like that. It's not like leaving a sippy cup full of milk behind the couch for a week (or two!). Many fermented foods are delicious, and not only are they tasty, but they are also, in many cases, probiotic foods.

What else? 

Industrialization has changed the way we (humans) ferment foods. Fermentation can be kind of fiddly, and it's rare that each batch tastes exactly the same as the one before it.

In the past, fermentation was generally done by brining slightly smushed vegetables in a salt solution, nowadays, commercially available "fermented" foods are processed with vinegar and pasteurized. The acetic vinegar brine and pasteurization effectively kill all of the lactic acid bacteria, voiding the health benefits of the fermented food.

A tall mason jar filled with minced ginger and a creamy yellow coloured slurry of sugar water. There are visible bubbles of carbonation throughout.

Back to the ginger bug. What Is it?

What is it? A slurry of ginger, water and sugar, that is fermented until bubbly and foamy. The good bacteria and wild yeasts in the ginger itself populate and eat the sugar in the mixture.

Just as a baker uses sourdough to leaven bread, and a brewer uses a kombucha scoby to brew kombucha, we can use a ginger bug to make a naturally effervescent soda.

How does it make fizz?

One of the main ginger bug uses is a naturally fizzy drink! My favourite way to use a ginger bug is to make a "pop".

When the fermented ginger bug is added to sweetened fruit juice, the microorganisms begin to eat the sugar in the juice. As the microorganisms eat the sugar, they release CO2 making the slurry effervescent.

Science! Or something!

How do I know when my bug is ready?

You'll know when the ginger bug is ready by looking at your jar. The water with floating ginger chunks will have transformed to a slightly opaque fizzy bubbly liquid.

Ginger bug tips & tricks

After dutifully following a popular ginger bug recipe on my first go, I found that it just didn't work. I also found it kind of annoying to have to grate the ginger and do it daily. So I modified the recipe:

  • PEELING the ginger root isn't necessary - rinse and wipe, and leave the peel intact.
  • MINCE - it's faster, it's easier and it's less mess. Mince the whole root and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for your daily feedings.
  • TRY to use organic ginger if you can find. Conventional ginger may have been sprayed or irradiated, killing the natural yeast and bacteria.
  • USE simple sugars! It might work with maple syrup, but it works best with simple, easy to dissolve sugars. Use plain old granulated white sugar. Avoid non-caloric sugars - they will not work.

Water matters:

Try to use filtered or spring water. Tap water often has chlorine or other chemicals that can affect your ferment.

We have a reverse osmosis system, and I use water from that, it works great.

Not fizzy?

My countertops are granite - and they run a bit on the cool side, and I feel that this is the reason I didn't get really good bubbly, yeasty, reactions until day 7/8.

If you're not seeing bubbles in the first few days, don't give up. You've just got a cool kitchen!

Not making pop right now?

You can allow the "mother" to rest in the fridge after you strain off some of the liquid, remembering to feed it once a week - 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp ginger root.

If your bug has been resting for some time, you may need to siphon off some liquid, and remove some of the solids, this is ok! Try to keep the jar at least half full.

To use a rested ginger bug, simply feed it, remove it from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature before using.

Use your bug to make homemade soda!

To make a naturally fizzy soda at home;

  1. mix 1/4 cup of the starter with 4 cups of a sweetened, flavoured liquid,
  2. pour it into a bottle with a tight seal, like a flip-top lid, leaving 1/2-1" headspace.
  3. Allow the soda to ferment at room temperature for up to 3 days. (Avoid going longer than 3 days between openings).
  4. Store unused portions of soda in the fridge to slow fermentation.

Wondering what to use as a base for your soda?

  • sweetened and cooled tea
  • fruit juice
  • simple syrups mixed with water

Are we friends on Pinterest?

📖 Printable Recipe

Looking down into a jar filled with minced ginger and water slurry. It has fermented and created bubbles.
Yield: 1 litre

Homemade Ginger Bug Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Ferment Time: 8 days
Total Time: 8 days 5 minutes

Ginger Bug 101: What is a ginger bug anyways? Learn the uses, benefits, recipe, as well as how to make, care for and feed your own ginger bug.

Ingredients

  • 1 large ginger root approx 4-6 inches, unpeeled, minced
  • 2 tbsp sugar + more
  • 2 1/2 cups filtered water

Instructions

Grow Your Ginger Bug:

  1. Day 1: In a clean - not sterilized, just clean, quart sized mason jar, add 2-2.5 cups of water.
  2. Stir in 2 tbsp of your minced ginger root and 2 tbsp sugar.
  3. Cover loosely with coffee filter, nut milk bag, anything breathable. Set in warmish spot in your kitchen away from direct sunlight.
  4. Day 2: add 2 more tbsp sugar and 2 more tbsp minced ginger, stir, recover.
  5. Days 3 - 7: feed the ginger bug just as you did on day 2.
  6. Day 8: Strain the ginger bug and use the probiotic liquid to make stuff fizzy!


Make Homemade Soda:

  1. Mix 1/4 cup of the starter with 4 cups of a sweetened, flavoured liquid.
  2. Pour it into a bottle with a tight seal, like a flip-top lid, leaving 1/2-1″ headspace.
  3. Allow the soda to ferment at room temperature for up to 3 days. (Avoid going longer than 3 days between openings).
  4. Store unused portions of soda in the fridge to slow fermentation.


Resting the ginger bug:

  1. Strain off 1 cup of liquid.
  2. Place the ginger bug in the fridge in a closed jar.
  3. Feed your ginger bug weekly with 2 tbsp fresh minced ginger, 2 tbsp sugar, and 2 tbsp water.
  4. If your bug has been resting for some time, you may need to siphon off some liquid, and remove some of the solids, this is ok! Try to keep the jar at least half full.
  5. To use a rested ginger bug, simply feed it, remove it from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature before using.


Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 25Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 6gProtein: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Rhubarb Simple Syrup
← Read Last Post
Spicy Kamut and Chick Pea Stew. A hearty, healthy, vegan stew. Perfect for batch cooking and to expand your cooking horizons! | Cravethegood.com
Spicy Kamut And Chickpea Stew
Read Next Post →
Share Your Thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Barbara

Sunday 7th of March 2021

How long does the probiotic tonic last for?

Fred

Saturday 23rd of January 2021

Great article Thank you, Ally.

Julie

Thursday 7th of May 2020

Curious if you've ever tried to make the side with a blueberry simple syrup?

Ally

Sunday 17th of May 2020

No, I haven't but that really sounds delicious!

Immari

Monday 30th of April 2018

Hello, good afternoon!! I was wondering if the bug could be added to water with a simple lemon and honey concoction, and drank that way?

Ally

Monday 7th of May 2018

Immari, I am not sure, but I guess it would be worth a try in small quantities? I think that refined sugar is much easier for the "bug" to digest, but I could be wrong!

Margaret

Monday 5th of March 2018

How much of the ginger bug liquid do you use in each F2 kombucha bottle?

Ally

Friday 16th of March 2018

Hi Margaret - I usually use 1/4 - 1/3 of the ginger bug liquid to each litre of juice!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.