Ginger Bug Natural Soda Starter :: bottling your soda

Follow our series on how to make your very own soda starter, known as a “ginger bug”, from scratch! Join in on the fun and let’s see if we can have our own custom flavored sodas within a week or so.

After three days of fermenting, I decided the ginger beer soda looked fizzy enough to bottle. What is fizzy enough? I am not too sure since this is my first batch, but I let the ginger beer soda ferment until there were bubbles on the surface and it made a fizzy noise when I stirred it. I like to use real technical terms here like “fizzy”.

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Safety First!
Clean Your Bottles and Equipment: Wash all your equipment and bottles with soap and hot water, and thoroughly rinse.
Use Bottles Meant For Carbonation: Only make fermented sodas in bottles intended for carbonation. Soda bottles and glass swing-top bottles are specifically designed to withstand the pressure of carbonation. Other bottles, even the original container the cider came in, can break or shatter under the pressure.
Refrigerate When Carbonated: Test for desired carbonation and sweetness every day and refrigerate the soda as soon as it gets to where you like it. Refrigeration puts the yeast on hold and prevents the soda from over-carbonating. There is some margin for error here, but left un-refrigerated, the pressure will continue to build and the bottles will eventually break.

All that safety stuff aside, I didn’t follow one of these steps… The cleaning part is pretty important though. I did that. Not all of the bottles I used were meant for carbonation. I used four carbonated keifer drink bottles (which is similar to what I’m putting back in it), one thick mason jar, and one pasta sauce jar. I hope the pasta sauce jar makes it, but I wouldn’t be incredibly surprised if it ends up breaking.

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Hopefully by my next batch, I will have ordered my super professional “brewing” bottles with those reusable ceramic flip-caps. They are about $30-50 for a dozen 16 ounce glass bottles on Amazon, so I want to be sure I like this type of lacto-fermented soda before I spend good money on supplies. In the mean time, I will be setting these potential hazards in an enclosed cooler in the living room to keep any explosions/spills/messes contained. They will sit out at room temperature for anywhere from 1-10 days and then they will be carbonated and ready for refrigeration or consumption!

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How to Bottle Your Lacto-Fermented Soda:
1. Thoroughly clean bottles.
2. Pour or funnel activated soda into bottles leaving 1-2 inches of head space.
3. Seal with the cap.
4. Test daily until your preferred carbonation level and sweetness level has been reached.
5. Refrigerate for up to two weeks or consume immediately!

New Printable!

There is a new printable up and ready on the “Printables” page for you angora owners to use! Just passing around a little bunny love.

For future reference, when calculating wool values:
Prime wool is 3-5 inches long, ideal for spinning, and mat free and is worth 100% of its weight;
Secondary wool is less than 3 inches long, is better for felting, and is worth 75% of its weight;
Third class wool is usually trimmings, best used for stuffing, and is worth 25% of its weight.

Gross weight is the total weight for all wool harvested and adjusted weight (Adj. weight) is the total value of the wool. If you need any help with this, just ask… I’m always happy to help.

Ginger Bug Natural Soda Starter :: making “ginger beer” soda

Follow our series on how to make your very own soda starter, known as a “ginger bug”, from scratch! Join in on the fun and let’s see if we can have our own custom flavored sodas in the next week or so.


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Today our ginger bug is fully active and ready to be made into a ginger infused lacto-fermented soda called “ginger beer”.

You will need:
1 gallon-sized glass jar
1 gallon dechlorinated water
1 cup grated or minced ginger root
1 1/2 cups rapadura or other sugar
2 tablespoons organic lemon juice
Fine mesh strainer

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Pour a 1/2 gallon of water and 1 cup of grated ginger root into a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

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With the heat still on low, add 1 1/2 cups of rapadura and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Allow the mixture to thoroughly cool to room temperature or cooler.

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When the simple syrup is well cooled, strain and add to the 1/2 gallon of dechlorinated water still remaining in your gallon-sized jar.

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Pour 1 cup of your ginger bug through a strainer and add it to your simple syrup/water mixture (known as a “wort”). Heat will destroy the enzymes, so make sure when you add it to your gallon mixture, it to has cooled to room temperature. Cover your jar with a cloth and rubber band, so it can breathe, but stays free of dust and fruit flies.

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Let it ferment from 2–10 days depending on how sweet you like your soda. The shorter fermentation times will yield a sweeter soda. This is all dependent on room temperature and bug strength so taste it every day.

Our next post on the ginger bug–ginger beer will be bottling and the second fermentation stage.*

*When your soda is ready you can divide it into smaller bottles and let it sit at room temperature sealed for another 2-5 days to build up some fizz inside each bottle. Once it is fizzy enough for you, put the sealed bottles in the refrigerator to stop the fizzing process.

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Ginger Beer Informational Tidbits
• Lacto-bacilli (lacto bacteria) digest the sugars which creates carbonation and make the drinks tangy by creating lactic acid.
• The drinks last for weeks in the fridge, although they will slowly continue to ferment and become more tangy and alcoholic (like vinegar).
• Lacto-fermented sodas like ginger beer contain natural probiotics! Many commercial yogurts and other commercial foods boasting added probiotics are synthetically made.
• After fermentation, ginger beer and other lacto-fermented sodas only contain about 3% of their original sugar.

How To Care For Your Ginger Bug
Give the starter a stir twice a day, and once a day add two teaspoons each of sugar and minced or grated ginger. In a couple days it will start bubbling when you stir it, but it’s really ready when you can hear it bubbling before you stir it. It takes about 3 days to mature, or longer in a cold room.

If you will not use your ginger bug right away– feed it, let it sit overnight, seal the jar with a lid, and store it in your refrigerator. The ginger bug can live up to one week in the refrigerator before it needs to be pulled out, fed, and allowed to sit overnight. It can then go back in the refrigerator for another week.

Ginger Bug Natural Soda Starter :: day six

Follow our series on how to make your very own soda starter, known as a “ginger bug”, from scratch! Join in on the fun and let’s see if we can have our own custom flavored sodas in the next week or so.

I think we’re just about ready. I didn’t hear the ginger bug bubbling before I stirred it, but it is really fizzy looking and smells a little different today. It doesn’t smell bad. Quite the opposite. Instead of giving off a ginger aroma like previous days, the ginger bug now smells faintly like sugar. I has a very light sweet smell. Not sure what that really means in the grand scheme of things, but usually different is good.

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This is an awful photo, but hopefully it gives you an idea of how cloudy the ginger bug is right now. You can barely see through it even when holding it up to the light. This photo also gives you a good idea of what our living room ceiling looks like. Knotty pine folks.

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Today:
* add 2 teaspoons of rapadura and 2 teaspoons of finely chopped ginger root
* gently stir
* this evening, give the ginger bug a second gentle stir

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Tomorrow get ready to make soda!

Tomorrow you will need: a gallon glass jug or jar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, ginger root, rapadura or white sugar, and 1 gallon of de-chlorinated water.

Need a gallon glass jar? When making sourdough starter, a reader mentioned using a large gallon-sized glass pickle jar from Costco. Think big. You can also ask local bakeries or restaurants… the worst that can happen is they will look at you like you’re crazy.

Sugar Plum Fairies?

This afternoon, my family and I did our part by supporting local small businesses. Year-round we prefer to shop local or handmade, but I think it is especially important to do so during the holidays.

Living in an old, mountain gold-rush town, our tourism is really just two months in the summer from campers and two months (if we’re lucky) in the winter from skiers and snowboarders. Our local small businesses need the holiday season to be profitable to carry them through the year and many of our small businesses are family-run, generation after generation.

We may live in a more rural area than you, but…

Let’s all try to support our own communities first and foremost this holiday season!



How did we support our local small businesses today? We spent the day in Columbia Historic State Park and went for a stage coach ride, popped in to say hi to my friend at her “old time” photo studio, took a lunch break, visited the oldest two-story brick schoolhouse in California, and of course shopped our hearts out at Columbia Candy Kitchen.

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Not only did we get to watch candy canes being made from scratch, but they sold sugar plums. I, for one, have never eaten or seen an actual sugar plum candy. Have you? Obviously they must be seasonal so I snagged a quarter-pound and Cami and I snacked on sweet purple sugar plums for the rest of the afternoon.

What a great start to the holiday season!

Ginger Bug Natural Soda Starter :: day five

Follow our series on how to make your very own soda starter, known as a “ginger bug”, from scratch! Join in on the fun and let’s see if we can have our own custom flavored sodas in the next week or so.


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Wow is this stuff getting fizzy! Today I had lots of bubbles on top and when I first moved it, I heard a little fizz sound like when you jerk around “commercial” sodas. I am thinking that in another day or two we will be ready to make our first soda using the starter. I’m just waiting for the tell-tale sign that the ginger bug is ready; hearing the ginger bug fizz and bubble before stirring it.

Today:
* add 2 teaspoons of rapadura and 2 teaspoons of finely chopped ginger root
* gently stir
* this evening, give the ginger bug a second gentle stir

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