MacGyver Soda

Follow our series on how to make a “ginger bug” for making healthy, natural sodas from scratch!

You heard me! We are gong to MacGyver some soda out of nothing but a ginger root, water, sugar, and a paper clip. Okay. No paper clip. But still, this is going to be pretty gosh darn amazing! It won’t be ready by Thanksgiving, but you will have this down by Christmas and can hand this to your holiday party host with a smug grin on your face.


Here’s the plan:

We are going to do a step-by-step tutorial (with pictures because that’s how we roll) together on how to make a “ginger bug” soda starter. Then we will take our ginger bug and use it to make a real-life carbonated soda that is actually good for you!

Why? Because we’re awesome and this sounds fun and even slightly mad. That is how we roll.

What is a ginger bug? It is basically a starter for making soda. We will be making ginger ale first, but it can be used in addition to any juice to make orange soda, grape soda, root beer, etc. The process and care is very similar to the sourdough starter we made except you won’t be catching wild yeast from the air. Lacto-fermentation converts sugars to carbon gas (bubbles) and lactic acid, which aids digestion and has other health properties. When old-timers talked about drinking a soda to settle an upset stomach, this is the soda they were referring to.

Plan to have to have these items ready by Tuesday evening:
* 3 organic, whole ginger roots with the skins (not ground, not crystalized)
* unprocessed sugar (rapadura or sucanat; sugar still containing its minerals or still containing molasses)
* 2 quart glass jar
* flour sack towel (breathable, but will keep insects out)
* rubber band
* 2 quarts de-chlorinated water

For de-chlorinated water, simply set out the water needed for 24-hours and the chlorine should evaporate from your tap water. Alternatively, you can use bottled distilled water. Chlorine will inhibit the growth of the good bacteria needed for the ginger bug to grow and create carbonation.

Fun stuff ahead!

9 thoughts on “MacGyver Soda

      • I’m sorry. The keyboard on my kindle is so small that I can easily hit the wrong thing. I meant what is your source for rapadura or sucanat.

      • Oh! That happens to me all the time and then I end up sending weird messages to people.

        I use rapadura because I can easily find it at the local food co-op, but it isn’t very common in most big grocery stores. Your best bet would be to look in local “whole food” or “health food” stores or even online if you can’t find it anywhere else. Trader Joes is probably a good place to look or Whole Foods.

        You can also use cane sugar and then add a small amount of molasses (4:1 ratio of cane sugar and molasses works great) to the mix just to give the ginger bug the minerals it needs to thrive. A ginger bug CAN be made with just white sugar, but the few times I have tried it, it took too long to activate or did not activate at all.

    • It’s not like the world will end if your ginger bug touches metal, but it will react. Whether that reaction is that the bug dies or is contaminated with a stronger– not so nice bacteria– depends on the circumstances. The main concern is that the acidity of the bug itself will react and interact with the metal or plastic. It’s just so much easier to use a wooden spoon or wooden spoon end.

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