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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.