Making homemade ginger beer is a two-step process that begins with a ginger bug, which is the starter culture that’s required to make ginger beer (just as kombucha uses a SCOBY and probiotic lemonade uses whey), and consists of concoction fresh ginger, water and sugar.
Why is it called a “bug”? I really have no idea….maybe because it’s crawling with live micro-organisms? That’s actually kind of creepy to think about, pretend I didn’t say that.
I know you’re eager to get started making your homemade ginger beer, but you’re going to need some patience. It’s going to take 3-7 days to get the “bug” bubbly and ready for action. But trust me, the end result is well worth the wait. You’ll be thanking me when you’re sitting out on your patio on a hot summer day with a homemade ginger beer and rye in your hand.
How to Make a Ginger Bug for Homemade Fermented Soda
Step 1: Gather ingredients
- Ginger: use organic if possible, this way you won’t have to peel it (peel if not organic).
- Sugar: lightly refined, organic cane sugar, or white sugar works best. If you’re using an unrefined sugar, add a tsp of molasses (NO, you can’t substitute for honey or syrup).
- Water: it’s best to use bottled spring water because the natural minerals in the water aid in the fermentation process. Don’t use boiled water because it purifies it too much (I’ve used it before and it never ended up fermenting.) I am lucky enough to be able to use the tap water where I live and have had great results.
Step 2: Assemble
- Add 2 tbsp of fresh ginger, and 2 tbsp sugar to a quart-sized mason jar.
- Fill the jar 2/3 full with filtered or spring water (about 2 cups) and stir with a non-metal spoon.
- Cover the jar with a cloth or coffee filter and secure with an elastic band.
- Leave the jar in a warm location (about 80F) – in the oven with jar the light on is a perfect, undisturbed, environment.
- For the next 3-7 days (time will vary depending on temperature), every 24 hours, add another 1 tbsp of ginger and 1 tbsp of sugar and stir well to combine.
- When little bubbles start to rise and you hear a fizzing sound when you stir, then your starter is complete and you can now use it for ginger beer.
Storing the Ginger Bug
- When storing the ginger bug, keep it away from other fermenting food and beverages as it can cross-culture.
- You can store it on the counter and continue to feed it (1 tbsp ginger + 1 tbsp sugar) everyday if you’re using it regularly, or, you can store it in the fridge and feed it once per week.
- To activate the ginger bug in preparation for making soda, remove it from the fridge, feed it, and bring it back to room temperature.
Read more about the benefits of fermented food and beverages HERE!