Most recipes for ginger bug would have us grating some fresh ginger every day, mixing it with a bit more sugar and water, to feed the bug. I don’t have time for that! So I came up with a quicker method: I process the whole bunch of ginger with an equal part of sugar, add an equal quantity of water, and freeze that mix in ice-cube trays. Then it’s easy to scoop a little out for the daily feedings. Whoot!
But what’s “ginger bug”, you ask? It’s a beneficial culture, to use in making healthy fermented sodas. Add some to the second ferment of kombucha or kefir, for a natural “gingerale”. So tasty, and good for digestion too.
One caveat: Only use organic ginger! I’ve tried using non-organic on two different occasions, and it ruined my bug every time. It may be hard to locate organic ginger, but it’s worth the hunt. I guess that’s why I like to buy a big bunch of it when I do find it (I usually get at least a pound at a time). The ginger/sugar mush I make with it will last awhile in my freezer.
- 8 oz. fresh ginger root
- 1 1/2 c. sugar
- 2 c. filtered water for mix
- 2 c. filtered water for starter
To make an easy ginger/sugar mix to store in the freezer for months, process the two ingredients in a blender, to a fine “slush”. Chop the fresh ginger into pieces (I don’t peel mine) and process with the sugar in blender, using: > 8 oz. or so fresh ginger root (about 6 large “fingers”) > 1 1/2 c. sugar
Add to the mixture: > 2 c. filtered water
Set aside 1 c. of the ginger/sugar/water mixture (for the starter batch; freeze the rest in an ice cube tray. Grab an ice-cube or two per day, for the ginger bug’s daily feeding.
The initial starter will need these amounts, mixed into a jar (one-quart size or larger): > 1 c. ginger/sugar/water mix
Also add to jar: > 2 c. filtered water
Add a lid and shake well. Remove lid and use a rubber band and coffee filter (or napkin or paper towel) to cover the top.
Stir the mixture at least once a day for five days, with a non-metallic spoon or spatula. Each day, add: > 2-3 TBS. ginger/sugar mix > 2 TBS. water
The culture is active when bubbles form in the top layer (where the ginger pulp floats). It will get cloudy, and may seem fizzy and smell lightly yeasty. This might take up to eight days. If mold grows, remove the mold. Discard the mixture and start over if it gets moldy again.
Use this “ginger bug” to add to fermented drinks. For a quart-size bottle, use: > 1/4 c. ginger bug, strained
The ginger ferment can be kept in the refrigerator, where it will only need to be fed weekly. Add another 2-3 TBS. of the ginger/sugar mix, plus 2 TBS. water, each week.
Make a new batch of the ginger/sugar mix as necessary.
Use the strained ginger bug for the second ferment of kombucha or kefir, for a delicious, natural, healthy “soda”.