Brew a Ginger Bug for a Bevy of Beverages

Skip the store-bought soda pop and make naturally bubbly probiotic drinks at home with the help of a ginger bug starter.

| Winter 2019

Adobe Stock/Eric Hood

Various quaffable carbonations beckon to us from grocery store shelves. But the best way to get your fizzy flavor fix is to brew fermented sodas at home. For starters, home-brewed beverages cost a fraction of the price of the store-bought versions. Additionally, you can customize your own sodas based on flavors your family will enjoy — and who doesn’t love a carbonated drink? Even better, what if it were a healthy, invigorating, bubbly drink packed full of natural probiotics?

By consuming small amounts of fermented foods daily, you’ll help the digestive system become stronger so that colonies of healthy probiotic bacteria — or gut flora — can thrive. Not only do the gut flora benefit, but so do the stomach and intestines. When gut flora are off balance, our natural defenses against harmful bacteria weaken, making it difficult to combat these pathogens. It’s also equally important that we replenish probiotic bacteria in the digestive system once a round of antibiotics has been completed. Consuming fermented foods can even help lessen or reduce allergies for some people, and reduce inflammation in tissues for those affected by arthritis. Drinking fermented sodas made with a ginger bug starter will easily satisfy your daily fermentation consumption need.

Making a ginger bug is the first step in brewing fermented beverages, such as ginger ale, root beer, and homemade flavored sodas. An active culture produces bubbles around the top of the mixture, and will fizz when stirred. The culture will also smell slightly sweet and yeasty. If the temperatures in your home are too cool or too hot, this can affect how long it’ll take the ginger bug to culture.

This ginger bug culture will need to be fed daily with grated or finely chopped fresh ginger root. Missing a day can starve the culture, which leads to drastic consequences; if you starve the ferment, you’ll have to start again. If you aren’t using an organic ginger root, remove the skin; you can leave the skin on if your ginger root is organic. However, the decision is ultimately yours.

Keep your ginger bug alive by placing it into a “hotel” for storage when it’s not in use. Unlike kefir grains, the ginger bug can’t be preserved, so you can only rest it short-term. The ginger bug can rest in the refrigerator for an extended period. A glass canning jar with a plastic lid screwed on tightly will work well for this. Though it’s resting, it’ll still need to be fed once a week with 1 tablespoon each of grated ginger and sugar. Set a weekly reminder on your calendar to do this.



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