It all began with a turmeric ginger bug and the ginger beer fermented from it in May 2015. Seven years later, it's really about time that I share the recipe and a few tips and tricks with you. The ginger turmeric beer on the next photo is actually it: The very first beverage that I fermented completely myself. The taste, but especially the production process, got me so hooked that I've been fermenting and trying out all sorts of things almost daily ever since. If you follow me on instagram, you know what I'm talking about 😉
Grow a ginger beer starter aka ginger bug yourself
When ginger, sugar and water are mixed and left to stand, the wild bacteria and natural yeasts on the ginger and from the environment itself begin to multiply. These wild microorganisms metabolize the sugar, producing carbon dioxide that gives homemade soft drinks their bubbles. A million times better than added carbon dioxide. The comparison is like champagne to carbonated table water. Like champagne, this ferment also has alcohol. That's usually as much or as little as is contained in kombucha or non-alcoholic beer.
To produce a fermented beverage, you first cultivate the starter (in English, by the way, it is called ginger bug). The principle is the same as sourdough. So if you've ever brought flour and water to life, you're sure to succeed with the Ginger Bug. I sometimes feel like Lady Frankenstein with these ferments and shout it’s alive! enthusiastically when the active phase begins.
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. fresh organic ginger *
* It is important to use organic ginger because it is processed unpeeled. Valuable microbes sit on the skin, which support the fermentation. Conventionally grown ginger is often contaminated with pollutants and carries mold spores. If you're not using organic ginger and your ginger bug isn't getting active, that could be the problem.
Dissolve the sugar in water and stir together with the diced ginger in a large glass jar. Cover the vessel with a cloth and fix it with a rubber band. Air and wild yeasts should reach the starter, but pests must be kept away. Be sure to set up warm (20 ° C - 25 ° C is optimal).
Feed every day with
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. organic ginger, diced
and stir vigorously several times a day. This is all about the submixing of oxygen. After 3 - 5 days the first bubbles should form and the ginger bug should smell of yeast and ginger. As soon as the starter has so many bubbles that it starts foaming, it is ready to be used for making hard lemonade.
If your starter doesn't get going at all, make sure it's warm enough and try shaking it vigorously instead of just stirring it. A lid on the container is a good idea for this.
Good luck with your first ginger starter!
Fermented Ginger Ale / Ginger Beer with Ginger Bug
The classic drink you make from the ginger bug is of course ginger ale, also called ginger beer. You may be familiar with store-bought ginger beer. Even though some brands brew quite decent sodas, they can't stand comparison to the home-fermented product. It's best to try it now, I'm sure you'll agree.
- 1 large piece of ginger *
- 4 tbsp. sugar
- 1 liter water
- 1 lemon
- 4 tbsp. strained ginger bug
Cut the ginger into slices. Softly boil the ginger, sugar and water for about 10 minutes and then leave to cool. Combine with the freshly squeezed lemon juice and strained ginger starter in a container, cover with a cloth and secure with a rubber band. Ideally, the vessel has a large opening. Place in a warm place and stir frequently until the first bubbles form. This takes about 1-2 days.
Fill into swing-top bottles and let stand for 2-4 days at approx. 20°C. Burp daily, i.e. open the stopper slightly to release the pressure. Do not open the bottle completely, but carefully move the stopper by pressing on it. If you do not feel any pressure, do not open the bottle to prevent the carbon dioxide from escaping. As soon as enough carbonization has formed, put it in the refrigerator and enjoy well chilled.
ATTENTION - even in the refrigerator the fermentation continues, so always make sure to burp the bottles!
How is the remaining Ginger Bug stored?
The maintenance of a ginger bug actually works just like that of a sourdough. You can store it in a glass with a loose lid in the refrigerator. Once a week it is taken out and fed, which means that sugar and chopped ginger are mixed again with strong stirring. I usually keep it warm for 1-2 hours before I chill it again.
But you probably make a drink at least once a week anyway, so that you can feed it right away on the occasion. Enjoy it!