Ginger bug is to fermented beverages what sourdough starter is to naturally leavened bread. The ginger in the mixture is toxic to many micro-organisms, so a balanced yeast and bacterial colony is easily established and maintained. It takes 5 days to establish the bug, after which it can be stored and the refrigerator and fed just once every week or two. Many bits of folklore promised this would form a SCOBY, a gelatinous yeast-and-bacterial mass, but this hasn't happened for me.
Use organic ginger. Non-organic ginger reportedly has pesticides that may prevent the microorganisms from establishing.
- 15 mL water
- 5 g (1/2 tsp) molasses
- 15 g (1 tbs) sugar
- 15 g fresh or dried ginger
- Stir together the water, molasses, and sugar.
- Mince or grate the ginger, leaving the skin on, and stir into the mixture.
- Every day for 5 days stir in the same amounts of water, sugar, and ginger. Do not continue to add molasses, which is there to get it started with mineral nutrients.
- By the end of 5 days the mixture should be foamy with bubbles constantly rising to the surface. If not, continue feeding a few more days, or try again, being sure to use organic ginger.
- When ginger bug is fermenting actively it can be used in recipes. Stir up to incorporate any sediment (which is composed of yeast cells), then strain - through a fine strainer but not a cloth - the needed amount of liquid leaving the ginger solids behind.
- Once the ginger bug has been built up, subsequent feedings should be done by removing half of the bug - liquid and ginger solids combined - then feeding again as above, but using twice as much water. It may be fed a few times before cutting back and building up again. Add molasses after each cut-back.
- Store in the refrigerator and feed weekly if not using more frequently.