Ginger Bug

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


  1. Stir together the water, molasses, and sugar.
  2. Mince or grate the ginger, leaving the skin on, and stir into the mixture.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Store in the refrigerator and feed weekly if not using more frequently.

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