Everything About Ginger Bug

Ginger Bug is a wild yeast culture that is used to ferment other foods. First it has to be started and then it has to be maintained to be kept alive. This bacteria lives on the skin of the ginger root, and as it feeds on sugar it releases carbon dioxide and produces b vitamins that increase energy. I use this ginger bug for homemade ginger ale, fermented tea or any probiotic soda idea that comes to mind. Once started the ginger bug will stay alive as long as you continue to feed it. It’s tradition to name your bug because in theory it helps you to remember to take care of it as if it were a pet. If you don’t remember to feed it, the bug can die.

Sterilized and cooled mason jar

2 tbs Ginger root

2 tbs Sugar

Filtered or Well water

Coffee filter/Cheese cloth

 

  1. Microwave the jar for a minute, or pour boiling water into it and let sit for 2 minutes to sterilize. The jar has to be cooled before ingredients can be added.
  2. Chop up your ginger root. This can be fresh or frozen but you want to keep the peel on it. The size of the pieces doesn’t have to be uniformed. Add this to the mason jar.
  3. Stir in 2 tbs of sugar
  4. Fill the mason jar about ¾ of the way full with filtered or well water. Chlorinated water will kill the yeast on the exterior of the ginger.
  5. Cover the jar with either a coffee filter or piece of cheese cloth. Leave on the counter in a place you’ll remember for the next 5 days.
  6. Every morning wake up your bug (stir it)  for the next 5 days.
  7. Every evening feed it dinner (add another 2 tbs of chopped ginger and 2 tbs of sugar) for the next 5 days.
  8. By day 5 your bug will be bubbling and smell strongly of yeast. It is ready to be used or refrigerated.
  9. Lightly cover with a normal mason lid and place in the fridge. To keep the ginger bug alive it has to be fed at least once a month with another 2 tbs of sugar and 2 tbs of ginger.
  10. Top up with water as time goes on as needed and in about a day the bug will be ready to use again. When a recipe calls for ginger bug the ratio is typically ¾ cup strained ginger bug liquid to 8 cups of water. It’s okay to also remove some ginger if it becomes too full. Removing cultured ginger and placing it into a new glass with fresh water and food will split the culture and it will be ready for use within 24 hrs, instead of growing another bug.

 

Did your ginger bug die? Its best to keep in the routine of feeding regularly, but its not uncommon to forget about your bug. This is not a very picky culture, and usually if you missed a feeding it will be okay, but sometimes its not. The most common things to look for that are warning signs that your bug has expired are mold, blackened ginger and a rotten smell. Sometimes ginger bugs turn pink over time and that’s completely normal.  The bug keeps the same yeasty gingery smell even though it can thicken and not appear as bubbly when in the fridge for a while. You can use your ginger bug directly out of the fridge but if your not sure if its still safe to use, stir in a little sugar, water and ginger and cover it with a coffee filter or cheesecloth and let it sit out on the counter for an hour or two, The fermentation bubbles will return and it will appear more active again. If nothing happens, it may be time to toss it and start over.