If you are borderline fanatical about ginger beer, you are going to love this step-by-step guide on making your very own. Turns out you don’t need any kind of fancy appliances to make your own fizzy beverages, you just need to get a little creative and create something called a ginger bug. Don’t worry, you don’t have to spawn any kind of insect. A ginger bug is what you make when you combine ginger root with sugar. If you’ve ever made your own kombucha, it’s a very similar to the process of feeding the mother. (If you’re interested in trying to brew your own kombucha, here’s a step-by-step guide.)
Making your ginger bug happens through the process of fermentation. Fermented foods are outrageously popular right now, so this is your chance to go beyond the sourdough starters and kombucha mothers of the world and ventureinto the world of at-home ginger beer brewing.
Before you start, note that creating a ginger bug can take up to eight days, so keep that in mind when you’re preparing it! Fermenting is more of an art than a science. Because of this, you will need to experiment with the amount of time you spend fermenting. Both the culture strength and the environment you are fermenting in will affect the amount of time you spend, as well as the taste of fermentation.
Some extra tips on making a ginger bug and fermentation:
- If you like a stronger tasting ginger beer, add more ginger to the ginger water in step one of the ginger beer recipe.
- If ginger beer ferments for long amounts of time, it will create a small amount of alcohol. When making ginger beer for children keep your fermentations on the short side to avoid excess alcohol being created.
- Ginger bugs and ginger beer might become cloudy or opaque and this is normal.
- If mold grows on either of the ferments, it means the culture was not strong enough; toss out the ferments and start over.
- Make sure to use organic ginger and to use the skin on the ginger.
- One last note: never use metal utensils when fermenting as the metal can react with ferments.
- Ginger Bug:
- 1 to 2 large organic ginger roots
- Organic cane sugar
- 2 cups filtered water
- Ginger Beer:
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1 inch organic ginger, sliced
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 lemon or lime, juiced (optional)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup ginger bug
- Wash ginger root. Grate three tablespoons ginger with skin on. Combine grated ginger with three tablespoons ginger, and two cups of room temperature, filtered water in a sealable jar. (Hot water will kill the yeast and lactic acid bacteria that need to grow. Unfiltered water may have chlorine or other bacteria that may affect the culturing process.)
- Mix contents with a non-metal spoon and cover with a clean tea towel and elastic.
- Leave jar on counter top. Each day add one teaspoon grated ginger and one teaspoon sugar. Stir with a non-metal spoon, cover, and leave on the counter overnight.
- Continue this process until the culture is active, which can take up to eight days. You can tell the ginger bug is active once it starts to bubble and has a yeast-like smell to it. The culture may become cloudy and this is okay. If the culture grows mold or is not active by day nine, throw it out and start again.
- At this point, you can use the ginger bug to make ginger beer. If you are not using the bug right away, feed it daily with one teaspoon ginger and one teaspoon sugar, and keep on the counter top or rest the bug in the fridge. If you keep it in the fridge, feed it one tablespoon ginger root and one tablespoon sugar every week. Allow refrigerated ginger bug to reactivate on counter for a few days before using it, feeding it daily.
- Combine two cups water with sliced ginger and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain out ginger.
- Mix sugar into ginger water and stir until dissolved.
- Mix in lemon or lime juice, salt, and remaining two cups water. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Once cool, stir in ginger bug. Cover with a clean tea towel and elastic and allow to ferment on counter top until visibly bubbly. Fermentation can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on room temperature and culture strength.
- Once visibly bubbly, transfer ginger beer into flip-cap-style bottles or plastic bottles and allow to carbonate at room temperature for a few days. Carbonation time also depends on room temperature and culture strength.
- Once at your desired carbonation, put bottles in fridge to slow down carbonation. Ginger beer will continue to slowly ferment and carbonate in refrigerator so enjoy within a few weeks to avoid over-carbonation. To avoid over carbonation, have at least one bottle of ginger beer in a plastic bottle and when it resists the pressure of your hands squeezing the bottle, it is carbonated.