Since last year when I was introduced to Kombucha, I have been very fascinated with fermentation, a microbial process that produces probiotics which are good for our gut health. The fermentation process can be found in kombucha, water kefir, milk keir, sourdough bread, kimchi, and yogurt, as well as wine and beer making. Today, I want to share about making homemade probiotic rich sparkling drinks using a ginger bug.
We all know that ginger is packed with heaps of health benefits such as being anti-inflammatory, aid in digestion, fight the flu and common cold as well as easing menstrual cramps…etc
But what is a ginger bug?
It is actually a fermentation of simple ingredients such as fresh ginger,purified water (or dechlorinated water) and sugar. In short, a powerhouse of probiotic. During the process, the ingredients become the food source for the yeast and good bacteria and this is how you get a bubbly, probiotic-rich starter culture which is beneficial for our gut health, boost our immunity and promotes overall good health. It is similiar to kombucha but you don’t need any starter tea or scoby to make it. Ginger bug can be a base for homemade ginger beer, ginger ale, sodas as well as tonics. The beauty of making ginger bug is once you made it, it can be kept alive and used continuously at any point of time. Beside ginger, you can also use fresh turmeric or even bentong ginger (for a more spicy kick).
1 x 3cm fresh ginger
2 tablespoon (30g) sugar
1 cup (237g) purified water
1) Grated ginger or cut them into fine stripes. If you are using organic ginger, you can just rinse the ginger and towel dry it before use. If you are using non-organic ginger, just peel them before use. If you don’t know whether if the ginger is organic, peel it.
2) In a clean and dry glass jar, stir the sugar with the water* till the sugar is fully dissolved before adding the ginger in. Remember to keep this mixture at a room temperature with the jar covered and away from direct sunlight. I am using an ikea jar here and it works very well for me. But I did wash it with soap and also sanitised it with boiling water before I use it.
* If you have no access to purified water. Use de-chlorinated water is fine. Simply leave the tap water in room temperature for at least 6 hours before use.
For the next 5 days, stir in 1/2 tablespoon (7g) of grated ginger root and 1 tablespoon (7g) of sugar. This is how the ginger bug looks like on the 3rd day. I used a mixture of raw cane sugar as well as white castor sugar. It is normal that it started to look a tad cloudy. On the 3rd day, the ginger bug mixture is also started to have some small bubbles at the side.
Temperature plays a very big role in fermentation. If the weather is warmer, the ginger bug will be ready faster while on cooler weather, it may more days. But once there are bubbles forming around the top of the mixture, and there is a mildly yeasty smell and slight alcoholic smell, it is ready.
If the mixture hasn’t taken on these characteristics by the 8th or 9th day, please discard and restart the process.
Once the ginger bug is ready, you can keep it indefinitely and use this ginger bug starter to create your desired sparkling drinks by adding ¼ cup** (60ml) of ginger bug starter to 1 litre of your favourite drinks or diluted fruit juice in a clean glass bottle***. Leave it in a place with no direct sunlight to ferment for another 2 to 3 days. For my sparkling drink, it was very fizzy on 3rd day. So this is the time to keep it in the fridge and enjoy it when it is cold.
**Whenever you use the ginger bug, remember to replace with the same amount of water along with 2 teaspoons (10g) of ginger and 2 teaspoons (10g) of sugar.
***I am using the Fever Tree bottle here that I kept after mixing the tonic with my gin. Usually glass bottles made for sparkling drinks are stronger and you can avoid the bottle from explosion. To be honest, I have nope of those explosion experience but I have heard of it from the facebook group that I am in.
Do remember to feed the ginger bug regularly to keep it alive with 1 teaspoon (5g) ginger and 1 teaspoon (5g) sugar daily. I have been keeping this ginger bug alive since the start of Circuit Breaker (7th April 2020) and it is now about 1 month old.
It is normal to have some white substance at the bottom of the jar as this is a sign of the natural yeasts being released and probiotics being produced. If you are keeping it at room temperature, you got to feed it daily. You can also keep the ginger bug starter in the fridge and feed it with 1 tablespoon (15g) of ginger and sugar once a week. It is similar to sourdough starter. You need to activate the ginger bug starter before using it if it is kept in the fridge as the ginger bug starter will be put into “sleep” with the cold temperature. To do so, simply remove it and leave it at room temperature before feeding it again.
I hope that you will enjoy this homemade sparkling drink made using ginger bug starter as much as I do. The permutation for the usage of ginger bug starter is endless. It is all about trial and error. I hope you will enjoy the process as much as I do while getting a chock full of probiotic.
Fruit juice or herbal tea (I am using F&N Nutriwell Chrysanthemum with wolfberries)