1 – 2 fresh ginger roots
1/2 c sugar (important for starting the culture. Honey, stevia or other sweeteners will not work)
2 c filtered water
Cut a piece of ginger root about 1 1/2″long to make 2 – 3 T of grated ginger. You can also finely chop instead of grating. There is some debate about if it is better to peel the root or not. My genera rule is that non-organic ginger gets peeled and organic just gets rinsed before grating. Place the ginger in a quart size mason jar and add an equal amount of sugar (2 – 3 T). Nourishing Traditions insists that white sugar is needed to create the bug and I’ve had the best success with this, but a local friend claims that unrefined sugar or sugar with 1 t molasses added works better. Try what you have and adapt as needed. Add 2 c filtered water to the mason jar. Make sure that the water has been filtered so that it does not contain chlorine which can affect the culturing process. Stir with a non-metal spoon and lightly cover (with a coffee filter and rubber band.) Each day for the next 5 days, stir the mix at least once and add 1 T grated ginger root and 1 T sugar. Depending on temp, it may take up to 8 days of adding sugar and ginger to create the desired culture. You can tell if culture is active if there are bubbles forming around the top of the mix, it “fizzes” when stirred and it takes on a sweet and mildly yeasty smell. It will also become somewhat cloudy and opaque. If mold appears on the top, scrape it off if it can be removed. If this happens more than once, you will need to start again. If the mix hasn’t taken on these characteristics by the 7 – 8th day, you need to discard it and start again. Keep the culture away from other cultures like sauerkraut and kombucha or it can cross culture. Once the ginger bug has cultured, it can be used to create fermented sodas and drinks at the ratio of 1/4 c ginger bug starter per quart of sweetened herbal mix (for ginger ale or root beer) or diluted fruit juice (for fruit flavored sodas). Note: To keep the bug alive and continue growing it, you will need to feed it regularly. Add 1 t minced ginger and 1 t sugar per day if kept at room temp. You can also “rest” it in the fridge and feed it 1 T each of ginger and sugar once a week. To reactivate it, remove and let it reach room temp and begin feeding it again. Use this to make Natural Ginger Ale.