Traditional Fermented Ginger Ale: Ginger Bug

Traditional fermented ginger ale is the only drink I make that is in a similar category to Homemade Organic Fermented Lemonade. These two drinks are kind of cousins because they can both use the same fermenting agent, whey. But for ginger ale, a ‘ginger bug’ is the primary fermenting agent. Using whey in making ginger ale does make it ferment faster. But I prefer not to add it and let the ginger ale ‘slow brew’. In addition, for people who are sensitive to dairy or are vegan, whey needs to be avoided since it comes from dairy.

So we won’t be discussing whey today. Our focus will be on making a ‘ginger bug’. My first effort failed. So don’t get discouraged. I have used various recipes as my template for guidance. It is amazing how recipes can vary. That is because fermenting is as much an art as it is a science. There is no exclusive way to make this. The only one that matters is the one that works. And based on all kinds of environmental and other input, the same recipe may not work consistently.

Let’s start with the ginger itself. I only use fresh ginger. If it is organic, I just rinse it. If it is not organic, I peel it. Either way, the ginger should be nice and plump, not wrinkled or moldy. Ginger is available in ASian food stores, in health food markets and often in supermarkets.

There are two recipes that I used at the start. The first is from Wellnessmama.com calling for a small amount of ginger, sugar and water added daily.

The second is from Nourished Traditions and is fairly similar to the wellnessmama.com recipe.

I am not sure if I found a recipe for this or if I started doing it on my own. I am admittedly overwhelmed sometimes with caring for all my fermented beverages and food. Daily attention to my ‘ginger bug’ become difficult. So I started weekly feeding of my continuous culture, you never use it up but always save some to start the next one.
It worked. And what works even better is using muscovado sugar. It is very dark because it has a substantial amount of molasses left in it. It tastes almost taste more like ginger beer than ginger ale. My original bug is made with a lighter sugar called demerara with less molasses so it is not as potent.

ginger bug
Ginger bugs fermenting comfortably

The next step in making traditional fermented ginger ale is preparing a ginger wort’. The recipe for that will appear in the next blog post, Traditional Fermented Ginger Ale: ‘Ginger Wort’. Following steps will appear on additional blog posts throughout the coming week.

This blog post details information discussed by Alison D. Gilbert, Healthy Living Consultant, on A.M. News on Renegade 101.3 FM. If you wish to share it, please give credit where credit is due. Photography is by the author unless otherwise indicated by scanning your mouse over the image. Thank you.

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