I’m not a big plain water drinker, never have been and never will. Don’t get me wrong, I like water. It just doesn’t have the flavor or carbonation that I find satisfying. So, the question is, how do you get flavor and carbonation without drinking unhealthy sodas full of High Fructose Corn Syrup? Lacto-fermented ginger soda! Lacto-fermented ginger soda (and all lacto-fermented sodas) are filled with beneficial probiotic bacteria that is so good for a healthy gut biome. And with more microbes in our digestive system than we have cells in our body, a healthy gut biome is good for all of us.
This recipe for ginger soda (or ginger ale) is very easy and reasonably quick to ferment. All you need is some fresh, organic ginger (get the ginger from your local farmers market and not the market if possible. Even though the market may sell organic ginger, you have no idea how old it is, how long it’s been sitting in a distributors warehouse, etc.), organic cane sugar, organic molasses, Himalayan Pink Salt, organic lemon or lime, filtered water (no chlorine), and the most important ingredient ginger bug. The ginger bug is what contains the beneficial bacteria that ferments the ginger soda. The ginger bug takes about 4-5 days to make and then it can be used indefinitely to make your fermented beverages. I have the steps to make the ginger bug below below. You’ll also need a glass jar to ferment the ginger soda, an air-lock, a nonmetallic strainer, plastic funnel, and glass bottles with caps to put the ginger soda into after it’s been fermented.
At my home, the whole ginger soda process takes about 4 days. Our house temp usually stays within about 72-79 degrees. The process will take longer if you’re in a colder climate. Here’s the steps for making the ginger bug and ginger soda.
How To Make a Ginger Bug
fresh ginger root
organic cane sugar
filtered water (no chlorine)
1. Fill a clean glass quart jar with the filtered water. Leave about an inch of space at the top.
2. Add 1 Tbsp of chopped fresh ginger (I do 1/4″ pieces, with the skin on).
3. Add 1 Tbsp of sugar.
4. Put a tight lid on the jar and mix up the solution to dissolve the sugar.
5. Place the jar on the counter, out of direct sunlight.
6. Repeat steps 2-5 every day until the mixture starts to look fizzy (this will take about 4-6 days).
7. That’s it! Once the mix is fizzy, you can place it in the refrigerator until it’s time to make the ginger soda. Just make sure you watch it closely or it may become too fizzy and explode!
Here’s a video of what my ginger bug looks like when it’s ready to use.
Okay, now that you’ve made your lacto-fermented ginger bug (from the instructions above), you’re ready to make some lacto-fermented ginger soda!
How To Make Lacto-Fermented Ginger Soda
Here’s an easy step-by-step video I made showing you how to make fermented ginger soda.
fresh organic ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 cup organic cane sugar
3/4 – 1 Tbsp organic molasses
juice of one lemon or lime
1/2 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt
1 gallon filtered water (no chlorine)
1 cup ginger bug liquid
1. Fill a clean 1 gallon glass jug with the filtered water.
2. Pour about half of the water into a pot and save the rest of the water for later.
3. Add the chopped fresh ginger.
4. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.
5. After simmering for 20 minutes, remove from the heat and add the sugar, salt and molasses. Mix to dissolve the sugar.
6. Add the rest of the water and let cool to about body temperature. If it’s too hot when you add the ginger bug liquid, it will kill the microbes 🙁
7. Using a plastic strainer and plastic funnel, strain 1 cup of the ginger bug liquid and put into the glass jug. Keep the pieces of ginger that fall into the strainer and place back into the ginger bug jar. Tip: make sure you add the ginger bug to the jug before adding the ginger mixture. If you add the mixture first, you may not have enough room to add the bug.
8. Add the lemon juice.
9. Swirl the mixture around to mix and then plug it with the air-lock. I got my airlock from a beer brewing supply store for about $1.75. I’ve also heard you can use a balloon with pin holes poked into it (I haven’t tried it yet, but sounds like it would work. All the airlock does is let air escape without letting bugs or anything else in).
10. Leave it on the counter, out of direct sunlight, until you see tiny bubble coming up to the surface. I usually let it sit for at least 3 days.
11. FEED YOUR GINGER BUG: At this time you’ll want to feed your ginger bug so it will be ready for next time. You used 1 cup of the ginger bug liquid, so you need to replace that water and add another 1Tbsp of the chopped ginger and 1 Tbsp of sugar. I usually just pop it into the fridge after adding the new ginger and sugar. Don’t leave it out again on the counter or it will overflow with the carbonation.
11. When the ginger soda mixture is bubbling nicely, probably after 3-4 days, transfer the ginger soda to glass bottles and cap tightly. Leave on the counter for another day or two, then put in the fridge. WARNING: you really need to watch this step. Since the bottles are capped, no air can escape (this is what gets it nice and carbonated). If too much pressure builds up the bottles will explode! So be very careful and check them at least twice daily. You can check the carbonation by opening one of the bottles and listen for the air escaping.
Once they are in the fridge, the fermenting will slow down and they should be fine for weeks. I get about 10 to 12 10oz bottles out of each gallon that I ferment which lasts our family about a week. So about half way through the week I start another batch so it’ll be ready when the first one finishes. Remember, this is wild fermentation. That means that even if you do it exactly the same each time, it’ll come out slightly different. Things depend on temperature, strength of ginger bug, the ginger you use, etc. Enjoy the difference in each batch and know that you’re drinking a healthy, natural, zero HFCS drink that’s fun to make.