Wild fermented ginger bug

Ginger beer has 2 components – a bug & some tea. They get mixed together, left to ferment & become ginger beer, which is then sweetened & flavoured to taste.
This recipe is for the bug, which is the starter culture.
The previous recipe is for the ginger beer & how to put it all together.

A ginger bug works in a similar way to a sourdough starter culture.
Typically it sits in the kitchen, gets fed every couple of days, & is used every so often to make ginger beer.
I sell ginger & turmeric bugs via my shop page, but to make one from scratch, here is the recipe.

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root, preferably organic
1 tablespoon honey, preferably raw
3 tablespoons filtered water

The reason that organic is preferable apart from the obvious, is that much of the yeast & bacteria which the starter thrives on, is found in the peel, so you can just grate the whole thing with no need to peel off the peel first.
Raw honey is preferable for a similar reason – it already contains good bacteria which will help the starter to take off.
You can replace the honey with sugar if you like, or are vegan. It may work with other sweeteners such as maple syrup but I haven’t tried personally, so can’t vouch for this.

• Add the ingredients to a 1 litre glass jar & stir (or 2 litre, depending on how much/ how often you’re likely to use it. You’ll be using 50-100mls of your bug per litre of ginger beer).
• Cover the lid with muslin & leave it open a bit.
• Put the jar somewhere warm. Airing cupboards are great, or a warm window sill in summer. I have a reptile heat mat on my shelf of starter cultures in the kitchen, which I put on for a couple of hours after feeding them. This works really well.
• Feed it with the same proportions every day for 5 days.
• After 4 or 5 days the ginger should have floated to the top, & when you pick the jar up & gently move it, the bug should fizz. When this happens, your bug is alive & well, & ready to make some ginger beer.
• To maintain it, feed it in exactly the same way every 2-3 days, checking that it retains its fizz & that the ginger continues to float. As you’ll be removing some whenever you make ginger beer, the bug can be kept going indefinitely, like a sourdough starter.
If you don’t use it very often, it can be kept in the fridge. It will be fine for 1-2 weeks, then when you take it out to use, make sure you bring it back up to room temperature first then feed it to ‘bring it back to life’ before using.

(See my previous recipe for how to make ginger beer, also turmeric beer for an alternative.)

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