Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lacto-Fermented Ginger Ale

lacto-fermented ginger ale

Making lacto-fermented sodas is addictive. It's fun to make things bubbly! Basically, you can turn any sweet tea or juice into a naturally carbonated, healthful soda. We ferment everything we drink these days. It's fun and tasty, as well as healthy! When a friend of mine started making sodas, I was initially like, why would you want to do that? Why replicate something so unhealthy? Little did I know, lacto-fermented sodas are good for you! For more info and inspiration, check out Wild Fermentation! by Sandor Katz.

I am not a fan of store bought sodas, but I do have fond memories of drinking grape soda and rootbeer as a kid. I love that I can make the healthy versions of these kid-friendly drinks! Lacto-fermentation converts sugars to carbon gas (bubbles) and lactic acid, which aids digestion and has other health properties. When old-timers suggest drinking a soda to settle an upset stomach, this is the soda they mean. Plus, yum!

Lacto-fermented ginger ale

How to:

First, make a Ginger Bug (click here for instructions on making your own Ginger Bug, which will assist nearly any fermentation). This is easy, but requires 3 days advance planning. The soda itself will take another 4 days... but don't worry, you don't have to do more than stir it twice a day for 3 days, and then twiddle your thumbs for the final 24 hours while it produces some nice bubbles for you. If you already have a ginger bug in the fridge, wake it up by removing it from the fridge and feeding it some sugar, plus a bit more minced ginger. 

When your starter is bubbly, commence soda making:

Boil 1/3 c sliced ginger for 20 minutes in 2 quarts of water. 
Then add 1 1/2 c sucanat or rapidura (aka: sugar)
Stir to dissolve, then let cool to just warm.

When cool, strain into a one-gallon glass jar.
Add 1 c soda starter/ginger bug and enough dechlorinated water (click here to see how I easily dechlorinate water) to bring the level to about 1" below the shoulder of the jar. If you don't have dechlorinated water, don't fret. The chlorine will naturally evaporate each time you stir your soda, but I still prefer to start with chlorine free water if possible.

lacto-fermented honey wine, kombucha, and rootbeer
Honey Wine, Kombucha, and Soda fermenting on my washing machine
Cover jar with a cloth to keep dust out while it ferments. Stir twice a day for 3 days. On the third day you should be able to hear it bubble vigorously when stirring, and a bit even before you stir. When bubbly, bottle and cap tightly. You can use spring loaded glass bottles, beer bottles with a capper, or simply mason jars, as long as they make a good seal. This is when carbonation builds up. Leave the bottles at room temperature for 24 hours, and then refrigerate. Now it's ready to drink!

If you leave them at room temperature for longer than 24 hours, pressure can build to excessive levels. One batch of soda I made fountained soda out every time we opened a bottle. It was a mess unless we opened them with excruciating care. This isn't something you have to worry about unless you forget and leave your bottles carbonating for too long. Remember- when it's hot out, fermentation speeds up, and your soda may need less overall time before it's ready to refrigerate.

Have fun with it. This is exciting stuff!

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146 comments

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February 23, 2012 at 4:09 PM

This sounds SO good! Thanks for sharing.

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February 23, 2012 at 8:03 PM

It's wonderful! Let me know how yours turns out.

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April 23, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Hi! I've seen lots of recipes for this all around the net, and yours was the easiest to follow so I made my bug and I just got the soda mixed up and it's doing its thing on the kitchen counter! I can't wait for the 3 days to be up! I'm so excited about this! Thanks for the recipe!

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April 24, 2012 at 7:24 AM

Glad to hear it, Jenn! I'm making a batch myself right now. Soon I'll be posting my recipe for rhubarb soda, since the rhubarb is getting tall in our garden right now...

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May 1, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Just wanted to say that I finished making up my soda the other day and it is SOO good! The best. soda. ever. Even the Hubby liked it, and he's a former Mountain Dew-aholic, so that's saying a lot :)

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May 1, 2012 at 8:05 PM

Hey Jenn, I'm glad to hear it! We think it's the best too... although my 4 year old still doesn't like anything carbonated, I'm sure he'll come around. Anyway, thanks for letting me know! It's way better than Mt.Dew ;)

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Anonymous
May 25, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Are homemade fermented drinks and foods safe for immume compramised people? I want to be able to give my husband more nutritious things to eat and drink than the garbage they feed him in the hospital. He has just finished chemotherapy and is neutropenic. Also, do you use plain white sugar? Can other sweeteners be used? I thought white sugar was bad for digestion... I have so much to learn TIA, Jill

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May 25, 2012 at 12:33 PM

I use sucanat, but white sugar would work as well. I feel like sucanat provides some nutrition along with the sweetness. A lot of the sucrose is consumed during fermentation, which is what makes these drinks so good for you.
I don't see why this wouldn't be safe for immune-compromised people, and in fact I think fermented foods & drinks would be very beneficial. It's full of enzymes to aid digestion. If I were you I would do some internet research to see if others in the same situation have reacted well to lacto-fermented drinks. I also recommend the book "Wild Fermentation". The author is HIV positive and, to heal himself and regain his health, started fermenting virtually everything. It's an inspiring read.
Good luck to you and your husband!

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June 1, 2012 at 5:19 AM

The ginger bug in your recipe is really a wild yeast culture, so this drink could be mildly alcoholic and would contain a lot of unknown yeasts. For most people, not a big deal. But I would go with whey instead of a ginger bug personally. Whey doesn't have yeasts in it so you're getting your true lactofermenting bacteria working instead of yeasts which can make some alcohol just like in Kombucha.

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June 1, 2012 at 8:18 AM

Thank you for explaining that! I actually wasn't sure why we sometimes get some alcohol produced, but I guess it depends on the wild yeasts. I've never used whey for making sodas, but for someone who needs to avoid alcohol that is perfect! Thanks for the info.

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June 18, 2012 at 7:48 AM

Whey would be handier for me since I always have some hanging around after making raw yogurt in my crockpot (see link below). How much whey should I use?

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June 18, 2012 at 7:51 AM

I use 1/4 c ginger starter per quart of liquid, or 1 c starter in each gallon of soda. I've never used whey as a soda starter, but I would try using the same amount.

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June 22, 2012 at 6:34 AM

If I start tonight, I should be able to have this ready for my boys in time for Canada Day (as I will have to make the bug first). Thanks for sharing! I'm sure they will really enjoy it.

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June 22, 2012 at 1:38 PM

I am going to have to try this!

Thank you for linking this up at the Carnival of Home Preserving!

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June 23, 2012 at 8:47 PM

This is so cool! Love me some ginger ale!

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July 3, 2012 at 10:26 AM

i really do need to learn how to ferment things. it makes me nervous and i'm not really too sure why. especially when i could end up with ginger ale at the end of it! beauty!

Small side note: Tomorrow (wed) is the very first posting for our Fresh Foods Link Up! Come share your CSA collections, farmer's market treasures, home grown/raised hauls, and/or any seasonal recipes or DIY projects or tutorials! We've got a way for bloggers AND blog readers to participate!

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July 3, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Give it a try. Once you get started you'll love it. It's such an easy process. Yes, it's very unfamiliar at first, but it's a very healthy, traditional way to prepare foods!
What is the address of your Fresh Foods linkup? Thanks!

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July 17, 2012 at 9:06 AM

What a great way to make your own soda! This is a great recipe, thanks!

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Rose-Marie
July 22, 2012 at 8:03 PM

Am I the only one to notice the smiling face with one eye closed, reflected in the glass of ginger ale?

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July 22, 2012 at 9:25 PM

I'd never noticed, but I see it now!

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July 26, 2012 at 7:16 AM

Your last photo makes me laugh because my washing machine is covered in paper bags drying herbs from my garden.

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July 26, 2012 at 7:29 AM

It's useful space! How long do you leave them to dry in paper bags? I keep having herbs, that I think are bone dry, mold when I put them in jars.

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July 31, 2012 at 1:27 PM

I love the idea of this! I've been wanting to make wine coolers but I refuse to buy any kind of soda. I bet this would be perfect.

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July 31, 2012 at 7:16 PM

I think it's lovely, and I bet you'll like it. For wine coolers, do you just mix soda & wine?

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July 31, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Be careful about storing fermenting things near each other. I know my mother-in-law just told me to be careful about fermenting Kombucha and Kefir near each other b/c of cross-contamination. Not sure if that would happen with these. Thanks for the great soda recipe. I will surely try it!! :)

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July 31, 2012 at 7:47 PM

That's interesting! I do keep my kefir on the other side of the kitchen from the kombucha, but I never knew they could interfere with each other. Thanks! I ferment the sodas right next to my kombucha, and also next to my honey wine when I'm making that. I don't know if the cloth covers protect them, or if they just don't effect each other, but they both seem alright.

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August 1, 2012 at 7:35 PM

This is so cool! I definitely need to try this! Thanks for sharing at Fit and Fab!

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August 6, 2012 at 10:46 PM

Thank you for this recipe. I can hardly wait to make it.

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August 11, 2012 at 6:15 AM

Hello! This is my first visit to your blog--I googled "lacto-fermented ginger ale" and this recipe looked fantastic! I just have a quick question: my ginger bug did it's thing perfectly and was ready to go in 3 days. I followed your directions for the ginger ale and it started to turn kind of thick and syrupy on the second day. I stirred it and added a little more water, just to see what would happen. It's still thick and hardly bubbly at all. Do you think it's a problem with my water? I have well water, so I usually don't have to worry about chlorine, etc. But this has happened occasionally before with my water kefir, so I'm curious. Thanks for your thoughs! :)

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August 11, 2012 at 8:54 PM

I've seen water kefir get thick, but I don't think I've had a soda get thick. Do you make your kefir near your soda? I've heard these things can travel from one jar to another if they're made in the same area- maybe you've got some kefir in your soda?
Other than that, I don't really know! If your kitchen is very hot this summer, it could just be kind of different because of that. Have you tasted it? I taste my sodas pretty much every time I stir them; they should always taste sweet and delicious. If you've got something else happening, you should be able to taste it on the stirring spoon. It could be that once you bottle it tightly for a day it will develop some bubbles, but make sure it tastes good before you bother bottling it. If it's gone through all the sugar, you can stir more in.

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August 25, 2012 at 8:57 AM

My boyfriend and I flopped our first attempt. The bug went well and so did the soda until we capped it for the last 24 hours. It grew some funky slimy stuff in it! :( Bummer! It tasted like ginger ale but I wasn't too keen on drinking moldy soda so we pitched it. We used regular white sugar and bottled drinking water. Where did we go wrong?! We are trying again today. Wish us luck!

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August 25, 2012 at 9:10 AM

It doesn't sound like a flop! I don't know if the slimy stuff was necessarily bad. Was there a small amount of this stuff, or a ton? If the soda tasted good, and smelled good, the stuff could have been a natural part of the fermentation. Was it floating? Did it sink? Kombucha is a culture that grows on the surface of sweet tea, perhaps it was like that? Often in fermentations there is sediment at the bottom. Maybe that's all it was? It's hard for me to say, without seeing it. If you use white sugar again, try adding a touch of molasses to the starter and the soda itself, for a better nutritional profile, which will help the fermentation grow in the right direction. When we are new to this stuff, it's easy to worry that it's messed up, when maybe it's fine. There is always variation. Of course you don't want to drink something that's slimy, though. Better luck next time, and good for you for trying again!

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August 28, 2012 at 12:28 PM

What a refreshing drink. We love ginger ale and this looks like a much healthier version!

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September 7, 2012 at 7:20 AM

I'm on day 1 of making this right now (I just added the ginger bug). I'm also making the honey wine recipe and the process seems very similar. I wonder, if after 3 days I put a balloon on the jug of ginger ale and let it sit for 3 weeks... would I get ginger wine?

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September 7, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Yes, they are the same process, but the wine is just aged longer. Wine needs the airlock or balloon because the longer aging leaves it exposed to things in the air that could turn it to vinegar.
Ginger wine sounds great! If you try it, please let me know. I think that would be really yummy!

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October 5, 2012 at 2:26 PM

I bottled my first batch last night and it's delicious! I had it fermenting for just over a week as it's been quite cold here - definitely not overdone though. I was a bit heavy on the ginger for the amount I made, but it's still wonderful!

Thanks for the recipe!

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October 5, 2012 at 5:54 PM

That's fantastic, thanks for letting me know you liked it! Sodas are so fun to make once you get started.

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October 19, 2012 at 1:19 PM

This looks so amazing! I can't wait to try this :)

I'd love it if you were willing to share it on my blog's new link-up, Waste Not Want Not, a place for people to share frugal living tips and recipes.
http://www.poorandglutenfree.blogspot.com/2012/10/waste-not-want-not-wednesday-1.html

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October 19, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Thank you, I will! I love the link-up title.

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October 23, 2012 at 8:54 AM

I think Im going to have to try this! Have you had any concerns with mold growing? I've got some organic ginger begging to be used! :)

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October 23, 2012 at 12:43 PM

YUM, got this tweeted and pinned too!

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October 23, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Stirring frequently prevents mold from forming. Mold can only get a foothold if it's kind of abandoned. Stir twice a day, make sure you're using an active, bubbly ginger bug, and it will be fine!

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October 24, 2012 at 11:43 AM

thank you for sharing this with us at gf fridays. I have been buying a lot of kombucha lately because I havne't had the time or energy to lacto ferment anything- but after reading this, it doesn't seem too hard. Thank you for inspiring me to do it. I'm definately going to feature you this week as one of my friday favorites!!

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October 24, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Thanks Meghan! It's definitely not hard once you get it down. We always have several varieties of homemade soda in the fridge, and I love having a few larger bottles handy for bringing to potlucks.

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November 1, 2012 at 6:57 PM

YUM! I am definitely going to have to try this!

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Amanda
November 12, 2012 at 4:20 AM

I just started the ginger bug recipe and am very excited! Then I started wondering about where to store the rest of the ginger root. I did a quick google search on how to keep ginger and most said to put it in the freezer or fridge, which i don't want to do so that it stays active. So I was wondering if you could let me in on how you store your ginger? :) Thanks!

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November 12, 2012 at 6:33 AM

I wouldn't freeze it, because that might damage the enzymes, but you can safely store it in the fridge. That is where I keep the jar of ginger bug between batches of soda, and it just takes a couple of hours to "wake up" and get fizzy again after being dormant in the cool fridge. Fresh ginger stores in there just fine, but if you bought a lot you might want to use some to make smoothies as well! Here's my green smoothie recipe:
http://alifeunprocessed.blogspot.com/2012/02/drink-your-veggies.html

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Amanda
November 12, 2012 at 7:53 AM

thank you! i was hoping to be able to keep the fresh ginger in the fridge. I'm defiantly going to try the green smoothie as well.

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December 3, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Hi Emily,
I love this recipe for ginger ale. Thanks so much for sharing at Wednesday's Adorned From Above Blog Hop. This weeks party starts at 12:01AM on Wednesday and runs through Sunday night. Have a great week.
Debi, Joye and Myrna (The Busy Bee's), Linda (Two Succulent Sisters)

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December 12, 2012 at 8:34 AM

I am wondering if it is not bubbling in final batch before bottling, what can I do? Should I bottle anyway? I followed your recipe-process but think a few tiny glitches (temperature changes, for example) may have inhibited. So it is sitting in the gallon glass pot for maybe five or six days now and no bubbles. Any suggestions. Thanks a lot. I really love your blog!!!!!!

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December 12, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Hi Renata,
If it still tastes good, I would certainly go ahead and bottle it. It may surprize you and become carbonated anyway once it's capped. We get some sodas that just don't get that bubbly, and some (especially during the heat of summer!) that get a little crazy and have to have a very short carbonation time or they fountain out when we open them. There really is a lot of natural variety, but my point is that we always end up liking them, and it's kind of fun to see how each batch is going to turn out. Good luck, and thank you!

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December 19, 2012 at 4:20 AM

ginger you just store in a pot with ground. it will even get new babies :)

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December 19, 2012 at 4:21 AM

i made my bug some days before and now i made the ginger ale. the bug smells and tastes ok, but it´s slimmy. so i´m not sure, if it will be ok for drinking ????

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December 21, 2012 at 5:42 PM

Sorry I haven't gotten back to you sooner, I've been fighting off a bad cold!
There isn't any real concern with these sodas becoming dangerous, but slimy doesn't sound that pleasant. Did you use the bug to make a batch of soda? I have had a batch of orange juice soda get thick when I fermented it, so it's kind of like drinking orange kefir, but I wouldn't call it slimy. We still drink it, though my kids don't like it. I think it's all about whether you like it or not.
You might start fresh, making a new ginger bug in a clean container. Do you ferment anything else? I have had another reader that had a problem making the soda and it may have been contaminated with their homemade kefir, which does thicken as it ferments.

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January 3, 2013 at 12:02 PM

thanx for your reply :) it didn´t work for me. i tried to make ginger ale even with the slimy bug, because it didn´t smell bad but after 3 days it became moldy. than i have thrown all! :) may be i will try in later future again :) and yes, i made some years kombucha. may be i will start this again. and water kefir i had also for a while :)
tomorrow afternoon will be a post on my blog about this story. :)

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January 3, 2013 at 3:25 PM

So sorry it didn't work! Fermentation can be a bit mysterious, and it can be affected by other things going on in the home, like other fermentation projects, temperature, and of course the freshness of the ginger. Did you use organic, raw ginger? It's important that it was never irradiated, or that would kill the enzymes. Good luck next time!

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January 5, 2013 at 5:32 PM

I had the same thing happen to me. Did you figure it out? I have a water softener that places a small amount of salt in the water.

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January 5, 2013 at 6:01 PM

It does seem like salt in the water could prevent the growth needed for fermentation, in the same way chlorine can.

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January 9, 2013 at 2:26 PM

In reference to my last batch and above comment and issue, it all worked out perfectly. I of course forgot that I posted comment (I'm a busy mom) so haven't seen response til now! I ended up waiting another couple of days, still stirring, and it came alive and then I bottled and everyone loved it!!! Now another issue is that the stuff (in new batch) is not getting carbonated inside the bottles, which is strange 'cause last time this happened so fast! So is it possible it will become carbonated in the refrigerator? We just keep waiting, I hope? Thanks so so so much, thank you infinitely, this blog really is so beautiful.

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January 9, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Thanks Renata, and I'm glad you're having some success. Some batches are less bubbly than others, and for me it seems to be very dependant on how warm it is during fermentation- it cat get pretty explosive in the summer months if I'm not careful to give it a shorter fermenting time.
In answer to your question, it will still do a bit of carbonating in the fridge, but at a much slower rate. If it's really doing nothing, you can try adding a teaspoon of sugar to the bottle before capping. Stir or flip the bottle to incorporate the sugar, and let it carbonate for 24 hours at room temp. I've never done this, but I've heard they use this method for champagne and some beers. The extra sugar gives the yeast a boost. Good luck!

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January 10, 2013 at 9:42 PM

I have a bottle of fermented ginger root. It doesn't have any sugar in it. Could I use the liquid from that as a soda starter or does it absolutely need to have sugar to feed?

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January 10, 2013 at 10:02 PM

I would think it would still work- but of course your soda will need sugar.
To make sure it works, I would make a small batch of soda, maybe just a quart instead of a gallon. The starter is really just to inoculate the soda with culture, and it seems like any ferment could do the trick. Good luck!
What do you do with fermented ginger root?

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January 16, 2013 at 5:10 PM

This sounds great! I would love to have you join The HomeAcre Hop at:
http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/01/1213.html

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January 24, 2013 at 9:28 AM

This is great! I would love to make fermented ginger ale sometime. The pictures are fun, I appreciate the visual guide through the process.
Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday!

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February 1, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Trying your ginger ale recipe for the first time, and would love some help troubleshooting! Made the ginger bug okay (with sucanat), and followed your directions above for a gallon of soda. Put the starter, declorinated water, and syrup in two half gallon mason jars four days ago to ferment. Your recipe says it should be ready to bottle and carbonate, but the soda doesn't seem to have fermented... It's not bubbling at all, and the consistency is thick, like maple syrup. It just looks silent and viscous and dead... Is it supposed to bubble, and what is the desired consistency?

I reread your recipe at least 8 times, so I'm sure I didn't add too much sugar. Now I'm wondering if my ginger bug was maybe not okay at all. It bubbles when stirred, and I can hear it bubbling when I put my ear in the jar hole. It smells gingery. This is my first time with all this, though, so I'm a little paranoid. Thanks so much for the great post and your help!

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February 1, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Trying your ginger ale recipe for the first time, and would love some help troubleshooting! Made the ginger bug okay (with sucanat), and followed your directions above for a gallon of soda. Put the starter, declorinated water, and syrup in two half gallon mason jars four days ago to ferment. Your recipe says it should be ready to bottle and carbonate, but the soda doesn't seem to have fermented... It's not bubbling at all, and the consistency is thick, like maple syrup. It just looks silent and viscous and dead... Is it supposed to bubble, and what is the desired consistency?

I reread your recipe at least 8 times, so I'm sure I didn't add too much sugar. Now I'm wondering if my ginger bug was maybe not okay at all. It bubbles when stirred, and I can hear it bubbling when I put my ear in the jar hole. It smells gingery. This is my first time with all this, though, so I'm a little paranoid. Thanks so much for the great post and your help!

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February 1, 2013 at 4:14 PM

I've had a few people comment that either their ginger bug or their sodas got thick, and were not bubbly. Most if not all of these people are also making kefir- my theory is that the kefir contaminates the soda, and you end up with a thick kefir-soda hybrid. Do you think that could be it in your case? If it's undrinkable, perhaps you can find another use for it, like the soaked grains breakfast cake: http://alifeunprocessed.blogspot.com/2012/03/soaked-grains-breakfast-cake.html
Good luck, and please let me know how it turns out!

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silvinamontes@yahoo.es
February 6, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Do you put the lid back on?and what does 'c' stand for in measures? Thanks!

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February 6, 2013 at 12:34 PM

"C" is cup, or 8 ounces.
I cover with fabric anything fermenting at room temp. I cap things tightly during the 24 hour carbonation period, and anything that goes in the fridge as well.

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February 12, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Ok, here we go!
Kenny (our gingerbug) has been growing for close to a week. Now I'm getting the rest ready. Only thing, we don't have enough sugar for the recipe. So, honey will be added too.
I'm super excited to FINALLY let go of Lacto-fermenting fears and make some delicious ginger brew.
Shall let you know how it goes.

I enjoy your site and read Rue Kream's book after you recommended it. - great food for thought

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February 12, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Thank you for naming your ginger bug, that is awesome.
I hope everything goes well! Yes, once you get into it, all fear subsides and you will feel ready to start fermenting everything!

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March 7, 2013 at 12:32 PM

I added more ginger bug than called for, and after 24 hours it is very bubbly and tastes good. Should i bottle it now?

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March 7, 2013 at 1:27 PM

Great! It sounds like it's ready for bottling. Letting it go longer before bottling would just make it less sweet, but I don't think you should wait from the sound of it.

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Anonymous
March 8, 2013 at 8:30 AM

Thanks....awesome recipe...tried it and am still waiting a few more hours for it to carbonate.....

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March 13, 2013 at 4:35 AM

This looks like the real deal- will have to give this a try! Thank you for sharing your post with us and I hope to welcome you over at Seasonal Celebration again today! Rebecca @Natural Mothers Network x

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Anonymous
March 15, 2013 at 1:04 PM

So I made the ginger bug and it was bubbling fine. I followed the directions for putting into gallon jugs. However it has been 3 days an no bubbles. It tastes fine. I heat with a woodstove so during the night it gets cold in the kitchen where I keep the gallon jars. However not to cold, maybe like 50 degress. Would that prevent it from bubbling? I'm not fermenting anything else. I have paper coffee filters as dust covers (when I used to make Kombucha this is what I would use). Does light hurt the ferment process? I had them close to bright flouresent lights. I moved them today to a heating pad that is for garden starts, it doesnt go above 90 and seemed to work great fro the ginger bug. any advise? I guess I will leave them on the pad for a few more days to see what happens....

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March 15, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Interesting. It could be the cold nights are slowing down the fermentation. Has the taste changed? I do keep mine in a darker corner, but I don't think light will kill it. And you are stirring twice a day? Did the ginger bug take longer to get bubbly as well? Hope it works out!

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March 18, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Yum :) Thanks for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

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March 19, 2013 at 12:26 PM

i did the 3 day ginger bug and then the 4 day, but never bubbled, can still drink the ginger ale. I guess start over!

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March 20, 2013 at 4:16 AM

So it's been three days since I put soda starter with the ginger ale, but I have no bubbles what so ever. What should I do now? It has been at room temperature 18°C (at night) to 20° (during the day). Should I leave it for a few more days?

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March 28, 2013 at 8:33 AM

Hello, I just bottled my first batch of ginger beer. Even during the first day of brewing, it had a strange, not great smell, I think I would describe it as yeasty. It tastes ok, but the smell makes us not want to drink it. My ginger bug took much longer than 3 days to get bubbly, which makes sense because it is cold here. I don't think that letting the bug develop for longer (closer to 2 weeks) would be a problem, right? Other than that, I followed the directions and made a gallon of ginger beer with 1 cup of starter.
Have you ever had your ginger beer not smell good? Any advice would be great before I try again. thanks a lot

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Anonymous
March 30, 2013 at 2:32 PM

so what happened was, was that it started to bubble after another day or so. I then let it ferment for a few more days. My advice to people would be to forget about the number of days and go by whether or not it is bubbling and it's taste. It took about 4 days before clear signs of bubbling and another 3 to finish.
It tasted great and will be something I make all year round!

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V
April 12, 2013 at 6:57 AM

Definitely going to try this! You make it seem so simple with easy, no-nonsense directions. Hope it works for morning sickness!

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April 25, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Do you have to sanitize the bottles before putting the ginger ale in for the last 24 hours? Or will a wash in hot soapy water suffice?

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May 4, 2013 at 6:06 PM

I'm sooooo doing this this summer!!!!

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May 7, 2013 at 8:04 AM

Bet this tastes yummy! Thanks for sharing this with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday!! Hope to see you again today!

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May 10, 2013 at 12:06 PM

This is going to be a silly question I'm sure. I tried making a small batch of this (halved the ingredients), due to not having large enough pots etc in my small apartment for larger productions. I boiled the ginger for 20 minutes on high. Is this correct, or is it boiling it then letting it simmer? I found after 20 minutes at a full boil that I was left with less than half the original liquid, and the mixture got very dark after adding the sucanat. Once it was all finished and set aside, it remained very dark, and even with the added water is quite syrupy. Any suggestions would be very helpful. It seems to be continuing on just fine, there were bubbles this morning upon stirring (this was all done last night), but the mixture is just so thick... Any insight at all would be greatly appreciated!

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May 13, 2013 at 5:51 PM

This sounds so good. I guess I need to work up my bravery to try making my own! :-) Thanks so much for linking up with "Try a New Recipe Tuesday." I always love seeing what you share!

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May 13, 2013 at 6:29 PM

I gave up pop and miss the fizz...I am definitely going to try this ~ I need some bubbles in my life. Thanks so much for sharing at Project Inspire{d} ~ pinning.

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May 15, 2013 at 11:06 PM

I really just wash everything clean the normal way. The fermentation itself keeps bad bacteria and such from being able to thrive.

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May 15, 2013 at 11:07 PM

Ha, yes, it sounds like you will end up with a very strong and thick soda! To make the ginger tea, just bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat so it only simmers. You don't want to lose all your water. Hope it turned out good anyway!

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May 16, 2013 at 12:11 AM

Some of my readers seem to have had success after longer than 3 days. Hopefully this was the case with you as well!

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May 16, 2013 at 12:13 AM

No, to me it's always smelled great. Was the soda bubbly at all? It sounds like it might have been going bad rather than fermenting. Sorry for the delayed response. Maybe now that the weather has warmed up you can give it another try. The bug should not take two weeks!

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May 19, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Please give me some advice. I am pregnant with my 3rd child and ever so nauseated. I stay away from everything unhealthy including caffeine. Is homemade ginger-ale, of this specific kind that doesn't use yeast safe for pregnancy? I am so grateful to be pregnant but I can't really get off the couch I am so sick. I wasn't sick with my boys like this so maybe its a girl!!!!! Thank you!

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May 19, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Oh, and can I use juiced ginger instead of chopped? That is how I have been drinking ginger lately, mixed with apples and carrots. It is actually really good.

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May 21, 2013 at 7:48 AM

I love juiced ginger! You can definitely try it, and it may work great. I've only used chopped, so I can't say for sure. I just know that it's important that the peel is in there, because that's where the bulk of the enzymes are that help this fermentation, and I wonder if any of that would come through when being juiced? If the peels are being rejected by the juicer, you may have to stick some peel pieces in your starter to make sure.

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May 21, 2013 at 7:51 AM

I am so sorry! I didn't know about lacto-fermenting when I was pregnant, but I wish I did! This is definitely what I would have been drinking, every day! There is really no risk with this- there is just a smidgen of alcohol content, but it's very minuscule, nothing like beer. And all the enzymes will help your body digest and feel better, I hope!

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Anonymous
May 23, 2013 at 10:37 AM

I would love the recipie for the rhubarb soda as well..:) I am going to try the dandelion soda. Is there any way to keep it say in the cellar at say 60 degrees instead of in the fridge when it is done? Or can it stand near freezing temps..I have a fridge that overchills things :)..

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June 7, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Thanks for your recipe! I have looked through all the comments, and have not found the answer to my specific problem. So: bug - great. Three day ferment - great. I bottle and cap (after the 2nd stir on the 3rd day). After 12 hrs (it's been 80 degrees here), I refrigerate it. After waiting until cold, we open it -- no bubbles! I thought at first it was the bottle I was using not being completely airtight, but then the second time I used mason jars, twisting as tightly as I could. But it's completely flat. Has anyone had this happen? Thanks for your help!

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June 7, 2013 at 9:54 PM

Well, that sounds disappointing! It sounds like it was going really well until the bottling- but you didn't mention if it was really bubbly before bottling. Sometimes it may take a day or two longer to let it get really active before bottling it up. Maybe, try it again and don't bottle it until it's very active.
If that's how this batch was already, then I just don't know. There are so many variables with fermentation. I do recommend trying it again and seeing how it turns out this time!

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June 11, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Oooooh - I really want to try this! Thanks for sharing.

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June 14, 2013 at 9:09 PM

Ok, I must be doing something wrong. The soda was bubbling out of its container when stirring; then I bottled it. I let the bottles sit out for 5 days, and did a test open on one of the two bottles. It nearly fountained all over the counter. I put it in the fridge about 4 hours ago -- and it's flat, both bottles, even though the mason seals are firmly "inflated" up. ????? I do sourdough and kefir regularly, so I am not a stranger to this process. I can't figure out why going in the fridge make it lose all the carbonation. I know you may not have any ideas, but I thought I'd update with more details. Thanks for your help! I may try it next with juice instead.

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June 15, 2013 at 6:48 AM

Were the bottles absolutely clean? I don't know what would be in there, but maybe something odd in the jars made them go flat...
To stop the fountaining, they need to be bottled sooner, and definitely don't leave them for 5 days after bottling. They need to go in the fridge after only about one day. If they're already really bubbly, and the weather is warm, they really don't need long to carbonate!
If you try it again, give the whole process less time. It sounds like you are doing it right, just catch it before things go to far and it should work better.

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June 20, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Success! It was the Mason jars. Thank you for your help! Yum!

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Anonymous
June 25, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Hi, I have been playing around with Ginger Bug and wanted to know if you have ever had your ginger ale come out thick? I combined 1/4 cup ginger bug juice with one quart of sweetened ginger tea, allowed it to ferment for 3 days and then refrigerated it. When I opened the first bottle the resulting product was thick and not thin and flowing like I would have expected a soda to be. It did have bubbles. I'm going to make another attempt with grape juice as you showed in another post and see what happens.

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June 26, 2013 at 11:21 PM

I haven't had a batch of soda get thick, but I have recently had this happen with my ginger bug, which sadly renders it unusable, and it's happening to new batches that I try to make as well. It's very disappointing!
From the sound of it, a few of my readers have experienced the same thing, and the common theme seems to be that they also make other ferments, notably kefir. When kefir ferments, it makes liquids thicken, which makes me think something similar must be happening in these sodas or starters that are getting thick.
I haven't been able to get this question answered, but it's something I'm working on. I'll write an article on it when I figure it out! Next month I'm finally going to meet Sandor Katz at a workshop, and I will bring a sample so I can ask him what the heck is going on.
I hope your next soda works out better. If you figure it out, let me know!

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July 7, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing on Tuesday Greens!

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September 3, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Is this really "lacto-fermented" I thought lacto-fermenting was using lactobacillus bacteria (LAB's) to ferment with, but this uses aerobic yeasts, doesn't it?

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September 9, 2013 at 6:10 AM

Yes, it's definitely lacto-fermented, because lactic acid is produced during the fermentation process.
From Wikipedia: "Lactic acid fermentation is a biological process by which glucose, fructose, and sucrose are converted into cellular energy and the metabolite lactate."

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September 24, 2013 at 12:19 AM

yes I agree with you the recipe seemed easy and tastes good .. in my country a lot of ginger, and the price is cheap.

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Anonymous
September 25, 2013 at 10:32 PM

any word on why the ginger ale is getting syrupy for lots of us? I used well water and coconut sugar.

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Anonymous
September 30, 2013 at 9:43 AM

I have the same question. I used filtered water and sugar with molasses.

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October 2, 2013 at 7:53 PM

It's still something of a mystery, and I haven't been able to get a useful answer from the other fermenters that I know. My suspicion is that it just depends on which bacteria & yeast are present in your home. I read recently that kombucha should never be fermented in your home, because it kills everything else that you try to ferment. I think that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it's definitely true that one ferment affects other ferments around it. Nothing is fermenting in a vacuum, so it's hard to be exactly scientific about it.

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Anonymous
October 8, 2013 at 9:09 PM

after adding the bug to the water and stirring 2x day for 3 days mine has not started to bubble. I accidentally added about a 1/4 gallon of water rather than the gallon, could this be the problem? If I add more bug and wait a day or so longer do you think that will work?

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October 9, 2013 at 8:08 PM

If you only used 1 quart of water, you will have too much sugar! I would dilute it so there's the right amount of everything. Was your ginger bug nice and bubbly? You might add some more to the correct volume of soda starter, and then let it ferment another day or so, then just bottle it up and it should be good.

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October 16, 2013 at 6:42 PM

I've never made kefir so I know I didn't get a cross contamination from that. I've made many things with my ginger bug so far, but the ginger ale is the first thing I've ever had turn thick on me like this. I just came here to see if there was anything about that and viola, looks like I'm not alone.

Thing is, it bubbled just fine, it's certainly fermenting, and the ginger bug is good, but the result is very thick. I went ahead and bottled it, will see what it's like after a day of carbonating, but I'm just stumped as to what's causing it. As I said, none of my other sodas have done this!

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October 17, 2013 at 1:32 PM

I still haven't figured it out. Please let me know if you do!

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Anonymous
November 6, 2013 at 8:37 AM

Thank you so much for your easy to follow instructions! I made a batch and my family really likes it. I have a batch of grape that will be ready to put in the fridge today. I have a couple questions though. I read somewhere that if you leave fruit based soda for 72 hours it will be alcohol. The ginger one should be okay then right? Since I wasn't sure, I only fermented it for 2 days before bottling it. It didn't look really fizzy but you could taste it. I think I will let the ginger one I am preparing to make go for that long. Also since you say it's done the third day, do you actually let it go for the full 72 hours? I am very excited about this because my family is addicted to soda and we know we need to give it up so I have been looking for replacement drinks. We will be trying kombucha as well and maybe kefir. We always have tea as well so hopefully this will work! I need to figure out a way to make more at once, or a continual system because a gallon doesn't last very long with the 4 of us! I will be getting more jars but do you think I should make another bug? Thanks and have a great day! Deanna Furrey

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November 6, 2013 at 6:29 PM

You can keep your bug in a pretty big jar, so there should always be enough for a new batch if you keep feeding it, so I don't think you'd need two.
Fruit sodas can totally ferment into alcohol, but it really takes longer than three days. After three days there will be SOME alcohol, like a measurable amount, but not enough to pose a danger to anyone or get anyone loopy. Totally safe for kids, in my opinion.
For fermentation times, I don't go by a set schedule so much as by when I see it start to bubble. I know it's time to bottle when it's really carbonated, and bubbles all the time. Then I let it sit ferment in the bottles for 24 hours before refrigerating.
Good luck! It's fun to make, and you're right- so much better for you than conventional sodas!

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November 15, 2013 at 7:40 AM

The answer is probably BACTERIA! I posted a question about this on here months ago, and have narrowed my problem with thickening sodas and starters to two things:

1.) Bad bacteria present in part of my kitchen.
2.) Other ferments in the same space.

The first time my soda got thick, a beer brewer told me it sounded like harmful bacteria were present in my kitchen, like pediococcus. Very old house and definitely a possibility, so I moved my soda and ginger starter out of the kitchen. Problem solved! The second time (months later) my soda went thick, I had started brewing kombucha in the same room. I moved the soda to the opposite end of the house- problem solved!

I have done tons of research on this at this point, and am now very careful about bacterial contamination. My advice: keep different kinds of ferments well away from each other (kefir, kombucha, soda, mead) and well away from sources of bad bacteria. Don't keep your ferments anywhere near compost bins, pets, pet litter boxes, food prep areas (e.g. where you process raw chicken!). Experiment with different areas of your house, and make sure the area where you keep your ferments has good air circulation. Keep your kitchen clean! Often, something like fruit going bad can introduce unwanted bacteria into your ferment's environment, from what I've read.

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Anonymous
December 14, 2013 at 11:29 PM

can you use re hydrated yeast instead of the ginger bug starter?

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Anonymous
December 19, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Can it sit in milk jugs for three days until i bottle it? I already made the bug boiled the ginger and sugar... Also what is the exact amount of water you add?

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December 20, 2013 at 10:50 AM

That might be a pretty different process. For this recipe, use a ginger bug. They're quick and easy to make!

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December 20, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Add about 1/4 cup ginger bug per quart of sweet ginger tea, or one cup starter per gallon of finished soda.

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Anonymous
January 28, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Hello, I have made the ginger bug (thanks) and I started the ginger ale. My ginger ale is in a larger container with about 6 inches of head room. Will that matter?
Also when it is bubbly and I bottle it,let it sit for a day and then refrigerate will it have alcohol at this point. Or is it so minimal it does not matter.

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January 31, 2014 at 7:13 AM

Doesn't matter how much room is at the top, as long as there is enough to stir it during that stage of fermentation.
The finished soda has a really negligible amount of alcohol, nothing to worry about. It would have to ferment a lot longer, like for 2 or 3 weeks, to get to the level of a very "green" wine (and probably you'd want to start out with a much higher sugar content if you were intentionally making wine, because the sugar turns into alcohol).

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April 18, 2014 at 2:32 AM

Hi, I have super sensitive blood sugar and anything sweet or alcoholic is risky for me. I've been making kombucha for years and it's great because I can just let it keep fermenting and the sugar seems to mostly "disappear" into acid and it doesn't get alcoholic. I'm giving this ginger ale a try (my 3-day-old ginger bug was fizzy but my week-old soda ferment is not... all I have are some brown fermentation strands and a few small gel-like chunks, and it's still very sweet.) But my question is: are there sodas I can ferment that will end up being low in sugar? If I just let this recipe keep on fermenting away, will it get un-sweet like kombucha or will it get alcoholic? Can I start a ferment like this with, say, half as much sugar? Or use honey instead?
Thanks!
~Jeffrey

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April 27, 2014 at 8:06 AM

The longer it ferments, the more bubbles will from and the less sugar will remain. One problem with longer ferments is that it can build up too much pressure in the bottle and be hard to open without a mess!
I don't know the secret to making sure it's low in alcohol, but it takes weeks to form into a wine, so I don't think you need to worry about alchohol content with a three day soda. I would just use less sugar to start, and maybe let it go an extra day. Through experimentation you'll find the balance

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Anonymous
June 24, 2014 at 8:36 PM

Grrr. So frustrated. I had been growing my first ginger bug for a week, and I was going to make soda tomorrow. My two year old decided to "cook" with it. While I was nursing the baby, I heard shuffling in the kitchen and some stirring. When I came into the kitchen, said tow year old was gone, and the ginger bug jar was on the table, open, with bread crumbs floating in it. *sigh* I guess I'll have to start over? I'm really tempted to just keep feeding it for the next few days to see if it bounces back, but I'm afraid the bread crumbs just introduced a whole new dynamic to the jar. Advice?

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July 23, 2014 at 10:25 AM

hi- can you tell me how your "ginger bug" lacto-ferment differs or is similar to a pro-biotic culture based drink like ones found in the increasingly popular commercial brands like "kevita”? thanks for your time.

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August 17, 2014 at 10:25 AM

That's really interesting... I'm curious how it turned out if you continued to ferment it with the bread crumbs. It might not be a problem at all!

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August 17, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Every type of fermentation has different microbial life growing in it. Even ginger bugs made in different homes can taste different because of different bacteria growing in them, since they grow in different micro-climates. I don't know anything about Kevita specifically, but commercially fermented foods may not have as many types of microbial life as homemade wild ferments, which I believe are better for you because of their diversity. So I would just say, try this and see how you like it! It's fun and healthy.

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September 9, 2014 at 2:24 PM

I'm going to try this. When can I introduce fruit juice? We have gallons of juice that we make ourselves, with a distiller (or sorts). Soda sounds like a good solution to our bounty! I am starting the ginger bug this week.

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September 14, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Just use juice instead of the sweetened ginger tea! Most juices should work fine, fermenting for a few days with the ginger bug. Happy experimenting!

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December 11, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Could it be from covering it with paper towel instead of cotton or not letting it breathe enough? I'm thinking the main difference in the brews is that the ginger bug, even using the same cover, has much more headspace than the finished drink. I've had several batches flop even though I've used this same exact recipe with success in the past. In the past, I think I might have used cheesecloth.

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August 16, 2015 at 4:54 PM

I have some questions.
How many is 1/3 c of sliced ginger? and 1 1/2 of sugar?
what is 2 quarts of water?
Sorry, I don't live in usa but I manage better with ml and grams.
I tried to convert 2 cups of water to ml but now I think I have to much water and little ginger for the "ginger bug". This is a mess...
Could you help me with the conversion?
thanks

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TIA
December 29, 2015 at 7:06 AM

I know this is a 3 yr late response. Im a RN and an aspiring herbalist. I fully believe in herbs, EOs, and a real food diet that includes fermented foods, however if your husband or anyone you know is in a nuetropenic state then I very, very, very, strongly advise you not to feed them fermented foods until they are no longer nuetropenic. The risk of infection is very great, so great that death could result because even good for you bacteria are opportunistic. Now once they are no longer nuetropenic and your oncologist states that nuetrophils are at a safe level then fermented foods will aid their body in healing and restore their gut from all the antibiotics. I do however agree with you about the hospital food. It is processed swill. Prepare his food for him according to his doctor ordered diet. It will be far more nourishing. Please dont take my word on this. Consult with you PCP and do your own research. I pray he is well and blessings on you and his family.

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January 19, 2016 at 7:25 PM

My ginger ale has a skunk smell. It looks great, has lots of fizz and tastes delicious. It just has a skunk smell and to be honest, causes me to have stinky gas. Anyone dealt with that?

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Kat
February 4, 2016 at 7:29 PM

Could it be that your jars are damp? Maybe try putting the jars in the oven for a few minutes before putting your herbs in there.

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August 24, 2016 at 8:47 AM

I get a bubbly bug each time, but my 3 day ferment before bottling never bubbles. Last time I bottled it anyway. Tried it a few days later, kinda flat. Forgot about it for a couple months, then tried it, it was perfect. Don't know why I take so long to get bubbles.

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Maya
September 10, 2016 at 2:30 PM

Hello, have yuu ever had a thin layer of mold on the top of your ginger bug or fermented soda, the same like in the sauerkraut? Do you think that might be OK or it is not?

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September 12, 2016 at 10:17 AM

I believe that thin white layer is just a yeast layer, and totally harmless. However, it could be a sign that your bug isn't fermenting quite right. Maybe it's too cold, or not being stirred frequently enough?

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