Monday, August 12, 2013

How To Make A Ginger Bug


Oh this is gonna be fun, guys! I have so many exciting things to share with you. My kitchen has been busy and James has been one well-fed man. Here's the first up...

Honest to goodness I don't know if I'm qualified to give a tutorial on making homemade ginger ale. I have flopped it three times. Three times, people! That is just slightly embarrassing to admit. All I know is that I finally made a successful batch of it. I'm just a little, okay super duper, proud of it.

Basically I became interested in this because of how healthy and beneficial it is to have the good bacteria in our guts. But probiotic supplements are expensive, man! I wanted to amp up the little guys but fermented sauerkraut just wasn't calling my name. Despite the fact that I'm full blooded German. Nastiness. (Sauerkraut. Not Germans.) 

Then I came across lacto-fermented ginger ale. Wait. Whaaaat?!  You mean I can get my good bacteria in my body in a yummy way?? Count me in! 

Oh if only.

If only I knew the pain that this little bug would cause me.

I will spare you the dirty little details. Until the end of my post anyway. You wanna learn what not to do, right?! I think I'm pretty qualified...

So many people these days seem to have lots of issues with digestion and it's really no wonder why. Most of the food we eat is not living. Alot of it has been genetically modified. A vast majority of it has been sprayed with pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Then there's all the added hormones. Not to mention depleted soil levels which result in less nutritious foods. Our diets need some help!!! 


Enter the ginger bug. :)

Before you can just hop right in and make ginger ale, your first step is to make "the bug" as it's called. Keep in mind that this looks complicated, but just follow this day by day and you will do peachy keen.



Day one: 


You will need:

1 tablespoon fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups filtered water

Chop or grate the ginger into small pieces. Add it to a quart mason jar, along with the sugar. Pour in the water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cover with a breathable lid. I just use a towel and a rubber band. Sometimes I use a coffee filter if I don't have an appropriate towel.

If you make this in the morning be sure and stir it one or two more times during the day.

Leave this concoction on your counter out of the sun for the next several days and follow these steps:


Day Two:

Mix in:

2 teaspoons of chopped or grated ginger
2 teaspoons sugar

Stir two to three times during the day. Stir briskly. This helps to incorporate bacteria from the air which helps create the culture. I do best if I feed it in the morning when I eat breakfast and then stir it at lunch and dinner when I'm preparing meals. It's like my little friend who needs to eat and be paid attention to. :)



Day Three:

Same as day two: You may start to seem some bubbles form. This is very good!

Day 4:

Same as day two: Hopefully bubbles are increasing every time you stir the bug.

Day 5:

Same as day two: If you listen quietly to your little friend you just might hear him talk to you. :) Meaning, the bubbles should be getting quite vigorous!

Day 6:

Same as day two: Hopefully you have a good strong bug by now!!!

Day 7:

You are ready to make your ginger ale!!!! Congratulations! If you did this on your first try, you are good. To continue on this journey check out all my recipes for homemade soda pop.

If you don't have time, but want to keep your hard earned little bug alive simply keep him covered with your cloth and place in the refrigerator. When you are ready to make the ginger ale, feed him the 2 tsp. ginger and 2 tsp. sugar several hours before you begin to wake him up and make him active. Once you've done that, stay tuned for the ginger ale recipe! 



See how very nice and bubbly this is?? This is what it should look like by for sure day 7.


Troubleshooting:

Now I am going to share with you what went wrong for me those other three times so you don't have to repeat my mistakes.


  • You must use filtered water: I read that it needed to be de-chlorinated, but I tried boiling it and then cooling my water and it didn't work for me. In the end I bought a gallon of distilled water which worked great. Depending on your filtration system you might not have to buy anything special.
  • Use white sugar: I had also read that adding blackstrap molasses would beef up the nutrients, but when I did that it seemed to die a little. Not sure why. Some people have had success with sucanat, but I did not. My favorite sugar to use is simply organic white sugar.
  • Use ginger with the peel still on: Whether you use organic or not is up to you. In the end, my successful batch was not organic because it was not available at the time. Of course, organic would ultimately be best but I'm all about using what you can afford or get your hands on!
  • Stir vigorously: I think my #1 mistake was not stirring it well enough. I felt like I was killing the bubbles but really it's what they like. Stirring 3 times a day helped it along nicely.
  • Keep away from any other cultures you are creating: One time I had my sourdough starter nearby and I think they cross-contaminated because my ginger ale (I was almost done that time, darn it!) turned thick and gloppy. Very disturbing. It didn't smell bad, it just turned to gel. 
  • Chop or grate your ginger in relatively small pieces: Not sure if this added to the failure rate, but it did seem to do better when I chopped it smaller.
  • Check the temperature of the room: If your ginger bug is still not producing bubbles after 7 days, check the room temperature. Lactobacilli prefer temperatures between 72-76 degrees F.

**A note on the sugar. If you are worried about all the sugar in here, don't be. Basically it's the food for the little bacteria guys. How I understand it is, they pretty much eat it up so there really is not much sugar in there. They "digest" it so you don't have to. 

As you see I went through a lot of trial and error on this one. But gosh it's so worth it when you finally succeed! And I really do know how difficult this sounds. I'm also pretty sure if you make it you won't flop it three times like a certain someone I know. Ahem.

Stay tuned for how to make the ginger ale! And for more information on the health benefits of fermented food click here.


Bethany
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4 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post! I am adding ginger to my grocery list right now. Thanks!

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  2. This tastes good? I'm all for it - I bet this is what people mean when they suggest ginger ale for tummy bugs and morning sickness, rather than the crud that's sold in green bottles, but, um, I'm unsure. I need to get that book!

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  3. Yay! Let me know how it turns out for you!!!

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  4. Well...I like it alot now! But of course as with all healthy things, it seems you go through an adjustment phase. It's just not as sugary like normal pop. But honestly, after you drink it a couple times I think you will start craving it. At least I do! And yea. This is the healthy stuff they are talking about. :)

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