How to Make a Ginger Bug

How to Make a Ginger Bug for Natural Soda How to Make a Ginger Bug

If you aren’t familiar with naturally fermented beverages, you might be asking what the heck a Ginger Bug is and why you should make one…

A ginger bug is a culture of beneficial bacteria made from fresh ginger root and sugar. It is similar to a sourdough starter for bread or a kombucha scoby for making kombucha. The ginger imparts its flavor and as it naturally ferments, creates a mixture of beneficial bacteria.

Though not overly tasty by itself, the Ginger Bug is the base for many homemade sodas and tonics. We use it to make Root Beer, Ginger Ale, Fruit “sodas” and more.

The recipe we use is an adaption of the recipe in Nourishing Traditions (p. 591) and is the culture we use for all homemade sodas. There is also an easier way to make soda that doesn’t require a ginger bug if you prefer to skip this step, but to make an authentic soda, the bug is needed.

Once this ginger bug is made, it can be kept alive and used continuously to make healthy soda at any time.

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How to Make a Ginger Bug
How to create a ginger bug to use as the beneficial culture to make healthy fermented homemade sodas like old fashioned ginger ale or root beer.
Recipe type: Cultured - Beverage
  • 1-2 fresh ginger roots
  • ½ cup white sugar (important for starting the culture. Honey, stevia or other sweeteners will not work)
  • 2 cups of water
  • Quart size mason jar
  1. Cut a piece of ginger root about 1.5 inches long to make 2-3 tablespoons of grated ginger. You can also finely chop instead of grating. There is some debate about if it is better to peel the root or not. My genera rule is that non-organic ginger gets peeled and organic just gets rinsed before grating.
  2. Place the ginger in a quart size mason jar and add an equal amount of white sugar (2-3 tablespoons). Nourishing Traditions insists that white sugar is needed to create the bug and I've had the best success with this, but a local friend claims that unrefined sugar or sugar with 1 tsp of molasses added works better. Try what you have and adapt as needed.
  3. Add 2 cups of filtered water to the mason jar. Make sure that the water has been filtered so that it does not contain chlorine which can affect the culturing process.
  4. Stir with a non-metal spoon and lightly cover. I cover with a coffee filter and rubber band.
  5. Each day for the next five days, stir the mixture at least once and add 1 tablespoon of grated ginger root and 1 tablespoon of sugar. (note: depending on temperature, it may take up to eight days of adding sugar and ginger to create the desired culture).
  6. You can tell if culture is active if there are bubbles forming around the top of the mixture, it "fizzes" when stirred and it takes on a sweet and mildly yeasty smell. It will also become somewhat cloudy and opaque. If mold appears on the top, scrape it off if it can be removed. It this happens more than once, you will need to start again. If the mixture hasn't taken on these characteristics by the 7-8th day, you need to discard it and start again.
  7. Keep the culture away from other cultures like sauerkraut and kombucha or it can cross culture.
  8. Once the ginger bug has cultured, it can be used to create fermented sodas and drinks at the ratio of ¼ cup ginger bug starter per quart of sweetened herbal mixtures (for ginger ale or root beer) or diluted fruit juice (for fruit flavored sodas).
To keep the bug alive and continue growing it, you will need to feed it regularly. Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger and 1 teaspoon sugar per day if kept at room temperature. You can also "rest" it in the fridge and feed it 1 tablespoon each of ginger and sugar once a week. To reactivate it, remove and let it reach room temperature and begin feeding it again.

Do you have a pet ginger “bug” sitting on your counter? Will you make one?

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Reader Comments

      • sharla says

        yes, when you remove some of the bug, how do you know how much of each component to add to keep a stellar bug on your counter.

        • Loreli says

          Personally, I use 1 T each of water, ginger, and sugar every time I feed my bug. When I restart it after I use it, I put 1 T of old bug mash, 1 T of fresh ginger, 2 T water (1 T for the old, 1 T for the new), , and 1 T sugar to start the new bug.

        • Lindsey Campbell says

          Me too! I’m at day 6. I have a tiny amt of bubbles when I stir it. I used organic cane sugar. I think I may start another one and go buy white sugar.

          • Owen says

            I had this problem too but then I added yeast energizer and yeast nutrient. You can find them on beer brewing sites. They provide minerals and nutrients that ale yeasts to thrive. Follow the instructions on the bottle. Remember a little goes a long way. Dint underestimate the small amount of energizer and nutrient it takes for yeast to kick start your ginger bug.

          • Aaron says

            Maybe it’s an issue of temperature? My kitchen is typically pretty cold so I’m culturing the bug inside the oven with just the oven light on. That keeps the bug nice and warm but not hot, with the result that after only two days I’m seeing lots of bubbling.

  1. Christina Rottinger says

    my question is- do you strain it before putting in the next round of ginger and sugar? I’m thinking that if there’s a pause in how often you make the soda, then the ginger would build up, right? Even if kept in the fridge?

  2. Jessica Rech says

    If honey wont work then how did people back in medieval times and during the American migration west make carbonated beverages? Because we know they did. Does it have something to do with this being alcohol free and the medieval/migration recipes being lightly alcoholic?

    • Sean Perry says

      Yeast + sugar => alcohol. The question is how much. There is also the possibility of bacteria eating the alcohol.

      Honey is naturally anti-microbial. It _CAN_ be turned into alcohol but this requires using a fair amount of active yeast. The goal here is to encourage the existing yeast and bacteria (which the honey would also inhibit).

      How did they do it in ye olde times? Grains are the likely option. This is where the yeast for bread and beer come from. Another option would be sweet/starchy roots like say beet or potato.

        • Cassie says

          I hope you mean new to europe because potatoes have been around a lot longer than america has. It was first domesticated in around peru and bolivia before Christ.

          • Sara says

            “New world” is a fairly common way to refer to the Americas in when speaking of products in historical terms :)

      • Dive says

        This is, at the very least, highly misleading. Honey contains natural yeasts (in raw form) that will wake up once the honey is added to water. That’s how one makes a simple mead. My first mead was made with processed honey, water, and a cut-up peach, so even introduced yeasts (from the skin of the peach and/or the air in my case) can culture in the presence of honey. It may be that some bacteria are inhibited by something in honey, but I can say with confidence that at least some yeasts don’t mind it at all.

        • LP says

          I would guess that the processed honey may have been laced with corn syrup, a very common occurence surprisingly. That combined with the sugars from the peach made it easy to ferment.

          • Rocketsled says

            You can brew mead without adding yeast. So I’m not sure why you can’t use it in this recipe . I have fermented natural honey with wild cultures.

        • erena says

          Processing honey kills the bacteria that would inhibit the yeast. Once you heat and process honey it turns into a sugar and little else. Raw honey eats yeast.

      • Tomas says

        Yeast + sugar + oxygen (aerobic fermentation) => water and Co2. Co2+ water => carbonated water.

        Yeast + sugar and no oxygen (anaerobic fermentation) => co2 and alcohol.

        And the honey.. If honey contains more than 20% water it can begin to ferment. That’s why the bees wait until the honey is solid enough before they put a wax cap on the cell.

        So you don’t need anything else than honey and water to make mead. I know this because I make mead, beer and now thanks to wellnesmama – also ginger ale :-) mine didn’t start to ferment though. Maybe because of the dry inhouse air. So I added a knifes tip of brewers yeast and now it’s bubbling away! First batch of ginger ale two one day away from straining and bottling.

  3. Nica says

    I already have a jar of grated ginger with a touch of lemon juice in it. will this work to make the bug or do I need to use ginger alone?

  4. Cezanne Pellett says

    Could you use this to flavor dry ice carbonated root beer as well? Sorry if this is a dumb question, but that’s the only kind of homemade soda I’ve ever made before but I REALLY want to try your fermented Ginger Ale recipe too!

      • Sandra Miller says

        I am on day 6 of making the Ginger Bug.It has started to bubble but I think I will go the 8 days to get a better bubble.I am having fun with this.

        • Robin says

          i was worried because i used tap water and didnt dechlorinate it.., it would fizz on shake and then go away…sooo…i poured a little juice from my kombucha scoby hotel and by day 7..fizz!!!! and my first batch turned out great…but next time i will strain it before the second bottling!!! so fun!!

        • Andrea Beacham says

          I used to make this many years ago. My starter used the dry ginger powder and sugar as a feeder each day.
          would love the original recipe.

      • Michelle says

        Thank you xx My mama does this each night, fills a jug, and leaves it open. I’ve been doing that for the water I’m going to add to the fishy tank too before adding their conditioner :D

      • William Babishoff says

        Many cities now use chloramine instead of chlorine. This cannot break down without chemical assistance. Check with your local water supplier to see if you have chlorine or chloramine. Also, there are many other chemicals in tap water that are dangerous besides chlorine/chloramine.

        • says

          I was thinking the same thing, my city puts fluoride in our tap water, so I am not able to use it for my cultured foods, I would guess that would be the case here. I have been buying filtered water at the grocery store, but another thing I heard with the filtered water is that it takes away the minerals that the cultures need too, so I add Himalayan sea salt to my water kefir, wondering if I would want to do the same for this?

      • Luna says

        This will work, yes. But make sure they haven’t also added chloramine to your water. That will NOT evaporate. If you don’t know, ask at a fish store. They’ll know, because you have to treat chloraminated water or it will kill fish.

          • Sarah says

            It’s so terrifying! I’m horrified by the chemicals the government not only deems safe, but then ensures the American public is regularly consuming. ::shudder::

      • Dianne Springer says

        I agree. I leave a gallon jug of water sit overnight. I do this before adding water to my fish tank and have not lost a fish yet.

  5. Bev Heptinstall says

    How “fizzy” should the bug be? Mine looks and smells great but does not seem very fizzy, just some slight bubbles on the edge before I feed it and very very slight fizz when I stir it, it’s getting up to 6 days olds now. I’m not sure how to tell if it’s ready or if it did not work.

  6. Chris says

    In your recipe you never add any water back to the culture. This is something that is obviously done when removing some for use. Your instructions also didn’t really mention straining the culture before adding it to a “soda” recipe which also would be a good addition to the instructions. What if you feed it everyday for 3 weeks but never use any? Your culture is now going to be pretty darn sweet and full of ginger particles. How do you manage this? Part of the feeding instructions should also include discarding some of the culture if it is used or not, maybe on a weekly basis? I havent manged one of these so I dont know exactly how to maintain it properly.

  7. Ghada629 says

    Thanks for adding the instructions about how to keep it alive! If it was there already and i missed it the 1st time, sorry!i have couple more questions, I’m making this now but i forgot to feed it on the third day, but when I checked it this morning, it did have the bubbles on the top and little fizzy when I stirred it, so I fed it again, do you think its okay still too use? Also for keeping it alive, how moloch water shop you add top it and when? Thanks for all your help and sorry for asking so many questions but this is my 1st real fermented thing I’m making tonight, hopefully :-)

  8. Angela says

    My Ginger Bug is complete! With a nice fluffy layer of fine little bubbles across the entire top. Hmmmm……now to decide what to make with it. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Debi Durkee says

    I started my ginger bug tonight.I sure hope it takes off and ferments.
    One question, when bug is done and you make you batch of ale, when you take out 1/4 cup, it says to add the sugar and ginger, don’t you add water at that time? I’m guess replace the 1/4 cup? If you do, can you take 1/2 cup for double batch, or do you only take 1/4 cup per time?

  10. Tom Franklin says

    I followed your directions, but my ginger bug never took off. I covered it with a coffee filter and dutifully added sugar and grated ginger every day. Now, weeks later, I still have a jar filled with a lot of sugary ginger, but no naturally-occuring yeasty action has taken place.

    Should I add some yeast? Or take a bit of my Kombucha’s SCOBY and add it to the ginger bug?


    • John Altmire says

      This method relies on yeast that is present in the air. If you bake bread fairly often or other things that use yeast, you will have a better chance of success. You should have a certain amount of yeast in the air regardless, but perhaps if you have an air filtration unit in your home this may be the problem? ….just a thought…and I would add some wine yeast (will not impart the “yeasty” flavour of bread yeast) to your bug, or just directly to your soda recipe….adding it to the bug will allow you to multiply it and not have to buy it every time, but in my area it would be cheaper to buy the yeast than to feed it sugar every day

      • Goldie says

        Thanks for this advise. I’ve found my soda recipe hasn’t fermented, and was wondering if I should add yeast to it. How much wine yeast should I add to 8 liters of soda? Do I need to add more sugar with it? And will this make it alcoholic, or can it be non-alcoholic still if I refrigerate it soon enough? Thanks!

    • Craig Beck says

      My first attempt at this didn’t do a thing except for some slight bubbles the third day, and nothing after that. Second attempt after reading some other articles on this I tried adding a little bread yeast. I activated the yeast according to packet directions and then used one teaspoon to start the bug. Has been doing great since, but I haven’t tried making soda from it yet (hopeully this weekend)

  11. Michelle says

    There’s been a few comments regarding straining the bug. Note this is only the bug recipe. In the actual ginger ale recipe she explains to strain before drinking.

    • Lori says

      I know I’m late on the topic, but my ginger bug has been sitting in the cupboard for about 2 months. I just took it out and wow, it has a very thick, opague white layer on top. I make kombucha so I know it’s nothing scary (or moldy) but I wasn’t expecting to see it :)

  12. Lucy Nissen says

    When you are keeping the ginger bug alive by adding more ginger/sugar every day, do you also at some point add more water? Since you are taking out water to make ginger ale/other sodas? I’m a little confused on that part.

    • RonB says

      Lucy…you should add 2 tbsp of each of water, sugar, ginger to the bug daily.
      It’s ready to use after 3 to 5 days. Take out 1/4 cup of the stuff replace with 1/4 cup water, 2 tbsp ginger and 2 tbsp sugar.
      And go from there. or put it in the fridge and add the 2 tbsp sugar, water, & ginger every 5 to 7 days.

      • Serena says

        Oh – the recipe above says to add a tbs sugar and ginger each day but not water. So I was only adding the sugar and ginger. Is that why it stopped fizzing after the 5th day?

  13. RonB says

    Nice site and good info save for one little thing.
    #7 in the instructions is a tad mistaken. The ginger bug is an
    anaerobic bacterial culture not a pollinating flower. There are no
    spores that float in the air…wild yeast does that. There is no danger
    of sauerkraut, kombucha and ginger bug cross culturing…ever…it’s quite impossible. I keep all of them side by side…no problems.

  14. Katie says

    Wellness Mama, do you know what the sugar content is of the final product? I’m really really trying to watch my sugar intake. If you could tell me the amount of sugar in about 8 oz. of ginger beer I’d appreciate it. Thank you.

  15. Blair Higgs says

    My ginger bug looks great until day 5 and then when I wake up on day five ready to make ginger ale all the fizz is gone and it looks dead? :( I feed it 1 table spoon of sugar and ginger each day and stir at the same time each day. Any suggestions?

    • erikasalzeck says

      I am having exactly the same problems -fizzed nicely for the second & third day but now has stopped. I read on another blog to leave it uncovered during the day so am trying that – fingers crossed!

      • Serena says

        Mine did the same thing! It was awesome, and so I went out and got more ginger, and found some bottles to make ginger ale, and now no fizzies. I fed mine each day at the same time too. This is the second time this happened to me. I may just give up.

  16. Danny says


    If the bug is just sugar, ginger and water, then wouldnt a ginger ale with just sugar, ginger and water ferment on its own anyway without the bug? (or am I missing the point)

  17. Amy Fletcher says

    You have peaked my curiosity! I have komboocha fermenting and want to start a ginger bug too. But now I want to know what would happen if they do cross culture? Lol. Must know.

    • Ruthie says

      Wondering same thing— do you keep the coffee filters on the bug in the fridge or go ahead and seal them when they are “resting”?

        • Owen says

          I doesn’t matter either way. The cold temperatures will drop microbial activity dramatically so they do not need nearly the amount of oxygen needed if it were fermented at room temperature. I put a cap on mine if I put it in the fridge just in case it spills or if there might be some funky stuff in the fridge. Just add a little bit of sugar every week and shake it up a bit. Also you can use that ginger bug to “inoculate” other jars that have not begun fermenting. Make sure though that after you add water to your ginger bug you add some lime and lemon. This will drop the pH to discourage molds from colonizing…also great flavor. I think lime and lemon take away from the spiciness ginger has. Cheers.

  18. Laura Rich says

    I’m so excited to find this recipe! I adore ginger ale but hate all the store bought options with corn syrup. Started my ginger bug last night and checked it this morning. We have bubbles! I hope it keeps it up! BTW, I used unrefined organic sugar (all I had on hand) and a tsp of black strap molasses. ;)

  19. I Love Kismet Simple Sweets says

    Would you recommend this for someone with multiple food allergies, GI issues, and a Candida allergy? I am considering making ginger syrup (no sugar added) and just adding it to seltzer water. What do you recommend?

  20. Mo says

    There is a much easier way to make natural soda.
    Fill one 2 liters soda bottle with 1/2 can 100% juice concentrate, 1/8 tsp champagne yeast, 1/4c sugar top it off with water. Seal and shake to mix. Wait 24 hours at room temp, check firmness of bottles. (time=firmer=more fizz) Then chill
    Replace the concentrate with grated/chopped ginger if you want ginger ale (powder might work too)
    I make four 2 litters bottles of Welch’s grape at a time take less than 5 min
    If you put it in a cupboard and forget about it, it will blow up; don’t ask me how I know.

  21. Haley Holden says

    I was almost done with my bug… but then got too busy to feed my it for two days and now it has lost its fizzy-ness. How can I fix it to make my soda? Or do I have to start over fresh?

  22. Jamie Campbell says

    I created a bug with this recipe. I’m glad I read it again today — I’ve been overfeeding the bug, giving it a full tablespoon per day of both sugar and ginger. It hasn’t seemed to mind, it’s been making ginger ale just fine and is bubbling like a normal ferment should, but it’s good to know it will stay alive if I cut back to teaspoon amounts instead. I think that in reading it quickly I probably got confused with the “once a week” fridge feeding.

  23. Steven Lattimer says

    i have made this a couple times about 3 gallons now. I have used fresh home grown ginger and store bought because I ran out. I used a very small amount of distillers yeast (like 10 grains or less) in the wort. After the whole process as described in directions was complete I let it set in the refrigerator for 5-7 days and it was perfect. very fizzy like store bought. tastes better than store bought because I know it’s probiotic and contains no fluoride, HFC and not much refined sugar. I used molasses in one batch sorghum in another. Molasses was best for me. Fully intend to experiment with everything in the spice rack though. Thanks wellness mamma. I have been looking for this for awhile.

  24. annie says

    i don’t get how it makes a culture though, it is simply ginger with sugar water? where does it get the yeast and good bacteria from?

    • Amanda says

      Vegetables all have (good) bacteria on them so the ginger will already have bacteria that will grow with the addition of the sugar and wild yeast is present in the air and the culture will pick that up (which is why you can’t seal it while it is starting).

  25. says

    I started a ginger bug, basically from the recipe that you mentioned above, but before reading yours here. However, mine’s doing great and actually I did not start mine with white sugar. I started it first with unrefined sugar, and because We’ve been trying to stay away from so much fructose (namely the syrups and all) we’ve started trying dextrose to sweeten when we want something sweetened. I also like honey. So, the ginger bug actually really likes both here. :) The dextrose, which is pure glucose, it loves.. it just eats it up. My ginger bug is bubbly and has a beautiful smell and we like to use it for soda too. However, using the dextrose versus any other sugar it doesn’t get as sweet. So, I’ve also been using the dextrose with my water kefir, which again loves it and the grains multiply even faster with that than with the molasses added, however, again, it too is not as sweet as it would be when I’ve used other sugar. So, that actually makes me wonder if what it’s mostly eating up in the ginger bug or in the water kefir is glucose and the reason it remains sweet tasting or even slightly sweet later is because the fructose remains. It’s almost like it’s gobbling up all the glucose and leaving the fructose. Have any ideas? Thanks! :)

    • Louise says

      Do you think agave nectar would work? I got some to use in my iced tea, but don’t much like the flavor. Maybe it could be used here?

  26. says

    I tried this recipe step by step, but it didn’t work :( Not only did it never start bubbling, it also grew mould after a few days. I’m a fermenting enthusiast and have made kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and ginger bugs (according to Sandor Ellix Katz’ recipe) before, so I don’t know what went wrong. Any thoughts?

  27. Laura W says

    FYI honey can be used. Sandor Katz’s ginger bug recipe in his latest book uses honey, ginger and water. And he stresses buying organic, preferably local ginger as most non-organic grocery store ginger has been irradiated & therefore might fail to ferment & carbonate. He also says you need to leave the skin on the ginger. I have had great success with his recipe using raw, local honey & organic ginger from my local farmer’s market. The sodas I make are perfectly fizzy & have lovely honey undertones.

  28. David says

    SO when you strain it into a juice to second ferment it, I dont want to have pieces of ginger in a juice, is it just the liquid you can strain or are you supposed to put 1/4 cup with the actual grated pieces of ginger in the liquid.?

  29. Dani says

    I made a bug 2 days ago. I did it in a regular quart mason jar… which gave me 2c Ginger Bug so far… & covered it with a coffee filter & elastic. Was I supposed to cover it with it’s real cover? It is fizzing a little on it’s own. How much should it fizz before it’s ready? Also, when it is done, I would like to double the recie, how do I do that? Just add water and sugar & ginger & continue like I did before? Thanks in advance :)

  30. Rose says

    How long after I remove the bug from refrigerator storage do I have to wait before I can use it in my root beer or ginger ale?

    • Dru Delmonico says

      Hmm, just posted a comment and it didn’t appear (so apologies if this posts twice).

      I’d also like to know how long to wait after taking it out of the fridge before making a new batch of soda. It’s been on the counter about a day and smells a little yeasty but when I shake it there’s basically no bubbles. Thanks!

      • Anthony says

        Doesn’t really matter. It will still work even if you put it in right out of the fridge. Provided what ever you put it in to isn’t too hot!!!

  31. bren says

    Ooooohhhh, shoot, i just made this today, but put in the jar the whole 1-2 ginger roots and the 1/2c of sugar. it appears, after re-reading it, that the ingredients are the total amount I’ll need by the time it’s finished? Lol, what would you do now? I have my jar with 2C water, 1/2c sugar, and a large hunk of grated ginger in it….. ?

  32. Sarah says

    Thanks for the recipe, I love your site! I am currently making this at home, however I forgot about the ginger bug for a bit and left it uncovered and out for 2 days. It still is fizzy and opaque and doesn’t have mold, however it smells a bit alcoholic, can I still use it?

  33. Jake says

    Hello there –
    I had a ginger bug going strong for a few days, and stopped bubbling like some others say.
    I’m wondering if the METAL SPOON I was using was bad for it? Do you know why the metal stirring device is bad?
    Great Blog!
    I’m a beginner root-beer-brewer. Your info is great :)

  34. JayK4258 says

    So I made the bug but I missed the part about feeding it everyday. It was doing great, forming bubbles and rising ginger. Now it is day 7 and all the bubbles are gone and the ginger has fallen to the bottom. I added a teaspoon of ginger and sugar today. Do you think I might need to start over?

  35. P. Frangos says

    I was so excited to find this recipe. I got right to it however; by day 4 my bug died. I believe it fermented within 2-3 days so…round 2. Let’s see what happens.

  36. Amanda says

    This is so cool! I just finished making ginger ale and am about to put the ginger bug in the fridge. Do I still put a breathable lid (like a coffee filter) on it? Or a regular lid?

  37. kristin says

    Just wondering, many posts have said that this bug produces some alcohol. Does the final soda product have alcohol in it as my brother is an alcoholic and on meds that make him sick if he drinks anything with alcohol. I do not want to make him sick with my soda. thanx

  38. Brandi says

    Once I use the liquid to make ginger ale do I have to replace it with water in my starter to keep it going, or do I just add the ginger and sugar daily?

  39. Marilyn says

    Aloha, Katie, thank you for your great posts! Loving them! I got it all finished, then decided to add molasses to my mixture to in essence make the white granulated sugar already in the mixture to become as nutritious as “brown sugar” & by then, just like Jake, had completely forgot about the warning to NOT use METAL SPOON. But it was too late. What harm have I done? Should I throw the whole batch out & start over? Can’t wait for a successful outcome & all the benefits for my family! Thank you for your response! Blessings to you & all!

  40. Marilyn says

    Shudders! I realized I used a metal spoon to mix the ginger + sugar + water mixture & dumped the whole thing out to start over. But HORRORS! I realized my grater, AND ALL my measuring spoons are also metal! So the ginger (all by itself) has been in contact with metal from the very beginning of this process, UGH! I PRAY it is only after mixing the sugar + ginger + water TOGETHER, that THIS phase & this phase ONLY is when metal cannot touch the MIXTURE, otherwise, I am sunk. Is it ONLY the phase where those two or three ingredients are COMBINED?

    • Daryl says

      I was thinking about this as I was cutting it. There is no way I can think of to chop or grate ginger without metal so it would have to be ok.

  41. Ishka says

    I have a socby for my kambucha. Can I use this, or part of it, for the bug to make the ginger ale?

  42. Susanna says

    An important comment. White sugar is usually genetically modified beet sugar. I won’t use white sugar for anything. I’m going to try it with organic cane sugar.

  43. Brandi says

    This is my second try on making a ginger bug. My first try didn’t go so well. On the 8th day nothing was happening and it began to grow mold. I was wondering if the way I store my ginger could have anything to do with it? After I grate it I put it in a zip lock bag and put it in the refrigerator until the next day when I grate some more. Should I be doing something different?

  44. Marilyn says

    Aloha, Again, Katie – WellnessMama,

    As I stated earlier, I dumped out the first batch of Ginger Bug because I forgot & had mixed it with a metal spoon.

    I started over again. I have a metal grater & metal measuring spoons which I DO USE, however, I DID NOT USE METAL, ever, after I had combined the water, ginger, & sugar + molasses. From the directions it specified to avoid using metal, seemingly specifying only after these ingredients are combined. It is day 9-1/2 days old, and it is not fizzing yet. I haven’t given up yet, as it still smells fine & no mold is growing on it.

    I’ve read elsewhere a statement that the Ginger Bug is so acidic it even reacts with plastic (utensils?) Sigh!

    Please tell me what type of kitchen tools YOU have used for guaranteed success. Thank you so much to any who respond! Aloha & Mahalo!

  45. Marilyn says

    Aloha, Again, Katie – WellnessMama,

    P. S. I have been “feeding it” 1 TBSP of grated ginger + 1 TBSP of sugar premixed with molasses every night. Again with the metal grater & metal measuring spoons, mixed only with a wooden spoon.

    Aloha & Mahalo!

  46. Marilyn says

    Aloha, Katie – Wellness Mama ,

    Thank you again for your wonderful articles.

    I posted a comment at day 9-1/2 of my Ginger Bug, but it is gone, lost somewhere in space while it is being determined whether to post it, or not, I guess. It is now day 11 (eleven) for my Ginger Bug attempt. I have only a metal grater, metal measuring spoons, so I used those. BUT I did NOT use metal spoon for mixing the Ginger + Sugar + Molasses + Water mixture. I used ONLY a wooden spoon to mix the Ginger Bug mixture once the ingredients where combined. There is no, nor has every been, fizzing. It still smells good & there was never any mold growing. It has been 80-100 degrees outside these 11 (eleven) days. We have no air conditioner. It is on top of my range, not too near the heat elements, and not in the dark, but not in direct sunlight, either. Should I put the jar in (a) brown plastic bag(s), or brown paper bag to give it dark? Does it help to be in the dark?

    I sure hope I haven’t wasted all this time. Can’t wait for a successful outcome.
    Thank you, again!

    What is going on? And, if I start over, what have I done wrong?

    • Tony says

      I know this is an old post but you were super concerned about using metal and is really nothing to worry about. All professional food companies(organic and otherwise) use metal all the time. Go into any brewery or winery and I guarantee you’ll find metal. This disdain for metal among the fermenting community is puzzling because it is really no big deal. The ONLY time you may have a problem is using cast iron or other reactive but most all kitchen utensils are stainless, so rest easy, you’ll be fine. If you’re not having success,I would put my money on something else besides using a metal spoon or grater. In your case, with the temps you had I would guess it may have gotten too hot.

      • Aaron says

        Yeah, I thought the no-metal-stirring-element restriction was a bit ridiculous, given that most people will be using metal tools to peel and grate the ginger. I’ve been using stainless steel spoons to stir and have no issues with my bug. In fact, it’s bubbling quite actively at day five.

  47. Matus says

    Hi all. A lot of people seem to be wondering what’s happened if the already-started-bubbling ceases after a couple of days. The problem seems to be the water, or lack of it: the recipe doesn’t mention anything about adding more water. The thing with strengthening sugar solutions (as this one) is that after a certain point, there is no more “free water” for the micro-organisms to live. So as jam or marmalade rarely gets mould or microbe-growth in it (that’s teh point of jam), this too strong sugar solution inhibits the growth of the “bug”. After I figured this out, I just added a couple of cups of water in to the mix and the next day the bug was fizzing once more.

    Also, I find it very hard to believe that stirring the bug with anything metallic would be a problem. The only thing that is important is that everything you touch the bug with – the jar, spoon, cups etc – are absolutely clean. Desinfected with boiling water preferably.

  48. Ashley says

    I’m wondering if it’s necessary to wait 5 days to use for making ginger ale if it’s already nice & fizzy? Thanks!

  49. Sandeep says

    yeast ? bacteria. an important distinction.

    with this ginger mixture, the brewer is using ginger (which is a natural antibacterial) to cultivate wild yeast.

  50. Ramona says

    Thanks for the recipe! I’ve made a ginger bug and have been using it successfully for many batches of ginger ale. I just tried making a rhubarb batch and it has gone moldy! I know you mention scraping the mold off the ginger bug, but what about when the soda gets mold? Toss it and start over?

  51. Cesar says

    not sure if someone asked yet, but when you use the bug to make the soda, is the bug the actual ginger, the ginger water stuff, or both? and do i need to take out the ginger after its built up before i add new ginger? thanks

  52. Kevin Weathers says

    The real concern with metal utensils is whether or not they’re made from non-reactive materials. Stainless steel is a non-reactive metal and will not have any adverse effects. Aluminum however IS reactive. Make sure your metal kitchen items: grater, spoon, funnel — WHATEVER — is stainless and all should be fine. Reactive metals will also give your recipes that awful “metallic” taste. When cooking up the soda syrups, use non-reactive pans. Aluminum and stainless look very similar. Most stainless utensils have a stamp on them indicating what they’re made of. If you’re unsure, don’t use it. Or, you can just use wood!
    One more thing — hard anodized aluminum is considered non-reactive. Through the magic of physics and chemistry the properties have been altered so the material won’t wreak havoc on our foods and cultures. Hard anodized aluminum is usually a very dark gray — almost black — and is clearly marked.

  53. Cyril says

    So I started this bug lsst week and I started getting foam on the second day, then on the fourth day the foam and bubbling stopped. I remember reading this happened to alot of people but I didn’t want to restart. So I read another article on making a ginger bug so I combined recommendation to bring my bug back so I figured I would share.

    I squeezed fresh lemon juice, put a lid on top and placed in my garage at this point it took 4 days but when I checked on it the nason lid was almost blown off it had tons of foam so when I removed the lid the foam rushed up and spilled over with bubbling and fizzing like its cooking. The Bug is ready!

    Thanks for these great recipes I love ginger ale and to be able to make it myself is great.

    Doing this project has given me a better understanding on culturing beneficial bacterial and alliw me to tranfer this knowledge to the garden for worm tea.


  54. kayla says

    I made this about four days ago and it’s look perfect! it’s bubbly, creamy and smells just like ginger beer. i am beyond excited to try this bug out on some sodas! as for the people leaving comments about how this recipe doesn’t tell you what to do with it, this is a basic bug that Wellness Mama even states that she uses this specific bug for all her sodas… so why don’t you take a look at her soda recipes?


  55. JP says

    I’ve tried this …… it’s been a week and a half, no ‘fizzing’, no bubbles, no Ginger bug! I don’t have fermentation at all!
    I don’t use white sugar, I used natural brown cane sugar, I used the same coffee filters that my wife uses for Kombuscha, but I forgot the spoon (I used a stainless measuring spoon), so I don’t understand why this isn’t working. Any advice?

  56. Mathew says

    I started my ginger bug yesterday. It’s been going a little over a day now and it’s blowing up! It’s very fizzy with lots of bubbles now. Excited to see where it goes.

  57. Shirley Keith says

    This recipe does not tell you that you also need to add 1 tbs water every time you add 1 tbs ginger and 1 tbs sugar, otherwise you would be removing the liquid in the ginger bug to make ale and soon the liquid in the ginger bug would be gone. Otherwise a good recipe.

  58. Holly says

    My ginger bug was looking great on the 4th day with a good aroma and lots of fizz. On the 5th morning it looked dead. I did dehydrate 5 pounds of mushrooms overnight and was wondering if those spores could have impacted the ginger bug? They were in separate rooms.

  59. Rowena says

    I started one of these a few days ago (5 if you want to be technical) with tap water left out for a night first, ginger from Mal-Wart (cause that’s what I can get) peeled, and organic Turbinado raw cane sugar (cause I never use white sugar). My room temp is spastic (between 90 and 50, depending on whether my AC works) and I’m using a plastic disposable spoon, a glass bowl and plastic measuring stuff. I started it at 5 am, then fed it 3 days at midnight, until today, when I forgot and didn’t feed it til 7 am. The 1st day, it has some bubbles, and continued to have bubbles until this morning, when it had nothing. After reading the comments here (particularly the one about too much sugar making making it so there was no room for the yeast), I added some more of my room tempurature water, and now I’m getting tiny bubbles again. So, despite the fact that I apparently did everything wrong (except use an aluminum spoon, since I don’t use aluminum for anything) I have a lovely Ginger Bug, but there does need to be something mentioned in the original recipe about adding water at some point.
    Anyway, thanks for the great recipe and the comments that kept me from thinking I killed it and giving up.

  60. Kc says

    Has anyone tried using the molasses method? Am I suppose to add a teaspoon of molasses every day after along with sugar and ginger?

    • Andrea says

      I used organic raw sugar and a teaspoon of molasses and only add the molasses once a week. I had bubbles in four days and full on fizzy in two weeks. :)

        • Aaron says

          It means the ginger bug is actively producing tiny bubbles (of CO2). “Fizz” is what gives soda or beer the tingly feel when you drink it; in that case, it’s the CO2 coming out of dissolution. In the case of the ginger bug, it means the natural yeast fermentation has multiplied to such a great extent that you can readily see the CO2 gas being released as it’s produced.

  61. Jane says

    My ginger bug worked great, but I don’t want to use it yet, and would like to transfer it to the fridge. Should I continue with the cheesecloth cover in the fridge, or can I cap it?

  62. Caroline says

    My bug, after three days is gelatinous. Is that normal? The color is cloudy and opaque and the mixture is bubbly but when I look at bug making on youtube, it looks liquid, not gelatinous…Thanks!

  63. Kirsten says

    I started a ginger bug on Saturday afternoon (It’s monday evening now) and it’s already got a 1/4 inch of foam on the top, is cloudy, and is clearly fermenting very well. How do I know when it’s ready? I’ve been adding sugar and ginger and stirring the jar every day. Should I just wait the week to be sure it’s fully fermented, or can I use it to make rootbeer earlier since it seems to be working so quickly?

  64. Ginger says

    Looking forward to trying this recipe. I make kombucha as well and since you say this shouldn’t be too close to other live cultures, I am wondering what is an optimal distance to grow this culture away from the kombucha brews?

  65. Rebecca says

    Hey Katie! I’ve been eyeing this for sometime & I’m ready to get started. I’m curious about something though. I make a drink called Switchel. It’s a very old recipe that has ACV(w/ the mother), molasses, sugar/honey(depends on the pantry), ginger, & water. There is a sharpness to it already, but could use a carbonation umph. Could I give my drink more sparkle with this? The ACV is something I don’t see mentioned in many drinks across the internet, & none that fizz, so I wonder if there is an unwanted affect?

  66. Brenda says

    i read the instructions wrong. I only fed it sugar for 7 days. I did not add more ginger. Did I lll it? I made 8 jars. I would hate to through them all out. I just added ginger today. No sugar. It’s kind of syrupy.

  67. Elizabeth says

    I started my ginger bug a while back, tried to make soda and it didn’t work (I don’t think I waited long enough before using the bug), then put it in the fridge for a bit. Took it back out and tried to get it started again. It has bubble on top now, but when I look at the bottom on the jar there are a few black dots… I can’t tell if this is mold or not (looks like mold to me). It seems that it would not be able to grow at the bottom of all that liquid, but it definitely doesn’t look like ginger bits. Is it still safe to use or not?

  68. Kat says

    I’m DYING to try your homemade ginger ale, Katie. My first attempt at making my ginger bug did not work (peeled conventional ginger), but my second seems to be working (organic unpeeled). I found an article that I think explains why. Conventional ginger is often irradiated, which interferes with fermentation. I will ONLY use organic from now on. I will let you know how my ginger beer turns out. I’m sure it will be DELSH!

  69. Kim G. says

    Once you have your ginger bug, could you feed it with ground ginger? This is all very new to me & I may have missed something. Please help to clarify : step 1: great bug according to above inst. step 2: Strain through Muslin cloth? drink? start again? sorry to be such a newbie and ask questions which may seem obvious, but I really want to try get this right as I want 2015 to be a year of optimal health rather than just trying to ” lose weight”

  70. Renee says

    I would just like to say that you can indeed use honey. I have done so myself…it just takes longer for it to begin fermenting….

  71. Debbie says

    I’m just starting to look into making homemade sodas by scratch and making a Ginger bug sounds like a great way to start.. though my house is quite cold at most times. will that affect the ginger bug?

    • Owen says

      Depends water that temperature of “cold” is. Yeasts thrive in environments around 68 degrees. If you get into beer brewing and winemaking you will find some yeasts like it hotter and some yeasts like it colder. Lager would be an example of this because they are brewed around 50 degrees. Worst case scenario, if it is too cold your yeasts will become dormant. Too hot and they die. find a place in you house that keep the water in your ginger bug at that nice 68 degrees. Cheers

  72. Calon Lochridge says


    I love this recipe and I’ve used it to make apple beer, ginger ale (also from this site), and a melon soda that ended up exploding but smelled really good as I cleaned it off the walls :)

    I recently acquired a 5 gallon dumped whiskey barrel and I want to make large batches of soda using this culture. Up to this point I’ve only made 1 liter batches in swing top glass bottles. Does anyone have any suggestions for scaling the recipe? I also see challenges in determining an appropriate amount of time to let the soda stand after adding the culture and how to “burp” the soda. Finally, what is the best way to stop the culture from fermenting so that I can use my soda over a long period of time without worrying about it getting more alcoholic but also not going flat?

    If anyone has any expertise to lend on Thai it would be hugely appreciated.


  73. Elmer says

    This is a lambic style fermentation. It uses wild yeasts and bacteria. As a beer and wine brewer I would say that it’s inferior to pitching a good strain of ale or wine yeast, there will be more off flavors. Yeasts invert their own sugar, so refined cane sugar is the easiest and most inexpensive food for them. They convert sucrose to glucose, and dextrose is basically glucose, but you don’t taste the sweetness. Fructose is very sweet but yeast can’t ferment it. It would be good for flavouring the soda without adding alcohol or having it ferment into ginger beer. I would puree the ginger, add it to purified water and enough sugar to bring the specific gravity to 1.010 or so, and perhaps use Camden tablets to sanitize it (which takes a day to clear out), then activate some good yeast, champagne yeast was an excellent suggestion, and pitch it in, let ferment two or three days, and try it. The reason so many are failing to start is the random availability of a healthy strain of yeast and the presence of bacteria. And if you continue adding so much sugar each day you are either feeding the yeast until the alcohol concentration reaches %13-%14 at which point yeasts die, or raising the sugar level to where the yeast cannot survive the osmotic pressure and go dormant. Sugar is an excellent way of preserving food for that reason.

  74. Lily Stark says

    Yes, you have created alcohol, but I don’t think it’s necessary to scare people by putting it in those words exactly. The amount of alcohols is slight, especially compared to what society considers an “alcoholic beverage.” :)

  75. nox says

    All roots fruits and veggies have yeast unless they are irradiated. So you are correct in some respects. It is not bacteria as we understand it. Because our food is irradiated if it comes from a store we probably are using yeast from the air. To be fair though there seems to be little research into the finished products of ferments. Kombucha for instance uses a mat of bacteria and perhaps yeast as well. You are really just arguing semantics. Not that the science isnt interesting..

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