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fermented ginger ale

2012 February 1

Lets make fermented ginger ale together!

Because it’s fun and easy and sparkly and delicious and delightfully mad scientist-like and you can teach your children about microorganisms (which, incidentally, outnumber our own cells nine to one). This will be an ongoing post and step by step tutorial, which I will update with photos and info as our collective brews ferment.

everything you need: ginger, sugar, lemons (you can use honey, it’ll just take a little longer to complete). *the yeast does eat up much of the sugar.

toasting to a life filled with simple celebration

When you make ferments, it’s like having a trillion back up singers on your kitchen counter gurgling fizzy doo-wops to your good health. I love holding a jar of bubbling ginger ale up to my children’s ears – it’s even more compelling than sticking their ear in a seashell. “It’s alive!” I tell them, lauding my own biochemistry skills, finally redeemed from placing in the high school remedial chemistry class.

Recently—in the middle of teaching our homeschool co-op at my house—I downed a half pint of fermented ginger ale, which had, whoops!, gone alcoholic. (Yeast eat sugar and burp out alcohol. The more sugar consumed, the more alcoholic the brew). This was not an unwelcome error, although Rose, who had been helping me feed the bubbly jar fresh ginger and sugar daily, parked her hands on her hips when she heard the ginger ale was no longer rated G and said, “that’s teasing me, Mama.”

*Edited to Add: it seems that if you leave your concoction out (unrefrigerated) to ferment in Step 2 for 3 or more weeks, the yeast start using up all the sugar and get boozy.

We made this boozy ginger ale in the “you build it they will come” model, trusting that if we left a sweet treat of ginger, sugar and water on the counter, the wild yeasts surfing the air would touch down, like Santa Claus to a plate of cookies. And they did.

This is how:

Fermented Ginger Ale

~makes 1 gallon, takes 2-3 weeks~

Ingredients:

9 tbsp fresh ginger root, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 lemons, water

1) Start “ginger bug:” add 2 tsp grated or finely chopped ginger (okay to include skin) and 2 tsp sugar to one cup water. Stir and leave in warm spot (okay to put in direct sun) covered with cheesecloth to allow wild yeasts to enter but not flies. Add this amount of sugar and ginger daily until the bug starts bubbling, about 3-7 days (the warmer it is, the quicker this happens). For the next week: keep your jar where you’ll see it to remind you to feed the bug, but if you miss a day, that’s okay.

it’s such hard work, playing and napping and grating the ginger for the family hooch; actually I’ve only had one batch come out boozy, all the rest have been sparkling, kid-friendly and gingery sweet, but I keep whispering prayers to the wild yeasts to repeat that clever trick.

ginger meets sugar

ginger meets sugar meets water (I used a perforated seed-sprouting lid because my cheesecloth was straining cheese today; I’ve also used a paper coffee filter with some larger holes poked into the paper) 

This is the next step (yes, just two steps!) which we’ll be getting to in about a week:

2) Once bug is active (bubbling lightly), boil 2 quarts of water and add another 4-6 tbsp fresh grated or finely chopped ginger root, and 1 cup sugar. Simmer for ten minutes. Let cool. After mixture has cooled, strain the ginger out and add the juice of 2 lemons and the strained ginger bug (you can also leave a small amount of bug as your starter for your next ginger brew, which we’re pitching some champagne yeast into, right?) and enough water to make a gallon. Place in individual, sealed bottles or one gallon bottle. Let the ginger ale ferment further for 2-3 weeks. Open and enjoy! If you put the ginger ale in a gallon jar, it will lose carbonation every time you open it, so individual serving sizes work better.

Are you in? Leave a comment letting me know, and feel free to leave questions in the comments too.

UPDATE:

Hi Everyone, how are your little bugs coming along?

When mine looked like this, I decided it was time for Step 2.

subtle bubbles around the edges is what we’re looking for, like so.

Remember to add the lemon in Step 2; it makes it so unique and balances out some of the sweetness.

And there she sits, for the next 2-3 weeks in a warm spot, surrounded by lego friends.

Conclusion:

After 2 weeks of the secondary fermentation process, my brew is bubbly, sweet and gingerlicious. I snuck and used honey instead of sugar in step 2, and it worked great.

Happy fermenting!

Related posts:

DIY Kitchen: the chard cure
Fantasy kids and kale chips
pecan pie energy bars


181 Responses leave one →
  1. February 1, 2012

    I’m in! One question — how much ginger root, approximately, is 9 tablespoons when looking at whole pieces at the market? A couple handfuls?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      Yay, you’re in!

      About a 6 inch piece.

  2. February 1, 2012

    I’m in! One question — how much ginger root, approximately, is 9 tablespoons when looking at whole pieces at the market? A couple handfuls?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      Yay, you’re in!

      About a 6 inch piece.

  3. February 1, 2012

    I was looking to find answers on this particular topic and your Blog came up first on Google search Please do more because I really enjoyed reading your article on this.

  4. February 1, 2012

    I was looking to find answers on this particular topic and your Blog came up first on Google search Please do more because I really enjoyed reading your article on this.

  5. February 1, 2012

    Fun! I’m headed to the store today, so I’ll buy extra ginger. And lemons. Do you think turbinado sugar will work?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      Yay Rebecca! Glad you’re joining in. turbinado will be fine.

  6. February 1, 2012

    Fun! I’m headed to the store today, so I’ll buy extra ginger. And lemons. Do you think turbinado sugar will work?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      Yay Rebecca! Glad you’re joining in. turbinado will be fine.

  7. February 1, 2012

    I showed my wife, a lover of everything ginger, this post and she says that we are in…yeah! I have to check with her on these things now as I am only allowed to have so many experiments and potions going at once lest they consume the entire house.:( We are hoping to achieve the alcoholic version of your ale.:)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      You’re a good man; always good to check with the wifey first.

  8. February 1, 2012

    I showed my wife, a lover of everything ginger, this post and she says that we are in…yeah! I have to check with her on these things now as I am only allowed to have so many experiments and potions going at once lest they consume the entire house.:( We are hoping to achieve the alcoholic version of your ale.:)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      You’re a good man; always good to check with the wifey first.

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 8, 2013

      if you want to achieve the alcoholic version, you could leave it in a gallon bottle with an airlock on to stop in exploding, for a week or so, perhaps add a little more yeast and sugar to get the ethanol to form. after the Airlock has slowed down bubbling considerably, bottle it, and pop some where cool, put it in plastic bottles the you can tell when its ready, as it will be hard. if you want it to be more carbonated, you’ll need to shake it every day to get as much CO2 as possible in, you’ll want to leave it at least a week to carbonate after the secondary fermentation as this will get it really fizzy and yummy :) happy brewing

  9. February 1, 2012

    I’m in! I’m so excited. I’m also in the middle of working on my own sourdough starter. So, two questions:

    1. Is there any possible way this is going to turn into a poisonous mold and kill us? I know, I know–this is such an over the top question. But this is why I am still terrified of canning even though I’m dying to do it. The food-canning and food-making corporations still have me too paranoid for this stuff.

    2. If it’s very cold in your house, will it still work? We keep the thermostat at 18 degrees so I don’t go bankrupt paying to heat our un-insulated Montreal duplex.

    Jaimie

    • February 1, 2012

      Sorry–that was 18 C, obviously. It’s about 64 F.

      • February 1, 2012

        I’m sorry Rachel–one more question! I keep our ginger in the freezer so it doesn’t mold, and I take it out and grate it when we need it. Do you think that will be fine for this?

        • Rachel Turiel permalink*
          February 1, 2012

          Hmm. I *think* it will be fine.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      The cool thing about ferments is that if something has gone wrong, you’ll smell it. So, no reason to worry; also sugar is such a stable preservative, as long as you keep your sugar/ginger mixture submerged in water, I wouldn’t expect anything unwanted to grow there. If your house is cold, it’ll just take longer. Maybe you could set your jar in a warm water bath (in a pot) (no hotter than 95) in the mornings.

  10. February 1, 2012

    I’m in! I’m so excited. I’m also in the middle of working on my own sourdough starter. So, two questions:

    1. Is there any possible way this is going to turn into a poisonous mold and kill us? I know, I know–this is such an over the top question. But this is why I am still terrified of canning even though I’m dying to do it. The food-canning and food-making corporations still have me too paranoid for this stuff.

    2. If it’s very cold in your house, will it still work? We keep the thermostat at 18 degrees so I don’t go bankrupt paying to heat our un-insulated Montreal duplex.

    Jaimie

    • February 1, 2012

      Sorry–that was 18 C, obviously. It’s about 64 F.

      • February 1, 2012

        I’m sorry Rachel–one more question! I keep our ginger in the freezer so it doesn’t mold, and I take it out and grate it when we need it. Do you think that will be fine for this?

        • Rachel Turiel permalink*
          February 1, 2012

          Hmm. I *think* it will be fine.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      The cool thing about ferments is that if something has gone wrong, you’ll smell it. So, no reason to worry; also sugar is such a stable preservative, as long as you keep your sugar/ginger mixture submerged in water, I wouldn’t expect anything unwanted to grow there. If your house is cold, it’ll just take longer. Maybe you could set your jar in a warm water bath (in a pot) (no hotter than 95) in the mornings.

  11. Anonymous permalink
    February 1, 2012

    When you say skin is okay, do you mean the ginger’s skin? Or the dutiful grater’s?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      When using human skin, be sure to add equal parts sugar.

  12. Anonymous permalink
    February 1, 2012

    When you say skin is okay, do you mean the ginger’s skin? Or the dutiful grater’s?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      When using human skin, be sure to add equal parts sugar.

  13. abozza permalink
    February 1, 2012

    Very, very cool, Rachel!
    http://amysreallife.wordpress.com

  14. abozza permalink
    February 1, 2012

    Very, very cool, Rachel!
    http://amysreallife.wordpress.com

  15. February 1, 2012

    in! and i’ll be using honey so i’ll keep you posted how that goes. ginger is my favorite right now!!!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      Yippee! Maybe warm up the honey a little so it dissolves into the water. xo

  16. February 1, 2012

    in! and i’ll be using honey so i’ll keep you posted how that goes. ginger is my favorite right now!!!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 1, 2012

      Yippee! Maybe warm up the honey a little so it dissolves into the water. xo

  17. February 2, 2012

    This is almost enough to make me want to cancel my vacation! ;) I’ll have to miss out on the “together” part, but I’m totally doing this next month. Thanks for the tutorial, Rachel!

  18. February 2, 2012

    This is almost enough to make me want to cancel my vacation! ;) I’ll have to miss out on the “together” part, but I’m totally doing this next month. Thanks for the tutorial, Rachel!

  19. Melissa H permalink
    February 2, 2012

    I’m in too!!! I have some grolsch (sp?) style bottles waiting to be used for something. I think they just found their purpose!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 2, 2012

      Yes, I think they did.

  20. Melissa H permalink
    February 2, 2012

    I’m in too!!! I have some grolsch (sp?) style bottles waiting to be used for something. I think they just found their purpose!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 2, 2012

      Yes, I think they did.

  21. February 2, 2012

    I think that should work out pretty good for me too :o) I’m In to give it a go ..

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 2, 2012

      Yay Ginny, some southern ginger ale sounds perfect!

  22. February 2, 2012

    I think that should work out pretty good for me too :o) I’m In to give it a go ..

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 2, 2012

      Yay Ginny, some southern ginger ale sounds perfect!

  23. February 3, 2012

    My one worry would be that the bottles would blow from pressure. The bale top ones might be a better choice if you don’t think you will be drinking all of your brew rather quickly. I’ve never had it happen, but have heard stories of people having stuff blow, usually in the middle of the night. :-). My book on making fruit wines (The Joy of Home Winemaking) suggests champagne yeast for mead or peery (the pear version of hard cider). You might try adding a packet of champagne yeast to a gallon of ginger brew when trying for an alcoholic result. Ska should have a dry packet for a couple of bucks. SO fun.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 4, 2012

      I like that idea! I was just talking with my beer-brewing neighbor who says my first alcoholic ginger ale was due to the particular strain wild yeasts that found the ginger bug. Seems a shame to drink all that sugar without the added buzz. So, maybe I’ll reserve half the finished ginger ale for the kids and pitch some champagne yeast into the rest!

  24. February 3, 2012

    My one worry would be that the bottles would blow from pressure. The bale top ones might be a better choice if you don’t think you will be drinking all of your brew rather quickly. I’ve never had it happen, but have heard stories of people having stuff blow, usually in the middle of the night. :-). My book on making fruit wines (The Joy of Home Winemaking) suggests champagne yeast for mead or peery (the pear version of hard cider). You might try adding a packet of champagne yeast to a gallon of ginger brew when trying for an alcoholic result. Ska should have a dry packet for a couple of bucks. SO fun.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 4, 2012

      I like that idea! I was just talking with my beer-brewing neighbor who says my first alcoholic ginger ale was due to the particular strain wild yeasts that found the ginger bug. Seems a shame to drink all that sugar without the added buzz. So, maybe I’ll reserve half the finished ginger ale for the kids and pitch some champagne yeast into the rest!

  25. Anonymous permalink
    February 3, 2012

    In In In!! My lovely cloudy ginger-colored mixture is reflecting elderberry branch shadows as I write. Praise (^o^)/ I now have a worthy recipe for the brown sugar from cane grown in Okinawa that my sister sent me from Japan (two?) years ago : ) Thanks so much Rachel!!

  26. Anonymous permalink
    February 3, 2012

    In In In!! My lovely cloudy ginger-colored mixture is reflecting elderberry branch shadows as I write. Praise (^o^)/ I now have a worthy recipe for the brown sugar from cane grown in Okinawa that my sister sent me from Japan (two?) years ago : ) Thanks so much Rachel!!

  27. February 3, 2012

    your boozy misadventures gave me a big fizzy smile. maybe if you spruce up the jar a bit…with a neon sign and some honkey tonk music…you’ll attract a rougher crowd of organisms.

    i’d love to be in and try this, but i haven’t had the best luck lassoing wild yeast in my sf kitchen. do you know if some places are the yeast equivalents of deserts? we’ll be cheating this weekend and using champagne yeast to make grape soda.

    have a great weekend rachel, your snow pics are breathtaking. xo

  28. February 3, 2012

    your boozy misadventures gave me a big fizzy smile. maybe if you spruce up the jar a bit…with a neon sign and some honkey tonk music…you’ll attract a rougher crowd of organisms.

    i’d love to be in and try this, but i haven’t had the best luck lassoing wild yeast in my sf kitchen. do you know if some places are the yeast equivalents of deserts? we’ll be cheating this weekend and using champagne yeast to make grape soda.

    have a great weekend rachel, your snow pics are breathtaking. xo

  29. katy permalink
    February 4, 2012

    i’m in! started the bug today!

  30. katy permalink
    February 4, 2012

    i’m in! started the bug today!

  31. Jessica permalink
    February 5, 2012

    I’m in too! Just started my bug. Thanks for the awesome “how to”. When you feed the bug, do you stir the concoction, or just drop the ginger and sugar in?

    Contemplating the champagne yeast…

  32. Jessica permalink
    February 5, 2012

    I’m in too! Just started my bug. Thanks for the awesome “how to”. When you feed the bug, do you stir the concoction, or just drop the ginger and sugar in?

    Contemplating the champagne yeast…

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 5, 2012

      Welcome Jessica! A gentle and loving stir is good.

  33. Melissa H permalink
    February 6, 2012

    I started my bug Friday evening and by tonight (sunday) there were a few tiny bubbles on the surface of the water and it was starting to smell pleasantly sour. I fed it one more time, but I think I will start step two tomorrow. Do I need to sterilize the bottles first?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 6, 2012

      Melissa, Just clean them well with hot water and soap. Congrats on reaching step 2!

      • February 21, 2012

        I have a few questions!

        Its been 2 weeks since I’ve bottled the ginger ale for step two.

        Firstly, in the description above the ingredients you say the recipe makes 1/2 gallon. But then in the directions you say to add enough water to the bug to make a gallon. I only made a 1/2 gallons worth of ginger ale. Is this ok?

        Secondly, I’ve noticed a bunch of stuff floating around in the brew that looks fuzzy and sort of moldy. Sort of like a vinegar with the mother. I haven’t opened any of the bottles yet, but if I do and it smells ok, will it be safe to drink?

        Thirdly, there is a thick layer of stuff on the bottom. I think this is just ginger, because I used a microplane to grate and it comes out pretty pasty, so I wasn’t able to strain all the solids out. Is this ok?

        Thanks in advance!!!!

        • Rachel Turiel permalink*
          February 21, 2012

          Dear Melissa, brave ginger ale fermenterer,

          1) The recipe does call for adding enough water to make a full gallon. Sorry about being confusing. I will edit for clarity. If you made 1/2 gallon, it will probably just be stronger. 2) Could the “mold” be ginger or lemon? I have bits of lemon floating around on top and a layer of ginger sediment on the bottom of mine. If it truly is mold, scoop it out and discard. If it smells ok, than it is. It’s hard for mold to grow in a sugary environment, but it can happen. In making sauerkraut, “scum” can form at the top and the protocol (which I follow), is to just skim it off, discard and proceed. 3) Smell and taste the ginger ale. See how you like it. Some get fizzier than others. Yours might be ready. Mine isn’t quite as fizzy as I’d like so I’m giving it another couple days. Maybe yours is done. 4) xo

          • February 22, 2012

            Hi again!

            Thanks for all your loving support. I’ve wanted to try fermented sodas for awhile, but its always been a bit scary. Having you to answer my questions and hold my hand along the way has been awesome! I tried my ginger ale last night and it was YUMMY. A little on the sweet side, but I’m assuming that’s because I didn’t add enough water in step two. It was also not that bubbly, so I’m gonna let the rest go for another week. What happens when you open a bottle and then reseal it? Does it lose its carbonation like regular soda or does it recarbonate itself due to the ginger bug?

            When I asked my last question about, there were bits of floating something, but when I moved a bottle to the fridge it had actual mold on the surface. I poured it through a strainer and enjoyed. I did feel like a brave fermenter!

            Thanks again!!!!

            • Rachel Turiel permalink*
              February 24, 2012

              Melissa, First: congratulations! so glad you’re in the enjoying stage! Second: mine doesn’t lose its fizz from repeated openings and closings.

  34. Melissa H permalink
    February 6, 2012

    I started my bug Friday evening and by tonight (sunday) there were a few tiny bubbles on the surface of the water and it was starting to smell pleasantly sour. I fed it one more time, but I think I will start step two tomorrow. Do I need to sterilize the bottles first?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 6, 2012

      Melissa, Just clean them well with hot water and soap. Congrats on reaching step 2!

      • February 21, 2012

        I have a few questions!

        Its been 2 weeks since I’ve bottled the ginger ale for step two.

        Firstly, in the description above the ingredients you say the recipe makes 1/2 gallon. But then in the directions you say to add enough water to the bug to make a gallon. I only made a 1/2 gallons worth of ginger ale. Is this ok?

        Secondly, I’ve noticed a bunch of stuff floating around in the brew that looks fuzzy and sort of moldy. Sort of like a vinegar with the mother. I haven’t opened any of the bottles yet, but if I do and it smells ok, will it be safe to drink?

        Thirdly, there is a thick layer of stuff on the bottom. I think this is just ginger, because I used a microplane to grate and it comes out pretty pasty, so I wasn’t able to strain all the solids out. Is this ok?

        Thanks in advance!!!!

        • Rachel Turiel permalink*
          February 21, 2012

          Dear Melissa, brave ginger ale fermenterer,

          1) The recipe does call for adding enough water to make a full gallon. Sorry about being confusing. I will edit for clarity. If you made 1/2 gallon, it will probably just be stronger. 2) Could the “mold” be ginger or lemon? I have bits of lemon floating around on top and a layer of ginger sediment on the bottom of mine. If it truly is mold, scoop it out and discard. If it smells ok, than it is. It’s hard for mold to grow in a sugary environment, but it can happen. In making sauerkraut, “scum” can form at the top and the protocol (which I follow), is to just skim it off, discard and proceed. 3) Smell and taste the ginger ale. See how you like it. Some get fizzier than others. Yours might be ready. Mine isn’t quite as fizzy as I’d like so I’m giving it another couple days. Maybe yours is done. 4) xo

          • February 22, 2012

            Hi again!

            Thanks for all your loving support. I’ve wanted to try fermented sodas for awhile, but its always been a bit scary. Having you to answer my questions and hold my hand along the way has been awesome! I tried my ginger ale last night and it was YUMMY. A little on the sweet side, but I’m assuming that’s because I didn’t add enough water in step two. It was also not that bubbly, so I’m gonna let the rest go for another week. What happens when you open a bottle and then reseal it? Does it lose its carbonation like regular soda or does it recarbonate itself due to the ginger bug?

            When I asked my last question about, there were bits of floating something, but when I moved a bottle to the fridge it had actual mold on the surface. I poured it through a strainer and enjoyed. I did feel like a brave fermenter!

            Thanks again!!!!

            • Rachel Turiel permalink*
              February 24, 2012

              Melissa, First: congratulations! so glad you’re in the enjoying stage! Second: mine doesn’t lose its fizz from repeated openings and closings.

  35. martha permalink
    February 6, 2012

    Hey Rachel, Thanks for the group project — just what I need. I’m in too, even if late to the party. Just concocted the bug and stuck the jar in the kitchen window where hopefully it’ll do its dance.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 6, 2012

      Welcome Martha and your dancing ginger bug!

      • martha permalink
        February 10, 2012

        Rachel. I feel like a dunce. I’ve been adding 2 t more each sugar and ginger each day, plus adding more water. Not sure where I got that idea except my own stray imagination. So I need to start over now, right? If I just leave it with 3 cups of water with all the sugar and ginger might it still create the necessary dancing bugs? Thanks.

        • Rachel Turiel permalink*
          February 10, 2012

          Martha, the cool thing I’m learning about ferments is that there is a lot of room for experimentation. So, I think you’re fine. Do you have tiny bubbles? If so, then go on with Step 2. If not, then keep going with the 2 t sugar/ginger until you do.

          • martha permalink
            February 10, 2012

            Yes, I AM fine! this afternoon, bubbles! I’m in business! and on to step 2. Thank you!

            • martha permalink
              February 27, 2012

              Rachel – today – on the first day we spotted robins in our trees, we also noticed one of our two bottles gently sending up bubbles to the surface of its liquid. WOW. Very cool. So…
              1) once I see the bubbles rising, is it officially ready?
              2) if and when it is, do I need to strain it as there’s a bit of moldy-looking stuff on the surface and the general silty stuff at the bottom?
              3) what about my other jug, which I fear is not completely air tight (has a metal though not rubberized screw lid) and in which no bubbles are rising? Just hang tight?
              Thanks

              • Rachel Turiel permalink*
                February 27, 2012

                Martha,

                Those gentle rising bubbles are exactly what you’re looking for! Don’t worry about straining the ginger sediment but do skim off the moldy looking stuff on the surface and try the ginger ale. It should be really nicely fizzy, if not, wait another couple days.

                As for the other jar, hmmm, could just be a slower batch, though it is an anaerobic ferment, so maybe if some air is getting in that is making it even slower? Give it another week and keep me posted.

                Enjoy, Martha!

  36. martha permalink
    February 6, 2012

    Hey Rachel, Thanks for the group project — just what I need. I’m in too, even if late to the party. Just concocted the bug and stuck the jar in the kitchen window where hopefully it’ll do its dance.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 6, 2012

      Welcome Martha and your dancing ginger bug!

      • martha permalink
        February 10, 2012

        Rachel. I feel like a dunce. I’ve been adding 2 t more each sugar and ginger each day, plus adding more water. Not sure where I got that idea except my own stray imagination. So I need to start over now, right? If I just leave it with 3 cups of water with all the sugar and ginger might it still create the necessary dancing bugs? Thanks.

        • Rachel Turiel permalink*
          February 10, 2012

          Martha, the cool thing I’m learning about ferments is that there is a lot of room for experimentation. So, I think you’re fine. Do you have tiny bubbles? If so, then go on with Step 2. If not, then keep going with the 2 t sugar/ginger until you do.

          • martha permalink
            February 10, 2012

            Yes, I AM fine! this afternoon, bubbles! I’m in business! and on to step 2. Thank you!

            • martha permalink
              February 27, 2012

              Rachel – today – on the first day we spotted robins in our trees, we also noticed one of our two bottles gently sending up bubbles to the surface of its liquid. WOW. Very cool. So…
              1) once I see the bubbles rising, is it officially ready?
              2) if and when it is, do I need to strain it as there’s a bit of moldy-looking stuff on the surface and the general silty stuff at the bottom?
              3) what about my other jug, which I fear is not completely air tight (has a metal though not rubberized screw lid) and in which no bubbles are rising? Just hang tight?
              Thanks

              • Rachel Turiel permalink*
                February 27, 2012

                Martha,

                Those gentle rising bubbles are exactly what you’re looking for! Don’t worry about straining the ginger sediment but do skim off the moldy looking stuff on the surface and try the ginger ale. It should be really nicely fizzy, if not, wait another couple days.

                As for the other jar, hmmm, could just be a slower batch, though it is an anaerobic ferment, so maybe if some air is getting in that is making it even slower? Give it another week and keep me posted.

                Enjoy, Martha!

  37. February 6, 2012

    I’m in! Yay! I’ve been wanting to try this for a while and it keeps slipping my mind. Thanks for the push!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 7, 2012

      Great! Welcome, Andrea!

  38. February 6, 2012

    I’m in! Yay! I’ve been wanting to try this for a while and it keeps slipping my mind. Thanks for the push!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 7, 2012

      Great! Welcome, Andrea!

  39. February 6, 2012

    mmm, i want to try this! i’ll be getting lots of ginger at my next trip to the store…..

    and this…toasting to a life filled with simple celebration,,,, made me happy and inspired. that simple word makes it so accessible.

  40. February 6, 2012

    mmm, i want to try this! i’ll be getting lots of ginger at my next trip to the store…..

    and this…toasting to a life filled with simple celebration,,,, made me happy and inspired. that simple word makes it so accessible.

  41. katy permalink
    February 7, 2012

    Rachel, I’m on step 2! My question is, how sealed do the jars have to be? Can I use canning jars with tightened lids/bands? Do I need a clamped rubber gasket type jar? Not sure I have enough of those. Will it still be fizzy? Thanks again for doing this post – just the motivation I needed to get started *and* order Katz’s book!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 8, 2012

      Katy,

      Sealed mason jars should be fine – leave a little head room.

  42. katy permalink
    February 7, 2012

    Rachel, I’m on step 2! My question is, how sealed do the jars have to be? Can I use canning jars with tightened lids/bands? Do I need a clamped rubber gasket type jar? Not sure I have enough of those. Will it still be fizzy? Thanks again for doing this post – just the motivation I needed to get started *and* order Katz’s book!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 8, 2012

      Katy,

      Sealed mason jars should be fine – leave a little head room.

  43. Anonymous permalink
    February 9, 2012

    Thanks for the update post. I thought that mine wasn’t bubbling enough, but as of this morning my bug has subtle bubbles (sung to the tune of “Tiny Bubbles”).

    I guess I’m going into step 2 when I get home from work tonight!

    I’ll be using an amber growler bottle from the brewery. Will that work, or should I use clear?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 9, 2012

      Amber bottle just fine. Tiny bubbles, indeed!

      • Jessica permalink
        February 9, 2012

        Thanks, Rachel! (that was me above)

  44. Anonymous permalink
    February 9, 2012

    Thanks for the update post. I thought that mine wasn’t bubbling enough, but as of this morning my bug has subtle bubbles (sung to the tune of “Tiny Bubbles”).

    I guess I’m going into step 2 when I get home from work tonight!

    I’ll be using an amber growler bottle from the brewery. Will that work, or should I use clear?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 9, 2012

      Amber bottle just fine. Tiny bubbles, indeed!

      • Jessica permalink
        February 9, 2012

        Thanks, Rachel! (that was me above)

  45. February 15, 2012

    honey ginger girl here… thank you for the lemon reminder or i would totally have forgotten. going to step two tonight i think!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 15, 2012

      exciting exciting exciting! let me know how the honey honeys up.

      • February 24, 2012

        ooh! you used honey in step 2! good deal. i am just hoping i didn’t leave my bug too long before going on to step two. it still smelled good…. i think it’ll rock. :)

        • March 8, 2012

          it’s rocking. i posted this on another post but thought i’d be redundant here in case anyone cares to do the honey thing. i’m at the 3 week point and tasting, it’s TASTY but not SUPER fizzy yet. definitely has bubbles, but i wouldn’t call it soda. not having tried it the sugar way (the obvious next experiment so i can compare), what i can say is, it will be hard to let it sit much longer to collect more fizz, since it’s so yummy i want to drink it all right away. will be repeating the experiment for sure.

  46. February 15, 2012

    honey ginger girl here… thank you for the lemon reminder or i would totally have forgotten. going to step two tonight i think!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 15, 2012

      exciting exciting exciting! let me know how the honey honeys up.

      • February 24, 2012

        ooh! you used honey in step 2! good deal. i am just hoping i didn’t leave my bug too long before going on to step two. it still smelled good…. i think it’ll rock. :)

        • March 8, 2012

          it’s rocking. i posted this on another post but thought i’d be redundant here in case anyone cares to do the honey thing. i’m at the 3 week point and tasting, it’s TASTY but not SUPER fizzy yet. definitely has bubbles, but i wouldn’t call it soda. not having tried it the sugar way (the obvious next experiment so i can compare), what i can say is, it will be hard to let it sit much longer to collect more fizz, since it’s so yummy i want to drink it all right away. will be repeating the experiment for sure.

  47. Laura permalink
    February 27, 2012

    Hello, Queen Fermenter:). I don’t post here….ever BUT I hang on your every word:). So, let’s talk fermented ginger ale. Say, you open yours after 2 weeks and there is white mold on top and a layer of..something….on the bottom. Do you drink it?:)

    Thanks,
    Laura

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 27, 2012

      Laura,

      My recommendation is to scrape off the mold and taste what you have. Is it sweet, spicy and fizzy? If yes, then you may be done. If it’s only mildly fizzy you can leave it to ferment longer. The stuff on the bottom is just the ginger sediment, no biggie. Thanks for revealing yourself; us bloggers do love to hear from readers.

      xo, Queen Fermenter

  48. Laura permalink
    February 27, 2012

    Hello, Queen Fermenter:). I don’t post here….ever BUT I hang on your every word:). So, let’s talk fermented ginger ale. Say, you open yours after 2 weeks and there is white mold on top and a layer of..something….on the bottom. Do you drink it?:)

    Thanks,
    Laura

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 27, 2012

      Laura,

      My recommendation is to scrape off the mold and taste what you have. Is it sweet, spicy and fizzy? If yes, then you may be done. If it’s only mildly fizzy you can leave it to ferment longer. The stuff on the bottom is just the ginger sediment, no biggie. Thanks for revealing yourself; us bloggers do love to hear from readers.

      xo, Queen Fermenter

  49. Anonymous permalink
    March 8, 2012

    Hi I tried the fermented gingerale and maybe it worked a little too well. It was fermenting in a glass jug just like your picture on top of my fridge due to be ready next week when it randomly exploded, glass everywhere, ginger brew everywhere, like a bomb. Any ideas what may have happened?? i’m so disappointed. I was looking forward to that first taste.
    Thanks, Jean

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 8, 2012

      Jean,
      Oh dear. I’ve heard of that happening but haven’t personally had it happen. Sounds like a big, sticky mess!
      I wonder if you left it too long. Or maybe there wasn’t enough head space in the jar. Honestly, I don’t know. So sorry and do try again when you’ve got all the glass shards cleaned up.

      • Anonymous permalink
        March 9, 2012

        Rachel, Thanks for responding. Just wondering if I did something wrong. My husband thinks maybe it fermented too long from reading other sources. I think I;ll try sipping it after a week rather than wait 2 weeks, Maybe I’m growing strong bugs!!! Yay! I’ll keep you posted. I’ll try not to make a bomb again.
        Jean

  50. Anonymous permalink
    March 8, 2012

    Hi I tried the fermented gingerale and maybe it worked a little too well. It was fermenting in a glass jug just like your picture on top of my fridge due to be ready next week when it randomly exploded, glass everywhere, ginger brew everywhere, like a bomb. Any ideas what may have happened?? i’m so disappointed. I was looking forward to that first taste.
    Thanks, Jean

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 8, 2012

      Jean,
      Oh dear. I’ve heard of that happening but haven’t personally had it happen. Sounds like a big, sticky mess!
      I wonder if you left it too long. Or maybe there wasn’t enough head space in the jar. Honestly, I don’t know. So sorry and do try again when you’ve got all the glass shards cleaned up.

      • Anonymous permalink
        March 9, 2012

        Rachel, Thanks for responding. Just wondering if I did something wrong. My husband thinks maybe it fermented too long from reading other sources. I think I;ll try sipping it after a week rather than wait 2 weeks, Maybe I’m growing strong bugs!!! Yay! I’ll keep you posted. I’ll try not to make a bomb again.
        Jean

  51. Sage permalink
    March 14, 2012

    Hey Rachel,

    We started a ginger bug a few days ago and ended up bringing it on a spur of the moment road trip, which has been no discouragement to our bubbly bug. We are using honey and are excited to see how the ale turns out in few weeks! Thanks for the homestead inspiration and re-pioneering!

  52. Sage permalink
    March 14, 2012

    Hey Rachel,

    We started a ginger bug a few days ago and ended up bringing it on a spur of the moment road trip, which has been no discouragement to our bubbly bug. We are using honey and are excited to see how the ale turns out in few weeks! Thanks for the homestead inspiration and re-pioneering!

  53. Carrie permalink
    March 22, 2012

    Hi there! I started my ginger bug 4 days ago and I want to thank you for this recipe. So far so good it is beginning to bubble and tomorrow I will probably move on to the second step! Just curious if I did want to make it boozy do I need to add the champagange yeast or will adding extra sugar do the trick?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 22, 2012

      I think adding champagne yeast after the end of 2nd stage is the only way of guaranteeing boozyness. Good luck!

  54. Carrie permalink
    March 22, 2012

    Hi there! I started my ginger bug 4 days ago and I want to thank you for this recipe. So far so good it is beginning to bubble and tomorrow I will probably move on to the second step! Just curious if I did want to make it boozy do I need to add the champagange yeast or will adding extra sugar do the trick?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 22, 2012

      I think adding champagne yeast after the end of 2nd stage is the only way of guaranteeing boozyness. Good luck!

  55. Carrie permalink
    March 24, 2012

    I’m on the second step right now and was wondering how much of the gofer bug I keep and how long can I keep it if I want to make more later?

  56. Carrie permalink
    March 24, 2012

    I’m on the second step right now and was wondering how much of the gofer bug I keep and how long can I keep it if I want to make more later?

  57. Carrie permalink
    March 24, 2012

    Hi me again!!!! So we just finished the second step however my ginger big was on day 7 and it kinda smelled a bit odd. You could still smell ginger but nOt as strong as when I first started the bug. It kinda smells funky like dirty old socks is this the yeast from the ginger or did I let it sit to long and it spoiled? Both my husband and I tasted it and it seemed ok but the smell is definitely odd.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 25, 2012

      Carrie – not sure about the smell. My experience is that the bug smells sweet and gingery. Could be the yeast. Carry on and lets hope it works itself out.

    • May 20, 2012

      I just made my first ginger bug and it smells the same way! Like dirty old socks! Here’s to hoping it works out:)

  58. Carrie permalink
    March 24, 2012

    Hi me again!!!! So we just finished the second step however my ginger big was on day 7 and it kinda smelled a bit odd. You could still smell ginger but nOt as strong as when I first started the bug. It kinda smells funky like dirty old socks is this the yeast from the ginger or did I let it sit to long and it spoiled? Both my husband and I tasted it and it seemed ok but the smell is definitely odd.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 25, 2012

      Carrie – not sure about the smell. My experience is that the bug smells sweet and gingery. Could be the yeast. Carry on and lets hope it works itself out.

    • May 20, 2012

      I just made my first ginger bug and it smells the same way! Like dirty old socks! Here’s to hoping it works out:)

  59. susan tripp permalink
    April 1, 2012

    Sounds like a great way to get the kids drunk on alcohol!
    With about 1/2 of the sugar that is in a gallon of wine grape juice it will yield at least 6% alcohol. No wonder the kids are giggling.

  60. susan tripp permalink
    April 1, 2012

    Sounds like a great way to get the kids drunk on alcohol!
    With about 1/2 of the sugar that is in a gallon of wine grape juice it will yield at least 6% alcohol. No wonder the kids are giggling.

  61. kimberleigh permalink
    September 30, 2012

    i am starting to boil my water now to start step 2….here in florida it only took 2 days to get a nice bubble…so excited to be ding this. we did a little science lesson too. thank you:)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      September 30, 2012

      Only 2 days? Amazing! Enjoy!

  62. kimberleigh permalink
    September 30, 2012

    i am starting to boil my water now to start step 2….here in florida it only took 2 days to get a nice bubble…so excited to be ding this. we did a little science lesson too. thank you:)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      September 30, 2012

      Only 2 days? Amazing! Enjoy!

  63. kimberleigh permalink
    September 30, 2012

    and i have some champagne yeast for one batch, we made 3:)

  64. kimberleigh permalink
    September 30, 2012

    and i have some champagne yeast for one batch, we made 3:)

  65. October 12, 2012

    I was looking to find answers on this particular topic and your Blog came up first on Google search Please do more because I really enjoyed reading your article on this.

  66. October 12, 2012

    I was looking to find answers on this particular topic and your Blog came up first on Google search Please do more because I really enjoyed reading your article on this.

  67. Joy Elliott permalink
    December 6, 2012

    My ginger ale turned into a thick jelly/syrup and not at all bubbly. Still smelled gingery and sweet, though. Any ideas why?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 7, 2012

      Oh wow. I wonder if it did not indeed ferment. Were they bubbles before you started the 2nd step? Did it get very hot or very cold at any point?

      • Joy Elliott permalink
        December 10, 2012

        The first time the bug was only slightly bubbly. The second time, I made sure it was really bubbly, and I used sucanat (for the extra minerals – I heard it might help). It is once again thickening. Only this time it’s thick and really bubbly. I’ll wait a few days and see if it improves. If not, I’ll throw out my bug and start over – maybe with organic ginger.

        • Erik permalink
          June 7, 2014

          Hey, I had the same this week. Most of the time I lose my fermented sodas to mold because my home is not ideal. However, this time I had a strange result.

          Rather than do a ginger bug separately I put the ginger and sugar water into the plastic pressure vessel I would be fermenting in. Once it had bubbles on the surface I threw in 2 litres of sugary fruit tea. Several days later I noticed it had fermented very actively with froth on the surface and gas pressure. It smelled good but when I poured it out it had a partial jelly consistency, like egg white. This would seem to indicate very high protein content, so I can only guess that bacteria/yeast have secreted a huge amount of enzymes and other proteins perhaps. I’m trying to figure out if anyone else gets this and whether it’s healthy. Do you think it’s safe to drink?

  68. Joy Elliott permalink
    December 6, 2012

    My ginger ale turned into a thick jelly/syrup and not at all bubbly. Still smelled gingery and sweet, though. Any ideas why?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 7, 2012

      Oh wow. I wonder if it did not indeed ferment. Were they bubbles before you started the 2nd step? Did it get very hot or very cold at any point?

      • Joy Elliott permalink
        December 10, 2012

        The first time the bug was only slightly bubbly. The second time, I made sure it was really bubbly, and I used sucanat (for the extra minerals – I heard it might help). It is once again thickening. Only this time it’s thick and really bubbly. I’ll wait a few days and see if it improves. If not, I’ll throw out my bug and start over – maybe with organic ginger.

  69. kimberleigh permalink
    December 6, 2012

    Yes mine was thicker too but does have bubbles. over lots of ice it thins out some. I made lots so i still have a stash i need to add the champagne yeast to;)

  70. kimberleigh permalink
    December 6, 2012

    Yes mine was thicker too but does have bubbles. over lots of ice it thins out some. I made lots so i still have a stash i need to add the champagne yeast to;)

  71. December 7, 2012

    It would be wiser to use those 2 Liter plastic soda bottles because they are easier to clean and less hazardous if they over carbonate. It also tastes better if you use corn sugar (home brew store) or honey which will then be a ginger mead like the Vikings drank only they didn’t have the ginger or lemons.

    • Joy Elliott permalink
      December 10, 2012

      Another site recommended leaving it open to air for three days, stirring it twice a day. After that, they said to bottle it and let it sit for 24 hours at room temperature. After that, either refrigerate it or drink it. I haven’t gotten that far yet, so I don’t know if it will work or not.

  72. December 7, 2012

    It would be wiser to use those 2 Liter plastic soda bottles because they are easier to clean and less hazardous if they over carbonate. It also tastes better if you use corn sugar (home brew store) or honey which will then be a ginger mead like the Vikings drank only they didn’t have the ginger or lemons.

    • Joy Elliott permalink
      December 10, 2012

      Another site recommended leaving it open to air for three days, stirring it twice a day. After that, they said to bottle it and let it sit for 24 hours at room temperature. After that, either refrigerate it or drink it. I haven’t gotten that far yet, so I don’t know if it will work or not.

  73. February 25, 2013

    I love this! I will have to try it sometime for my husband! Thanks for sharing at the Saturday Round Up! Hope you’ll join us again next week!

  74. cakee39 permalink
    April 4, 2013

    what wild yeasts, how much, where do you get it and when do you add to ginger mixture?

  75. Anonymous permalink
    April 20, 2013

    Fun! Thank you for the recipe :)

    I made the bug (a friend and i each made our own starter)and we bottled the brew and shared them. Both batches are flat. Is it safe to drink it anyways? I’m going to try again but it seems a waste to dump it down the drain.

  76. Jones permalink
    April 20, 2013

    Fun! Did the whole process with a friend ( we each made own starter and shared the ale) and the starter did bubble but the brew is flat. Any suggestions? And is it safe to drink? I took a sip and it tastes like ginger lemonade. Sad that it isn’t fizzy.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      April 21, 2013

      Darn. Try adding a little extra sugar (maybe 1 TBSP per 2 cups) capping it and letting it sit out for 3 days. Put in fridge and then try?

  77. August 28, 2013

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  78. July 22, 2014

    Yep! Works better than expected. Here’s another take on the same process.

    http://www.betterdoneyourself.com/2014/05/29/homemade-ginger-beer/

  79. September 24, 2014

    It’s ann remarkable post in suppoirt of all the online viewers; thhey will get benefit frokm it I aam sure.

  80. February 16, 2015

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  81. June 25, 2015

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