How to Make Ginger Bug for Homemade Sodas

Ginger Bug

A little jar of ginger bug, a slurry of ginger and sugar, sits on my countertop next to my sourdough starter, where, fed daily, it bubbles and foams.  I remove a little bit at a time, no more than 1/4 cup, to make old-fashioned sodas like homemade root beer, ginger mint soda, rhubarb soda and others more familiar to those subscribe to the Nourished Kitchen meal plans who find a new recipe for fermented foods tucked into their meal plans each week.

What is a Ginger Bug and What Does It Do

A slurry of fermented yeast and sugar water, Ginger Bug captures beneficial microorganisms like wild yeasts and bacteria in the same way that sourdough starter does.  The wild microorganisms, eat away at the sugar in the Ginger Bug, and produce carbon dioxide as a result.  When mixed with a flavored sweet tea, fruit juice or other base, the microorganisms in the ginger bug begin to consume the sugar in the tea or juice, and, as they do, they reproduce and emit carbon dioxide. The result is a fizzy and effervescent, naturally fermented soda that is rich in beneficial bacteria – critical to gut health and immune system function. 

What You Need for Ginger Bug (and homemade sodas)

To make Ginger Bug, you need only fresh ginger, a caloric sweetener to feed the microorganisms, filtered or dechlorinated water and a container to hold the bug.  To make fermented sodas, you’ll further need flavorings – whether that’s fresh herbs, fruit juice or a concoction of herbs, flowers, roots and bark like  I use in my homemade root beer.  While Ginger Bug itself benefits from a loosely lidded environment, homemade fermented sodas benefit from a tightly capped environment which disallows the escape of carbon dioxide produced during fermentation.  This gas, a natural byproduct of fermentation, helps to ensure that the resulting homemade soda is fizzy, bubbly and pleasantly effervescent when opened.

  • Fresh Ginger can be found in any well-stocked grocery store, and organic ginger can be found in any well-stocked health food store.
  • Unrefined Cane Sugar feeds the beneficial bacteria and wild yeasts in the Ginger Bug.  I typically use a whole, unrefined cane sugar (like this one), but have recently made the switch to Jaggery (available here) – a traditional Indian sweetener of completley unrefined cane sugar.
  • Mason Jars hold your ginger bug, and you can find them in grocery stores, hardware stores and online.
  • Flip-top Bottles allow you to tightly, and safely, cap your homemade sodas as they ferment.  The tight cap ensures that carbon dioxide remains in the bottle, effectively carbonating your homemade sodas.  You can find flip-top bottles in homebrewing supply stores, though I purchase mine online.

The Sugar Isn’t for You

When I approach fermented tonics, whether it’s Continuous Brew Kombucha or Water Kefir, readers often wonder at the addition of sugar – seeking to circumvent its use.  When I read these questions, I am often reminded of my friend Hannah’s response, “The sugar isn’t for you.  It’s not for you.” Hannah runs Kombucha Kamp, a site devoted to kombucha’s benefits and uses.  Her statement holds true for Ginger Bug, too; that is, sugar feeds beneficial bacteria and wild yeasts.  Without a caloric sweetener, the bacteria and yeast have nothing to eat, and cannot proliferate.  Much of the sugar in fermented tonics is consumed by beneficial microorganisms who then transform it.

How to Use Your Ginger Bug

To use your ginger bug in preparing homemade sodas, simply strain off 1/4 cup of the liquid and add it to 1 quart of a sweetened herbal infusion, to fruit juice, or to a combination of the two.  Mix it well, and transfer it to a flip-top bottle where you can allow it to ferment about 3 days.  Transfer it to the refrigerator, and allow it chill before opening.

ginger bug ready (1 of 2)

Ginger Bug

Yield: about 1 pint

Ginger Bug

Ginger bug, a slurry of fermented ginger and sugar, forms the basis for homemade, traditionally fermented sodas including root beer, mint sodas, or fruit-based sodas that are rich in beneficial bacteria.



  1. Break off a knob from your hand of ginger, peel away its papery skin and grate it until you have 2 heaping tablespoons. Place the grated ginger in a small jar, whisk in 1 tablespoon unrefined cane sugar and 2 tablespoons filtered water. Cover the jar loosely and allow it to ferment in a warm spot in your kitchen.
  2. Every day for at least 5 days, mix an additional 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 tablespoons water into your jar. The ginger will begin to foam and bubble at its top, and will take on the yeasty fragrance of beer. After 5 days, it is ready to use. You can also store it in the refrigerator, and feed it 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 tablespoons water once a week.
  3. To use the ginger bug to make homemade sodas, prepare 1 quart of herbal tea sweetened with a caloric sweetener like sugar (or substitute 1 scoop Body Ecology's Ecobloom). Strain off 1/4 cup of the ginger bug's liquid and whisk it into the sweetened tea. Replace the 1/4 cup ginger bug you've removed with 2 tablespoons sugar dissolved into 1/4 cup water. Transfer the sweetened tea and ginger bug to flip-top bottles (available here), and allow it to ferment at room temperature for 3 days. Transfer to the fridge or drink straight away.

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What people are saying

  1. maurita says

    this sounds awesome! just one question: at the end of the directions you say to “replace what you remove with sugar water”. how much sugar would you add to the 1/4 c. water you would add back in?

    • kate says

      im on day 4 and also no bubbling or beer flavor. im using regular sugar and it is a little cold here. i read that it takes longer in cooler environment, like 8 days. i also have stored my fresh ginger in the fridge then take out and add to the bug, which may make it cooler and inhibit growth of lactobacillus. any suggestions? should i put it in an oven set to lowest setting for 1 minute and then cut off like i do when breads rising? i wanna get the bacteria growing!

        • Reanna says

          I’ve made lots of ginger bug and had it start in as little as 2 days but it was the middle of summer and hot hot hot. I’ve also made it when it was cooler and it would take closer to 5 days. I have two suggestions, firstly, how are you covering your bug? I use cheesecloth or a coffee filter with the ring instead of the metal lid. In order for this to work you need to allow the yeast that’s floating around in the air to come in contact with your ginger sugar water mix. Otherwise there’s nothing to grow. Secondly, where are you storing your bug? Is it drafty, or near a window that’s cold? In the winter, I like to store my ginger on top of the fridge as it generates heat and will keep the bug nice an warm. Or you could probably put it in the oven with just the oven light on. I know people have done that in the past for bread. I probably won’t turn the oven on though because it doesn’t need to be THAT hot. just around 70 degrees would be sufficient.

          as a side note, I have also done this where I put a lot more than the 2 T of water in in the beginning. I’d fill the pint mason jar 3/4 of the way up. and I didn’t really measure my ginger or sugar. Just as long as you’re feeding it and replacing what you take after it gets going, you should be just fine.

    • SH says

      See step 3 “Replace the 1/4 cup ginger bug you’ve removed with 1/4 cup sugar dissolved into 1/4 cup water.”

    • Andrew B says

      So…. After making the Ginger Bug. I’m confused and the herbal sweetened tea part. Can you elaborate on that for me. I brew Kombucha so I’m not a complete newb, just what is the recipe for the Herbal Tea part? And how much sugar? A cup per gallon? Can you us black teas, green tea, raw herbs. Etc? Talky want to know more about the tea part. Thanks.

      • Cheryl King says

        Same as any you use for kambusha. Sweet tea is made by combining fermented tea leaves (black or oolong or pu-erh are fermented b4 they are dried)

  2. Sean says

    The feeding directions are also vague. Must one feed it a knob of ginger every morning for ever? Every few days? Once a week? For my sourdough I feed it intensively when I want a lot of strong starter for baking and just keep it in maintenance mode the rest of the time. I am not sure I can add grate a knob of ginger to my list of daily maintenance the kitchen needs.
    What would letting it coast be like? No food for a week in the fridge?

      • Eduardo says

        Hi Jenny, I´ve just read your post on How to make ginger Bug for hmemade sodas. I am getting started on making homemade soda for the family.
        How long does the soda last on the after is made and placed in the fridge? and, Does the fermentation stops completely when the soda is cooled on the fridge?



        • Jenny says

          The soda will last more or less indefinitely in the fridge. The fermentation slows down, but doesn’t cease interely.

    • SH says

      After the initial 5 days, you feed it weekly. See step 2 “You can also store it in the refrigerator, and feed it 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons water once a week.”

  3. Marilyn says

    OK, I get that the sugar in the ginger bug is for the bacteria in the the bug. And I don’t have a problem with the idea of using sugar. The problem is — I’m hyper-sensitive to sucrose, and if it ISN’T all eaten up / broken down, I can get really sick. For some odd reason, I don’t like getting sick. So — CAN honey be used for the bug? I know the lactobacilli in my honey-sweetened coleslaw dressing really like honey… I had a batch of coleslaw which got pushed to the back, and the bacteria joyously ate up the honey in the dressing, yielding a most interesting sauerslaw.

    • Jenny says

      I would recommend looking into the Body Ecology Ecobloom linked above. I’m working on a version that uses this alone. It is likely able to support the fermentation of the bug and the soda.

      • Marilyn says

        Alas, the Body Ecology “Bloom” is pure inulin, FOS, fructooligosaccharides, and I can’t do that, either. There are plenty of us out here for whom honey is the only nutritive sweetener around, unless you want to try it with dates or mashed ripe bananas.

        • Lynne says

          I, too, want to know about honey or rapadura as those are readily available to me, and I, too, avoid sugar. Can it be used in ginger bug or kombucha?

          • Susan Catron says

            Jun is like kombucha but uses honey to sweeten the tea. I have never made Jun, just read about it.

          • says

            Honey is very fermentable. I make Jun and mead with it all the time. I would follow these directions and sub the sugar with honey. Play with the amounts until it works for you. Have fun!

            • says

              Thanks to all those who asked about honey. I use sugar maybe once a year so all I have is refined. But I have raw local honey and will do that! :-)

        • joe says

          If you plan to use Honey, make sure is has been pasturized to avoid cross contamination of the bacterias. It can cause mold.

          • Brooke says

            Hmmm … I have not made this but I do make Jun. You need the benificial baceria in the RAW honey (pasturized honey isn’t really good for much IMHO) to make the ferment work. I suggest that perhaps you may not get results with pasturized honey! I know that Jun requires RAW.
            Just a thought.

    • Jeremiah says

      In general, honey ferments nicely as far as flavor goes but tends to leave more unfermented sugars, stalls with too much, and generally ferments slower—all probably due to its antimicrobial properties.

      If honey, being mostly made up of the monosaccharides fructose and glucose doesn’t cause you problems, invert syrup may be a good option. Invert syrup is very similar to honey in its saccharide ratios and is reasonably easy to prepare, resulting in a fairly balanced mixture of fructose and glucose. Like honey, invert syrup does retain some sucrose, so I recommend proceeding with caution regardless of the sweetener used. Fermentation itself can do a good job of “cleaning up” sucrose, but this will vary on how far you let it go.

      Yeast inverts sucrose itself using invertase, so invert syrup “spares” the yeast that first step and tend to result in a faster and more predictable start.

      • rik says

        Try to heat the honey above 45 degrees celsius. The protein that prevents grow of bacteria will be destroyed. It also destroys an enzyme which breaks down sugar into hydrogen peroxide.
        With those two enzymes out of the way your honey does exactly what it needs to do, feeding the bacteria.

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Marilyn, I learned recently honey does work but it can take months rather than days to ferment. I’ve not tried honey yet although i intend to so i’d say give it a try bit be prepared to wait. you may find it to ferment fast depending on temperatures and or stirring more for air circulation. Good Luck :)

        • RPL says

          Sandor Katz has a recipe for mead in Wild Fermentations… mead is from honey & it ferments in just 3 days… I’ve never had an issue getting raw honey to ferment.
          On a side note & why I came here- I’m on day 6 & used florida crystals sugar- no ferment at all. This is the first ferment I’ve ever had an issue with. I chopped the ginger fine with a knife, I didn’t have a grater bigger than a microplane, otherwise I followed the directions precisely. Any idea what the issue could be? I’ve never had a problem with any ferment or with one of NK’s recipes & I did check to see if there was a ginger bug recipe on the Get Cultured class series… hoping with a video I could find the answer. Any help would be appreciated!

          • Wynfrith says

            Having made mead, you cook the honey and strain a lot of the protiens out, leaving a more refined honey that the yeast finds easier to digest.

    • Mel says

      I did an experiment with this. I made one with sugar and one with honey to see what happened. I started them on the same day and sat them next to each other. Every day for 5 days I fed them as per the directions above but using 2tbsp honey instead of sugar in one of them.
      After about 3 or 4 days, my sugar one had started bubbling but there was no action on the honey. I kept feeding for a couple more days then put the sugar one in the fridge. I didn’t feed the honey one for 3 or 4 days as I figured there would still be plenty of ‘food’ in there if it hadn’t started fermenting yet. I fed the honey one about once or twice a week after this and eventually after about 2 weeks it started slowly bubbling.
      So it seems you can use honey but it will take a lot longer to get started. I should point out it’s starting to get chilly here now (ranging from a high of 20 degrees C to a low of 10 degrees C at night) so it might not take quite so long if you’re living in a warmer part of the world (ie most of the Northern Hemisphere!).

      • ZoeZenGarden says

        Thank you for doing the experiment and providing this information!! My mother is actually allergic to sugarcane and I was hoping to be able to make this for her! I am so glad to know that it can be done with honey and a little patience! YAY! You seriously made my day!

    • Jason says

      Most health food stores and maybe even some supermarkets sell powdered, refined fructose, and sometimes even glucose – the two sugar components of honey. I would imagine those have little or no residual sucrose compared to an invert syrup someone has made on their stovetop. They can be a little pricey, but probably no more so than good honey.

    • Jason says

      Corn sugar is also easily purchased where brewing supplies are sold (and maybe even in health food stores). Corn sugar is glucose, though you might want to research to see if it contains any residual sucrose. I don’t think it would since it is made from hydrolysis of starch. I wouldn’t think it would contain any sucrose to begin with, but I could be wrong.

    • Jenny says

      Stevia is not a caloric sweetener and will not work. The sugars I link to above are *much* less refined than “Sugar in the Raw,” though you can certainly substitute for it.

  4. says

    I want to thank your for making your recipes easy to print. I can’t wait to try the ginger bug and make my own healthy ginger ale. Thank you, thank you.

  5. Makenna says

    When this is done, is it alchoholic? I know salt stops alchoholic from forming when lacto fermenting, but what about this?

    • says

      I was trying to let mine become more of a ginger “beer” and let a bottle sit (sealed) on the counter for 5 weeks. I tested it’s alcohol content with a hydrometer, and it still did not even register, meaning the alcohol content was negligible at best.

      • says

        You will not get a proper reading with the hydrometer if there are other dissolved solids in the solution (sugar is the main one, but there will be others present also). Gram per gram, sugar will out ‘weigh’ the alcohol by more than half. In other words, 1% sugar will hide 2% alcohol.

        You can get a rough calculation of the % of alcohol produced by multiplying of sugar added (and is fermented) by 61% (0.61). If the fermentation is not stopped in some manner (which includes consuming!) the yeast will always continue to ferment the sugar that is available.

        Not that this would keep ‘me’ from making any!

        • Michael says

          This is not accurate. The hydrometer will work with non-sugar material in the solution. Make sure it is a brewing hydrometer that measures the amount of sugars in a solution of water and it will work properly.

          • Brent says

            Unless you are measuring a solution of pure alcohol and water, the only way to get the percentage of alcohol with a hydrometer is to take two measurements: 1) before you add the yeast/bug; and 2) a second after fermentation. Then you adjust the two readings for temperature and then the difference between the two tells you the abv (us a calculator to convert the gravities to abv). The hydrometer is measuring the density of the liquid, which is a function of the sugar, water, and anything else. The other things do not matter when you take two readings because they will remain constant–the only change will be the conversion of sugar into alcohol and CO2, so the difference between the first and second reading will measure the amount of sugar converted to alcohol.

            If your hydrometer is reading a specific gravity of near 0.0, that means that essentially all of the sugar has been converted to alcohol.


  6. judy says

    Does it *have* to be unrefined sugar? Or will white sugar from the supermarket work equally well, just with less nutrients in the final product?

    • Kendra says

      I would like to know the same. I usually have sucanat on hand but am currently out. However, I do have ginger and would like to get started with this before our local food co-op drop in 2 weeks…

  7. Nan Roberts says

    What do you mean by “room temperature?” I see most things should ferment at that temp. Is it 70? My house is usually rather cold, say 65, depending on the room. I could leave the best on in the bedroom, tho, and bring it up to the right temp.

    I can’t wait to make a ginger bug. Especially to make ginger beer (or would it be ale?)

  8. Molly says

    What do you do with the bug after you use the initial 1/4c to make ginger drink? Do you keep it alive in fridge and feed like the sourdough starter 1 time a week or on counter and feed daily?

      • SH says

        Step 3 ” Replace the 1/4 cup ginger bug you’ve removed with 1/4 cup sugar dissolved into 1/4 cup water.”

        Step 2 “You can also store it in the refrigerator, and feed it 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons water once a week.”

        • Michael says

          Don’t you then end up with 1/4 +1/4 cup of sugar water = 1/2 cup?

          Isn’t that going to outgrow your container awfully fast?

  9. Scott says

    Looking forward to giving this a try soonest. Do you know of any reason why agave nectar wouldn’t work as the caloric sweetener?

  10. says

    I’m unclear on the “sweetened herbal infusion” – what exactly is that?

    Also, does this consume enough of the sugar to be GAPs legal?


  11. Joan Smith says

    This fascinates me because I love ginger and all that it does. an we use coconut sugar? What is your definition of loosely covered? For my yogurt and kefir I top their jars with a coffee filter held on with a rubber band. Is that lose enough? I usually microplane my ginger, but your picture looks like your ginger is more coarsely grated.

  12. Vicky says

    This sounds great! I can’t wait to try it. Just want to clarify the feeding process, if the ginger bug has been in the fridge. When I feed it, do I leave it out in a warm place for a set about of time and then return to the fridge or do I just feed a d re-refrigerate? Thanks!

    • says

      If your ‘soda’ is fermenting correctly, it will blow a cork out of the bottle. My first batch of pineapple/orange soda would literally blow my bangs up when I released the flip top off the bottles.

  13. says

    I LOVE home made fermented gingerale/beer and make my own often–but now my daughter has asked (and so I ask you)–can you make fermented home made lemonade the same, making a “lemon bug” with chunks of lemon and peel? I’ve heard of making fermented preserved lemons–but not lemonade. When I add lemons to my kombucha, it goes a little crazy with fizz. I wonder how this would effect it?

  14. Marisa Schwartz says

    What kind of herbal tea have you found that goes well with the ginger bug?
    Any specific brands/flavors? Thank you!

  15. Katrín says

    I was just wondering, could the ginger bug liquid possibly be used as a substitute for whey when fermenting things like vegetables? Whey is just not sold here in Norway..

    Love your blog!

    • Sandy McG-B says

      You don’t have to buy whey, if you strain yoghurt through a cloth, the liquid that comes out is whey. :)

  16. Amy says

    I am 5 days into feeding my ginger bug, but still no bubbling. I have it covered with paper towel like I do my kombucha. Should I be covering it with the jar lid? I don’t want to waste such expensive sweetener if it is just not gonna grow.

  17. Amy says

    Silly me. Soon as I finished typing my comment (certain I had inferior ginger or sugar) moved my bug to a warmer spot. Next day, bubbles! Gonna brew some tea and try bottling tonight.

    • says

      I used peeled ginger when I started mine, and it was active in 2 days.

      I’ve seen a lot of places saying it’s necessary, but having an active, fizzing bug in 2 days makes me doubt that.

  18. glenda gonser says

    also I have chunks of ginger already peeled and frozen, I take them out to make tea. would they work if they are left to thaw then grated?

  19. Judy says

    Help please! The ginger bug turned out great, your recipe is a bit different than ginger bug recipes I used previously but made a much more active bug for me. I added it to a strawberry wort to make strawberry soda that I’ve successfully made in the past many times. The wort was just fresh organic strawberries, organic whole cane sugar and purified water simmered for 20 minutes. It took longer than usual to see bubbles (10 days). Problem, there is also a film that has accumulated on the top, looks a little like a scum and seems to have some particulates on it. But bubbles are being generated. Is this film/scum something to be concerned about? The soda smells normal – like it has in the past (strawberry/ginger fermented smell). Is it still OK to bottle and drink this?

    • Lisa says

      I have the same white “scum” floating on top. Is this normal? I’m guessing it’s harmless, just looks gross in drinks and I was probably supposed to poor it thru a coffee filter or strainer….?

  20. Eric says

    My ginger bug is currently bubbling a little, been 5 days now. Was wondering if it is normal for most of the ginger to wind up clumping up at the top of the the mixture. It’ll happen over a few hours after mixing and the bubbles seem stuck underneath it. I’ll mix it but it will eventually clump up again. Any help from anyone would be great!

  21. Jeanne says

    In the directions you say to feed it every day for the first 5 days.
    But, in the beginning of the article you say you feed it daily: “A little jar of ginger bug, a slurry of ginger and sugar, sits on my countertop next to my sourdough starter, where, fed daily, it bubbles and foams.”
    So what do we do after the first 5 days?
    Feed it once a week with the 2T each ginger/sugar/water and daily a 1/4c each of sugar and water (assuming I am removing 1/4 a day of liquid)?
    Or daily feed it 2T each ginger/sugar/water, in addition to 1/4c each of sugar and water (assuming I am removing 1/4 a day of liquid)?

  22. Chrystal says

    My ginger bug looked good and smells good after 5 days. I placed it in the fridge to store and after 3 days it is not bubbling anymore. Should I take it out and place on the counter again?

    • Kristin says

      I was curious on the same thing.. Mine doesn’t seem active since I put it in the fridge.. I took out what I needed to brew, fed it and let sit on the counter till room temp- started brew and it is working fine.

  23. says

    I am very new in this kind of thing,meaning fermenting food. My question is when you make the sweetened herbal tea how much sugar do you use for the one quart of tea?
    Thank you for all the good recipes and information.

  24. Lesle-Ann says

    The root beer is bottled and I am excited. This is my first batch.

    My question is how long can we keep the bug? Should if go in the fridge or can I keep it on the counter if I want to make more ginger beer soon?

  25. Catherine says

    This is my third attempt at making a ginger bug. I had assumed my home was too cold (64 degrees) we had a few warm days and I was excited as I was finally seeing some bubbles. I fed it as directed and havent seen bubbles since. It got a little cooler (70 degrees). I have fed it for 3 more days and still nothing. Do I have to scrap it and start over? My two batches of Root beer did not work when I tried it with Kefir starter. Im using distilled water and organic cane sugar and fresh organic ginger. Any ideas?

    • Chris Raines says

      I would avoid using distilled water with any of your ferments. It’s possible that could be the issue, distilled water is inert, having all of the minerals removed during the distillation process. I would us a good filtered water instead.

  26. Samantha says

    I’m a bit nervous to try any homemade sodas after a kefir soda explosion. Do you have to burp these frequently?

    • Rachel says

      I plan to begin by using recycled and sterilized plastic bottles rather than glass — an explosion would still be messy, but not so scary without the glass shards.

      • Lynne says

        Watch out! Sterilizing plastic bottles is said to release dangerous cancer-causing agents. My doctor and homeopath warn about reusing or even using plastic bottles at all.

      • Jeremy says

        I would use plastic only when no other suitable material were available. That being said, if you use an airlock in your fermentor you won’t have to worry about burping or explosions. Most suitable glass containers (bail-top bottles, growlers, etc.) can handle the pressure.

  27. Julie says

    thank you so much for this awesome recipe! i plan to start the ginger bug tonight. i came across your site as i was browsing for a ginger ale recipe. can we use the ginger bug to make ginger ale? do you have a recipe for ginger ale? thanks again!!!

  28. Nancy A says

    So i’ve made my first ginger bug and I have a question. The bubbles formed in my flip-top bottles and I placed it in the fridge after 3 days but when I poured it out of the bottle it was thick and not liquid as I would have expected. Is this normal? Is it okay to drink? This is my first experience with Ginger Bug and I don’t know if I’ve created what was intended. Thanks!

    • Jenny says

      I’m not sure why you put the ginger bug in a flip-top bottle in the fridge after 3 days. Can you elaborate on that?

  29. Nancy Alemany says

    Yes, I will elaborate. I think there is some confusion about what is where. I followed the instructions and decided to add a quart of sweetened ginger tea to 1/4 cup of ginger bug. Then I put the sweetened ginger tea/ginger bug combination into the flip-top bottles and let them ferment on the counter, after three days I put the flip-top bottles into the fridge. I was so surprised that the beverage was thick and not liquidy as I would have expected, that I am in a holding pattern about what to do next. Hope that helps, Thanks!

    • Nancy Alemany says

      I might add, 1/4 cup ginger bug juice, not the ginger bug itself. The starter is still happily fermenting with a new addition of filtered water and organic unprocessed sugar.

  30. cheryl says

    well it took a full week for the ferment to get going! I almost gave up…moving the jar around our un-airconditioned apartment to get the right temperature, an it’s been really hot and muggy…but one day it just started going, like an engine had turned on! I had been feeding the jar with the ginger/sugar/water throughout this “dormant” period. Once it started to bubble, I waited a day then scooped out the 1/4 c liquid to start a soda. That’s sitting on the counter and last night it too started to bubble. Seeing that the ginger bug had only been fermenting one day ( after 7 sitting around waiting) I’m going to try to let the ferment keep going on the counter for a few more days, keep feeding it, before I put it in the fridge. I’ll see how the first batch of soda turns out, but maybe I need to let my bug develop for a few more days before I try to get a soda out of it…we’ll see how the first one will turn out. I guess this is all a little “try and see”…Certainly I never expected the ginger bug to take 7 days to start to bubble, but it did! Now it looks just like the photo! Feel a bit like a mad scientist, but compared to walking down the soda isle in a big supermarket…well, I’m not too worried!

  31. says

    I recently tried making ‘soda’ using coconut water from a young coconut. After a little over 24 hours I noticed that a white powdery (moldy looking) layer had developed on the surface of the water. Is this a bad thing? I hope so, because I poured everything down the drain.

  32. Michelle says

    Will this mixture last indefinitely as long as I am feeding it weekly? Or does it have a shelf life?

    • Pucelle says

      Store-bought ginger ale doesn’t have any ginger in it. It’s mostly sugar and tastes nothing like real ginger ale. Real ginger ale is just ginger, water, & sugar; Jamaican’s usually add some spices towards the end.

    • Ivriniel says

      There is a recipe for ginger ale in “True Brews” by Emma Christensen. She uses champagne yeast to brew it, rather than a ginger bug, though.

  33. James Howell says

    As I understand fermentation of sugared items like kombucha, the sucrose is used by the microorganisms but they leave behind the fructose. Having suffered from gout for several decades, I am very nervous about anything with fructose. Is it true kombucha, etc., is high in fructose?

  34. thuy says

    In step 1 it states to cover the jar loosely. Do you mean with some fabric or paper towel? It’s been over a week and not much is happening with mine, I put a paper towel with a rubber band over the top. I’ve read on other sites to put the mason jar lid on and I’m wondering if that’s what I need to do.

  35. says

    Thank you Jenny for this beautiful web site and all the information you relate…just wonderful!
    Loved reading through the posts and replies.

    Only thing I could add is this…When making your initial “ginger bug” include grating the skin of the ginger root.
    All root veggies have lacto bacteria on their roots, mainly on the skin and that is what we need to kick off the bug. Doing that also eliminates the need for adding yogurt whey if you don’t have any…although the added whey certainly doesn’t hurt.

    A general heads up to all the good folks reading this and looking toward more natural foods and better nutrition.
    It’s really all very basic, learn the rudiments of fermentation and experiment using common sense…and share your discoveries with others.


  36. Ricard says

    What about ginger beer bug? What’s the difference in probiotics strains and or amounts? sells an authentic ginger beer bug that looks like water kefir but they claim is totally different. Thoughts?

  37. Justine says

    First of all- thanks for this awesome recipe. I had the first taste of a soda I made yesterday, and it is so excitingly delicious. My question is: After the bug activates, do you still keep it loosely covered? or can you cover it tightly? Does the bug still need air? Or is the loose top to help gas escape?
    Also, does the bug stay alive with ginger? I think I put too much ginger in it originally.

  38. melba smith says

    I had no problem getting my ginger bug going. When I went to measure out 1/4 cup of ginger bug it was so thick it would not strain. Not liquid at all-very thick. I added more water and it is still much too thick. What should I do. The ginger bug is growing faster than I can use it. I made sweetened tea and have added it to that and it seems to be fermenting. Just would like to know about this very thick ginger bug. No one else has mentioned it being so very thick.

  39. Maria says

    My ginger bug looks really nice in the jar but it doesn’t seem to survive in the soda. I used normal sugar for the bug and cane sugar in the soda I wanted to produce. could it be that this switch killed the bug?!

  40. Rj says

    I am using lavendar simple syrup for sugar and water. I wonder if flavors during the bugging stage make a different taste. I also have orange water. I wonder if using orange blossom or rose water changes the taste in a positive way during that stage.

    • Austin says

      They will change the taste a little bit, but as you only use 1/4 cup of ginger bug per quart of soda base, the flavor would be very diluted. You’d be better off using a quart of lavender tea, rose water, orange blossom water, etc. with 1/4 cup of unflavored ginger bug.

  41. Kyle says

    I am trying my hand at making some ginger bug soda. I started my ginger bug about 4 days ago, and it was bubbling and fizzing nicely. I added about 1/2 cup of the ginger bug to roughly 32 oz. of white grape juice. I have this mixture in a mason jar covered with cheesecloth. I put it in the jar on Thursday, and here it is Saturday, and it appears the same. Will this mixture eventually get the bubbles and carbonation? Do I just need to let it sit on the counter, and stir it once a day until this happens? Like I said, this is my first time doing this.

  42. Lan says

    I started this today! So excited and looking forward to using it! I’m just curious why ginger is mixed with sugar and not salt as when fermenting other veggies. Is it meant to capture/foster the growth of different microorganisms (than the ferments with salt? Can one ferment ginger using salt?

  43. Sharon says

    I love this and have made it. My question is about the maintenance of the ginger bug. After a couple of uses, it has gotten thick and syrupy. Is there a solution to this? Have you had it happen to you? Is it a common occurrence, and do we just need to make new ginger bug every so often, or am I doing something wrong?

    • Austin says

      Did you keep it in the fridge? I’m only a beginner, but it seems like you need to keep it in the fridge after the initial 5 days of fermentation are over.

    • Ivriniel says

      I think every so often you need to start a fresh one. Over time they can get more and more sour as the acids build up.

  44. says

    If mine never ferments, can I add whey to get it started? I’m going on a week and a half with no bubbles or beer smell after following the directions to a T.

  45. Aaron says

    I’m on day 5 of my ginger bug and almost everything seems to be going well except for the bright pink that its turning. Anyone else have this happen?

  46. Jeanmarie says

    I just started a ginger bug… I can’t imagine why I haven’t done this before! Thanks, as always, for the inspiration, Jenny!

  47. Mike G says

    I just finished up my first batch of ginger bug a couple days ago, but it doesn’t seem to have worked. I have lots of grated ginger sitting on top of the liquid, and I don’t have a you sweet, beer like smell. It smells more like lemony ginger. Do you think this will still work? I don’t want to waste all the ingredients I got for my root beer, so I’d rather make a new batch of ginger bug if that would be better. Please let me know what you think

  48. Andie says

    I keep the organic peel on, chop it and keep it in a jar in the fridge. Each day, I feed my ginger bug a tsp. Ginger and tsp. sugar. I’ve been making sodas for over a year with perfect results.

  49. says

    Great post! I’ve tried to make a ginger bug with dried ginger and didn’t care for the results. I’ll have to try fresh ginger instead. Thanks for the inspiration!

  50. Kasthy says

    Once the soda is made and chilled does it have to stay in the fridge? Or can it be stored on the pantry shelf? How long is it good for?


  51. sandy says

    can a ‘bug’ be created by another ingredient aside from ginger? I am allergic to itbut would love to start making my own ‘sodas’ from fermented healthy ingredients

  52. Cait says

    I don’t drink alcohol for religious reasons, but I’m interested in this recipe. Do you have any idea of the alcohol content of this beverage and other like beverages (root beer, and others you mentioned)?

  53. Rebecca Wirth says

    I have the same question several others have, but have not seen an answer. Do you keep the bug in the fridge forever after the five days as long as you continue to feed it? There seems to be confusion about this with some readers and now it has me questioning the process. I’ve always kept it in the fridge and continued to feed once per week (while still in the fridge) but now I wonder if that’s wrong.
    Thanks in advance!

  54. Ivriniel says

    Why do you peel the ginger for the bug? It was my understanding that the yeasts and lactobacillus is found mostly in the skin of the ginger.

  55. Jane says

    Is there any reason I couldn’t do the final ferment in a firmly closed canning jar instead of a flip-top bottle? I have tons of them . . .

    • oh says

      Jane, no problem, except there wii be alot of built up pressure from the soda., making it difficult to unscrew the jar lid. This is the reason pop tops are preferred, I guess.

    • Debbie says

      The benefit of the flip top bottle is if the pressure builds up too high the top will flip off. It is a big mess but the bottle does not break and send glass everywhere.

  56. Carrie says

    I recently made this recipe but altered it a bit. I used coconut sugar rather than unrefined cane sugar and I fed it probably every 2-4 days for about 2 weeks, rather than every day for 5 days. It is nice and fermenty now and I put it in the fridge. I just want to make sure that it is still “safe” to use having been prepared this way rather than by following the recipe. Any thoughts?

  57. Carrie says

    One more question: I made a rosehip, cinnamon, and orange peel soda. It fermented beautifully and its effervescence exceeded my expectations. It is however, very dry so as to be almost astringent. I personally like it well enough because I do not like sweet drinks, but I can’t imagine my 4 year old enjoying it much. Do you have any ideas about what would have caused this? I suspect it is simply the method and ingredients for the tea I brewed but is there any possibility that the fermentation would have anything to do with it? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  58. Bo says

    I just made my second go at a ginger bug 6 days back. My first attempt had almost succeeded but on the 7th day in it lost its fizz and the majority of ginger that had risen sunk back to the bottom. I had it on top of the fridge in my kitchen, within view of a window facing south so I figured maybe the sunlight had sterilized it together with the recent change in weather. I have to keep my kitchen window open because it is one of few sources of ventillation im my apartment, in turn this allows the temperature in my kitchen to shift around quite a bit.

    For the new bug I made 3 jars to maximize the yield and put them all in a cupboard above my oven figuring they would be sufficiently warm there. Once again they began fizzing in no time and seemed well on their way within 2 days. Then 2 of them lost it completely on the 3rd day in. These ones were occupying the same grade of mason jar, of which they filled about 3/5. The other one kept on another day and then also seemed to go flat. This was in a smaller jar, filled about 5/6.

    I have followed the instructions. I have been stirring the bug when I feed it, though I notice a lot of the recipes say at least once a day indicating I should do it more often. Beyond that, the tablespoons of ginger I put in daily tend to be packed dense. This could have thrown off the ratio with not enough sugar to stabilize. There has also been another drop in weather recently but things in the cupboard have remained somewhat at room temp.

    Some recipes call for an addition of 1 tbs water with every feeding so I have since tried that approach with the 2 mason jars. One of these I put back in the cupboard. The other one I put on top of the rad with the smaller jar to see if added warmth may make a difference. I also concealed them with a paper bag as light shines in on that spot. If you have any ideas what I’m doing wrong please let me know. Is there any chance of saving them or should I start a new bug, and this time what should I be doing differently. And if there’s no reactivating them is there any use I can put them to otherwise?

    • Liz says

      I’ve been having he same problem lately. Last summer my ginger bug was going just fine, but I neglected it a bit over the winter and decided to start a new one this spring. Did great for about 1 week then died out. Tried to feed it more sugar, water and ginger–but no go. Started another one, same thing. Going fine for about 1 wk and then died out a bit. More feeding hasn’t brought it back. Not sure what to do or where I’ve gone wrong. Please help anyone who has had similar issues. Thanks so much!

  59. Cathee says

    I have made the ginger bug and used it in water kefir and it is wonderful! My question is:

    I replace what I use (1/4 cup) with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. Do I ever add in more fresh ginger?? Thank you for your help.

  60. says

    So, I’ve been scanning the comments and looking at other recipes, and the only thing i can’t figure out is if you are supposed to fully cover or loosely cover the jar when it’s in the fridge?

  61. Stacey says

    Is it required to replace the 1/4 cup you use? If I keep feeding it daily or weekly and then I replace every ounce I use of the stuff then it will just keep growing. I don’t want it to take over the house. I figured the usual feedings would replace whatever I use in soda-making, wouldn’t it?

  62. William May says

    I also would like to know about the alcohol content of naturally fermented sodas. I know that trace amounts of alcohol naturally occur in lots of things. I don’t drink alcohol, though, and have quite a few friends who do not drink for various reasons. I wouldn’t worry about trace amounts, but I would be uncomfortable with anything more than what one would find in “non-alcoholic” beer. Do you know or can you point me in the direction of someone who might know? Perhaps I need to just invest in something to test the alcohol content of whatever I wind up creating. Would you have any budget-friendly suggestions in that arena? Thank you!

  63. Andrew B says

    Can you please do article on the preparation of the sweetened herbal tea. Like some different types of tea your talking about and the ratio to the amount of tea and sugar. I understand the Ginger Bug part. But after that what are the ratio for the tea base. Please help.
    I know with Kombucha that it’s a cup of sugar per gallon of tea.

  64. Caitlin says

    I have been having the same problem as Bo, I have attempted this 3 times now and my bug has been active by the second day and then by the fourth it is inactive. Should I continue feeding it in hope of revival, or it that it dead? And I am not sure what I am doing wrong I started with 2 cups of water two tablespoons of sugar and two table spoons of ginger and then i add one table spoon of each ginger and sugar every day and I cover it with kitchen roll. Which is the recipe I found on most other sites. Any advice? I’m very eager to make this but with each failed attempt I loose a little hope and motivation!

  65. says

    Looked through and didn’t see how to use the ginger beer just to make gingerale without additional flavors. I use og juice in 2nd brew for tibicos but don’t want any juice flavor for this. (I’m hoping to make something hubby and others will like rather than ‘store-bought’.)
    I’ve seen other recipes-untried as yet, for gingerale, but if this makes it easier…?

  66. angela smith says

    Must we use rhe the flip top bottles? Wouldn’t mason jars with lids serve the same purpose? I’ve told my kids for a year I want to do this but the supplies needed seem costly for what I would have to make in order to share with my family of six. Thanks in advance!

    • Debbie says

      There is a greater risk of the pressure building up too much and the jars exploding. I would say give it a go but don’t leave the jars around too long.

  67. Kay says

    Jenny… I’m looking forward to trying this. I’ve read through the comments and haven’t seen an answer to this one yet… after the 5 days of feeding it ginger, I understand that you feed it the 1/4 cup water & 1/4 cup sugar to replace the 1/4 cup you used, but how often do you need to add more ginger to it? Thanks!

  68. Ellen says


    Thanks for the instructions. I was wondering what you do with the ginger pulp in the ginger bug jar, as it accumulates over time. I figured some of it would get thrown away, but I was hoping there might be a fun and exciting alternative.

  69. Rhonda says

    I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with my ginger bug. I add it to my left over coffee from the morning pot, and add a little simple syrup. Put it in a flip top bottle ,in a day or two it will be nice and foamy on top. Then I put it in the fridge for a couple hours, put it in a glass w/ ice ! It is SO GOOD!!! You can add a little half and half to it if you like. Tastes kinda like a rootbeer float only coffee flavored. Yum!!!
    I can buy my pre made soda flavors & bottles at the wine & beer making supply near my house.
    I use my excess ginger pulp in my breakfast smoothie. I never throw any away!!!

  70. DH says

    Replace the 1/4 cup ginger bug you’ve removed with 2 tablespoons sugar dissolved into 1/4 cup water.


    SH says

    August 4, 2013 at 4:35 am

    Step 3 ” Replace the 1/4 cup ginger bug you’ve removed with 1/4 cup sugar dissolved into 1/4 cup water.”


  71. Susan says

    I’ve got my first batch of Root Beer going from my bug… what do I do with the bug now? Refrigerate? Keep feeding? Is it like a sour dough starter?

    • Tijana says

      My (limited) understanding is that once you’ve got it going you can cover and keep in the fridge and feed it once a week.

  72. Tijana says

    I have tried twice now to get a ginger bug going. The first time it went to over a week and nothing was happening, no bubbles or beer smell or anything like that. I was using regular ginger (not organic) so I thought maybe that was the problem. I switched to organic and started over again. This time I did get a tiny bit of bubbling after about 6 days and it did smell a bit different (not just like sweet ginger, but a fermentation smell). I was keen to make some ginger ale so I took out half a cup (out of probably close to a quart) of the bug and replaced with some sugar water and a bit more ginger. However I could not get the bug to bubble up again after this (I fed it daily for a week before giving up, as my jar was going to overflow). And my ginger ale also failed – I followed a recipe, I used flip top bottles, but there was zero carbonation after a week.

    I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I really really want this to work, but organic ginger costs an arm and a leg where I am and I really can’t afford to be having so many failed experiments. The temperature in my kitchen is about 66-68 degrees usually, which is maybe a bit on the cooler side, but it’s not freezing cold, it should still ferment at that temperature I thought.

    Would appreciate any pointers. TIA

  73. Charzie says

    Hey, fun stuff! I just usually throw my coarsely chopped ginger, water and plain ole sugar into a small blender and whiz, then ferment. saves a bit of effort and time and never had a problem with it, though I’m sure the warm temps here in FL are a big help, everything ferments like crazy…even if you leave real juice out if the fridge once it’s opened! LOL! (I use it as a starter for other fermented beverages! )

  74. martha munters says

    Thank you, Jenny,

    For this wonderful recipe for the ginger bug. I made it, refrigerated it and started feeding it once a week for a couple of weeks and then decided to use it for a 2nd ferment for my kombucha together and separately with a little fresh fruit, like raspberries or macerated strawberries and it was so delicious both separately and together with the fruit.

    When I flipped the top of the bottle back, it was like a champagne cork, but the flavor was wonderful. The one I flavored just with ginger was the best ginger ale I have ever drunk. Thank you.



  75. Amy H. says

    I live in a suburb of Portland, OR. It is the middle of summer right now, but the temperature fluctuates quite a bit. Some days it’s really warm, some days it is quite cool. So, I keep a small heating pad on my kitchen counter (the kind you use when you have a strained back muscle). I turn it on low when the kitchen gets cool and either set my ginger bug mason jar on it or wrap it loosely around the jar and secure it around the jar with big rubber band to keep it warmer.

    Like Charzie, from FL mentioned, she doesn’t have problems with fermenting because of the FL heat. Adding that little extra warmth to my jar works nicely in our cooler climate.

    I also use this heating pad method with my homemade fermented vegetables. I put the heating pad flat on the counter, set my 4 bottles of packed vegetables jars on the heating pad and tape the corners of the heating pad together to make a little basket shaped heating pad under me jars, cover them with a hand towel, and warm them to facilitate the fermenting process because my kitchen counter space is always quite cool.

    I hope that is helpful to those who are struggling with fermentation due to a cool kitchen environment.

    • Jennifer M. says

      Ooh, excellent idea. I could use this in the foothills near Seattle. Thanks for the tip. I wonder if it would help with yoghurt making as well?

  76. Jennifer M. says

    Jenny – you have made homemade soda making sound so appealing, we are including it in our culinary arts homeschooling ideas this summer. I do have one question for you.

    In this recipe, the ratios are 2:1:2 of ginger, sugar, and water. However, when doing my research, i read an article at Splendid Table, where she interviewed you for the ginger bug recipe and the ratios you mentioned there were 2:2:2. Does it matter which quantities to use, or is making ginger bug more like “bucket chemistry” rather than exact ratios?

    Thanks so much! Sincerely, Jennifer

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