How To Make A “Ginger Bug” (Wild-Fermented Starter For Homemade Soda)

July 21st, 2016 - filed under: The Food » Recipes


Last month, Jarden Home Brands, makers of Ball® brand jars, launched a countdown to their 2016 international Can-It-Forward Day, and asked me if I would like to be involved.

Well would I ever!


You guys know that I don’t often take on sponsors (for all kinds of reasons), but a love of mason jars + all things preserving? Well yeah, that’s something I can whole-heartedly get behind! Can-It-Forward Day is all about celebrating the bounty of the season, and it’s happening tomorrow, this Friday July 22nd. There will be Facebook Live demos and Twitter parties and tons of info, so tune in here for more on that!


In honor of the project, I received a copy of The All New Ball Book Of Canning & Preserving. So of course, I immediately flipped to the section on fermented foods! As you guys know, I’m an avid lover of all things cultured, and I was eager to see what sort of exciting new ideas this book had to offer. There’s an easily-veganizable Worcestershire sauce that caught my eye, and a fermented Harissa hot sauce that looks absolutely amazing. But then! Serendipity! I came across a recipe for a Ginger Bug.

I’ve been dying to try my hand at making my own Ginger Bug ever since I saw Bianca from Vegan Crunk do a demo last year at Vida Vegan Con. So when I saw the recipe here, I knew I had to try it!


1/3 cup sugar (organic is best), divided
1/3 cup grated unpeeled fresh organic ginger **use only organic ginger in this recipe! non-organic ginger has been irradiated and does not carry the natural yeasts and bacteria essential for fermentation
3 1/2 cups non-chlorinated water or spring water

You’ll need a 1-qt canning jar, measuring spoons, a small grater or microplane, and cheesecloth or a coffee filter.


Combine 2 yablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of grated ginger in the 1-qt canning jar, and then cover with the 3 1/2 cups of water. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Cover the jar with the cheesecloth or coffee filter, secured with a rubber band, and set aside in a cool place out of direct sunlight.


Each day for the next three days, add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon ginger, stirring and then re-covering with the cheesecloth.

On the fourth day, remove the cheesecloth and loosely apply the canning jar lid. Each day for the next four days, add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon ginger, stirring and then re-covering with the lid. The mixture will become very bubbly, at which point you can transfer it to the refrigerator for storage.


Lots of ginger at the bottom of the jar, and a cloudiness to the liquid, by the end of the process.

Use your Ginger Bug within 2 weeks of transferring it to the fridge. Or, you can re-activate it to keep it growing by bringing it back to room temperature and continuing to feed it for a few days as described above. Like a sourdough starter, you should be able to keep your Ginger Bug alive indefinitely this way.

You can use your Ginger Bug to make all manner of home-fermented sodas and herbal brews. Its got all the probiotic goodness of other cultured foods, and it’s absolutely delicious.

But as for Jeremy and I? Well . . . we made cocktails of course! Because that’s what you do when barware is your business.


Moscow Mules with Ginger Bug soda, hibiscus-infused agave, and homegrown mint. Garnished with my beautiful Bachelor Buttons which are growing like mad all over my yard (and they’re edible, too!).


Don’t forget, tomorrow, Friday July 22, is international Can-It-Forward Day! You can sign up and get tons of info on the Pledge Page. Also, tune in to the Facebook page for Facebook Live demos all day long, or check out the Twitter party and ask any and all canning questions throughout the day on the @BallCanning Twitter handle, by using the hashtag #canitforward.

Hope to see you there!

  • Mrs. D.

    Love your edible flowers. I tried growing nasturtiums this year, but they didn’t grow for some reason (I probably started them too early). Next year!! In the meantime I am going to give that soda a try. Fascinating.

    P.S. A day to celebrate canning? I’m in!

  • Bianca Phillips

    Oooh yes! I need to start a new ginger bug. I eventually let mine die and have only been brewing booch lately. I need to get my ginger beer game back on. That cocktail looks and sounds lovely.

  • Christinanne

    I’ve used regular non organic ginger and it works great.

  • Angie

    Thank you! This sounds amazing. Especially the mules!