Ginger Bug DIY Soda Pop: Pluot and Coconut-Creamsicle with Bay Leaf

Bug After 2 Days

Bug After 2 Days

Last week I started a Ginger Bug.  It’s now one of my kitchen children, along with my sourdough starter, beet kvass and kombucha that I feed, monitor and nurture regularly to keep our flow of fermented and probiotic rich foods going in our household.  Sometimes I feel like I run a lab instead of a kitchen!  Nontheless, I thought a nice bubbly, yeast-powered DIY soda flavored with bay leaf and fruit would be a good second submission for Fiesta Friday Challenge #1!  I’m also cross-pollinating and bringing it to the FF#16.  By the way, Angie at the Novice Gardener and her wonderfully creative blog and all of our Friday partyers have made Fridays my favorite day.  Many thanks to the co-hosts each week for putting together this fun blogging event!

What is a Ginger Bug?

A blend of fermented yeast (“wild” yeast, not purchased or powdered yeast) and sugar water, Ginger Bug captures beneficial microorganisms like wild yeasts and bacteria in the same way sourdough starter does. The wild microorganisms “digest” or eat away at the sugar in the Ginger Bug, and produce CO2.  When mixed with your chosen base, such as fruit juice, pureed fruit, or sweet tea, the microorganisms in the bug begin to consume the sugar in the base, and, as they do, they reproduce and emit carbon dioxide. The result is a bubbly and wildly delicious naturally fermented soda rich in probiotics – great for gut health (which, maybe unbeknownst to you, can the gateway to the improved health of so many of the body’s other systems — skin, immunity, hormones, neurological/brain wellness, even fat metabolism and muscle/lean tissue maintenance.

How to Make the Bug:

To make Ginger Bug, you need fresh ginger, a sweetener (but not a non-caloric one like Stevia or Splenda) to feed the microorganisms, and filtered water. To make sodas, choose flavorings – it could be fruit juice, pureed fruit, cocktail “syrup”, herbs, flowers, or even roots and bark for a root beer. While the Bug itself benefits from a loosely lidded container, the sodas benefit from a tightly capped environment which prevents the escape of CO2 produced during the fermentation process. This gas helps to ensure that the resulting homemade soda is fizzy just like you want it, when opened.

I used whole, unrefined cane sugar, but you can also use Jaggery or Palm Sugar.  If you are concerned about Sugar, realize it’s not for you but for the fermentation process.  In other words, its gets “digested” and transformed into something else, rather than remaining “sugar.”  Sugar feeds beneficial bacteria and wild yeasts. Without it, the bacteria and yeast have nothing to eat, and cannot reproduce. Much of the sugar in fermented tonics is consumed by beneficial microorganisms who then transform it.  This is similar to what the wild yeasts do to gluten during the making and baking of natural sourdough bread, which is why it’s so much more easily digested than commercially yeasted breads.

Bug After 4 Days

Bug After 4 Days

Bugs After 5 Days

Bugs Divided and Lightly Flavored After 5 Days

Recipe:

Yield: about 1 pint

Ingredients

Fresh Ginger

Whole Unrefined Cane Sugar or jaggery

Instructions

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 2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar and 2 tablespoons filtered water. Cover the jar loosely and allow it to ferment in a warm spot in your kitchen.

Every day for at least 5 days, mix 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons water into the jar. The ginger will begin to foam and bubble at its top, and will smell yeasty like beer. After 5 days you can use it for soda, or store it in the refrigerator, and feed it 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons water once a week.

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. At this stage, I mixed in 1/2 quart pureed pluots (4 pluots with enough water to make 1/2 quart) and 1/2 quart of coconut cream and water mixed together.  I also added 4 fresh bay leaves to each flavor.  Mix it well, and transfer it to a flip-top bottle where you can allow it to ferment about 3 days. Next, transfer it to the refrigerator, and allow it chill before opening.  To create the coconut creamsicle, after I opened both bottles I poured a large amount of the coconut cream/water mixture into a glass, then topped it with a small amount of the pluot mixture.

After 5 days, straining

After 5 days, straining

IMG_0641

"Flavor Rosa" Pluots for Flavoring

“Flavor Rosa” Pluots for Flavoring

Bottled for the Final 3 Days of Fermenting

Bottled for the Final 3 Days of Fermenting

Coconut Creamsicle Version After 3 Days of Fermenting, Bottled

Coconut Creamsicle Version After 3 Days of Fermenting, Bottled

On a Hot Day, These Sodas Hit the Spot!

On a Hot Day, These Sodas Hit the Spot!

Coconut Creamsicle and Pluot Soda Pops with Fresh Bay Leaf

Coconut Creamsicle and Pluot Soda Pops with Fresh Bay Leaf

41 Comments on “Ginger Bug DIY Soda Pop: Pluot and Coconut-Creamsicle with Bay Leaf

  1. I just learned about ginger bug this week while trying to learn more about fermentation. Definitely something I am going to try, along with about 100 other ideas I got from my research. Thanks for posting this one.

  2. Wow Birger girl! Amazing awesome precious and just outbid this world post! Can I like it 100 times? I am saving this recipe. You won’t believe that I was looking for a ginger ale recipe for a long time. So how do I make ginger ale with this starter?
    Thanks and hugs,
    Sonal

    • Thank you so much I am glad you are so excited! Okay, for an actual ginger ale you have to make a “wort,” by placing 3 cups of water,1 inch minced ginger root, 1/2 cup sugar (and molasses if you like flavor) and pinch of salt in a saucepan and boiling.
      Simmer for about 5 miins. Remove from heat and add 2 more cups water. Let cool & add 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup GINGER BUG. Ferment in appropriate bottle for 3 days. Mmmm!! Alternatively Alton Brown has a recipe that uses yeast and that works well too.

  3. Wow Sue, I’m learning so much today!! This is new to me, not something I’ve tried at all, it’s all so interesting!! Thank you so much for bringing it along to the party, I look forward to trying it xx

  4. Oooooo, the ginger fizz sounds delish. Is it anything like ginger beer? (my fav) Alas, this actually takes tons of time to make so it won’t be coming to my table anytime soon. BUT I can certainly appreciate it virtually at your table. 😀

  5. This is so cool, Sue! Never heard of ginger bug before, let alone all of the fermentation going on in your kitchen. Sour dough? Yes. Others? No…well, not until today that is! Thanks for the science experiment of the day. 🙂 I love learning something new. And, btw, I can almost see you in a lab coat as you go about the daily feedings, Lol!

    • Lol, if you could only see ! If we could all only see each other! Thanks Nancy, this was a really easy child compared to the sourdough which I regularly want to throw into the street. 🙂

  6. Never heard of Ginger bug before. This is very cool that you trying all these things. I really enjoyed your post, it was really in treasuring to learn something new! You are very creative! So, what next!?

    • Thank you! The man who sells pluots at our Wednesday market told me he gets 9 varieties and they are just starting to ripen and they will be good through September, when the plums come. Such an amazing variety and I love them all, the green ones, the yellow ones. Only problem with pluots is that they drip all over my face!

      • What a problem to have! 🙂 I can’t wait until they are available here… I’m going to start looking!

    • I do too, thank you. Blogging has really improved my cooking because of all I’ve learned from my fellows!

  7. I am in awe,I am hooked, I am needing to read this again and again and again (should have paid better attention in science class). I make my own soda water in a siphon – but that doesn’t count. Nice one!

  8. Wow, you’ve just stoked the fires under all our butts for the FF Challenge 1! This ginger bug and sodas look fantastic. I am sorry to say I don’t have enough patience yet to tend to something that needs to ferment. Keep posting about your killer bugs and yeast creations and shame me into doing it, Sue!

    • I kind of go crazy with these things, but all in good fun! Thanks and give me a few days to come up with a clever and motivating way to shame you out of dumpling land and into fermentation station . . . .

      • So my husband said he would make beer with me this summer! I think as long as I have a culprit with me, I am okay with trying it. And I will probably try to think up new dim sum recipes to go with the beer! 🙂

  9. What an interesting recipe! I think I will try it out soon. The ginger bug is fascinating 😉

  10. Wow, Sue! This is a completely fascinating post!! I learned so much from you! Funny that you should say your kitchen is more like a lab! I have been feeling that way more and more and while I was doing my yeast recipe, the same thoughts cam to my mind! I am surely going to start a ginger bug in my kitchen too! So awesome! 😀

  11. You cannot be serious! Ginger what? Never heard of Ginger bug before. This looks absolutely refreshing! I will have to make. Please remind me again and again if I don’t. You continue to amaze! I think I’ve said this before 🙂

  12. I love everything about this post – I’ve learned so much and it’s gotten my mind reeling at all the fun possibilities with fermenting. I had no idea about ginger bugs, but I love ginger and bubbly drinks and fruit! Is there a risk of it exploding if you don’t get the quantities or technique just right? I’m a little afraid of that, knowing I don’t have the best patience or precision 😀 I’m going to be thinking about this for a while; maybe I’ll get the courage to try someday. Amazing!

    • There’s no risk of explosion as long as you leave at least 1/2 to an inch of space in your bottle after the fermentation and flavoring period, when you put it in a tightly sealed swing top bottle — it sits like that for 3 days at room temp. Mine didn’t explode but when I opened it, whoa! there was a little volcano going on.

  13. Pingback: Scrappy Kitchen: Using Ends, Peels, & Stems (Strawberry Top and Herb Stem Soda & Kombucha; Buttermilk Lemon Rind Scones) | birgerbird

  14. I’m trying this! I have some beet kvass fermenting right now, but my kids don’t like it much 😦 They would drink this though! Thanks for the detailed instructions.

    • Sure! I love beet kvass and it’s on constant brew, but I can’t imagine my son even taking sip unless for money . . . .and my husband actually likes me to add loads of garlic to it! The Ginger Bug is really easy and fun.

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