Adding fermented foods to your child’s diet is a wonderful way to get healthy, gut-balancing flora into the digestive tract. Fermented food and drink is cheaper than a probiotic supplement and is also more readily absorbed by the body. The earlier kids are exposed to the taste of fermented food and beverage the better as children start developing taste preferences in the womb.
Because I focus on all things KIDS and HEALTH here at Kula Mama, I’m starting a series called “Fermented Fridays” in which I publish kid-friendly fermented food and drink recipes. First up I’d like to share a “ginger bug” recipe with you. A ginger bug is essentially a starter culture that you can use to make other fermented juices and sodas. We have been making ginger bugs pretty regularly in our home for the last few months with great success. I’ve read many different recipes, and it seems everyone has their own opinion about the “best” way to make one. I’m sharing with you how we make them in our home (so far each bug we make activates and works very well), however I can’t tell you if modifications will work (molasses vs sugar, peeling the ginger vs not) as this is the only recipe we have used. I’ve read that fermenting is an art not a science so play around with what works for you!
This week work on making your own ginger bug, and next Friday I’ll tell you what the heck to DO with your ginger bug when it’s active. Meet you back here next Friday…Click here for the recipe!
How to make a GINGER BUG.
2 tablespoons peeled and grated ginger
2 tablespoons organic sugar
2 cups filtered water (free of chlorine and fluoride)
Using a clean jar (mason is fine) combine 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir mixture with a NON-metal spoon (wood, silicone, plastic are all fine).
Cover top with a clean dish towel and set on the counter for 5 -7 days. The amount of time your ginger bug will take to fully ferment depends in part on the temperature of your house. I find that in the summer when my home is a little warmer my ginger bug activates very quickly.
Every day for 5-7 days you need to “feed” your bug with 1 tablespoon grated ginger AND 1 tablespoon sugar. You should stir it once a day when you feed your bug.
When the ginger/sugar/water culture is “active” it will show tiny bubbles on the top, will fizz when you stir it and will generally have a sweet/yeasty smell to it. If you have ever tried a fermented beverage you will recognize the smell. When your bug takes on these characteristics it is ready and can be added to juices for a fermented, probiotic-rich treat.
If your culture does not activate in 8 days, throw it out and start again.
If your culture forms mold on the top, throw it out and start again. Some sources say you can scrape the mold off once and you are fine as long as it doesn’t reappear, but throwing it out is my preference because I’m a chicken.
How to keep your bug alive:
You can keep your bug alive on the counter by feeding it every day with 1 tablespoon ginger and 1 tablespoon sugar. You should also replace any water you take out when you use the bug to add to juices.
If feeding your bug becomes a hassle you can let it rest in the fridge and feed it weekly with 1 tablespoon ginger and 1 tablespoon sugar.
Thanks for the recipe. Once I create my ginger bug, how do I make a drink out of it? Do I just plunk it in juice or water?
Oh! I just saw that you would continue the instructions next Friday. Can’t wait!
Hi Andrea, yes the new post is up!
Thank you for sharing this! My family and I are just starting to learn about fermented food, especially since our eldest is fighting the flu and I’m due for a serious surgery next week. We love coconut oil and raw honey, but know next to nothing about fermenting foods. I really appreciate you sharing this recipe that I can easily make even while in pain, that my kids are likely to enjoy in their juice!
Sending you lot of good thoughts for your surgery Tracy–add this ginger bug to a little apple juice and heal well!!!
Is this like kombutcha?? I am a bit scared about the mould aspect. What is the implications if you dont see the mould but drink this??
Hi Jessica, if you see mold you can scrape it off and still use it if you want, or you can throw it out and start again. If you don’t see mold and you drink it–you will get lots of health bacteria for your body! It’s good stuff. Thanks for reading!
This sounds like a lot of sugar!? Is it really beneficial when it has so much sugar in it?
Hi Rachel, The sugar is food for the bacteria to eat while fermenting, not for your body! By the time it’s finished fermenting, the sugar level will be much less.
Yep! Works better than expected. Here’s another take on the same process.
Hi there, I have been making the ginger bug with great results and adding to my finished kombucha….wow, what a great drink.
One of my GB batches has a layer on top….it did resemble a scoby, is that possible or is that the mold….still smells good. I did not want to use or throw away…..should I just stick with the “when in doubt, throw it out” saying?
I always use the “when in doubt, throw it out” rule when it comes to fermentation!
Quick question about the non-metal thing. Why? I haven’t been stirring it with metal but I do have a stainless steel funnel that I was planning on using to put it in the bottle. Why would that be a problem?
I have a small bubbles on top and under surface but it does not fizz when I stir it. It has become thick. There is no mould and clearly somethings happening. I cannot smell that yeasty smell yet either. Should I leave it longer to ferment or do you think it’s ready to use.