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Ginger bug is a colony of Saccharomyces florentinus and Lactobacillus hilgardii. The result of a spontaneous fermentation that occurs when ginger, sugar, and water are left to their own devices. The mixture captures wild yeasts and beneficial bacteria naturally from the surrounding environment. The fermented mixture can then be used to add a bacteria boost to homemade ginger beer; using a traditional method centuries old.

Our starter culture comes from our own, very active colony of Ginger Bug. Our Ginger Bug starter culture allows you to get your own colony up and running much faster than starting from scratch. We dehydrate our Ginger bug; you simply add water, sugar and ginger to the starter culture and fermentation begins within hours.

You feed the Ginger Bug sugar and water daily for 7 days. After that time, you drain the liquid off to make Ginger Beer with and repeat the process again. Looking after your Ginger Bug can be a great way to get children into the basics of fermentation at home. The Ginger Beer produced has a low alcohol content (typically less than 1% A.B.V.) which can be enjoyed by the whole family.

How is GBP different from Ginger Bug?

GBP is like Water Kefir in that it is a gelatinous symbiotic colony of microorganisms, in this case a SCOBY of Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces. However, they are different sub species to the ones found in Ginger Bug and are similar to those found in actual beer production. The main difference is in taste between the two ginger beers produced. GBP has a more tart flavour to it when compared to Ginger Bug, which produces a much sweeter tasting traditional ginger beer. We generally find GBP also seems to be a little more alcoholic in comparison to Ginger Bug.

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How to make Traditional Ginger Beer

What equipment do I need

Brewing Jar
You need something to keep your Ginger Bug in. We recommend using something glass. Glass is much easier to clean and keep sterile. Plastic tends to degrade over time and is prone to scratches which can harbor unwanted bacteria. Plastic also carries a risk of chemical contamination from the materials contained inside of it such as BPA. A glass Kilner style jam jar is perfect to use.

Plastic strainer / Paper Filter
Your also need a fine plastic strainer (the type used with tea) and a plastic stirring spoon. We do not recommend using metal, Ginger Bug is quite acidic and can react to coming into contact with metal.
For a sludge free Ginger Beer, we recommend that you strain the mixture through a paper filter, the type used for coffee is perfect. 

Jar cover
You also need something to cover your jar with. We recommend paper kitchen towels as they are easy to discard and replace. You can also use a muslin cloth or similar if you wish. Rubber bands also come in handy to secure the cover to the jar.

A large pan (must hold 5 litres)
A large stock pot works well.

A lemon squeezer
To get the most juice of out fresh lemons, warm them in the microwave for 30 seconds and kneed them gently on a worktop. Then cut in half and squeeze the juice out.

You also need some bottles to store your Ginger Beer in. We recommend using plastic bottles. Ginger Beer gets VERY fizzy. Make sure you use BPA free plastic.

Plastic funnel
It is useful to get a plastic funnel to help pour the liquid into the bottles.

Glass/plastic measuring Jug
It is also useful to have something to decant your strained mixture into. Glass or plastic measuring jugs are perfect.

What ingredients do I need?

You only need 4 ingredients to make Ginger Beer, Ginger, water, fresh lemons and sugar. Dried ginger powder works best. 

Getting Started

Boil 300ml of water. Allow it to cool and add to your jar. Add four teaspoons of sugar (20g) and one teaspoon (5g) of ginger powder and stir well. Place your Ginger Bug into the jar, stir gently and cover the jar. Leave it for 24 hours at room temperature (21 degrees celsius). You should notice the mixture will start to bubble within just a few hours.

Each day, for the next 7 days, you will need to feed the Ginger Bug two teaspoons of sugar (10g) and one teaspoon (5g) of ginger powder. 

The First Brew

You will need:

  • 500 grams of sugar
  • 1 litre of boiling water
  • 3 litres of cold water (tap water is fine)
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  1. Strain off the liquid into a separate container. Retain the sediment of Ginger Bug to make your next batch with.
  2. Add 1 litre of water to the large pot and bring to the boil. Add the sugar and stir so that it dissolves.
  3. Squeeze the juice from 2 lemons and add to the pan of boiled water.
  4. Add the 3 litres of cold water to the pan and stir.
  5. Add the Ginger Bug liquid you strained off earlier. Always do this part last. The hot water will kill the ginger bug!

Bottling the Ginger Beer

It is now time to bottle your brew. If you want to increase the alcohol content, you can also add more sugar at this stage.

Using your plastic funnel, pour the mixture into your bottles, and seal them. Place the bottles at room temperature for 2-4 days. Check the bottles each day. Once they become firm, they are ready.

It is important if using glass bottles to check and burp (release some of the gas build up) daily to minimise the risk of explosions.

The Ginger Beer is now ready to drink. Place your bottles in the fridge to cool. Be very careful when opening the bottles. Ginger Bug produces an extremely fizzy beverage that is prone to exploding out the bottle.

The next batch

Take the Ginger Bug sediment that was strained out previously and divide it in half. Take one half and place it back into the original jar you used to ferment the Ginger Bug in. Add 4 teaspoons of sugar (20g) and one teaspoon of powdered ginger (5g). Boil 300 ml of water and allow it to cool back to room temperate (21 degrees celsius). Once cooled, add it to the jar and stir well. Repeat the process again feeding your Ginger Bug for 7 days.

What do I do with the extra Ginger Bug sediment?

Traditionally, Ginger Bug was always split and shared with friends. If you do not wish to do this, you can dry it out by pasting a thin layer onto tin foil of filter paper and leaving it to dry fully (around 4 days). Store the dried Ginger Bug is a sealed container for up to 6 months.

My Ginger Bug shows no signs of life

Sometimes it can take a little longer for your Ginger Bug to start fermenting. Factors such as cooler temperatures can often come into play in this scenario. We advise that you put your Ginger Bug in the warmest place you can find. Continue to see the daily feeding regime through for the full 7 days and continue this for up to 10 days if required. If at this stage, you still see no sign of life (bubbles), please get in touch with us!

If you have more than one fermenting food culture at home, we recommend that you keep them at least 1 metre apart from each other at all times. This is to stop cross contamination of the different cultures. If you are working with dairy in particular, this is very important. Please contact us is you require further assistance with fermenting more than one culture.
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