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Master Ginger Bug Fermented Soda Recipe

A recipe template which allows you to make any homemade fermented soda flavor you can imagine! This guide can be used to make homemade ginger beer, root beer, cream sodas, fermented lemonades, and more.
Cook Time 30 mins
Fermentation Time 3 d
Total Time 3 d 30 mins
Servings 64 Oz

Equipment

  • 1 Gallon Glass Jar w/ Cloth Cover
  • 4 16oz Swing Top Glass Bottles

Ingredients
  

Base Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Active Ginger Bug Starter
  • 8 cups Filtered Cold Water

Flavorings

  • 3/4 cups Fruit, fruit juice, tea, herbs, or roots.

Delicate Spices

  • 1 Tbsp Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, sassafras, star anise, delicate florals & herbs) *optional

Sweeteners

  • 1 cups Sugar (one or more: cane sugar, raw sugar, light brown sugar, molasses, etc.)

Instructions
 

Make a Decoction/Soda Syrup

  • Fill a gallon-sized glass jar with 8 cups cold filtered water.
  • Add 4 cups of the cold filtered water to a stockpot and bring to a boil*.
  • Add your soda flavoring ingredients such as teas, roots, herbs, or fruit and reduce to a simmer for 15-30 minutes. For earthier root beers, allow the roots to simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Remove decoction from heat and add any optional delicate herbs or spices*. Mix thoroughly and let steep for 5-30 minutes until desired flavor is achieved.
  • Strain the liquid into a mixing bowl and add 1 cups of sugar*. Mix until sugar is dissolved.

Make Your Ferment

  • Pour the syrup decoction into the other 4 cups of cold water in your gallon-sized glass jar*. Allow the mixture to cool completely.
  • Once cooled, add your strained ginger bug starter and mix to combine.
  • Cover the jar with a breathable cloth and place in a warm, dark location for 24-48 hours.

Bottle Your Soda

  • Check your soda after 24 hours and look for a thin layer of foam developing on top. Depending on the environment, this can take between 24-48 hours.
  • Once foamy, use a funnel and ladle to fill swing-top bottles with your soda.
  • For light and fizzy sodas and ales, place your swing-top bottles into the refrigerator immediately after bottling. For longer ferments and root beers, place your swing-top bottles back in a dark, warm location and allow to ferment for no more than 24 hours before refrigerating.
  • Your homemade fermented soda is ready to enjoy once cold. Serve in a mason jar over ice cubes and garnish with fresh herbs and fruit.

Notes

Helpful Tips for Making Ginger Bug Sodas:
  • Bottling Soda: Once your mixture is placed into swing-top bottles, pressure will build up in the bottle due to the continued fermentation process. I recommend bottling your soda and refrigerating within 12-24 hours. This lets some pressure build up for a bubbly soda pop; however, it is possible for too much pressure to build up in the bottle and possibly explode if left to ferment for longer than 24 hours. For this reason, you should "burp" your soda if you will be letting it ferment in the bottle for longer than 24 hours. "Burping" is simply the process of slightly opening the swing-top bottle to release some pressure before closing the bottle up again. 
  • Fresh Fruit Juice Sodas: When making fresh fruit juice sodas (such as lemonade), the boiling step may be skipped. Instead, add your fruit juice to 8 cups of cool water. Mix in sugar until dissolved and then add your ginger bug starter. 
  • Preserved & Pasteurized Citrus Juices: Beware of preservatives or other ingredients in store-bought juices which may inhibit the fermentation process or kill your ginger bug altogether. I've had issues particularly when using some brands of pasteurized lemon juice. For this reason, I always use fresh juices. Also, adding a lot of citrus can increase the acidity of your soda mixture and slow down the fermentation process. Try adding citrus juices right before bottling your soda.
  • Delicate Herbs & Spices: Boiling water can cause delicate spices to take on a bitter flavor. Certain fresh herbs (such as basil and lavender), spices (cinnamon, star anise, licorice, vanilla), and floral ingredients should be added to the decoction once removed from heat and allowed to gently infuse. 
  • Sugar Types: The typical rule of thumb for fermented sodas is 1-2 cups of sugar per gallon. You can add more or less depending on your taste. You can use plain cane sugar or combine various kinds of light and dark sugars for depth. Fermented root beer recipes, for example, use a combination of dark molasses and light sugars. 
  • Ginger Bug Temperature: You must wait until your soda mixture has cooled down to room temperature before adding your ginger bug. Temperatures above 90°F can kill your Ginger Bug.