Ever since I gave up drinking soda pop I have felt great. It was a little hard in the beginning, but I kept telling myself that it just wasn’t worth the energy swings, heart palpitations, and extra cost, so I called it quits and have been quite happy with iced tea. There are times, however, when something a little fizzy and a little sweet sounds mighty fine. In my recent reading about fermented and traditional foods, I came across the idea of making a “ginger bug” as the base for homemade carbonated drinks so I decided to give it a try.
I started by following this recipe: http://sustainableeats.wordpress.com/2009/04/18/homemade-soda/
I put a cup of filtered tap water in my jar with two teaspoons of chopped up ginger and two teaspoons of white sugar. I covered it using my standard method for all my ferments…a coffee filter over the top held on by the ring of the jar lid. It’s a tighter seal than a rubberband over a cloth, but still gets the air that’s necessary for success.
Every day for three days I stirred it twice a day, and at one of the stirrings added a teaspoon of ginger and a teaspoon of white sugar. After a day or two I could hear the carbonation after I stirred it, but by the evening of the third day I could hear the fizz before I even stirred so I knew it was ready to use.
If you do this, keep in mind that you’ll want to use organic ginger (if possible) with the skin on. The part that really gets the carbonation going is in the skin, but the actual ginger adds a nice flavor as well. I did a rough mince of the ginger. I started to grate it but realized that it kind of turns into a paste, and I wanted to be able to strain the liquid easily but leave the ginger. Bigger pieces facilitate that.
Keep in mind that fermentation is a combination of art and science. There’s a finesse to those little micro-organisms that create healthy bacteria, and sometimes they’re a bit picky. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time. If it doesn’t seem to be getting fizzy but doesn’t actually smell like it’s gone bad, it may be salvagable with either more time, putting it in a warmer spot, or giving it a little more food.
Once it’s ready, you can either use it right away or put a lid on it and stick it in your fridge to go to sleep. Feed it every week or so with ginger and sugar, and take it out a day or two before you want to use it, waking it up with more ginger and sugar.
You’ll have to check back to see how I actually used it and the utter deliciousness that is sitting in my fridge right now.