Homemade Ginger Soda
Homemade soda is a labour of love, but as with most fermented foods, there's something incredibly satisfying about making your own soda from scratch. It's also extremely good for your gut health!
I've included as much detail below as possible, however there are always a lot of variables involved in making fermented foods at home - equipment, product quality, weather, etc. They are, after all, living products, so it's very likely that there will be small differences to your soda each time you make it. There even may be parts of the instructions below that you will need to tweak as you go. The more times you make it, the better you will become and recognising how your soda is progressing and whether anything needs changing.
You'll need to start by making a 'bug' to grow the active yeast that will form the base of your soda, much in the same way you need a sourdough starter when making sourdough bread.
A ginger bug is 'fed' ginger and white sugar daily. It's important to note that you're not going to be eating all that sugar - it's for the ginger bug to eat, not you! By the time you enjoy your soda, it's not going to be particularly sweet.
Ginger Bug (Starter)
- White vinegar
- One large nob of organic fresh ginger
- White sugar
- Filtered water
Sterilise a mason jar by filling it with one white vinegar and two parts boiling water, and allowing it to sit while you chop two tablespoons of ginger into small pieces. Empty the mason jar then fill it with 1.5 cups of filtered water* then add the ginger and 2 tablespoons of white sugar. Feed the ginger bug more ginger and sugar each day for around a 10 days, or until small bubbles start to appear at the surface. If you skip a day here and there, it's unlikely to affect your ginger bug. It should have a sweet, yeasty smell at this stage, and the mixture should fizz when stirred (use a plastic spoon to stir, not metal). The fizzier your ginger bug is, the faster your soda is going to ferment.
You'll only be using 1/4 cup at a time to make your soda, so keep feeding it after your soda is underway. You can also put your bug to 'sleep' by storing it in the fridge, and only feeding it once a week. To 'wake' it again, simply remove from the fridge and allow to reach room temperature before continuing to feed it daily.
*make sure you use a jar that allows you to leave an inch or two of room at the surface
Here's a ginger bug day one, versus ginger bug day nine:
- White vinegar
- 4 cups freshly boiled water
- 3/4 cup white sugar (remember, it's not for you!)
- 1/4 cup liquid from your ginger bug
- 2 organic ginger teabags
Sterilise a large flip-top bottle by filling with one part white vinegar and two parts boiling water, and allowing to sit while you make the sweet tea. Add the 4 cups of boiling water and teabags to large jug or bowl, and gradually add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature - this will give the teabags time to steep as much as possible. Once room temperature, add the 1/4 cup ginger bug liquid. Empty the flip-top bottle and transfer the tea mixture into it, then allow to sit at room temperature for 2-3 weeks.
Once your soda starts to develop some bubbles, start taste-testing it every few days. This is also a good opportunity to 'burp' the bottle to avoid pressure building up too high. Turn the bottle a few times to distribute the yeast settling on the bottom, then flip open carefully (it should make a 'pop' sound, like when you open a soft drink bottle, but much quieter!).
If it tastes sweet and flat, it needs longer to ferment. If it tastes fizzy and less sweet, it's ready!
Transfer to the fridge, and enjoy chilled.