September 9, 2010 § Leave a comment
A week ago, I started a little ginger bug. I learned about little ginger bugs from Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation. I really love super spicy ginger ale, and so does my family (!), so I thought that this would be the perfect first fermentation project for moving back home again.
I looked at a few different recipes that people have for starting ginger bugs. Some people suggest start with 1 cup of sugar with about 1/3 cup of shredded ginger in 2 cups of water, but most others, including Sandor Katz suggest beginning with 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of shredded ginger in just a cup of water. I really wanted to make my ginger ale super gingery, so I went with amounts closer to the first set. Now I realize, though, that the amount of ginger in the starter doesn’t affect the ginger-y taste of the end product that much. It’s the ginger in the final ginger ale step that makes it spicy. I think that using less ginger to start with would work just as well.
I am so lazy at measuring, but I can guess that I used about 3-4″ of ginger root, which made about a third of a cup shredded, and little bit less than a cup of sugar. The top layer is bleached cane sugar, and the bottom layer is unbleached cane sugar. I just ran out of unbleached.
I mixed the sugar with a little less than two cups of water in just an old spaghetti sauce mason jar. Then I added the ginger strips. It was really fun to cut so much ginger. It made my fingers feel so warm!
After it was all in the jar, I rubber-banded some cloth over the top and left on the counter by the stove so the yeasts could do their warm little thing.
Yay. It is so exciting to have a little pet ginger bug. After the first day, nothing was different. After the second day, nothing was different. After the third day, there were little bubbles around the ginger. After the fourth day, though, the jar was full of little bubbles and the top was covered in a layer of bubbles! I was so happy to see the bubbles, but I knew that I needed to get bottles for the ginger ale right away! I wanted to get Grolsch-style swing-top beer bottles to bottle the ginger ale, since they work so well for fermented sodas, but I have been unsuccessful so far at finding some place around here that sells small-ish quantities of Grolsch. In Pennsylvania, you can only get beer at licensed beer distributors and bars, so the only places that sold any kind of beer with a swing-top lid sold them by the case, which is way too much for me! So I ended up bottling my ginger ale in a growler that I got earlier this summer at the East End Brewing Company.
To prepare the ginger ale, I boiled about 4″ of sliced ginger with 1.5 cups of sugar in a half gallon of water. After it cooled, I strained the ginger out of it and poured in about a cup of the strained ginger bug. I put another cup of water into the ginger bug and then added some more sugar and ginger so that it can keep going!
I forgot to take a picture of boiling the mixture and straining everything, but you can see the pitcher I used to mix everything, and the assortment of strainers I used to try to get all of the tiny ginger pieces out.
And here it is in the growler! I let it sit out for two days, and then left it in the fridge for two more. I cracked it open and the bottle breathed out a huge sigh of relief and I drank a huge glass of cold, fizzy ginger ale! Mmmmm.