Nearly two years ago, I was doing my first brewing to produce beverages other than beer. One beverage I made was naturally fermented ginger ale using what’s called ginger bug.
Having many batches of sourdough, beer, kombucha, and ginger bug under my belt, it was now time to question convention methods that I faithfully followed the last time. Plus there may just be a bit of rebel in me.
When you make these fermented foods, you’re gorowing a colony of critters – yeasts mostly, of varying types but also bacteria. Living creatures need to eat. That’s why you need to keep adding flour and water to your sourdough. That’s why you need to add sweet tea to the kombucha. I understand the biology behind that. But why, when making ginger bug, does every single recipe tell you to keep adding sugar and ginger.
The grated ginger root with the skin on is the source of the yeast. Organic ginger is best because the non-organic type is treated to prevent things from growing on it. My questions is this: once the naturally occurring yeasts are well developed, why is it necessary to continue adding more ginger? It should be feeding off the sugar so that alone, in theory, should be sufficient.
Naturally I had to test my theory. I grated a tablespoon of ginger, added a tablespoon of sugar and put that in a pint sized mason jar. I added enough filtered water to go nearly to the top. Each day I added a tablespoon of sugar. We’re on Day 3 now:
Look at that happy ginger, just bubbling away! Of course my experiment won’t be complete until I follow through with making ginger ale but I think we’re off to a good start here. In a week or so I should be able to declare whether or not the experiment was a success. Stay tuned…