I am not a fan of commercial soft drinks whatsoever, but once I started making my own from ”bugs’, which are fermented roots (often ginger root) with sugar, I have had great fun making and consuming all sorts of variations of fizzy drinks. Especially after working several hours (or at least what seems like several hours) in the garden, I am rewarded with a tall cool drink of whatever mixture I have fermenting in the kitchen.
The process is really very simple, but it does take a little time. I try to make a couple of bottles a day so that I always have some on hand. To begin, I mix a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh ginger with an equal amount of sugar in about a cup of water in a covered mason jar. Each day I add half that amount of ginger and sugar until the mixture begins to bubble which is around five days, at which point it is ready to make a drink of whatever flavour I want with a second fermentation.
The second part is where the interesting flavours come in, although because it is a ginger bug, there will be a good gingery flavour already. For these drinks I used ginger-friendly fruits, rhubarb for one and sumac for the other.
You will need flip top bottles for this so that no gas escapes during fermentation. The bottles I used hold two cups so it made measuring easy – 1 3/4 cup sumac or rhubarb juice (descriptions below), 1 tsp sugar (or a little more if you want it sweeter) and 1/4 cup ginger bug. Mix well, bottle and leave to ferment from 2-5 days depending on the temperature of your kitchen and how much sugar you have used. For a first attempt I recommend opening it after two days to see how it’s doing. If there is no ‘pop’ at all when you open it, leave it for another day or two next time, although it will still be very good, just not too bubbly. Because I use little sugar, I like to leave mine for five days to give it a really good fizz, but then I do have to be careful to open it slowly and expect a little to escape. Kind of like opening champagne! If you want it for later, refrigerate it which will slow down any further fermentation – but not stop it all together.
For the juices, I cooked some chopped rhubarb covered in water with sugar to taste and strained. For the sumac, I simply used water infused with sumac berries.
After you have used the ‘bug’, add water to replace the liquid you have strained out of it, and continue to feed it ginger and sugar daily. Or put it in the fridge and carry on another day. You will have to remove some of the ginger from time time, which I do whenever I am making a soup, dressing or stir-fry into which it goes very nicely.
Linked to: Fiesta Friday # 76