How to Make Homemade Fermented Soda with a Ginger Bug

I think most kids like soda and other fizzy drinks. Mine do, at least, but we're an "as unprocessed as possible" home, not to mention pretty frugal home, so soda is something I don't generally buy. For the past while, kombucha has been our replacement soda. But the thing is, in order to make kombucha, you have to have access either to a kombucha mother or some ready kombucha with which to grow your own kombucha mother. What if you don't have a source for kombucha making equipment? Can you still make lacto-fermented drinks and get also the taste benefit, and also the health benefits?
By making lacto-fermented soda.

Lacto-fermented soda is made by adding a probiotic culture to juice or any other sweetened drink, and letting it ferment. This transforms the drink into a fizzy, sweet and sour, nutritionally beneficial drink that tastes good.
You can make lacto-fermented soda with whey strained from homemade kefir or homemade yogurt (just stick them in a cheesecloth, and use the liquid that drips out), but we're a dairy free home, so dairy based lacto-fermented sodas don't work here.

Fortunately, you can make your own vegan probiotic starter culture- a ginger bug- with just 2 easy to get ingredients.

How to Make a Ginger Bug

First, I have to give credit to this post on A Life Unprocessed, as that's where I learned how to make a ginger bug as well as lacto-fermented soda.

Making a ginger bug involves "catching" the natural yeasts and bacterias and other microbes that are in the air by making a solution in which they will thrive, and then feeding the colony of probiotics that starts to grow, until you have a very thriving probiotic starter.

2 cups water
1 inch of fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Wash your ginger root, and keeping the peel on, grate it.

2. Add sugar and water. You can use regular white sugar, refined cane sugar, brown sugar, or unrefined cane sugars like sucanat or rapadura. Honey probably will not work for this as its an anti-microbial. Even if you avoid sugar for health reasons, you don't have to worry so much here as the sugar gets eaten up by the probiotics.

3. Put in a glass jar, cover with a cloth, and rubber band it on. This keeps out dust, but allows air to come in.

4. Every day, add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of grated ginger, and mix it well. This is how you're "feeding" the ginger bug. (Kind of like how people feed their sourdough starter.) If you're in a very warm climate, do this twice a day, as the probiotics grow much faster in warmer climates.

5. After two to four days, your mixture will start bubbling a lot and smell very yeasty. It should be bubbling even before you feed it, not immediately after. When this happens, your ginger bug is ready.

You may notice that you ginger bug starts developing this clear/opaque white layer of cellulose type things across the top, similar . Don't worry- its totally fine.

6. Now that your ginger bug is ready, you can either use it now, or you can refrigerate it for later use. If you refrigerate it now, when planning on using it, remove it from the fridge, and then add some sugar and ginger to liven it up again, wait for it to bubble, and then use it.

7. To use your ginger bug, strain it out into a cup and use. (I find that the best way to do this is to put a mesh strainer across the top of the jar, and pour the starter out through the mesh, keeping the ginger behind. You want to save all the ginger.)

How to Make Lacto-Fermented Soda

1. Use 1/4 cup of starter for every quart of soda. You can make a soda out of any sweetened drink, like fruit juice, sweetened tea, ginger boiled in water with sugar, etc... Just keep in mind that the fermentation process will make the drink more acidic (but not overly so), so try to balance it out by adding sweetener as needed. Also note the since the probiotics need sugar to grow, if the drink isn't sweet, you'll need to add sugar. 
Probiotic sodas made with a ginger bug also have a slight gingery taste, so only use drinks whose flavors won't clash with the ginger.

My favorite lacto-fermented soda was one I made out of sumac lemonade. It had a beautiful bright red color, almost flourescent, and when ready and fizzy, was just as fun for my kids as one of those food coloring dyed sodas.
I've also made with lemonade, and a combination of lemon, limes, and tangerines.

2. Make sure your drink is room temperature or slightly warmer to the touch, but definitely not hot. (Heat will kill the probiotics.) Mix well. Cover with a cloth and rubberband or a bottle cover.

3. Twice or three times a day, give the liquid a mix.

4. After 3 days, move the liquid to a sealed bottle. When sealing the bottle, the carbon dioxide has no where to go, so it starts building up in the liquid and making it fizz. You can use a mason jar for this. I tend to use recycled plasic soda bottles. The reason for this is when carbonizing, pressure builds up inside the bottle or the jar, and if too much pressure builds up, it can explode. I can tell when my soda is ready when in a plastic soda bottle, because the carbon dioxide inside pushes the sides of the bottle out, making it hard and very full feeling, like an unopened bottle of store bought soda. If using a mason jar, be careful and "burp" the jar after 24 hours.

5. Once fully carbonated, or after 24 hours, place the soda in the fridge to cool, and to prevent explosions.

So what about that ginger left in the jar? How do you make more starter? Just stick it in the fridge, and when you need more, add some more water and sugar, put it on the counter for 24 hours, and use it again. Once in a while add some more ginger, but it isn't as important at this stage.

In case you were wondering what the health benefits are of sodas fermented with a ginger bug, its hard to get a specific breakdown of the nutritional benefits of a ginger bug, including which probiotics, but... here's the medicinal benefits of ginger, as well as the benefits of lacto-fermenting.

Why Ferment?
“The proliferation of lactobacilli ... produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid... promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”
Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg 89
From Dr. David Williams' newsletter Alternatives:
"Traditional fermented foods help balance the production of stomach acid. Fermented foods have the unique ability to.. [and] ease digestive discomfort related to having either too much or too little stomach acid.
Fermented foods help the body produce acetylcholine, [...] a neurotransmitter [which] increase the movement of the bowel, can alleviate constipation problems, [...] acts as potent digestive aids.
Traditional fermented foods are beneficial for people with diabetes[-] improving pancreatic function, [...] carbohydrates in lactic acid–fermented foods have been broken down or "pre-digested," [...] and don't burden the pancreas.

Fermented foods produce numerous unknown compounds that destroy and inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria, such as cholera and typhoid... lactic acid bacteria found in sourdough bread, and discovered that it seemed to be more effective than other strains at killing microbes [...] quickly eliminated the super-bugs currently resistant to most antibiotics.

Health Benefits of Ginger

  • Ovarian Cancer Treatment as per study at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  • Colon Cancer Prevention as per a study at the University of Minnesota.
  • Morning Sickness as per several studies that concluded that ginger is just as effective as vitamin B6 in the treatment of morning sickness.
  • Motion Sickness Remedy.
  • Reduces Pain and Inflammation-ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful natural painkiller.
  • Heartburn Relief when taken in the form of tea.
  • Cold and Flu Prevention and Treatment.
  • Helpful for stomach flus or food poisoning, positive effects ginger has upon digestive tract.
  • Migraine Relief- it stop prostaglandins from causing pain and inflammation in blood vessels.
  • Menstrual Cramp Relief
  • Prevention of Diabetic Nephropathy


Are you a soda drinker? What is your favorite type of soda? Do your kids like it? Have you ever heard of lacto-fermented soda before? Have you heard of a ginger bug before? Have you ever made either? If so, what flavor did you like to make?
 Does this seem like something you'd try?
Do you try to have probiotics regularly, either in pill form or via fermented foods and drinks? What do you take to give you probiotics?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


Thank you for leaving a comment on your blog. Comments are moderated- please be patient to allow time for them to go through. Opposing opinions are permitted, discussion and disagreements are encouraged, but nasty comments for the sole purpose of being nasty without constructive criticisms will be deleted.
Just a note- I take my privacy seriously, and comments giving away my location or religion are automatically deleted too.

  1. So excited to try this out! This will be a great summer project for my kids. I'm going to have each of them make and "keep/feed/take care of" thier own "Ginger Bug"... like a little probiotic pet. Then we will make some soda. We too love sumac lemonade... so can't wait to try THAT with this! Thanks!!

  2. Love your website! I tried following directions for this and it sat out for a week with no bubbling or yeasty smell. I faithfully added more grated ginger and sugar each day. Although,I live in a hot climate and my house stays between 77-82 but I did not add the stuff twice a day like suggested. I had it covered with a coffee filter and rubber band. Do you think that prevented the good stuff to get in? I just stuck it in the fridge wondering what I should do with it. Should I throw it out and start over or is it saveable? There is no mold or anything on it.

    1. Did you exposed it to the sunlight? Make sure you don't because it could kill the actual microorganism that we want

  3. anonymous the good stuff is on the skin of the ginger, so you need to use organic ginger, dont peel it, just chop it up fine, and add it to the ginger bug - I keep a lid loosely on mine - it doesnt need to be open to the air and is more likely to get unwanted yeast on it if it isnt covered. Hope that helps I see you posted quite a while ago :)

  4. This this is absolutely my kinda drink. juice and beautiful to boot! I think a rush hour series is definitely in order!

  5. I need to try this again. I didn't quite get it right...unless Tipsy Turvy is what we're going for here.
    Yeah, I drank about a quart of it really fast, too...after not having had alcohol for about 4 years 'cause I've been pregnant or nursing. Woooooeeeeeeeee

  6. I know this is an old post - I make mine with various juices and teas. I make it every summer. It's easier than water Kefir. I just compost it at the end of autumn, and start another the following spring.
    We have milk Kefir and Viili all year round.

  7. What is "Viili" never heard of it?

    1. Viili is an almost strictly Finnish fermented dairy product =) The closest English translation I've ever come across is "clabbered milk" . Used to be that the only way to start a viili culture was to add some viili to milk, my mother in Canada specifically requested some ecological viili (as in not processed to death) when we visited from Finland, but I don't know if she got it to work with the pasteurised stuff sold in stores... I'll refer her to this post and see if she can pull it off.. Personally I can't ingest anything made with cow's milk - with the notable exception of cheese and chocolate - without my sinuses going crazy from MCAS, but I might try it with oat milk sometime =) I found an oat-based Greek yogurt that was a bit sweet to my palate so I'm always open to novel ideas =)


  8. I don't like whey OR ginger! I am going to try creating my starter with apple juice, dandelion leaf, dandelion root powder, a bit of my sourdough bread starter plus some lacto bacteria probiotic powder. God willing.

Previous Post Next Post