A friend of mine shared some bottles of her homemade ginger soda with us earlier this summer - and I fell in love! Those bottles did not last long in our house, and I was soon looking up recipes online and learning how to make my own.
It is one of my new favorite summer drinks -- along with the Italian sodas that my husband makes for me (Mmm. Especially when he makes them from our own cherries, blackberries or chokeberries. Perhaps I'll post a recipe for those soon, too.)
After a quick search I found a good simple recipe for making a ginger "bug" on this website.
But if you don't want to bother clicking over to her recipe, here is what I wrote down in my recipe book:
To make ginger bug:
Grate 2 T. fresh ginger, place in a mason jar and mix with 2 T. sugar and 2 T. water
Cover the jar with cheesecloth (secure with a rubber band or the metal canning lid ring) and place on counter
Every day for 5 days add 2 T. grated ginger, 2 T. sugar and 2 T. water
To make ginger soda:
When the ginger bug mixture is bubbly and is beginning to smell yeasty you can strain off 1/4 cup of liquid and mix with 1 quart of juice in a swing top bottle. (We got our bottles from buying a French lemonade drink at Aldi's.)
Let this ferment on the counter for 3-5 days and then transfer to frig or drink right away.
**Remember to open up and "burp" your soda at regular intervals. I almost forgot this the first time and let it sit a little too long.... I'm lucky I didn't break anything when I opened it up and the swing top lid went exploding through the air! The glass bottles could actually burst if the pressure builds up too much **
I have mixed my ginger bug with a variety of fruit juices - whatever I had happened to have handy - and it has all been amazingly delicious.
You can then rejuvenate your ginger bug by replacing the liquid with 2 T. sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup water. Keep your ginger bug going by putting it in the frig and feeding it once a week (2 T. ginger 2 T. sugar 2 T. water), or leave it on the counter if you plan on making soda more frequently and feed it every couple days or so. It also might help to stir it a little bit if things settle too much.
I found that it is pretty resilient once you get it going (lucky for me, since I keep getting distracted by all the animals and kids I have to feed and forget about my ginger bug).
Others also recommended placing it on top of the frig (or other warm-ish place) during the winter to help get the ginger bug growing. Summer kitchens are usually plenty hot enough to get it going!