Thanks for your question. It’s a great one and I had to think on what would be the easiest way to ferment a starter with no whey or sugar that you could use as a probiotic beverage standard for your family. I think the “Ginger Bug” is the best way to go. Have fun!
This is a three-stage process.
Stage 1: The Starter
Take a quart size jar and clean with very hot soap and water. You may want to dip it in boiling water to destroy as many microbes as possible that may interfere with your fermentation process.
Fill the jar 2/3 full with filtered water. Do not use tap water as it contains chlorine which will kill your starter.
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger root with the skin on
1 Tablespoon agave nectar
(do not use honey as honey contains anti-microbial components that will inhibit your starter)
Stir well. This is important. Your starter needs air.
Cover with a cheesecloth and rubber band and let stand out on your counter in a warm place.
For the next 3-7 days:
Each day add:
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon agave
Stir well twice daily.
When you see bubbles on the surface of the liquid and it fizzes when you stir it. It’s finished.
Some of this you will use for your wort. The rest you can place in the refrigerator and when your ready to make a new wort. Take it out, add another teaspoon of ginger and agave some filtered water and let stand out overnight to reactivate. Then begin your next wort.
Stage 2: The Wort
This is the creative part. What kind of beverage do you want? Here are a few ideas:
The basic Ginger Beer:
Take 1/3 cup grated ginger and ½ a vanilla bean and simmer in 8 cups of water for 20 minutes. Let cool.
Mix in 11/2 cups agave syrup.
Add: ½ a vanilla bean, 1 Tablespoon burdock root, 1 Tablespoon licorice
You could cut the ginger wort in half and add 4 cups of ginger wort to 12 cups peach juice, ¼ cup lemon juice with 1 cup starter for a fruit beverage.
Hibiscus, lemon, ginger
Cherry, vanilla, lemon, ginger
Into a super clean gallon jar:
Mix 1 cup strained ginger starter
The cooled wort
¼ cup lemon juice
Enough water to fill the jar
Cover with a cheesecloth and let stand for another 3-7 days allowing the fermentation process to develop. That means look for bubbles.
Strain your wort. Sludge at the bottom of the jar is normal.
Place into bottles with rubber clasp tops leaving a few inches at the top and place in the refrigerator to slow continued fermentation and possible bottle explosions.