If you eat organic food, you probably have omitted it from your diet. Even if you do still drink soda you are probably aware of the voluminous information about the negative benefits this sweet beverage has on your health. In addition to being sold in cans lined with bisphenol A  (BPA), soda dehydrates the body, contains coloring that is linked to cancer, blocks the absorption of magnesium and wears away dental enamel, among myriad other atrocities.

If you misses it, you can make your own soda. Really! You can! It’s not the same as drinking a Coke of Pepsi but it is certainly a great, tasty alternative that doesn’t carry the same negative health risks as what you’re used to. It’s also easier than you think!

This particular soda can be used as a simple base to build whatever flavors you want. The base is fresh turmeric and fresh ginger, and despite the fact that it takes some time to create the ginger bug and then ferment the soda, it’s worth the wait!

TO MAKE THE GINGER BUG:

Here are the ingredients you will need for the ginger bug:

  1. A clean, quart or so size glass jar
  2. A paper coffee filter and a large rubber band
  3. 3 Tbsp grated fresh Ginger
  4. 3 Tbsp organic white sugar (it has to be white)                                                                                                                                                    Put all of the ingredients into the glass jar. Stir well, and then cover with the coffee filter and the rubber band. Place on the counter away from other fermented foods to avoid cross-contamination and/or damaging the cultures.

Every day for the next five to seven days (I always go seven days as the bug becomes a bit spicier), add 1 Tbsp of grated ginger and 1 Tbsp of organic sugar; stir well and replace the coffee filter and rubber band. You should hear the foaming and fermenting in the ginger bug each time you open it up to feed it. When the mixture smells a bit yeasty, it’s ready.  

If you are not ready to use the ginger bug right away store it in the refrigerator, which will stop the fermenting process. If you leave the ginger bug in the refrigerator for a long period of time, be sure to feed it 1 Tbsp of grated ginger and 1 Tbsp of sugar once per week.

Once you take the ginger bug out of the refrigerator, if it is out more than a day, start feeding it again with 1 Tbsp of grated ginger and 1 Tbsp of organic sugar once each day until you’re ready to use it.

TO MAKE THE SODA:

Here are the ingredients you will need:

  1. 8 cups of filtered water
  2. 1/3 cup or more of fresh grated turmeric (you don’t need to peel it…just grate it
  3. 2-3 of your favorite tea bags, or a Tbsp or more of your favorite loose tea
  4. 1 cup of organic sugar (you can use less if you like)
  5. The juice of 4 fresh limes
  6. The juice of 2-3 fresh oranges, grapefruit or other citrus of your choice
  7. 2 cups (the whole batch) of your ginger bug
  8. Fresh ground pepper

Put the water, grated turmeric and sugar into a large stainless steel pot and bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Into the room temperature mixture, add the rest of the ingredients including the whole jar of ginger bug. Stir well, and then strain into a large bowl through cheesecloth or a really fine mesh strainer. (Don’t forget to compost all of the pulp once you’ve strained the soda!)

Pour the soda into 16 ounce glass Beer/Kambucha bottles (I get mine here), fill to the bottom of the neck of the bottle and clasp the tops shut. I’ve found that the soda ferments faster if it is not filled to the top. This recipe will fill 6 bottles.

Set the bottles on your counter in a warmish spot, and be sure to pop them once per day to let out the gasses. If you don’t they could blow and the last thing you want is turmeric colored walls, windows and floors. Depending on how warm your kitchen is it could take 3-7 days to get the ferment you want. I use an old kitchen towel to cover the top before I pop it to ensure that it doesn’t spray my kitchen or me. Once the bottles are appropriately fizzy put them in the refrigerator, which will stop the fermenting process. Drink and enjoy!

Sometimes I will admit I can’t wait until they’re completely fermented, so I drink it with added soda water. Don’t worry about diluting the drink by doing this, as it is still incredibly rich and yummy.

I start with a double batch, which makes 12 bottles, and when those are done fermenting I start a new ginger bug. Each time I get through six bottles, my ginger bug is ready and I make another batch. This means I have a ginger bug on my counter pretty much all of the time because I don’t like running out of this amazing drink!

Once you get the hang of this, you can add pretty much anything you want to the basic soda recipe to flavor it. Often I use more lime and I like to add either watermelon juice, mango juice or purple carrot juice. Use whatever you like, and experiment and have fun!

I buy my loose teas from Mountain Rose Herbs, and my favorite right now is the Evening Repose.