General question about ginger bugs

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General question about ginger bugs

Postby bluehorserefuge on Thu Sep 22, 2016 1:53 pm

Hi,
Sorry I posted in the wrong place earlier, I have a ginger bug on the go, adding a teaspoon of sugar and fresh grated ginger every day. I started it on Sunday , yesterday tasted it and it is lovely gingery and zingy, just as you'd want. Thing is I am using a coffee filter and rubber band to cover it, because I thought there wouldn't be much difference between using a filter and using a piece of cloth. The yeasts seem to be doing their job even better than in the other one I have going, which I added a teaspoon of active instant yeast to. But my question is this: If we use a cloth or muslin or coffee filter, I guess this is to allow the carbon dioxide to escape, but what is stopping harmful bacteria from getting in and contaminating it ? Surely they are small enough to? Am i right in thinking that the wild ginger yeasts "fight them off" in some way?
Thanks, Joe.
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Re: General question about ginger bugs

Postby Christopher Weeks on Thu Sep 22, 2016 2:05 pm

[Mod-moved from alcohol ferments board.]

In general, when you provide an environment that is particularly hospitable to one set of organisms, they outcompete any others that you might consider undesirable. Your ginger bug, like a sourdough starter, is a combination of wild yeasts and bacteria -- some came from the ginger-root's peel, some from your hands, some from the air. They will continue to arrive from the air, and some of us specifically use cheese-cloth as a cover to encourage that ongoing colonization.

In cases where I don't want that colonization, I ferment under a water-lock.
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Re: General question about ginger bugs

Postby bluehorserefuge on Thu Sep 22, 2016 2:35 pm

Thanks for the very helpful reply. I doubt I can get cheesecloth here in Nicaragua, I can't even get proper brewer's yeast. But now am trying this ginger bug, and the wild yeasts seem to be doing their job perfectly. Christopher, I don't know if I should ask this here or not, but can I apply this same "bug principle" to other fruits? I mean, just cover them, keep adding sugar and a bit more of the fruit every day, and create my own bug from any fruit ? Or is it only ginger I can do this with ? I do like the idea of my final drink having some alcohol in it, but I don't have any real brewing equipment here in this wild place, no airlocks or hydrometers etc, and no brewer's yeast anyway
Cheers.
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Re: General question about ginger bugs

Postby Tibor on Fri Sep 23, 2016 12:46 am

I'm not sure if you can do that with fruit. Ginger is a root, a rhizome of the ginger plant. I have made a Turmeric bug and then proceeded to make a turmeric brew. That worked because turmeric is similar to ginger as a rhizome and it turned out delicious and aromatic.
I believe a coffee filter or a piece of an old tee shirt will work fine as a cover for your ferment.
If you want it to go alcoholic all you really need is an airlock, and you could fabricate that with a piece of hose with 2 curves in it with water between the curves for the air lock, kind of like the trap under a western sink drain. As for the yeast, you said you have lots of the wild stuff , so you are good to go. Simple is good and with a bit of experimenting you can make amazing stuff !
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Re: General question about ginger bugs

Postby Christopher Weeks on Fri Sep 23, 2016 7:34 am

You can use the ginger bug to inoculate a large quantity (1-5 gallons from a quart bug, at least) of sweet, fruity water. That's how I'd use whatever fruit it is that you want to brew. It will end up slightly alcoholic no matter what -- how much so, depends on your wild yeast strains and how long you leave it. If you aren't going to put it under an airlock of some kind, I suggest stirring it vigorously twice each day. You'll have to experiment.

Also, I would be surprised if you can't find someone brewing alcoholic beverages fairly near you. Maybe you can find someone with local experience and trade ideas.
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Re: General question about ginger bugs

Postby bluehorserefuge on Fri Sep 23, 2016 4:27 pm

Really good replies, thanks Tibor and Christopher, I think the fruits I will try with here are mangos and guavas, it's a shame I didn't see your site earlier as we have a guava tree here which dropped about a dozen or more kilos of guavas on us , most of which ended up in my compost because I noticed tiny white fruit worms in them, which I suppose would have been destroyed by fermentation , and we've since been told are harmless anyway. We did eat a good few, but I would love to try a guava type fruit 'compote' or cider when it gives again, normally 3 times a year. I have a question but will put it in the alcohol section to avoid this veering too far off subject.
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Re: General question about ginger bugs

Postby bluehorserefuge on Fri Sep 23, 2016 4:29 pm

ah sorry, meant to ask about the "sweet fruity water", could this just be a couple of cupfuls of cane or white sugar in a 2L soda bottle filled 2/3rds with water? Or would I be better adding actual fruits ? WIll just sugar be ok and then ferment when I add my bug ?
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Re: General question about ginger bugs

Postby bluehorserefuge on Fri Sep 23, 2016 4:33 pm

Sorry keep adding as I think - you said " If you're not going to use an airlock" - I guess you are referring here to 'open fermentation', which I have read was the old way of doing all this, before the days of airlocks? :-) I understand that stirring it vigorously twice a day is to stop mold forming, but could I also just put a coffee filter, or bit of old T-shirt on top as I do with my bug, to stop insects etc falling in ?

PS- I am thinking of experimenting with one a) done under an improvised airlock like Tibor suggested and b) open and stirred.
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Re: General question about ginger bugs

Postby khoomeizhi on Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:45 am

bluehorserefuge wrote: can I apply this same "bug principle" to other fruits? I mean, just cover them, keep adding sugar and a bit more of the fruit every day, and create my own bug from any fruit ? Or is it only ginger I can do this with ?


going back to this - probably not any fruit, but with many, it would work fine. the fruit would have to be one that harbors yeast well on its skin. so anything you'd peel, or that the skin would give a bad taste, may not be right. this is for starting bugs specifically off of fruit, like from ginger. one reason ginger bugs work so well is that ginger seems to harbor decent yeasts. if you're just relying on catching wild yeast, you could theoretically just do it with sugar-water, but it's riskier because you're not adding a known source of yeast. fruits with a 'bloom' on the skin - like blueberries, plums, persimmons, and a few others in my area are great sources. in your area...maybe the guava? you won't know 'til you try! what about cashew fruit? or star apples (probably out of season now...)when i lived in belize i had access to a tree called a governor's plum (Flacourtia indica) that in retrospect would probably be a decent yeast source. they're from africa, but people planted all kinds of things in the new world...
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Re: General question about ginger bugs

Postby bluehorserefuge on Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:49 pm

Thanks Khoomeizhi, I started a little experimental guava wine today, will let you know how it goes :) wow Belize, another tropical country. It's amazing how much faster nature seems to swing her thang here, my compost is ready to use after only three weeks.
I'm going to look out for interesting fruits as you suggest. Mango is defo on this list.
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