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I was just wondering if anyone could tell me whether or not I should keep feeding my ginger bug or start over. It was bubbling nicely the first three days, but now it seems to have gone flat. It still has a pleasant smell and doesn't appear to have any mold on it, so I'm kinda tempted to drink it/make a de-carbonated soda, and start over again fresh. Do you think it will recover if I just keep feeding it/burping it? Also, can I just drink it straight or do you think that will make me sick? Anyway, thanks :)

  • This a general microbiology answer, I have no experience with gingerbugs. Generally, bacteria & yeast won't grow forever on just sugar. They'll need some minerals and amino acids (yeast nutrients and yeast extract are great place to starts, but might not be quite right for your bug.) Overcrowding is a theoretical possibility (could trigger sporulation), have you diluted the culture? – Pepi Feb 11 '15 at 1:16
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The yeast/bacteria are unlikely to be dead, but may have gone dormant for a number of reasons.

If you added sugar too quickly, you may have decreased the water activity too much. This is one reason honey is so resistant to microbial growth - too much solute in the liquid.

If you weren't adding ginger when you fed the bug (or your ferment is really active), the yeast may have run out of essential nutrients (other than sugar).

If you aren't oxygenating the bug enough, you may have more anaerobic fermentation (which can be slower), or something may have outcompete the yeast. You'd be unlikely to smell an infection (at least of your bugs are anywhere near as potently ginger smelling as mine are).

In any case, I think your best bet would be to start a new bug, but add a little of the old one to get it kicked off (even if there's an infection, if you set it up right the yeast will win in a sugar-rich/oxygen-rich environment). And then use it sooner rather than later - you don't need a ton to get your large batch going.

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I have put my ginger beer plant through hell and it always comes back. I left it in the fridge for 2 months once and it was fine. I spilled it all over the floor and rescued a few particles and restarted it. The only thing I can find to consistently kill it is store-bought lemon juice that has preservatives. I'm sure yours is totally fine. As @kevbonham says it may be time to swap out the liquid and start fresh, or move on to a larger batch.

If you are worried about nutrients I sometimes boil some yeast and throw it in to a batch to give it something fun to eat.

In general with brewing things if it smells ok it is probably ok to drink.

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