I have an old ginger bug (my first) that I have had going for a few months and used a couple of times to make ginger beer with great results.
Last couple of months, though, I haven't been able to take proper care of it. It was in the refrigerator for a month without feeding. When I took it out a while back, it was flat with all the ginger settled at the bottom, but with a healthy accumulation of white stuff (yeast & bacteria) at the bottom of the jar.
I wanted to get the bubbling activity going again so I fed it a few times with no success. After that, it's been in and out of the refrigerator a few times, with some more attempts at reviving it (sometimes I have forgotten feeding it for a week while it's sitting on a shelf in the pantry), but nothing has happened.
It looks alright (there's no mold), it smells alcoholic and gingery, it has a hazy orange-brown colour and a white ring of microbes at the bottom. I'm not sure if the yeast and bacteria are still alive and capable of fermenting a new batch of ginger beer.
So my questions are:
Is the bug safe? (Considering it was outside the refrigerator without feeding for over a week.) Should I just throw it out and start afresh?
What happens if I leave an old/mature ginger bug outside the refrigerator without feeding for a few days?
If it's safe:
Is the bug alive? Apart from the bubbling, is there any other way of knowing that it's alive?
Is there something I can do to revive it, or is it incapable of reviving?
If the bug is not bubbling, could it still be alive and capable of fermenting a new batch of ginger beer (considering the alcoholic smell and the presence of the white ring at the bottom)? Could I just take a chance and see if it works (provided it's safe)?