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I have fermented Ginger bug for 15days, feed it daily with additional Ginger and sugar, then stopped feeding further and kept it as it is for 5 days. Now I have refrigerated it.

I must say that whenever I make a lemon drink from this bug, I do feel intoxicated 😳

I want to know if this Ginger bug can turn into Vinegar if fermented for a long period, and keeping it unrefrigerated (in air tight jar). does that happen with Ginger bugs??? Thanks

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First off all... If you're new to this, relax. There's a few sensible precautions to take that make a difference - sanitise your equipment before hand, keep it upside down when empty, keep your brew covered when not actively using it, start with either a bought yeast / bug, or a starter from a friend / trusted source. Do all these and you'll almost certainly get a decent brew. Almost everything else you read affects either speed of brew, the type of beer/wine /etc., or the nuance of flavour.

Time this depends on what you're trying to make. If you want a small regular amount of tonic or health drink (similar to the way kefir is made and used), then a pint of brew with a little sugar could be ready in 2 days. This kind might be fine (depending on heat / yeast type / volume /sugar concentration) for up to 2 weeks before you would need to drain and refresh the fluid and add sugar to 'feed' it. If you want 3-5% beer for drinking, then 1.5kg sugar in a 2 gallon container at 15°ish might take 2-4 weeks. I used to make 5 gallon batches of ginger beer with 3 or 4 kg sugar and champagne yeast that I left for 6 or 7 weeks before bottling and it wasn't always finished fermenting by that point.

Vinegar(and related sour & off flavours) can basically be caused by 4 things. In order of most likely /fastest...

A **Bad /unwanted bacteria and yeasts. These float around in the air, particularly near any kind of non - alcoholic fermentation and microbe growth (eg bread making, kefir, vinegar making, kombucha, and also smelly bins and grimy or mouldy kitchen corners). This one is the reason for taking care about sanitation. No need to go mad about sanitation, but take care like described above. The reason they're unwanted is because they don't just produce alcohol, they also produce vinegars and other things that sometimes taste off.

B ** Brewers yeast / ginger bug eating the sugars in the presence of oxygen. Your starter yeast will produce co2 which will gradually push all other air out of the way in a sealed /one way container. This co 2 release is why cheese cloth works up to some limit of time (see below), airlocks work for longer and a sealed & released container or a fancier pressure released container are basically fine for a long as you like.

C ** Oxygen directly reacting with alcohol = vinegar. With a cheese cloth covered container, oxygen will gradually start to enter the container a bit of time after the fermentation has stopped. This happens slower without live yeast to help it along. This is NOT a problem if you have a sealed container or pressure system or airlock as these will all keep some co2 pressure inside the container after the fermentation has stopped. If you're doing a 1 pint tonic type thing with cheese cloth then I'd probably put it in the fridge after 3 or 5 days so that the bug slowed right down but kept producing a little co2.

D ** Dead yeast can sometimes impart a small flavour to the finished brew. This is the other reason for A. Essentially, brewers yeast or a good home grown bug are chosen 1) because they mostly produce alcohol not other stuff, 2) because they don't taste too bad in themselves, and 3) because they sink or float, making it easier to separate the finished beer from the yeast. They'll only taste bad if an unwanted stain of bacteria or yeast has gotten in and started eating either the sugar or the dead yeast. Otherwise you're fine.

  • Thanks Ciaran Haines.... That article really cleared my doubts. – Aks22 Jun 2 at 18:17
  • Happy to help :) – Ciaran Haines Jun 2 at 19:26
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Any fermentation left for too long with live yeast, especially with access to air/oxygen, will eventually turn to vinegar. Closing of the air /oxygen by sealing rather than covering will slow this down significantly.

  • Thanks Ciaran Haines – Aks22 Jun 1 at 15:37
  • would like to know how much days fermentation will be enough. Also m confused when it is said live Ginger bug, what difference it make. If a bug is to be kept alive it will have to be feed, and if I keep it feeding for too long(let's say 12/15 days) then will it turn in vinegar. – Aks22 Jun 1 at 15:40
  • Shorter answer to your questions - you don't need to keep feeding it, just start with enough sugar. You can keep feeding it. That's ok. Time depends on how strong you want it. 2 days might turns some sugar into flavour and a little alcohol, but not much. 2 weeks might be long enough that all the sugar has been eaten and the yeast/bug could be dead, but only if you put a tiny amount of sugar in. – Ciaran Haines Jun 1 at 17:50
  • And if you keep the lid on tight it should keep ok in the fridge. Your ginger drink shouldn't behave a lot different from your lemon drink. – Ciaran Haines Jun 1 at 17:51
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Quick answer - If you feed it for a long time or leave it for too long, so long as your sanitation is good it will should not turn to vinegar. But, the longer it is kept and the more often it is opened for feeding, then the greater the chances are that there is a contamination event.

If you bug gets contaminated with aceterbacter then yes it can turn rapidly into vinegar.

If you leave any solution containing ethanol exposed to oxygen then over time it will be oxidised to acetic acid.

If you have sanitized your equipment and keep the fermentation covered to prevent bacterial ingress then you should be able to keep a healthy fermentation progressing, with regular feeding or by front loading all the sugar an ginger at the start.

Once fermentation has completed you should bottle using sanitised equipment in to sanitized bottles then drop these in the fridge, or leave out of the fridge for a while to carb up. Then so long as your sanitation was effective, your bottle caps seal well and you did not get excessive DO (disolved oxygen) pickup during bottling, you should not get noticable vinegar formation. There will always be a tiny amount from oxidation of ethonal but not usually above taste thresholds.

Rules are sanitise, sanitise, sanitise and have fun!

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