Turmeric Bugs: Fermenting Turmeric into Pro-Biotic Soda – 2024 Guide

I’ve ordered a new-to-me Turmeric Bug.

I’m going to make a bioactive nutritional drink with it to reduce inflammation and give my gut bacteria a boost

Healthy skin needs lots of good gut bacteria!

What is a turmeric bug ?

Nothing to do with bugs/insects! It’s the starter culture for making naturally fermented pro-biotic drinks,  or healthy bubbly pro-biotic sodas. A turmeric bug is a colony of Saccharomyces florentinus and Lactobacillus hilgardii.

When you mix sugar, water and turmeric, natural fermentation occurs. The lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in the turmeric root eat the sugar and make carbon dioxide and ethanol. (Just like kombucha and water kefir)

What is turmeric

Curcuma longa is the rhizome of a flowering plant, part of the ginger family.  It contains the bioactive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant chemical compound Curcumin which is also called diferuloylmethane with chemical name (1,7-bis(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-1,6-heptadiene-3,5-dione). Curcurmin is what makes turmeric yellow.


Why is turmeric good for you?

Fermented drinks are great sources of  beneficial bacteria and yeast (a.k.a. probiotics)

Culinary superfood turmeric is the major source of curcumin, a yellow polyphenol with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

‘Research suggests that curcumin can help in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia. It may also help in the management of exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness, thus enhancing recovery and subsequent performance in active people. In addition, a relatively low dose can provide

Nutrients include: iron, magnesium, Calcium, potassium Niacin(B3), phosphorus, zinc, vitamin C,  vitamin E and Vitamin K

It’s important to use organic ginger and turmeric in this recipe, as the naturally occurring bacteria found in the skin is what kick-starts the fermentation process. Non-organic and imported ginger and turmeric are irradiated, which kills the necessary bacteria for fermenting. — Carla Oates, author of The Beauty Chef

How is turmeric used around the world?

It’s used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for blood purification, joint pain, digestive issues, fatigue, liver issues, immunity and inflammation. In India turmeric along with black pepper are a staple of curries. Long living centenarians of Okinawa in Japan ferment turmeric into a tea called Ukon.

Why bother with fermenting Turmeric?

While turmeric is really good for many diseases (see link) it’s really difficult for your body to absorb.  Taking powdered capsules is not that effective. Better to use turmeric in your cooking – add it to the hot oil when you sauté.  Add black pepper which contains piperine – this increases bioavailability by a whopping 2000%.

Or you can ferment turmeric to  increase its bioavailability,  which reduces the bitterness.

How to make your own turmeric-ginger bug

Grate or finely chop I Tablespoon fresh organic turmeric root,. (Only peel if it is non organic) don’t peel it. Place in a Kilner jar. Add 1 tablespoon spoon of sugar, 3 tablespoons spring/non chlorinated water, stir then cover with muslin cloth or coffee filter and fasten with elastic. These ferments are aerobic (needs oxygen).

Stir twice a day and feed it by adding:  1 tablespoon of grated ginger/turmeric root + 1 tablespoon of sugar + 3 tablespoons of water to a jar. Repeat this feeding and stirring every day until you see bubbles. It may be ready in 4-5 days.

When it starts bubbling your ‘starter’ is ready for making your fermented soda. Give it an extra dose of sugar the day before you want to use it.

Get your sieve and separate the paste from the liquid.

The liquid will now be your second ferment…add fresh lemon juice, ginger and black pepper.

To the paste, you feed it again so that you can keep making turmeric bug. It’s the same ratio/recipe: 1 tablespoon of grated ginger/turmeric root + 1 tablespoon of sugar + 3 tablespoons of water. With an extra dose of sugar the day before you decant your liquid.

If you want to take a break, feed your bug with sugar and water and place in the fridge. To revive it, leave it at room temperature and resume feeding it until the mixture becomes bubbly again.

Try to avoid storing the turmeric bug near other ferments to avoid cross-contamination


How to make fizzy turmeric soda

First you will make a tea. Put turmeric and 8 cups filtered water in a pot. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add ginger for flavour. Peppercorns are optional.

Sieve, then stir in 1 cup of sugar (add more if you like it sweeter).

Allow to cool to  room temperature.

Pour into Kilner jar, leaving several inches head space. Add your  ginger bug liquid and cover with cloth/fabric and elastic band. Put it away from your kombucha and kefir to prevent a SCOBY growing on top.

What else can you use turmeric bug for?

You can use it kick-start the fermentation process in beet kvass, fermented ketchup or to make  bubbly drinks from sweetened herbal teas or fruit juices.

For drinks, the recommended ratio is about 1 part bug to 7 parts sweetened drink

Remember, the yeast and bacteria inside your bug will digest the sugar and produce  CO2 in the process. To stop fermentation, bottle and refrigerate. Enjoy your drinks!

Y9ou can add it to the second stage ferment of your kombucha or water kefir.

You can whisk up gummies with 2 cups of  turmeric bug and 1.5 tablespoons of grass-fed gelatine.

You can add to kimchi or sauerkraut.

Read how you can use turmeric as part of Ayurveda body types

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The effects of black pepper on the intestinal absorption and hepatic metabolism of drugs-Pubmed

Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health-Pubmed

wendy gardner

About Me

Wendy Gardner

Skincare specialist helping business women look and feel their best through menopause. 🌺Potent skincare handcrafted with premium organics.🧴✨Trusted Advisor for Introverts, Empaths & HSPs🌌

Diploma in Aromatherapy (ITHMA London, 2003)

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