Photo by Devon Young
Turmeric is often touted for its extraordinary anti-inflammatory actions, but any mention of turmeric should also extol its liver-loving virtues. Turmeric is one of the only substances that promotes both stages of the liver’s natural detoxification process. When the liver is at its peak performance, the rest of the body often follows suit.
Despite turmeric’s many health benefits, it’s a recalcitrant character. Many herbalists suggest taking it with black pepper, which dramatically increases the bioavailability of turmeric’s active constituents. Another way to coax out all the detoxifying benefits of turmeric is with fermentation. We’ll add ginger and black pepper to this sweet-and-sour, pungent honey-turmeric fermentation for increased flavor and bioavailability.
Yield: 1 cup ginger bug, or enough for sixteen 16-ounce bottles of ginger ale.
Note: This ferment may contain trace amounts of alcohol.
For the ginger bug:
- 1 cup raw, unfiltered honey
- 1/4 cup fresh turmeric root, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, finely chopped
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
For the ginger ale:
- Sixteen 16-ounce swing-top bottles
- 1 to 2 tablespoons honey per bottle
- Unchlorinated, filtered water
Make the ginger bug
- Combine the honey, turmeric, ginger, and peppercorns in a glass jar. Stir well to combine them, and then cover the jar with a coffee filter or a square of cheesecloth secured with a rubber band.
- Stir the contents of the jar daily. Within a few days, you should see signs of an active fermentation, such as bubbles, foam, and a notable thinning of the honey. Allow the mixture to ferment for 1 to 2 weeks, tasting to judge the flavor.
Make the ginger ale
- For each bottle of ginger ale, place 1 tablespoon of ginger bug, strained of its solids, in a swing-top bottle. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey per bottle. Heat unchlorinated, filtered water to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and fill each bottle to the shoulder. Cap and shake well to combine.
- Keep the bottled ginger ale at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours for the secondary fermentation. The colder the room is, the longer you should leave the bottles out, because the fermentation will proceed more slowly. Check the bottles every 12 hours to assess their carbonation levels and to prevent excessive pressure from building up in them. When you like the carbonation, refrigerate the bottles to stop the fermentation. Drink within 7 to 10 days.
Devon Young lives in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and is the author of The Backyard Herbal Apothecary. This recipe is excerpted from her latest book, The Herbalist’s Healing Kitchen (Page Street Publishing).