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When feeding a ginger bug, why do we need to add more ginger? The desired bacteria/yeast is already present and so we only need to keep the sugar coming in so it doesn't "starve". No? What am I missing here.

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    What, pray tell, is a "ginger bug"? Commented Nov 5, 2022 at 14:54
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    @lambshaanxy - it's also called a ginger beer plant (here in the UK), it's a kind of fermentation for making ginger beer.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Nov 5, 2022 at 15:01

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What's missing is that you have adapted your "bug" to grow in the presence of ginger. This is different to growing on sugars alone as the ginger contains a range of chemicals that may inhibit growth1. Admittedly, the concentrations of these chemicals from ginger are likely to be fairly low, but they may be causing a slightly different growth to that on pure sugars alone.

Ginger also contains some complex sugars that are different to simple sucrose alone and metabolism of these will contribute to distinct flavours that you might not get without culturing in the presence of ginger. The yeast and bacteria in your "bug" will adapt (evolution in action...) to the sources of nutrients available to them and hopefully produce some pretty tasty brews over time.

These differing cultures are what makes the distinct flavours that you might expect from beers cultivated on different sources of barley or wheat, and also account for the range of flavours and quality that you might be familiar with if sampling homebrew beers or specialist bakeries that have their own sourdough starter. Yeasts (in the case of beer), cultivated on simple sugar will have a simple flavour profile, while specially cultivated ones will have a more complex profile.

References:

  1. Liu Q, Meng X, Li Y, Zhao CN, Tang GY, Li HB. Antibacterial and Antifungal Activities of Spices. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Jun 16;18(6):1283. doi: 10.3390/ijms18061283. PMID: 28621716; PMCID: PMC5486105.

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