Beyond Kefir and Kombucha: More Fermented Drinks with a Probiotic Punch
Make your own fermented drinks with these recipes from the experts.
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1. Grape Soda
Making your own soda pop is a delicious treat, and you can get pretty adventurous with your favorite fruits once you nail down the process. Try this Grape Soda recipe from True Brews (Ten Speed Press, 2013) author Emma Christensen for a fizzy, fermented drink you won’t soon forget.
Makes: About 8 cups (enough to fill a 2-liter bottle)
- 4 pounds Concord grapes, or 6 cups Concord grape juice
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons), plus more if needed
- 1 cup water, plus more to fill the bottles
- 14 tablespoons /6 ounces evaporated cane juice, plus more if needed
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon dry champagne yeast
- Pulse the grapes a few times in a food processor or blender to break them into big chunks. Don’t bother removing the grape seeds. Combine the fruit with the lemon juice in a large bowl.
- Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan on the stove top or in the microwave. Remove from the heat. Add the sugar and salt, stir to dissolve, and pour over the grapes. Let this stand for 10 minutes to macerate the fruit. If using grape juice, simply combine the juice with the liquid and skip to the bottling step.
- Working in batches, puree the grapes with their liquid in a food processor or blender. Strain the puree into a bowl, collecting as much juice as possible without forcing any solids through the strainer.
- Pour the juice into the clean 2-liter bottle using the funnel. Top off the bottle with water, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace. Give it a taste and add more lemon juice or sugar, if desired. The extra sugar will dissolve on its own.
- Add the yeast. Screw on the cap and shake the bottle to dissolve and distribute the yeast. Let the bottle sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight until carbonated, typically 12 to 48 hours, depending on the temperature of the room. Check the bottle periodically; when it feels rock solid with very little give, it’s ready.
- Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 weeks. Open very slowly over a sink to release the pressure gradually and avoid bubble-ups.
See also: Kefir: The Fermented Milk Drink with Probiotic Power.
2. Beet Kvass
If you’re a beet fan, you’ll love this traditional Slavic and Baltic fermented drink recipe for kvass from Julia Mueller, author of Delicious Probiotic Drinks (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014).
Makes: About 2 quarts
- 1 large raw beet, diced into 1/2” pieces (about 3 cups worth)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 2 quarts spring or well water
- Scrub the beet well and chop it into ½” pieces. Add the chopped beets and sea salt to a 2-quart sized jar. Fill the jar with spring or well water then cover it with cheesecloth or a kitchen towel. Secure the towel with a rubber band.
- Leave the jar on the counter or in a pantry for a minimum of 3 days and up to 2 weeks, stirring 2 to 3 time per day. Note: If you allow this beverage to ferment for more than a few days, white foam will form on the surface. This is normal and it can be scooped off or strained before you drink the beverage.
- When ready to drink, strain the liquid from the beets. Note: The beets are technically pickled at this point, so you can eat them, too! Add other juices or water to the beet kvass to dilute it if that is your preference.
Note: Beet kvass smells sour when it is finished fermenting, and it should taste sour more than salty. The liquid may also carry a yeasty effervescence to it and get a little foamy.
See also How to Make Lacto-Fermented Root Vegetables.
3. Ginger Beer
Love the spicy taste of fresh ginger? Look no further than this homemade ginger beer from Molly Morgan, author of Drink Your Way to Gut Health (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015). While there is a small amount of alcohol produced with the fermentation process, this homemade concoction is not an alcoholic beverage.
Makes: About 2 quarts
- Two 1-quart glass jars with lids
- Fine-mesh strainer
- 4 ounces fresh ginger root, or more if needed
- 8 cups lukewarm water
- 1 cup evaporated cane juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- Sterilize the jars with boiling water or wash well with warm soapy water. Pat dry with a clean towel.
- Peel the ginger, then, using a fine grater, grate into a coarse pulp. Position the strainer over a bowl and press the ginger root pulp into the strainer to release the juice. You’ll need 1/4 cup juice, so you may need to grate more ginger to get the right amount.
- Divide the ginger juice and all of the remaining ingredients evenly between the 2 sterilized jars.
- Cover each jar tightly with a lid and gently shake to dissolve the sugar. Store the sealed jars on the countertop (out of direct sunlight) for 24 to 36 hours. This will allow the beverage to ferment and for the carbonation to form. After 24 to 36 hours, check for carbonation by opening the jars and listening for the release of the carbonation and looking for bubbles. Once the ginger beer is carbonated, store it in the refrigerator. The longer you let the beverage ferment, the bubblier it will be, so adjust the fermentation time according to your preference.
- Store the bubbly ginger beer in the refrigerator for up to 7 days (this will slow the fermentation process) and enjoy the ginger beer just by itself or in one of your favorite ginger beer recipes.
See also Strawberry Ginger Beer.