I’m totally hooked on probiotic drinks! I fell hard for kombucha, but it’s out-of-this world pricey (I’ll be making my own soon!). In the meantime, I’ve found a yummy, easy-on-the-wallet way to drink my probiotics. For centuries people all over the world have relied on fermentation to preserve foods (think kimchi, pickles). But beyond preserving food, fermentation has the added benefit of providing gut-friendly bacteria.
When your natural intestinal flora balance is interrupted, it causes problems in your gut and your health. This can happen when you take too many antibiotics, or a number of different ways. Eating foods rich in probiotics improves digestion and keep things in check. You can certainly eat plenty of yogurt and take probiotic supplements, but I also like sipping homemade lacto-fermented lemonade. The “lacto” part comes from whey that has been separated from yogurt. It’s super easy to do!
HOW TO SEPARATE WHEY
Whey is the watery, protein-rich liquid left behind when milk is curdled to make cheese. It is also a component of yogurt. The best way to separate whey from yogurt is to strain it through several layers of cheesecloth placed over a fine mesh sieve. (Not only does this extract the whey it also produces a nice, thick yogurt cheese!)
Let the yogurt stand overnight in the fridge to extract as much whey as possible. Use immediately or store in fridge for about 1-2 weeks. (It might last longer, but mine started to look iffy after two weeks.) Ideally you want as much clear whey as possible, but if a little bit of the milky part ends up in the liquid, no biggie.
Once you have the whey that is full of those healthy bacteria, you need to give them something to eat. That’s where sugar comes in. Once the liquid has properly fermented, the sugar will be mostly used up and you’ll be left with a tangy, slightly bubbly drink. It’s not fizzy like soda, but there are some tiny bubbles that you’ll notice. The flavor is reminiscent of buttermilk, but lighter. It’s lightly sweet, which I really like, but if you want it a little sweeter, you could add some drops of stevia or a little more sugar.
A few things – only fresh lemon juice should be used. The bottled juice has preservatives and other things that will prevent the lemonade from properly fermenting. Any other citrus juice could be used instead. After the initial two day room temp fermentation period, the lemonade should be kept in the refrigerator. The flavor supposedly improves the longer it sits in the fridge. We drink it right away, but it does get a little fizzier after about a week and a half. It is SO good! If you’ve tried other probiotic drinks like Kevita, then you’ll know kind of what this tastes like.
Lacto-Fermented Probiotic Lemonade
- 6 1/2 cups filtered water
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed organic lemon juice
- 1/2 cup organic evaporated cane juice or sucanat
- 1/2 cup liquid whey
- Place all of the ingredients in a large glass jar or pitcher with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well to dissolve the sugar. Let stand at room temperature for two days, then refrigerate.
- Makes 2 quarts, or 1/2 gallon
Pretty soon I’m going to start experimenting with adding other flavors, like ginger and rose.