Funky Fermented Beverages
Naturally fermented beverages are another way to incorporate more fermented “foods” into your diet. I explained in my previous post what lacto-fermented foods are and their health benefits. Today I want to write about fermented beverages such as kombucha, kefir, apple cider, ginger ale & ginger beer (and I mean fermented… not the supermarket high sugar imitations).
Each of these beverages are made using the same principles previously discussed, however sometimes the bacteria and yeasts differ. In kombucha for example, instead of lactic acid; gluconic acid and acetic acids are formed. Acetic acid is also
what is found in apple cider vinegar.
A myriad of lacto-fermented beverages can be made using whey (strained from cultured yoghurt or kefir), sugar, water or fruit juice and flavour (such as as ginger and lime to make ginger ale, fresh apple juice to make apple cider, raspberries or orange juice). These drinks are not only full of probiotics but contain small amounts of electrolytes, making them a great hydrating drink.
Naturally fermented ginger beer can be made using a “bug or plant” (that you culture yourself from ginger (fresh or dry) and sugar – or get off someone who already makes their own ginger beer.
The method for making fermented drinks sometimes varies also. In kefir (pronounced kee-fur), you use kefir “grains” - which aren’t actual grains but are a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Water kefir grains are gelatinous looking, while milk kefir grains look a bit like mini cauliflowers. The grains feed on mineralised sugar water (in the case of water kefir) or lactose – sugar in milk (in the case of milk kefir), and in the process, they add probiotics and vitamins into the living drink. Kombucha is quite similar – in this case the culture is called a “scoby” and it fees on sugared tea.
To get started all you need are some kefir grains or a scoby which you can buy online, or acquire from someone who already makes their own (as kefir grains and scoby’s multiply). If you are local to me and interested in making your own kombucha then I have a spare scoby about every four days. Just comment below and I’ll message you when I have a spare.
As for how to make your own fermented beverages, once again you can find a bunch of instructions online. Here’s just few I found to get your started:
(And on apple cider vinegar – the principles are the same, but the culture is called a “mother”).
One final note: often commercial versions of these drinks and apple cider vinegar do not contain the live cultures and enzymes I’ve spoken of as pasteurisation kills these.