The term, lacto-fermented can be applied to all sorts of fermented foods and beverages, such as sauerkraut, pickles, or ginger beer. Lacto-fermented lemonade is a probiotic lemonade, fermented using water, fresh lemon juice, sugar, and whey. This drink gets its probiotic qualities from whey, which is the watery substance that forms on top of yogurt. When mixed with lemon juice and sugar water, the whey continues to culture and probiotics continue to multiply.
This refreshing beverage can be flavored to be a seasonal treat any time of year and it is particularly refreshing in the summertime. The whey gives the lemonade a creamy flavor, making it taste similar to lemon meringue pie, by far the most unique lemonade you will ever taste! This beverage is healthier than normal lemonade because the probiotics in the whey eat up some of the sugar, leaving the beverage sweet but with less sugar content than what it started with.
This is one of the easiest probiotic beverages to make and takes a relatively small time commitment. It is also cost effective and can be made in large batches for friends and family to enjoy.
Probiotic Lemonade and Secondary Fermentation . . . Or Not
Lacto-fermented lemonade is the only water-based probiotic beverage that I choose not to put through secondary fermentation. The effervescence and flavor profile does not seem to change when fermented a second time, so I skip secondary fermentation altogether. If you are curious about trying it, don’t let me hold you back! You can still follow any of the recipes in this section and simply add the extra step of leaving bottled lacto-fermented lemonade at room temperature for a couple days to see if anything happens through secondary fermentation.
A Note About Sweeteners:
Lemonade seems to taste the best when it is sweetened using fruit and cane sugar. For those who try to avoid cane sugar, it can be replaced using agave or maple syrup to taste. Some of the cane sugar used to ferment the beverage is metabolized in the process, which leaves it tasting sweet even though the glycemic level decreases. Just about any fruit or herb goes wonderfully in lacto-fermented lemonade, so don’t be shy about experimenting with flavors!
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 gallon water
- 1-1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 10 to 14 lemons)
- 1 cup whey (strained from 1 quart of whole milk yogurt)*
*You can get whey from low fat or non-fat yogurt, but it seems to be easiest to obtain it from whole milk yogurt.
- The easiest method to obtain whey is to strain it off yogurt. To do this, fold cheesecloth over onto itself and lay it over a bowl. Pour 32 ounces (1 quart) of whole milk yogurt (either store-bought or homemade) onto the cheesecloth. Take all of the edges of the cheesecloth and bring them together so that you have a bundle of yogurt. Use a rubber band to secure the cheesecloth around the yogurt completely. Once you have your bundle secured, use one or two additional rubber bands to hang it from a cabinet or shelf over the mixing bowl so that the gravity helps drain the whey from the yogurt. It should only take about 20 to 30 minutes to strain a full cup of whey off the yogurt but if you don’t have a full cup by this time, wait longer. Once your whey is strained, you will be using it for the lacto-fermented lemonade. Plus, guess what? You now have Greek yogurt in that cheesecloth! Simply pour/scrape the strained yogurt off the cheesecloth into a sealable container and enjoy it later! In a sealable gallon jar or jug, combine the whey, lemon juice, and sugar. Add the water and stir very well to dissolve the sugar. Note that the probiotics in the whey feed off of the sugar, so you will need to adjust the amount of sugar to your personal taste. If you desire a sweeter beverage, use up to 1 cup of sugar instead of ¾ cup.
- Seal the container and allow it to sit at room temperature for two days. A closet, shelf, or pantry works great for storage.
- Once the lacto-fermented lemonade is ready, you can refrigerate it and drink it cold, or add ingredients to it to flavor it, given by my recipes in this section.
- To store the lemonade, simply bottle it in sealable bottles and keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
More from Delicious Probiotic Drinks:
Excerpted from Delicious Probiotic Drinks: 75 Recipes for Kombucha, Kefir, Ginger Beer, and Other Naturally Fermented Drinksby Julia Mueller, with permission from Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. Copyright 2014 by Julia Mueller. Photographs by Julia Mueller.