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5 June 2020 | 5 min read

Homemade Healthy Recipes – Ditch Your Sugary Sodas & Make These Fizzy Probiotic Drinks Instead

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I’ve recently been bitten by the fermentation bug (pun intended), and I find the art of it fascinating, particularly that of fermented drinks. Not to forget the beautiful culture (ooff, the puns keep on coming!) of benefits that come from these drinks. For the uninitiated, fermentation is an ancient technique of preserving food – it’s a natural process through which microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria convert carbs (like starch and sugar) into alcohol or acids under anaerobic conditions. This then leads to the growth of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, which have been shown to improve immune functions as well as digestive & heart health.

Once you try your hand in making these bad boys, it’s just the beginning because the possibilities are endless. I’m here to give you some how-tos of four fermented drinks that I have tried and have had quite a success. And for me, since most of these are nice and cold and fizzy, have become a replacement of sugar-high carbonated drinks to cool off on a summer day, with the addition of plenty of health benefits!

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1. Homemade Ginger Ale

Homemade Ginger Ale - Live More Zone

Now, how you may know a typical ginger ale is the one that comes in a can and is poured into your glass in a restaurant and is nothing but an everyday simple carbonated drink. This version that I am talking about, however, is one that is fermented over up to a week with a starter culture called ‘ginger bug’ that you can make easily at home. And although the recipe for any fermented drink will call for a calorific sugar, what is notable is that during the process of fermentation the bacteria primarily survives by feeding off of the sugar and in return produces carbon dioxide – which is the carbonation that you see. So the final product contains a much lesser quantity of sugar and can be altered as per individual preference.

So before you go about making your ginger ale, first you need to make the ginger bug which is going to be your starter culture. This ginger bug then can be used not just to make ginger ale but many types of fruit sodas! Cool, right?

Ingredients
To start the ginger bug

  • 2 cups of water
  • Two teaspoons sugar
  • 30 grams of fresh ginger {diced}

To feed the ginger bug:

  • Five teaspoons sugar
  • 75 grams fresh ginger {diced}

Method

  • To prepare the bug – Warm water in a saucepan and add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Let it cool to room temperature.
  • In a sterilized glass jar, drop the diced ginger and pour the sugar water over it and seal the jar. Let it a culture at room temperature for a day.
  • To feed the bug – The next day and for each day for five days, add one teaspoon of sugar and 15 grams of fresh ginger to the mix and then close the jar. Between 3-5 days, your ginger bug should be ready to use. You’ll know it’s ready when you see bubbles forming at the top.

2. Tepache De Pina

Tepache De Pina - Live More Zone

Native to Mexico, this drink used to be traditionally made from corn. This version is made using pineapples and makes for a super deliciously fruity and tropical drink that can be easily substituted for any trendy tropical cocktail with its vibrant sweet-tarty effervescence, minus the disadvantages of alcohol. Aside from the probiotics, it’s a good source of enzymes and vitamin C as well.

Ingredients

  • One whole organic pineapple
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • 2 liters water

Method

  • Warm 500 ml of water and add the brown sugar. Stir till it completely dissolves, making sure not to use a metal spoon as that can interfere with the fermentation process.
  • Cut up the peel of the pineapple as that is what is going into the fermentation process. You can even add some/all of the pineapple fruit to make it fruitier.
  • Put the pineapple peels (and fruit, if you are using them) into a large glass container. Add the sugar water mix as well as the remaining water. Add 2-3 cinnamon sticks. You can muddle the fruit by pressing down on it with a heavy spoon or muddler to release the juices and flavor into the water.
  • Cover the jar with a muslin cloth and put a rubber band around the top and let the mixture sit on the counter for 2-3 days until it starts getting bubbly. Once the mix is ready, strain out the pineapple and spices and pour them into flip-top bottles, and let that ferment for another 1-2 days. Make sure to occasionally (and very carefully) release the carbonation; otherwise, you run the risk of having the bottles explode due to excess pressure.
  • Refrigerate and enjoy!

3. Probiotic Honey Lemonade

Probiotic Honey Lemonade - Live More Zone

Think of this as your everyday nimbu-pani with a healthier, fizzier kick! Loaded with probiotics, this lemonade is on the drier side with slight sweetness, but is a fun drink to kick back with for sure. In this, the starter star is whey, which is the cloudy white liquid you’re left with when you make hung curd.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup whey {the liquid you get from straining curd}

Method

  • Warm the water just slightly and whisk the honey in the water until fully dissolved. Make sure not to get the water hot because honey tends to turn somewhat toxic when heated.
  • Whisk the lemon juice and whey into the mixture.
  • Pour the lemonade using a funnel into flip-top glass bottles. Seal the jars and let them on the kitchen counter at room temperature for 4-7 days, depending on the weather. On hotter days the fermentation can happen by the fourth day. On the same note if you let the lemonade ferment longer, the sourer and fizzier it’ll get. As with the other fizzy fermented drinks, it’s always good to release the tops of the bottle now and then to release the excess pressure building up inside the container.
  • Once ready, refrigerate. Then serve with a slice of lemon and enjoy!

PS: You can even try and replace the whey with the ginger as mentioned above bug to give it a slightly gingery note!

4. Beet Kvass

Beet Kvass - Live More Zone

The beet kvass comes from Eastern Europe and is considered to be an excellent tonic for the liver. This probiotic-rich drink also helps alleviate low energy levels and balances the hormones. Keep in mind that kvass doesn’t taste similar to its sweet, fizzy counterparts – it’s earthy, salty, tart, and you may take a little time to get used to its unique flavor. But once you do, there’s no going back!

Ingredients

  • Two beetroots {peeled and chopped}
  • 1/4 cup whey
  • 1 tbsp sea salt {or Himalayan, rock, or table salt}
  • 2 liters water

Method

  • Put the chopped beetroots into a mason jar. Add the whey and salt to it. If you don’t have whey, you can use double the amount of salt, but it may take longer to ferment.
  • Fill the jar with the remaining water. Cover the jar with a cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band. Leave it outside at room temperature for 1-2 days to ferment.
  • Transfer to the refrigerator and consume as desired!

PS: You can try a different flavor by using carrots, ginger, and some orange peel.

All the opinions expressed in the article belong to author. Images used are representational in nature.

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