They are called kombucha, kefir or even ginger beer. More and more fermented drinks are finding their way to the refrigerated shelves of specialty stores. And it is not without reason that these tasty drinks offer a healthy and natural alternative to very sweet industrial soft drinks. Rich in probiotics and prebiotics, these elixirs are usually very old, but they are coming back to the forefront of the health scene, hailed for their many benefits. Do you want to try? We tell you all about these magic potions that you can easily concoct at home.
What is a fermented drink?
A fermented drink is a sweet liquid — fruit juice, syrup, tree sap, herbal tea — that has been transformed by microscopic bacteria, yeast, or fungi. “In the presence of air, these micro-organisms multiply. But when placed in anaerobic conditions (lack of oxygen), it stresses them out. To defend themselves, they make enzymes that ‘break down’ sugars and other nutrients from the material they are in” explains Marie-Claire Fréderic in her book Natural fermented drinks: Soda, lemonade, kefir and kombucha† Result: we obtain a slightly carbonated drink, low in sugar and rich in nutrients that are beneficial to the body.
There are many natural fermented drinks, but the best known are kefir, kombucha, ginger beer or even boza.
What are the benefits of these drinks?
The first major advantage of fermented drinks is that they are low in sugar, delicious and naturally sparkling. Thus, the fermentation process can remove up to 80% of the sugar that was initially in the drink. But that’s not all, these drinks are also real allies for health. Rich in prebiotics and probiotics, bacteria naturally present in the gut, they help balance transit and digestion. “By rebalancing the intestinal flora, they boost immunity. This helps prevent viral and bacterial infections. More generally, a balanced microbiota is more resistant to attacks, whatever they may be.”explains Agathe Deleand, dietitian at Caen University Hospital, in an article by West France†
The fermentation technique used to obtain these drinks can also increase the vitamin content and facilitate the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. “We don’t give them to toddlers, but they are good for everyone, they have no adverse effects”, adds Aghte Deleand. Be careful though, some people who are not used to consuming fermented products may experience gas or bloating.
As you will have understood, kefirs, kombuchas and other fermented drinks are ideal for replacing commercial soft drinks. Last but not least, these artisan products can be easily prepared at home.
A few temporary precautions
If you want to try this ecological, economical and natural alternative to industrial soft drinks, all you have to do is buy parent strains available online, on Facebook groups or in your area.
For materials you will need glass jars, clean linen and rubber bands. Before embarking on these homemade preparations, remember to thoroughly clean and sterilize the equipment you will be using to eliminate unwanted bacteria. Finally, watch the fermentation process to avoid using vinegar as a drink. Because the longer the fermentation, the more the sugar disappears.
Below we present you 3 easy recipes to prepare your own fermented drinks.
Kombucha is certainly the best known of the fermented drinks. Specifically, it is a slightly sparkling drink, with a bitter taste with a hint of acid. This drink is prepared from tea or sweet herbal tea, fermented by a “mother” of kombucha. This takes the form of a translucent and gelatinous disc that will transform the infusion into a drink rich in enzymes and probiotics. To prepare a kombucha you will need the following ingredients:
- 5 g organic tea (black or green)
- 1 liter bottled or filtered water
- 70 g sugar (white, cane, Muscavado or other)
- 1 kind of Kombucha
- 1 tablespoon liquid by the stump
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (first use only)
The recipe instructions can be found on the Coconut blog, by clicking here. You can also prepare a flavored kombucha by choosing infusions or fruit teas, for example.
Water kefir is a slightly carbonated fermented drink made from kefir grains. These are in fact an agglomerate of microorganisms that look like small translucent clumps. Added to a fruit liquid, the kefir grains will initiate a fermentation process that will transform everything into a slightly sour and lemony drink. You can get these grains online or in an organic store, but tradition dictates that they pass from hand to hand: don’t hesitate to consult your area to find some! To prepare this refreshing drink at home, you can follow the recipe from the La Ruche website, which says yes. For this you need:
- 3 tablespoons unrefined sugar
- 1 liter of mineral water
- 2 heaping tablespoons of kefir grains
- 1 dried fig
- 1 half lemon
The recipe is available by clicking here.
The ginger beer
You may not know it, but ginger beer is indeed a fermented drink. This natural lemonade is made from ginger, sugar, lemon and water and a “ginger bug”. The latter is a kind of ginger leaven that you can prepare yourself from a ginger root. It is he who initiates the fermentation process necessary to make a sparkling and delicious drink, with the good taste of ginger. To prepare 1 liter of ginger beer, you will need the following ingredients:
- lL of non-chlorinated water
- 50 g sugar
- 50 g peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
- 5 cl lemon juice
- 5 cl ginger bug (liquid only)
The recipe for this fermented drink can be found on the Low Tech Lab website. You can also find the instructions for creating your “ginger bug” by clicking here.
There you go, you now know how to prepare your own fermented drinks! Did you like this article? Find out how to preserve your food thanks to lactic acid fermentation.