10 Fermented Beverages You Can Make Yourself
Home brewing isn’t limited to beer. From kombucha to kvass drinks and kefir beverages, you can ferment some amazing homemade drinks yourself.
We begin with one of America's most popular fermented drinks of late. While kombucha is readily available in stores, home brewing is possible. And much cheaper! It starts with some SCOBY, which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Then it's just a mix of water, tea, sugar, and anything you'd like to add for flavors such as fruit or fruit juice, honey, herbs, or spices. After seven to ten days of fermentation, your kombucha is ready to drink.
Also known as ginger wine (and different from ginger beer), home-fermented ginger ale starts with "ginger bug," a culture that's like sourdough starter. You make it by letting water, ginger, and sugar sit in a sealed jar for about a week, adding pinches of sugar and ginger daily. Then stir a blend of grated ginger, sugar, and boiled water in with the bug and lemon. Let it sit for two days and you've got fizzy ginger ale.
This is a simple one and leaves you with a refreshing drink that's creamier than traditional lemonade. Think lemon meringue pie, mostly because of the whey, which you can get from yogurt and has probiotics that consume some of the drink's sugar, making it healthier. You put the whey, sugar, and lemon juice in a jar with water and stir. Let it sit at room temperature for two days and then refrigerate. Your fermented lemonade will stay fresh that way for about two weeks.
Haven't heard of pineapple beer? They've been enjoying it in Mexico for centuries; ancient Mayans considered it a sacred drink. All you need to make it is a pineapple peel, sugar, and water. And all the better if you can find piloncillo, pure cane sugar, also known as Mexican brown sugar. Mix these in a jar with water, cover it with a cloth, and in about three days you'll have some amazing homemade pineapple tepache.
Another fantastic fermented drink from South of the Border, pulque goes back to pre-Colombian times, and today is enjoyed as a traditional drink in central Mexico. Its six percent alcohol content is probably one good reason for its popularity. To make it at home, you'll need some champagne yeast, agave nectar, and coriander seeds. Let it ferment for about two or three weeks; the longer it sits, the sweeter and boozier it gets!
Sarsaparilla Root Beer
Or sassafras root beer depending on how you want to go. And a combo of sassafras and sarsaparilla makes for great root beer, along with other roots, berries, herbs, and spices such as birch bark, licorice root, and wild cherry bark. Boil your herb mix. Strain the liquid into a jar and stir in sugar, vanilla, and molasses. Plus a pinch of ginger bug and lime. Seal and let it sit for two days and you'll have homemade root beer!
If you've been keeping up with the rising fermented drink trend, you've probably heard of kefir. Though the drink is hardly new, originating in Russia's Northern Caucasus Mountain centuries ago. Kefir has earned popularity today for its probiotics that promote good gut health. You'll need to get kefir grains, available at good health stores and easily found online. Then all you need is milk, fermented at room temperature with the grains for about 24 hours.
Fermented Coconut Water
As simple as it is healthy, fermented coconut water, also known as coconut kefir, is a powerhouse drink with amino acids, electrolytes, potassium, and magnesium. Heat coconut water and mix it with your kefir cultures. Seal and in three days you'll have a tasty probiotic drink.
Kvass comes in many forms, flavored with everything from fruits such as oranges or strawberries, or herbs such as mint and sage. Popular in Russia, the drink has roots in Eastern and Central Europe, often called "black bread" for the rye bread that's sometimes used to make kvass. A healthy option, beet kvass can be made at home with just beets, salt, and your choices of fruits and spices. After fermentation, you'll have a probiotic-rich drink full of sweet, salty, and sour goodness.
From Russia we take a trip to Turkey to meet boza; the drink was wildly popular in the Ottoman Empire, as it is in modern-day Turkey, though boza's roots go back to ancient Mesopotamia. To make the sweet, thick, tart beverage all you need is millet, sugar, and water. While not meant to be served hot, it is considered a cold-weather drink, often enjoyed with toppings of cinnamon and roasted chickpeas.
So don’t fear the fermentation! With a few simple ingredients and some patience, you can craft each of these homemade beverages in your own home.
Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.