Fermentation is one of the oldest forms of food preservation and can be found in most diets around the world. There are many fermented foods to choose from but the excitement gets even bigger when making fermented drinks in your kitchen.
Fermented drinks are tasty, appetizing and versatile. They offer numerous health benefits as they are rich in probiotics which help improve our immune system.
Let’s have a look at some of the most popular fermented drinks from around the world:
Kombucha is a fermented, slightly alcoholic, sweetened black or green tea drink.
It was once known as ‘Elixir of Long Life’ because of its health benefits.
Kombucha is made from live bacteria and yeast called SCOBY which stands for ‘Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast’.
You will love kombucha for its fresh and pleasant fizzy taste. You can also experiment with many different kombucha flavors.
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2. Root Beer
Root beer a traditional North American fermented drink which can be either alcoholic or not. It’s made with fermented sassafras bark or sarsaparilla. It has a slightly sweet and spicy flavor which can be adjusted based on your taste.
Kefir is a delicious fermented milk drink which was discovered by shepherds living on the slopes of the North Caucasus Mountains in Russia.
Kefir stands halfway between thick milk and drinking yogurt and has tangy and refreshing flavour.
The flavour can be further developed by doing a second fermentation or adding different fruits to it.
You can have kefir as it is or add it to your smoothies and baking recipes.
4. Water Kefir
The true stars of water kefir are kefir grains, like those in milk kefir. However, this time grains are used to ferment water, sugar, and different aromas to produce a sparkling and refreshing drink.
You can also ferment coconut water or fruit juices to add some extra sweetness to your homemade soda.
A traditional fermented Mexican alcoholic drink, very popular since ancient times and made with agave extract.
Pulque looks like a thicker and cream-whitish beer and it has a sour taste which is often mitigated by adding some fruit or vegetable juices (e.g pineapple or even tomato).
6. Probiotic Lemonade
What is simpler and more refreshing than homemade lemonade? Lacto-fermented lemonade is a perfect summer drink.
You can make it in a few minutes by combining filtered water, lemons, sugar and whey. Perfect drink to nourish your immune system.
Sima is the Finnish version of fermented lemonade made with brown sugar and raisins.
Sima is a traditional drink made to celebrate the arrival of spring. Definitely the type of lemonade you will fall in love with.
Ayran is a fermented drink made with water, yogurt, and salt. It’s widespread and popular throughout all the Middle Eastern countries.
Salt was originally added as a natural preservative. It has been kept to give this drink its peculiar aroma.
With its origins from UK, Cider is a kind of fruit wine which is obtained from apple fermentation.
It can be drunk as it is or used as an ingredient for sauces and desserts.
10. Ginger Ale
Ginger ale or ginger wine is fermented and is not to be confused with ginger beer which is a totally different drink.
Ginger ale is made for preservation while ginger beer is for immediate consumption.
Ginger wine or ginger ale naturally contains more alcohol than beer. To add to the confusion, there is another drink called gingerade which also differs from ginger beer and is not fermented and does not contain alcohol.
Ginger ale is made by crushing ginger, and adding some tartaric acid, gum Arabic, lemon oil, sugar, water and yeast.
11. Ginger Beer
Fermented ginger beer is not a beer at all but an alcoholic drink invented in Great Britain in the mid 18th century.
It was made using ginger root and sugar grown in the West Indies. Today, genuine ginger beer is made using grated fresh ginger root, acidified with lemon juice and zest and sweetened with sugar.
Traditionally, this mixture was fermented using a gelatinous starter made using lemon, sugar and ginger. The blend was then left to ferment for a week for spontaneous fermentation with wild yeasts and lactobacilli.
Many Americans and Canadians are familiar with a softer, milder tasting ginger beer variant called dry ginger ale. Dry ginger ale quickly became popular and replaced its stronger, more robust version of the drink.
There are many different varieties of Mead such as dry mead, sack mead or small mead.
Small mead is the easiest to make at home as it ferments more quickly than other varieties. Thus, it is the mead for the impatient brewer.
Small mead is made using honey and ale yeast. They taste more like ale than like wine. Basic mead making techniques involve using citrus fruit juice concentrates to honey wines.
To kick start fermentation, you can use grains like wheat, fruits such as grapes or even starchy vegetables like potatoes. Juice of lemons or oranges can add some tartness to enhance the taste of the mead.
Homemade wine is easy to make provided you have the right utensils.
You can ferment wine in barrels or use glass jars. Always sterilize all the equipment prior to use.
You can make fermented wine from berries or grapes. Always use fresh, organic fruits. You also need wine yeast. Wine yeast is readily available online or in stores.
People also use regular bread yeast for making wines but wine yeast generates more alcohol than bread yeasts. Some homemade wines can be made without using yeast at all.
If you are using grapes, use about 5 lbs of concord grapes. Remove the grapes from the vine. Avoid using grapes that are not ripe or are bruised. Crush the grapes to release the juice. Squish all the grapes. Cover and keep for fermenting.
Next, in a sterilized bowl dissolve 3 cups of sugar with one gallon of water. Pour the sugar solution over the grapes. Leave for 5 to 6 nights until bubbling slows down. Make sure you stir the mixture from time to time.
After bubbling stops, strain and bottle the wine. You can store the wine into bottles with bung stoppers and use a syringe to suck out air.
14. Rice Wine
Traditional rice wine is made using glutinous rice and husks.
The rice is steamed and then, after adding fermenting agents, it is left to ferment in banana leaves and later sealed in earthen ware.
After three days, the rice wine is ready for consumption, but the alcohol level and the quality of the wine improves if allowed to ferment longer.
Beer is a simple fermented drink made from a cereal grain (like barley), hops (which are the bitter, pungently aromatic flower from female hop plant), and yeast.
Beyond these basic ingredients, beer is made all around the world in a wide range of colors, flavors and alcoholic strengths. These days beer making kits are readily available.
Ryazhenka or Riazhenka, like kefir, is a fermented yogurt type drink that originated in Russia. It is a common breakfast drink made by baking sour milk to a golden brown color.
This cultured probiotic drink is creamier than Kefir and these days, you can easily get it from health food stores.
Ryazhenka lasts for about 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator and you can easily buy it in bulk. Add a couple of blueberries and chia seeds to ryazhenka and blend the mixture to make a healthy, delicious breakfast smoothie.
Kvass is an alcoholic beverage from Russia made from fermented cereals and often flavored.
This interesting drink can be easily tailored to suit different tastes such as sweet or sour.
Some Kvass has bread included, some has fruit, lemons or honey. Commercial kvass could be carbonated but homemade kvass is usually flat.
There is more than one way to make kvass and certainly several ways to describe it. Kvass can be had for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Rejuvelac is a fermented drink made from wheat berries. It is extremely rich in proteins, B vitamins as well as vitamins E and K. It is used as a starter in production of other fermented dishes including many sauces, cheeses and breads.
Rejuvelac contains gut friendly digestive enzymes that cooked foods don’t. That is why drinking rejuvelac between meals acts as a color cleanser and astringent to remove disease producing bacteria from the body.
Tepache is a fermented Mexian drink that is cool and refreshing and slightly sweet and fruity. It has a hint of alcohol.
Tepache is a popular summertime drink. You can easily make it at home with pineapples, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves. For fermentation, add some ale with live yeast or cultures.
Boza is a Turkish fermented drink that became popular under the reign of Ottoman Empire when alcohol was banned.
Boza is made using grains such as wheat, barley or maize which are made into a dough and left to ferment.
The alcohol content of the drink is kept in check. Boza made in Turkey has alcohol content less than 1% while that made in Caucasus can have alcohol between 4-6%.
Boza contains many vitamins including vitamins A, C, B1 and B2. It is stored and sold in marble or metallic containers.
21. Sweet Potato Fly
This is a fermented drink from Guyana which is made using sweet potatoes, sugar, whey, eggshells, and spices.
To make Sweet potato fly, grate the potatoes and wash them in water to remove the starch. In a fermentation vessel, combine the grated potatoes, water, sugar, whey, zest of lemon, mace, cinnamon, nutmeg and crush, cleaned eggshells.
Ferment in a warm spot until bubbly and then strain the solids out. You can use these solids in pancakes or discard them.
Place the liquid in sealable plastic bottles in a warm spot for a few days. Chill before serving.
22. Lacto Fermented Herbal Tea
Herbal fermented drinks help you get medicinal properties of the herbs and are also healing and caffeine-free.
To make fermented herbal teas, brew up whatever herbs you like, add the culture (whey from yogurt or kefir), sweetener (honey or unrefined cane sugar) and then ferment it to your liking.
Some popular combinations of lacto fermented herbal teas include elderberry and ginger, dandelion and milk thistle and nettle and red-raspberry leaf.
23. Lacto Fermented Sodas
Lacto fermented sodas are a great alternative to store bought sodas as they are loaded with probiotics and also easy to make at home.
They need a soda starter known as ginger bug which captures wild yeast and beneficial bacteria that eat the sugar, produce carbon dioxide and start lactic acid fermentation. Nearly any seasonal fruit juice can be inoculated with a starter to make fermented soda.
24. Juice from cultured vegetables
The juice from cultured pickles or vegetables contains plenty of electrolytes such as potassium, sodium and magnesium.
You can directly drink the juice from your bottle of pickles instead of reaching out for those sugary sports drinks after a workout.
Cultured vegetable juices are rich in probiotics, yeast and enzymes that benefit digestion and aid in the breakdown of food to promote healthy nutrient absorption. They also prevent Candida, yeast and bacterial infections.
Sake is fermented rice wine from Japan.
Sake is made from rice harboring a microbe called koji kin which releases enzymes that converts rice starch to sugars that can be fermented.
Sake yeast is also added along with water so fermentation can take place. A sake that is finished can contain alcohol of nearly 20%. Sake without alcohol that is made using only rice, water and koji is called junmai.
Darassun is a fermented drink made from millet and rice. It originates from Mongolia.
Rice cakes are broken and fermented with lactic acid bacteria (LAB), yeast, and hot water. It can be further sweetened or made acidic with addition of herbs during fermentation.
A color may also be added as desired. The resulting wine is often mistaken for excellent grape wine.
27. Bhaati Jaanr
Bhaati Jaanr is a Nepali rice beer. It is made using a starter called marcha.
Glutinous rice is boiled and cooled and then the excess water is drained. The rice is now added to marcha in an earthen pot and kept at room temperature for 1-2 days for saccharification.
After incubation period, some water is added and the vessel is sealed. This is further fermented for 1-3 days. The product is then stirred using bamboo stirrers to develop the thick and delicious bhaati jaanr.
The taste of Bhaati Jaanr is mildly alcoholic and sweet sour.
28. Korean Yakju/Takju
Both Yakju and Takju were made using rice in the earlier days but today they are made with wheat, barley, or corn with mold enzymes and fermented with yeasts to change sugars to ethanol.
Yakju and Takju are extremely popular in Korea and the latter was consumed by peasants while the former by nobility and upper classes.
These days, for fermentation of these beverages, broomcorn millet, foxtail millet and great millet may also be used.
This is a drink made with barley or finger millet. It is mildly alcoholic and slightly sweet, acidic and extremely popular in Tibet, parts of North Eastern India, Bhutan and Nepal.
Chyang is known by different names like Kodo ko Jaanr, or Mong Chee.
During production, the millets are washed and cleaned and then cooked for nearly 30 minutes.
The excess water is then drained off and the millets are spread on bamboo mats for cooling.
Powdered starter culture called marcha is then spread over the millets and mixed thoroughly.
The mixture is placed in bamboo baskets, packed with ferns, sealed with sackcloths and allowed to ferment for 3-4 days.
The saccharified mass is transferred to an earthen pot or bamboo pot, sealed and made airtight and allowed to ferment for further 3-4 days.
Freshly fermented Kodo ko Jaanr or chyang is then mixed with lukewarm water and left for 15-20 minutes. The milky white extract of Jaanr is sipped through narrow bamboo straws.
Pozol is a fermented cereal beverage made by fermenting maize. For the production of pozol, maize grains are heated in acid solution, ground and then shaped into balls.
The balls are wrapped in banana leaves and left to ferment for a few days. Later they are re-suspended in water and consumed as a beverage.
Tell me in the comments below about your favorite fermented drinks.
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Quick question, once you fermented the juice, in my case orange juice, water, whey and sugar, how long can you leave it out and is it normal that it keeps separating. I have a clear liquid in the middle of my flip top bottle that I burp daily. I’ve been to scared to try it because of the separation and it’s now been fermenting for over a week.
Gigi Mitts says
Fermenting orange juice should take 24-48 hours depending on the temperature and you can start tasting it after 8 hours. Once it’s fermented you won’t be able to taste sugar but a strong orange flavor. The fermented orange juice can be kept in the fridge for a week or so. If you already fermented it for over a week, I would discard it and start again.
LOVE this list, thank you! Isn’t pureh also a fermented drink? My experience is pureh is delicious but very high in caffeine. I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine so I can’t have it very often. Wondering if there are any hot fermented beverages other that pureh out there?
Gigi Mitts says
Thanks Allison 🙂 You’re correct, pureh is a type of fermented tea. Another hot fermented beverage I have heard of is tongba which is a traditional Nepalese drink.