Lactofermented Ginger Lemonade

I’ve been making a lot of yogurt from our grass-fed milk lately, which leaves me with a lot of whey.  Whey is nutritious, and the whey of yogurt is full of great gut-loving bacteria, so I try to use it instead of throwing it out (if we had chickens, any extra would go to them, but we don’t). Most of it’s been going into soups, breads, or fermenting oats, but this last yogurt-making left me with a bunch of extra. What to do with it?

I’d read the recipe for lactofermented lemonade years ago in Nourishing Traditions, but had never had enough extra yogurt whey to give it a try. While surfing the web, I also found a lacto-fermented lemon ginger ale which I can’t wait to give a go at some point. Since this was my first go at lactofermenting a drink, though, I thought maybe I should wait on this until I’d gotten some experience (if you read this as “Shawn decided against exploding something in her kitchen,” you’d be right). But, the idea of ginger and lemon appealed to me.  I have to credit one of our former tenants with showing me a hot lemon-ginger tea her grandma used to make as a home-remedy for some inspiration here, too.  So, I decided to give it a go and put together something on my own.

Here’s what I came up with.

Lactofermented Ginger Lemonade

-2 cups of fresh whey

-2 inches of ginger root, unpeeled

-12 lemons, whole

-1/2 to 1 cup sucanat (or other natural sweetener)

-1  gallon (about) distilled water

Directions: Zest 3-4 of the lemons directly over your pitcher.

I didn't have a glass pitcher large enough, something I plan to remedy shortly, so this is plastic. Don't judge.

Then, juice your lemons:

To get the most juice, use room-temperature lemons and roll them firmly as shown before juicing.

Grate ginger root directly into pitcher (this captures all the juices for maximum flavor). Add sweetener:

Most of the sugars get used up during fermentation, so the end result will be tarter than you expect. Err on the side of more sugar to begin with.

Add whey and stir. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.

It looks a lot lie soup.

Add water, stir, and cover with a cloth (I used a rubber band to hold mine on, and to keep out fruit flies and the like). Allow to sit at room temperature for 2 days, stirring at least once a day (mine was stirred twice).

This isn't going to be a clear beverage like lemonade, especially if you use a dark natural sweetener. For a lighter color or clearer end product, you'll want to use something more refined.

And, you’re done! Just chill and serve. I filtered mine through a mesh strainer because I am not a pulp-in-my-orange-juice kind of gal, but you don’t need to.

The end result: a tasty, tart, refreshing beverage that is very low in sugar and high in flavor and refreshment!

It’s great. Very refreshing, not too sweet. Next time, I am adding a bit more lemon juice (the lemons I got were a bit dry, unfortunately), and I may even up the ginger because I like a lot of “bite.” Overall, though, this was a complete win, and a very good base recipe that is easily altered to specific tastes. I forsee a lot of this in our summer.

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