Bright and refreshing, this fermented lemonade is the perfect drink for those dog days of summer. Using my trusty ginger bug, this probiotic beverage is full of health benefits and is super easy to drink.
Anyone can make this with just a few simple ingredients you may already have at home.
I’m Trent Musho, and this is the Bru Sho. Let’s make some fermented lemonade.
Lemonade is a classic drink for a hot summer day and I wanted to see how else I could use my ginger bug. With all this hot weather, I thought a fermented lemonade sounded like the perfect thirst quencher.
Dehydration won’t be a problem, as this has less than one percent ABV and the acid in lemonade stimulates salivation, making you feel more hydrated. It’s also rich in probiotics, which are great for your gut health. If you’re not familiar with what a ginger bug is, it’s a combo of ginger, sugar, and water that’s been fermented.
There’s yeast and bacteria on the ginger that fuel the fermentation, also known as lactobacillus. The ginger bug can then be used to ferment other liquids, most commonly ginger beer, but I also did a berry basil swizzle.
The resulting drink is slightly carbonated and rich in probiotics. If you’ve never made a ginger bug before, check out my ginger beer video for a more detailed explanation on how to get started.
But to quickly cover it, add equal parts sugar and fresh, chopped ginger into a mason jar with water. Feed the culture with more ginger and sugar every day until you see little bubbles of fermentation activity. At which point, your ginger bug is ready.
I’m starting from a ginger bug that I have in my fridge, as shown in the switchel video. You can pretty much store this indefinitely. All you need to do is pull it out of the fridge and let it come to room temp, then give it a nice feeding of sugar and ginger.
I use about 10 grams of sugar and 10 grams of chopped ginger. Depending on how long it’s been in your fridge, you should start seeing bubbles in a day or two of feeding. Once you see a good amount of bubbles, you’re ready to start making this tasty lemonade.
I’m making a half-gallon batch, but feel free to scale this up to any size you want. I’ll be using a little shortcut today to make the lemonade, frozen concentrate.
You’re more than welcome to squeeze your own lemons and make fresh lemonade, but this takes all the guesswork out, and you’ll have it ready in minutes. It also already has all the sugar needed for fermentation.
Start by dumping in the frozen concentrate into a fermenter. I’m using a one-gallon glass fermenting jar. Then add four and a half cans of filtered water, which is the amount recommended on the concentrate package. This will come out to about a half-gallon of total volume.
Next is some ginger, roughly chopped. I’m adding in 30 grams. The ginger is not needed here, but I find that it complements the lemon flavor nicely and reinforces the ginger from the bug. Lastly, I add the ginger bug itself. I’m using 100 grams of strained ginger bug. I just put the fermenter on the scale and tear it before adding it in.
That’s it, no need to add any sugar since there’s already enough in the concentrate. If you’re making this from scratch, I would just suggest starting with 30 grams of sugar, but you can always add as much or as little as you want to your sweetness preference.
Then, pop a top on your fermenter and cover the opening with either a cloth or airlock, but don’t seal the fermenter. This will start building pressure as it ferments. Set it in a room-temperature area, out of direct sunlight, for about three to four days.
The warmer the area is, the faster it may ferment. The fermentation is not extremely vigorous, but you may see some bubbles in your lock every once in a while. For me, after three days, I felt like the fermentation activity was peaking.
Here’s what my fermenter looked like. You can always take a sample and taste it. It should be sweet but slightly funky from the fermentation. With that, we can now move on to bottling to make this fizzy.
First up, make sure you’re using fermentation-grade bottles that can withstand pressure. Some flip-top bottles are for decorative purposes and will explode if you’re not careful. I’m going to show you a few ways you can flavor this lemonade for some added pizzazz.
Of course, you can keep it classic lemonade flavor and not add anything. You really can’t go wrong with that. In these other two bottles, I’m going to add fresh mint into one and fresh blueberries into the other. A few leaves of mint is plenty.
You can have a strong flavor, so go easy, and with the blueberry, I’m probably adding about five berries. I’m crushing them as I add them in to make sure the flavor fully absorbs. You can really add any fruit but blueberry-lemon is a match made in lemonade heaven.
Some other great options could be strawberry, matcha, watermelon, or even dragon fruit. Let me know in the comments or on Instagram what additional flavors you would add.
Then, just fill up the bottles. I like to strain it so there’s no ginger in the bottles. Also, leave about an inch of headspace in each bottle with the lemonade and flavors in, just close the top, and set them on their side in a room-temperature area for two to three days.
Then, after those few days, toss them in the fridge to chill down. At which point, the simple fermented lemonade is ready to drink.
Wow, this turned out even tastier than expected. It’s so refreshing and crisp. Perfect for the hot summer weather, full of tart and bright lemony flavor while still on the sweet side. It’s by no means, glowingly sweet, even though we added more ginger. It’s very subtle and it really highlights the lemon flavor.
The super bubbly effervescence adds to the fresh, invigorating feeling and it really begs for another sip. And look at the color on the blueberry version, just beautiful. I think playing around with some different kinds of flavors could create some unique and appetizing colors.
The floral touches of the mint version play so nicely with the lemonade and it really reinforces just how refreshing and thirst-quenching the fermented lemonade is. As mentioned, this is about less than one percent ABV, so I wouldn’t blame you for adding a shot of vodka in on a hot day, or how about making a summer shandy with some beer.
I promise you won’t regret making this recipe because I’ve gotta go make another batch right now. We may or may not have already finished these bottles off. Be sure to let me know if you make this recipe or have any questions. Cheers and happy fermenting!
Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy. I’ve been homebrewing for +20 yrs, an aspiring pro-brewer and micro brewery owner!