Lacto Fermented Lemonade

This is Rob’s favorite beverage. He likes it really tart, and so do I. If you haven’t discovered lacto-fermentation yet, this would be a great starter recipe. It adds a healthy dose of probiotics to your diet and is very high in Vitamin C. It also contains Folate, Potassium and Magnesium as well as other trace minerals. If you’re trying to sneak healthy bacteria into someone’s diet without their knowledge, this recipe tastes just like regular lemonade. They won’t even know it’s healthy 🙂

I make homemade yogurt, so I always have an abundance of whey in the house. To make your own yogurt read how to do it in a crock pot here or how to do it at room temperature with no heat required here. The whey will naturally rise to the top of yogurt, or you can strain the yogurt through a tea towel or cheesecloth.

Lacto Fermented Lemonade

1 dozen organic lemons

1/2 cup sugar (you can use any sweetener except honey)

1 gallon purified water

1/4-1/2 cup whey

Juice lemons. Rob and I found a handy electric citrus juicer at a yard sale for $1 and boy has that thing come in handy. We were squeezing them by hand before, and I don’t highly recommend that. For some reason lemon juice always torpedos directly toward your eye 🙂

Mix lemon juice, water, sugar and whey. Stir to dissolve sugar.

Cover pitcher with cloth or paper towel and hold in place with a rubber band. Leave at room temperature for 48 hours. After 48 hours approximately 1.6% of the sugar will remain, the rest will have been metabolized by the bacteria,  making this a 98.4% sugar/carb free beverage.

Refrigerate and drink up. You may like more sugar in yours, but we love it tart and only very slightly sweet. Experiment for the right combination for your taste buds.

I have let my Kombucha Scoby go to sleep, and we are drinking this instead. I am trying to figure out how much, if any, caffeine remains in the finished batch of Kombucha. Does anyone have any insight on this question? I finally broke my caffeine addiction and I don’t want to drink Kombucha until I’m certain that it caffeine-free. If you know the answer to this question, I would love to hear your thoughts!


  1. April 7, 2012 at 7:14 AM

    This seems so easy! I will give it a try after we make cheese.

  2. ThriftyNut said,

    April 7, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    I couldn’t open your “How to peel a whole head of Garlic in 10 seconds!” post… Do you have it on a private instead of public? I am really curious to how to do this! Thanks for your help

  3. momgonepaleo said,

    April 7, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Yum! Can’t wait to try it!

  4. Shay said,

    April 7, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    What a great recipe! I’m going to try it!

  5. chefconnie said,

    April 7, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    I am making this for my family today. What a great idea.

  6. Heather said,

    April 7, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    This sounds delicious! I am wondering why you can’t use honey as a sweetener? We have local raw honey available to us, and that is what I try to use (or maple syrup). Would love to hear why it isn’t good for fermentation.

    • April 7, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      Heather, Honey is full of beneficial bacteria and enzymes and is very good for you. The reason it isn’t good for fermentation is because those beneficial bacteria compete with the bacteria in the whey. That usually leads to a less than stellar ferment. You can add half the sugar and let is sit for 48 hours and then add honey right before you throw it in the fridge.
      I like to add the sugar and then do the ferment, because the bacteria eat the sugar, making this very low in carbs.
      Great question! Thank you for visiting and commenting.

      • Sunflower said,

        March 8, 2013 at 9:00 PM

        I’ve been fermenting with honey for over a decade. The honey doesn’t kill off any other bacteria after its mixed with water! You can use it in place of sugar in any fermentation recipe (although gives slightly less of certain acids-i prefer it that way). The way to do it is mix it with water (completely dissolve) before it comes in contact with the bacteria you want to cultivate.

      • April 1, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        Are you mixing it with very HOT water to kill the bacteria already in the honey? Or is there something else I’m missing. Bacteria can live in water, so i’m confused…sorry

    • May 20, 2014 at 6:08 AM

      I agree with Sunflower, here. Honey will ferment just fine. When raw, it will bring its own bacteria to the mix, just as ANY raw food does.

  7. Alia said,

    April 7, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    This sounds great!

  8. vivjm said,

    April 7, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    Ooh, I think I will have to give this a try. I make yogurt nearly every day so always have loads of whey too. Will make a change from water kefir.

    • April 7, 2012 at 5:40 PM

      i love kefir too, but my grains died last time i went on vacation…We need to start a “scoby-sitting service” for all the starters, and bacterias growing in our kitchens… 🙂

  9. April 8, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    […] Lacto Fermented Lemonade ( […]

  10. April 9, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Did you know you can make a lacto fermented soda with roots? We do that a lot in our house, we don’t have an abundance of whey. You basically feed any root (any edible root, we use ginger like in the video but dandielion, burdock etc can be used too) sugar and in water for a week and it will naturally ferment. Here’s the youtube video, it’s #1 of 2 so check out the last one too 🙂

  11. April 9, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    I have made ginger beer quite a few times and I love it in the summer! I actually didn’t know you could use any root. I will definately be giving that a try. I bet dandelion would be delicious.

  12. Kay Bruce said,

    April 14, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    While this is probably good for many, you should think twice, three, even four times before trying to ‘slip’ anything you think is healthy into someone else’s drink or food. I for one have a very serious reaction to probiotics, I’ve tried several w/Dr.s help and my body reacts very seriously severe. So while your opinion may be valid for most please rethink and re-submit your thoughts on how to ‘share’ this with anyone.

    • April 14, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      “if you want to sneak probiotics into someones diet without their knowledge” was obviously meant as a joke. Those who read my blog regularly, or who have ever met my family, know that I was born with a very large sarcastic bone. 🙂

      It sounds to me like you have a Candida overgrowth and are experiencing “die off” symptoms. Ask that Doctor you mentioned about a Herxheimer Reaction next time you see him/her. It looks like this:
      aches and pains
      skin rash
      vaginal irritation
      mental confusion
      brain fog
      constipation or diarrhea
      swollen glands
      bloating and gas
      chills or fever
      skin breakouts
      You pretty much feel like you have the flu, but it’s different for everyone. Because the good bacteria and bad bacteria are out of balance in your gut and having a huge fight with each other. This is perfectly normal and happens to most people who first start introducting probiotics into their diet. It doesn’t mean you should stop using them, it just means you have to take it slow and easy. These symptoms normally clear up within a week or so, but could last a little longer. However, there are a few things you can do to slow down this reaction or expel the toxins faster. Check this out
      I don’t know what your symptoms are but I would do some serious research on Candida and start an elimination diet. If I were you, I would also check out Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Campbell-McBride. It is an advanced protocol to heal a gut that is out of balance. Great luck to you Kay!

  13. May 1, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    […] ginger bug, and thereafter a batch of probiotic Ginger Beer; some whey with which I’ll try Lacto Fermented Lemonaid; and a baby scoby for Kombucha (an effervescent tea), a gift from my future sister-in-law waiting […]

  14. September 26, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    […] ginger bug, and thereafter a batch of probiotic Ginger Beer; some whey with which I’ll try Lacto Fermented Lemonaid; and a baby scoby for Kombucha (an effervescent tea), a gift from my future sister-in-law waiting […]

  15. dede said,

    November 3, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    I have made this a few times and I love it, i have a question though, i hung my whey and made the punch on a saturday, i only ended up with like 1/4 c of whey so i added to the other ingredients and left on counter on monday i finally made it to the store and got more cheesecloth and yogurt to make more whey and added more monday afternoon, i left out until tues and now has been in fridge since…is it ok to add more whey, will it mess up the fermentation process? Im scared to drink it, don’t want to waste it all though lol!!

    • January 29, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      I personally think whey tastes great, so i say add as much as you want. I don’t think it will hurt anything.

  16. Cindy said,

    November 20, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    I have tried to make feremnted lemonaid twice now and neither time did I get many bubbles. Just a few. I am concerned this means the bacteria did not grow. It also tastes sweet to me still. How much bubbling should I have?

  17. Angela said,

    December 20, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    Can you make this without whey and use ginger bug instead?

    • January 29, 2013 at 4:08 PM

      If you use it without whey, it will not be lacto-fermented. You can certainly use your ginger bug to ferment any beverage but the flavor is slightly different. Try it and let us know how it turns out!

      • May 20, 2014 at 6:00 AM

        Wrong. Lacto-fermented refers to lactobacillus not lactose. It has absolutely nothing to do with dairy, nor does it require whey.

  18. aceblade said,

    March 14, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    I love lemonade so I’d really like to try this!
    Where do you get whey though? I don’t make my own cheese/yogurt so I’m at a loss for where to get the stuff. Is it something I can buy in the store? Hmmm, I guess a Google search would answer my question… lol

    • April 1, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      try Cultures for Health HERE. They are the experts in all things fermentation!

      • aceblade said,

        May 25, 2013 at 6:05 PM

        I gave the dishcloth with yogurt tied off with an elastic band, suspended from my cupboard handle a try. Worked wonders!

    • godsaggie said,

      May 25, 2013 at 12:23 AM

      I use the whey off my stire bought yogurt when I’m in a pinch. It’s the liquid that pools at the top. I only buy the best quality organic yogurt.

  19. Teri said,

    July 11, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    Hello I know it has been a while since you posted this but I wanted to comment on your request for how much caffeine is in kombucha after it is brewed., I was also interested in this a while ago and came to find out that in a finished 8oz bottle of half green half black fermentation you would have about 12-18mg of cafiene for an only green tea ferment it still will have between 10-12 mg per 8 oz. not much, but it does still have small amounts. Hope this helps even though it has been a while

  20. Miranda Boman said,

    July 11, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    Do you stir the stuff at the bottom back in to the lemonade before you drink it? I am assuming that is the good stuff that make this probiotic but I dont want to drink something that we are not suppose to be drinking either!

    • July 11, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      Miranda, Yes, we leave it as is, stir it up and drink it. I have some fermenting right now. It’s 87 degrees out, I can’t wait to drink it!

  21. July 25, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    I have made this a few times and LOVE it. My 6 year old can’t get enough. My question is: can you use some of the cultured lemonade to make the next batch? I don’t always have whey on hand.

    • July 30, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      Nancy, YES! I have done that myself when I was out of whey. I use the ‘dregs’ from the bottom of the pitcher. The pulp and heavier items that sink to the bottom. It turned out fine….

  22. Liam said,

    October 27, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    Kombucha brewing has no effect on the amount of caffeine in the final brew, it completely depends on the amount of caffeine in the tea (or coffee) you used.

    Also when going on vacation you can freeze most “bugs” in a convention freezer, kombucha scobys need to be done in a deep freeze however. Sourdough can be dried and frozen as well. For yogurt you dip clean cotton balls in and dry them in a fan and then put that in the freezer.

    I have been successfully switching between ferments for years now: kefir, tibicos, GBP, fil molk, piima, couple varieties of yogurt and of course kombucha.

  23. Miquela said,

    January 11, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    Ah, interesting about the honey…

    I made this same recipe (that I found on a different site) and got no bubbles. Now I know why. 😛 It was still very tasty, but I’ll try your suggestion of a little bit of sugar to feed the bacteria and then sweeten up with honey after it has fermented.

    Thank you!

  24. February 28, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    […] Lacto-fermented Lemonade via A Real Food Lover […]

  25. Audrey said,

    March 3, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    I have made this about 8 times now. I always get tons of bubbles. I do a couple things differently- While it is sitting out on the counter I make sure it is air tight (I read somewhere that this keeps the bubbles in), I leave it out at room temp for about 2 1/2 days, and I save some of the previous batch as my next starter.

  26. May 24, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    i decaf my tea when making kombucha by letting the tea bags sit in the hot water for somewhere between 30sec to 1min (no longer than a minute though or it will get too weak) then dumping that water and brewing again as normal. This gets rid of a LOT of the caffeine, since caffeine is the first thing released (at least that’s my understanding, and experience shows me it works). Doing it this way, by the time the scoby gets done with it, it seems there is very little, if any, caffeine left. Drinking even a tiny amount of coffee (even decaf coffee) gives me a major buzz (i hardly ever drink it) but the kombucha doesn’t give me that. Maybe not scientific enough, but i thought i’d mention it anyway; i love kombucha and also don’t want the caffeine, so this works for me. i notice a huge difference if i forget to decaf it and usually let others drink those batches. 🙂

  27. Lindsey said,

    July 10, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    Does this *have* to be an aerobic ferment? Will it be ok to do an anaerobic ferment using a half gallon mason jar with lid? Thanks!

  28. Deb said,

    August 3, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    I am on day one of my 2day fermented lemonade, question is I have a thick fizz layer on top, not mold but can see the “roots”. Do I skim this off or stir it in before drinking?

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