Lacto Fermented Probiotic Lemonade is a probiotic-rich refreshing beverage that is lower in sugar than regular lemonade! This creamy, delicious drink is fermented using whey (hence, “lacto fermented”), and is a fun and tasty project!
You’ll love this recipe whether you’re seasoned at pickling, fermenting or brewing things at home, OR if you’re new to fermentation!
If you’re familiar with my Probiotic Ginger Beer recipe or have made Homemade Kombucha, and are looking for a new project (that happens to be worlds easier), here it is!!
Lacto fermented lemonade. Have you heard of such a thing??
What is Lacto Fermented Probiotic Lemonade?:
The term, “lacto fermented” can be applied to all sorts of fermented foods and beverages, such as sauerkraut, pickles or ginger beer. Lacto fermented lemonade is a probiotic lemonade, fermented using water, fresh lemon juice, sugar and whey. This drink gets its probiotic qualities from whey, which is the watery substance that forms on top of yogurt. When mixed with lemon juice and sugar water, the whey continues to culture and probiotics continue to multiply.
How to I Obtain Whey?:
Well, that is the only part of this recipe that is somewhat challenging. But really, it’s quite simple. You simply strain the whey from either store-bought or homemade plain yogurt using a cheesecloth, and you have your starter!
If you’re familiar with making Greek yogurt, the process of obtaining whey is actually the same! Greek yogurt is simply regular yogurt that has been strained of whey, which is why it is so thick. You start with regular plain yogurt and end up with two things: thick Greek-style yogurt and whey.
In essence, you will make Greek yogurt in order to obtain whey. If you don’t make yogurt at home, no big deal! Simply buy a large (32-ounce) tub of plain whole milk yogurt from the grocery store (don’t buy Greek yogurt, as it has already been strained of whey) and follow the instructions below.
How to Make Lacto Fermented Lemonade:
First, obtain whey (your probiotic starter). The easiest method to get whey is to strain it off of yogurt. To do this, fold cheesecloth over onto itself and lay it over a bowl. Pour 32 ounces (1 quart) of whole milk yogurt (either store-bought or homemade) onto the cheesecloth.
Gather all of the edges of the cheesecloth and bring them together so that you have a bundle of yogurt. Use a rubber band to secure the cheesecloth around the yogurt completely.
Once you have your bundle secured, use one or two additional rubber bands to hang it from a cabinet or shelf over the mixing bowl so that the gravity helps drain the whey from the yogurt. It should only take about 20 to 30 minutes to strain a full cup of whey off of the yogurt but if you don’t have a full cup by this time, wait longer.
Once your whey is strained, you will be using it for the lacto-fermented lemonade. You’ll be using the clear liquid only for the fermented lemonade. Pour/scrape the strained yogurt off the cheesecloth into a seal-able container or jar and enjoy it later!
In a sealable gallon jar or jug, combine the whey, lemon juice and sugar. Add the water and stir very well to dissolve the sugar. Note that the probiotics in the whey feed off of the sugar, so you will need to adjust the amount of sugar to your personal taste. If you desire a sweeter beverage, use up to 1 cup of sugar, versus ¾ cup.
Seal the container and allow it to sit at room temperature for 2 days. A closet, shelf, or pantry works great for storage.
Once the lacto-fermented lemonade is ready, you can refrigerate the whole jug, or transfer it to flip-cap bottles.
Store in the refrigerator sealed for up to 2 weeks.
What Does Lacto Fermented Lemonade Taste Like?:
The whey gives the lemonade a creamy flavor, making it taste similar to lemon meringue pie, by far the most unique lemonade you will ever taste! This beverage is healthier than normal lemonade because the probiotics in the whey eat up some of the sugar, leaving the beverage sweet but with less sugar content than what it started with.
How Long Does It Take to Make Fermented Lemonade:
All it takes is two days to make fermented lemonade! The end result is a sweet, zingy, creamy beverage. An added bonus is probiotics and yeast consume sugar in order to grow and reproduce, leaving you with less sugar than when you started. So you get a sweet drink, without all the sugar!
Should I Do a Secondary Fermentation?
If you’re familiar with fermented food and drink and are wondering whether or not you should do a secondary fermentation after the primary fermentation of lemonade, I would say don’t bother. You absolutely can! But of all the times I did a secondary fermentation with fermented lemonade, I found it didn’t make much of a difference (in essence, the drink didn’t become stronger).
If you decide to do a secondary, let me know how it turns out!
The way I see it, this science experiment is awesome for kids, as well as adults. Fermentation can be tricky, but lacto-fermented lemonade is nearly impossible to goof up! It is a great starting point for those interested in fermentation because the inputs are minimal and the process gets you familiar with the concept of fermentation.
This refreshing beverage can be flavored to be a seasonal treat any time of year and it is particularly refreshing in the summertime.
So you have your fermented lemonade…what now? You can simply sip on it to your heart’s delight or get creative and flavor it!
Turn it into a probiotic Arnold Palmer by mixing equal parts iced tea and lemonade. Turn this into a crazy flavorful treat by using hibiscus tea.
Add a mint simple syrup or muddled mint leaves.
Make a creamy mocktail! Blend up 6 ounces of lemonade with 1 frozen banana and ½ cup full-fat coconut milk and 1 tablespoon of lime juice for a creamy, tropical flavored beverage.
You can also add any form of berry-infused simple syrup. I find raspberry basil, blackberry sage and blueberry are marvelous!
If you’re looking for more fermented drink recipes, check out my cookbook, Delicious Probiotic Drinks!
Probiotic lemonade that is naturally fermented for a lower sugar gut healthy lemonade recipe
- 3/4 cup cane sugar
- 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
- 1 gallon filtered water
- 1 cup whey, (strained from 1 quart plain whole milk yogurt)
- Pour 32 ounces (1 quart) of whole milk yogurt (either store-bought or homemade) onto the cheesecloth.
- Take all of the edges of the cheesecloth and bring them together so that you have a bundle of yogurt. Use a rubber band to secure the cheesecloth around the yogurt completely.
- Once you have your bundle secured, use one or two additional rubber bands to hang it from a cabinet or shelf over the mixing bowl so that the gravity helps drain the whey from the yogurt. It should only take about 20 to 30 minutes to strain a full cup of whey off of the yogurt but if you don’t have a full cup by this time, wait longer.
- Once your whey is strained, you will be using it for the lacto-fermented lemonade. You now have Greek yogurt in that cheesecloth! Simply pour/scrape the strained yogurt off the cheesecloth into a sealable container and enjoy it later!
- In a sealable 1-gallon jar or jug, combine the whey, lemon juice and sugar. Add the water and stir very well to dissolve the sugar. Note that the probiotics in the whey feed off of the sugar, so you will need to adjust the amount of sugar to your personal taste. If you desire a sweeter beverage, use up to 1 cup of sugar, versus ¾ cup.
- Seal the container and allow it to sit at room temperature for 2 days. A closet, shelf, or pantry works great for storage.
- Transfer the jug to your refrigerator and drink chilled. You can store the lemonade in sealed flip-cap bottles for up to 10 days, or simply leave the lemonade in the sealed 1-gallon jug.
Nutrition InformationYield 1 Serving Size 1 of 8
Amount Per Serving Calories 70Unsaturated Fat 0gCarbohydrates 18gSugar 17g
Tuesday 28th of March 2023
I just made yogurt today. I usually save the whey. I have it in the fridge does it have to be room temp before I use it to make this recipe?
Monday 3rd of April 2023
For the bacteria and yeast to grow, the lemonade will need to brew at room temperature - the 70 to 85 degree range is what bacteria loves best, but they will grow at slightly lower temperatures (around 65-70) too. :) Let me know if you have any questions!
Sunday 26th of March 2023
Hello. I am excited to see this recipe. I am looking for non-alcoholic ways to ferment with simple methods to introduce the needed yeasts and bacetreias, not a fan of kombucha taste and the need for Scoby. I want fizz. So my question is, does this type of fermentation produce some fizz?
Tuesday 28th of March 2023
Hi Ellen! I was never able to get my lactofermented lemonade to become fizzy, but it's possible there's a way. My best bet would be once the lemonade has finished its first fermentation, you can put it through a secondary fermentation by adding more sugar and bottling it in flip cap bottles. Leave the bottles at room temperature for another 3-4 days and hopefully the culture will continue to ferment and produce pressure in the sealed bottles. Let me know if it works out!
Wednesday 22nd of February 2023
I made this drink but only put paper towel with an elastic around the jug. It sat for 4 days on the shelf and when I opened it it had some dark stuff floating on it. Is that mold and should I pitch it and do it again with a sealable jar? I would really appreciate your thoughts. It doesn’t smell bad and has quite a mild taste actually. I just don’t want any issues.
Sunday 26th of February 2023
Hi Wanda! I'm not sure what the dark stuff could be other than mold, so if it were me I would probably start over. If you try it again, I would check on it after 2 days, as the fermentation time can vary widely depending on household temperature and the native yeast in the air. It could be that your batch fermented rather quickly and was ready earlier. Hope this helps!
Sunday 5th of February 2023
Looking forward to trying this. Can you use maple syrup or maple sugar instead of cane sugar? Thanks
Friday 10th of February 2023
Hi Dawn! I haven't tried using maple syrup to ferment drinks in place of cane sugar, but I've read that other people have had success. Theoretically any type of sugar should feed bacteria, so I think it would turn out great :) Enjoy!
Sunday 19th of June 2022
I only have Greek yogurt. I can still strain some whey out of it. Would that still work? Is there another type of sweetener than can be used instead of cane sugar?
Monday 20th of June 2022
Hi there! As long as you're able to strain some whey out, it will definitely work! Honey, coconut sugar, and maple sugar should all work as replacements for cane sugar. I will say, I haven't tried them myself and coconut sugar and pure maple syrup might make the lemonade look darker/brownish, but really any sweetener that provides carbohydrate for the probiotics to live off of will work :)