Home made Raspberry Limonade

Raspberry Limonade

The summer is performing at its very best here in New Zealand. Time to brew some refreshing drinks! Yes, beer has been made with freshly harvested stingy nettles earlier this summer, thanks to Amy McComb of Plantrhythms! Want the recipe? Let me know by dropping a comment below!

Back to our low alcoholic treat. I found the inspiration for this one while listening to the audio version of Sandor Ellix Katz’ book: The Art of Fermentation – driving my new pony home to Warkworth from Wellington. 11 hours of fermentation wisdom pouring into my ears while crossing the beautiful North Island of NZ.

German rocket vs...

By the time I got home I was ready for a cool drink and a massage. I’ll leave you to figuring out the details of the massage and provide the recipe for the drink.

This recipe works well year round with organic frozen berries. Any kind of berries will do, as long as they are organically grown. I’ve so far experimented with raspberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, strawberries, acai – all with great results.

Limonade

If you happen to have an abundant supply of fresh berries, you might get away without adding any cultures to start the fermentation process, as there usually are plenty of wild yeasts living on unsprayed berries. I used frozen berries and added the whey from my milk kefir (Vegans beware!), a splash of Kombucha and some Coconut Kefir.

Originally home-made lemonades were made just with whey. Milk Kefir provides a higher percentage of yeast strains that will happily start an alcoholic fermentation, in comparison to for example: Caspian Sea Yoghurt. For any of these cultures, please get in touch with your local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter or drop me a line here. The reasoning with adding more than one starter culture was to get a more vibrant fermentation going fast. In my opinion, it will also provide the limonade with a richer pro-biotic profile.

Be aware that the whey will highly likely introduce some fat to your limonade, specifically if you make your kefir with full fat raw non-homogenised milk, as we do. You can see the that effect in some of the pictures. Whey is the clear liquid separating from the fermented milk solids, see picture below:

Kefir

Yes, you can leave out the kefir whey if you don’t tolerate milk products. In that case I suggest you stick to Kombucha and Coconut Kefir. The coconut kefir that Anita and Terry make in New Zealand (in the same facility that René’s Kombucha is brewed, btw.) is made with the Body Ecology kefir starter. This is a laboratory made dairy-free blend of highly effective pro-biotic cultures.

OK, enough Blurb! If you want to hear more and taste a whole variety of cultured foods and beverages I suggest you check out my Event Calendar, there should be at least one Traditional Cultured Foods demo & degustation class in the pipeline. If not, drop me a line and we’ll see if we can organise one in your area.

Raspberry Limonade

Raspberry Limonade
Makes 3 liters
Ingredients:
250 ml lime juice or lemon juice
1 cup frozen raspberries or other organic berries
20-50 ml whey from kefir
30 ml coconut kefir
30 ml kombucha
1.5 cup coconut sugar
3 l filtered water

Directions:
Stir well in a 3 liter glass jar to dissolve the coconut sugar.
Cover with a cloth and let ferment for 24-48 hours. Stir occasionally.
Filter out the berries and bottle in plastic bottles.
Store in fridge and wait 1-2 days for fizz to build up.
Open carefully.
Enjoy on ice!

Limonade

The plastic bottles are essential!
I know, I know… I’ve made a conscious decision to bottle my Kombucha in glass bottles. Yet plastic bottles allow you to gage the pressure building up inside of them. Glass bottles might explode if not refrigerated! I’m NOT kidding. Be safe! I have had more than one thick-walled glass bottle explode from too much pressure building up inside.
Collect/recycle plastic bottles from a local cafe and then re-use them for your fermented beverage projects!

Have fun and be safe!
PS: Yes, due to the yeasts in the pro-biotic cultures your home-made limonade might have small amounts of natural alcohol in it.

Liquid Inspiration: Orange Blossom Mead

I’m going to blame this one on Sandor Ellix Katz and his infectious Passion for the realm of fermented food and drink. I have to say, I’ve caught the ‘Bug’! If you think my liquid fermentation experiments started and ended with this recipe here, you are wrong.

Even my beloved wife Lydia is now drinking beer – the herbal home-brewed kind!
While I’m writing this a 20l can of Lemon Balm and Nettle Beer is happily bubbling in our kitchen, see below! Give it a week and then a few more in bottles and our New Years Bubbles will be ready! If you happen to be at Prana on New Years you might be lucky to catch a sample drop of it 🙂

Lemon Balm Nettle Beer

It came to my utter surprise and DELIGHT that one could make beer from any medicinal herb or flower growing around one’s house and garden. The fermentation process actually enhances many of the medicinal properties of plants. For a marvelous introduction to the subject, I urge you to demand this book from Santa: Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, by Stephen Harrod Buhner.
I’m not talking of the ‘buy-your-cousin-a-beer-making-kit-for-Christmas’ type of beer. These beers, and meads here, do not require hops or any other German purity standards. Simply put, these are sweet herbal teas fermented by beer yeast. Making tea isn’t that hard, is it?! Neither is brewing your own beer!

In basic terms, the difference in making beer or mead is in the choice of sweetener. While I often use organic golden sugar, malt extract or coconut sugar for my herbal beers, it is honey only for meads. For an elaborate exploration of the mead subject I can recommend the reading of: The Compleat Meadmaker, by Ken Schramm. That is advanced reading though, AFTER you’ve made a few batches 😉

One issue I perceive with most people’s perception of fermentation is the fear of getting the ‘wrong’ bugs multiplying and of dying a mysterious death from it. Your chances of having that happen to you are a million times higher in a hospital near you than from your own alcoholic fermentation experiments!
So stick to the simple rule of ‘cleanliness yes! sterility no!’
On that note: I strongly believe in ‘Simple is Best’, so I bought only one packet of beer yeast ever and just keep the yeast sludge from each brew for the next, beer or mead. Over time this will, in my arrogant opinion, accumulate a much stronger variety of yeasts (with wild additions from your home environment) than any store-bought package will ever supply.
You’ll probably get more refined and sublime flavours from your isolated industrial yeasts, yet self-sufficiency has its benefits too 🙂

What is said above, in terms of simplicity, carries through this whole post. Do not get to hung up in the finest details of beer brewing, yeast and temperature control. Rather start playing in this new (actually: ancient!) medium and allow mother nature to guide you. That will come with a few messed up batches. I’d rather risk that than allowing chlorine bleach into our house.

I could wax on about the finer details and different experiences, yet I feel at this point, you are actually ready to get cranking yourself.
So get your hands on some brewing equipment! At a very minimum that should be:

  • a 20l food grade plastic bucket with lid (recycled coconut oil/mayonnaise buckets from your local health food shop/supermarket deli)
  • a 20l food grade plastic jerry can with srew cap and tap (recycled bulk dish soap or vinegar container from your local health food shop. Rinse well and extensively!) This will be your fermenter, see picture above!
  • an air lock or just some cling wrap with a rubber band
  • a bunch of clean recycled wine or juice bottles with screw cap
  • I assume you have a large stainless steel pot or water kettle

Orange Blossoms

This recipe here was inspired by our orange tree going nuts with flowers (the one behind the bottles in the picture across the top of this page). To lighten its load a bit I picked a decent amount of them, juiced some tangelos from the tree behind our house, took the Auckland city honey from Marie-Christine’s bee keeper husband and went ahead. No orange blossoms in your garden or pantry? Leave them out or substitute with anything else, like fresh turmeric, tulsi tea, fennel flowers… get inspired!

And here is your recipe:

Orange Blossom Mead

Ingredients:
360 grams fresh orange blossoms
1.2 liters tangelo or orange juice, freshly squeezed
4 liters raw honey (5.9 kg )
3 tangelos, outer rind only
3 bags of organic black tea
200 ml lime juice
16 liters hot water

Directions:
Put flowers and tangelo rind in a gauze bag. Place together with tangelo juice and honey into a 20 liter bucket.
Add hot water and stir well to dissolve the honey. Keep temperature at or below 70°C!
Now add black tea bags and let cool down. Once cooled to room temperature take out the bags with the flowers and tea and add beer yeast.
Transfer to your 20l jerry can and let ferment at room temperature for 7-10 days. Taste it occasionally!
Once the intense bubbling/fermentation has ceased bottle directly from the tap of your fermenter, without additional sugar in the bottles (this will be a still drink). Let the bottles sit undisturbed in a dark and cool place to have the yeast settle and the mead mature.
Ready to drink right then! Alcohol probably 8-10% or more 🙂
Keep the yeast sediment from your fermenter with some liquid in a 1 liter plastic container in your fridge till you are ready for another batch of beer or mead.

The mead will get more dry and clear as it sits in the bottle. More flavour overtones will develop over the months to come. Store the bottles in a dark and relatively cool place. I have my collection under our house (no frost where we live).
Should you notice considerable pressure building up in your bottles (bulging lids and the odd exploding bottle), put them in your fridge before opening carefully upside down, over a glass in the sink, to catch the foam, and slowly release the content into your glass. Be safe! 😉

DO NOT SHAKE your finished mead bottles! The sediment is yeast and is best left alone.

Enjoy and don’t worry! Have a home brew!

Happy without mead

Water Kefir – explosive life force in a bottle

Here is the latest addition to my fermented product offerings. I’m still experimenting with certain variations. So take the recipes here as a launching pad. Should you require water kefir crystals/grains to get started please get in touch here. I just received an e-mail from Darlene in the Sacramento, CA area offering to ship live water kefir grains. Anyone on her continent I’m happy to put you in touch for a supply. She will send them all over America.

Water kefir crystals - surplus

A quick word about sugar based ferments (Water Kefir and Kombucha) – not approved by anyone but common sense. As good as these beverages are in boosting our intestinal happiness and gut flora, they are based on the fermentation of sugar and create not only a rich pro-biotic tonic. The liquid will also contain sugars and a small amount of alcohol. Dealing with certain dis-eases like cancer, sugar and alcohol are two of the least things you want to consume. Cancer cells feed on sugar!!!

I am not a dietitian or badge-wearing nutritionist, use your discerning mind and understanding here. And by all means listen to well-informed people like this one: Jerry Brunetti! Other easy fermented foods without the use of sugar are Sauerkraut, raw milk yoghurt (get in touch for raw milk sources in Auckland, NZ!), milk kefir, cabbage rejuvelac, brined pickles etc.

Attend my ‘Fermented Foods’ workshops or pay Sandor Ellix Katz a visit and buy his book ‘Wild Fermentation’!

Water kefir linup

f.l.t.r.: bottled water kefir, sauerkraut, Kombucha, water kefir – fermenting (dried mango slices)

So here we go:

Water Kefir

  • 9 T kefir crystals
  • 4 T of golden raw organic sugar
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 dried fig or two dried organic apricots
  • 1 sea shell
  • Enough cold drinking water to fill the jar
  1. Place all ingredients in a 1.5 liter glass jar. Leave on the bench for 24 hours.
  2. Strain off the fermented water kefir into bottles and leave on the bench for another 24 hours to mature. Serve chilled.
  3. Replace the lemon halves with fresh ones. After 2-3 days/cycles replace the fig/apricots. Add new sugar and water for the next cycle.
Water Kefir jar

you can see the lemon, pineapple slices, vanilla pod, sea shell…

Here is another recipe from my fellow ‘fermentationista’ Lee:

Water Kefir the Lee-way

  • 1 cup boiled water (to dissolve the sugar, molasses and baking soda)
  • 1/2 C organic sugar
  • 1 tsp organic black strap molasses
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
    Mix together to dissolve.
  • 5 cups cold water (we’re on tank water)
  • 1/2 C water kefir grains
  • Slice of lemon (I remove the peel because I can’t find organic lemons yet)
  • 100 grms (or to taste) fresh ginger sliced.

I left it ferment for about 2.5 days before bottling it and the grains have now doubled!

Notes:
I must admit that it’s not my original recipe. I did make adjustments.

It originally said a couple of dried figs but I’m not keen on dried fruit. Also a piece of eggshell, which I omitted because it is for minerals but we’re on tank water so I thought that should be enough.
LOL, also it said 1/3 – 1/2 Cups sugar but I’ve done 1/2 each time. It really does seem to be a good recipe for growing them.”
End of Quote.

Feel free to experiment further. Lee’s cultures definitely proliferate quicker. I had a phase when I added exhausted vanilla beans from vanilla essence bottles to the mix, and dried pineapple slices and replace the sugar with my home-made quince and guava syrup (see pictures!) The resulting flavour was marvelous yet the little crystals did not thrive.

Water Kefir

A last word to the packaging. This is where the heading of this post originates from. It seems to be necessary to refrigerate the finished product. I’m normally using bail-top bottles for water kefir. They usually allow you 3 seconds to pour the drink before the liquid starts foaming up and rushes out the bottle neck. We lately had several bottles which had rested at room temperature for longer than a day. These did not allow ANY time to pour the liquid. Once we flipped the lid, the surrounding area – us included – was dripping wet with water kefir. Very Funny! 😉

Water Kefir bottles

So be careful when opening your bottles or do not close them tightly in the first place. The remaining sugar is still being transformed into carbon dioxide and alcohol. A safe way of handling the problem can be old fashioned corks from emptied wine bottles. They will blow off when the pressure in the bottle increases. Still no guarantee against water kefir showers 😉

Good Luck and have FUN!!!

René
😉

Water kefir linup