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Fermented fizzy drinks

I’ve never really enjoyed commercial fizzy drinks.  They are usually too sweet and too fizzy for my taste.  Apart from the fact that I don’t actually enjoy them, the artificial colours and flavours in just about every commercial fizzy drink also put me off.  Then I discovered fermented fizzy drinks, more from a desire to use the sour whey from making cream cheese, than wanting to create a fizzy drink.  But now I find that they are very refreshing, and creating new flavours is now part of the fun.

Rosella ale ready to drink
At first I just made the ginger ale, lemon barley and fruit punch recipes from Nourishing Traditions.  But then I couldn’t get all the ingredients that I needed, so I started to experiment.  I started just using any citrus that was available, and anything else that I had in excess, my latest flavour is rosella ale.  All my experiments are based on the this basic recipe.....

The basic recipe is about half to 1 cup of whey, the same of sugar, the same of citrus, add any other fruit, herbs or spices, and top up to 2 L with rainwater.  The amounts I use just depend on what ingredients are available at the time.  The whey can come from several sources, it can be drained from cream cheese (made without rennet), yoghurt or kefir.  The whey just needs to be rich in lactic acid bacteria, because this is what will consume the sugar in the mixture (added sugar and from the fruit) and convert it to carbon dioxide which will produce the bubbles.  Lactic acid bacteria also produce lactic acid which will produce a nice acidity in the drink.  While they do feed on the lactose in milk, they can also consume glucose if there is no lactose present (this is all explained in this Wikipedia article under “metabolism”). 

brewing rosella ale
For the sugar, I use rapadura , but any natural sweetener could be used, just experiment with the amount to get the taste you want..  The final drink is not sweet, as most of the sugar is consumed by the bacteria.  Lemon and lime are the citrus in the recipes, but if I see oranges or mandarins on special, I’ll use them instead and reduce the added sugar.  Ginger (and galangal) and rosella are the other flavours that I’ve added so far, but you can use a range of fruits, herbs and spices.  The fruit punch is just a mixture of lemon and orange.

To make the drink I mix up the whey, sugar, citrus and other ingredients and top up to 2 L of water in a jug with a lid.  I leave this on the kitchen bench at room temperature for several days.  Usually its 3 days, but if its cooler (or I forget), I leave it longer!  I then strain the liquid through a sieve and pour it into individual bottles.  I have a massive collection of stoppered Grolsch bottles that I reuse for my fermented fizzy drinks.  I think you can also buy stoppered bottles, but I didn’t mind drinking the beer either!  I leave the bottles of fizzy drink at room temperature for a day to let the bubbles develop and then they go into the fridge.

My only warning is that this process is variable, be very careful when you open the bottle!  Some of them will hardly fizz at all, and some will nearly take your eye out with the shot of fizzy liquid ejected from the bottle!  If you open one and its not fizzy enough, you can leave it on the bench for another day.

I hope I have inspired you to try making your own delicious fermented fizzy drinks.  It’s a great way to use up excess whey and citrus, and experimenting with new flavours is great fun as well.  I’d love to hear what you come up with.  I'm currently experimenting with adding dried seaweed, as fermenting seaweed is apparently a great way to make all the minerals available.

Have you tried making your own fermented fizzy drinks?  Are you tempted to try?  Any questions?


  1. I've made beer and wine in the past but not many of them have tasted very good. In fact the beer tried to kill us by exploding in the dining room! Idlike to try to make dandelion and burdock as I used to love that as a kid. Yours sound tasty though!

  2. I am going to try the lemon barley sounds good!!

  3. This is so cool. You must have read my mind after making paneer this week thinking,'Mmmm, what am I going to do with all this whey?' Can't wait to try it. Great how you find all this stuff Liz!

  4. Such an interesting method.
    I shall keep this in mind next time I collect the whey from yoghurt.

  5. Rosella...I think you mentioned it the other day and I'm still curious about how it tastes. Also, how long will these drinks last once bottled? Do they need to remain in the fridge? The reason I ask is that I'm looking for some new rhubarb recipes but would like to preserve the flavour for later in the year (when rhubarb crumbles aren't coming out of our ears) :)

  6. Good question Tanya! I have found some bottles in the back of the fridge that were about 6 months old and they were still good, I'd say they would last a couple of years if they're kept cold. If you leave them too warm the gas builds up too much, the bottles will eventually explode, so I can't keep mine at room temperature for more than a few days. But its much colder where you are, you might be able to keep them in a colder part of the house or shed over winter. Rhubarb would be an interesting flavour, as its quite tart. Have you thought about rhubarb wine?

  7. Very interesting. I've tried to make ginger beer from Nourishing Traditions, but it was a flop. Or perhaps I should say flat. ;) More recently I obtained water kefir grains and have been trying my hand at water kefir "soda." Deliciously fizzy and not too sweet when I can get it right, LOL. I have gallons of whey, so I really need to try that kind again. Your results are encouraging and I'm hoping that's contagious.

  8. My husband makes beer, and I tried kombucha which I really enjoyed but it flopped. I'll have to give this a try once I can get a hold of some whey. I think we'd enjoy this.

  9. I'm keen but a bit concerned on the food (or drink) safety side... it's just me :) So I would want to know how come it doesn't spoil, what potential is there for spoil and how do things go wrong (in terms of making someone sick) and how would I know if I got it wrong (apart from ending up in emergency)?

    Have been busting to do my own ginger beer for ages!

    1. In my experience, if it smells ok, it is ok. You know when it goes wrong, because it is putrid. As longs as you use fresh ingredients, the bacteria in the whey and the natural wild yeasts will populate your mixture and protect against anything nasty. The food safety people will probably tell you otherwise though! I found fermentation was tricky at first, and I was really nervous about eating it, but I'm getting used to it now :)

  10. This looks great! We used to make homemade root beer when I was a kid...but it was pretty sweet. Thanks so much for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop!

  11. Thanks for all your comments, I hope you all enjoy making fermented fizzy drinks of one kind or another!


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