Drinks Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Simple Fermented Lemonade

June 27, 2015

Bring that classic summertime drink up a few notches with a big probiotic boost from this simple fermented lemonade! Refreshing *and* nourishing all in one!

Simple Fermented LemonadeFermented lemonade is a fun summertime tradition in our house every year!

I can’t think of many other things more “summer” than lemonade, but if we are going to be sipping on something more than a couple times a month during a season, I want it to have some nourishment to it.

Simple Fermented Lemonade :: Bring that classic summertime drink up a few notches with a big probiotic boost from this simple fermented lemonade! Refreshing *and* nourishing all in one!Letting your lemonade sit for a few days with some probiotic-rich whey to ferment fills it with gut nourishing floraand it tastes really good!

Simple Fermented Lemonade :: Bring that classic summertime drink up a few notches with a big probiotic boost from this simple fermented lemonade! Refreshing *and* nourishing all in one!You can ferment lemonade a couple different ways. I find using just simple whey to be the easiest for me to handle right now. With 3 very young children, I tend to forget about water kefir grains too easily and then end up having to revive them…again more time! And ginger bugs are great too – but again it’s more time to make, and to keep it alive for more batches they need to be kept fed just like kefir grains…I have enough mouths around here to remember to keep fed, so right now lacto-fermenting (using whey dripped off from yogurt) is the simplest method for me! If you have water kefir grains or a ginger  bug alive you can use that versus the whey! (That is also how you will want to ferment if you are dairy free.)

To get your whey, just scoop a container of plain whole yogurt into a dishtowel, tie it up onto a cupboard door, and let it drip into a jar – the liquid dripped off is probiotic-rich whey! The leftover yogurt in the towel is like Greek yogurt or cream cheese – yum!

Simple Fermented Lemonade :: Bring that classic summertime drink up a few notches with a big probiotic boost from this simple fermented lemonade! Refreshing *and* nourishing all in one!This batch makes a good gallon of lemonade. It is so delicious right after the first ferment – or you can bottle it and give it a second ferment to give it a bubbly, fizzy finish!

Simple Fermented Lemonade :: Bring that classic summertime drink up a few notches with a big probiotic boost from this simple fermented lemonade! Refreshing *and* nourishing all in one!Product links in this section are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

4.9 from 9 reviews
Simple Fermented Lemonade
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs lemons (I get 2lb bags of organic lemons at our grocer - usually around 9 of them total)
  • ¾ cup to 1 cup organic pure cane sugar (Note - honey, maple syrup etc will not work as effectively - the probiotic bugs in the whey feed on the sugar the best)
  • 1 cup whey (Just scoop a container of plain whole yogurt into a dishtowel, tie it up onto a cupboard door and let it drip into a jar - the liquid dripped off is probiotic rich whey! The leftover yogurt in the towel is like Greek yogurt or cream cheese - yum!)
  • Water to fill a gallon glass jar
Instructions
  1. Put your lemon juice, sugar, and whey into a gallon glass jar, and fill the rest of the way with water leaving a few inches at the top.
  2. Put your lid on the jar, shake it up carefully, and leave it in a warm spot in your house for 3 days. If it is extra warm/humid you may only need about 2 days. The longer you leave the lemonade the more sugar the bugs will eat up - you can taste it every day if you want to test for sweetness.
  3. Transfer your fermented lemonade to the fridge - I like to transfer mine into swing top bottles (fills about 6 of my swing top bottles) to keep it fresher - and because I like to give them a second ferment to make it bubbly! You can do this by leaving your fermented lemonade in the swing top bottles for about 3 extra days. Just add another tablespoon of sugar to each bottle to feed the bugs. The second ferment may take longer if the temperature in your house isn't very warm. Just test it after a few days to see if it is where you like it to be. It will get fizzier with time.

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86 Comments

  • Reply Kathy June 28, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Hi Renee, a few questions for you: How long does this keep in the refrigerator? Do your kids like it? And what are the health benefits in your opinion? Sugar typically has a bad rap, is the sugar in this bad for someone who has cancer? Thank you!

    • Reply Renee Kohley June 28, 2015 at 10:29 am

      Hi Kathy! The fermented lemonade will keep in the fridge for months – the fermenting slows in the fridge but over the course of months it will ferment slightly more. The sugar in the fermented lemonade gets eaten up by the probiotic bugs so what you are starting out with is not what is in the finished product especially if you ferment longer and let it become less sweet. Yes all 3 girls drink the lemonade – it tastes just like lemonade you are used to – if you let it ferment longer obviously it will be less sweet but my kids don’t mind this. I hope that helps 🙂

  • Reply May June 29, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Sounds amazing! Can you use a starter culture instead of whey? Can’t wait to try this xx

    • Reply Renee Kohley June 30, 2015 at 8:42 am

      Hi May! You can use a ginger bug culture or water kefir grains!

  • Reply Emily @ Recipes to Nourish June 29, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    This sounds so good! I can’t wait to try this. So easy for those of us that want to make ferments but feel a bit uneasy about making things like kombucha.

    • Reply Renee Kohley June 30, 2015 at 8:42 am

      Yes! This is a great start for those new to ferments! It is pretty tough to mess up and it is really easy!

  • Reply carol June 29, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Hi Renee,
    Great idea to ferment lemonade! I’ve been experimenting with other ferments (beet kvass, preserved lemons, kimchi) and am looking forward to trying this. Since I’m dairy-free, I’ll have to try the water kefir grains. Sharing on Pinterest. Thanks!

    • Reply Renee Kohley June 30, 2015 at 8:41 am

      Thank you Carol! You will love the water kefir lemonade! It is super good too!

  • Reply Elise @frugalfarmwife.com June 29, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    This looks really good!

    I have two questions:

    1. Can you use bottled lemon juice?

    2. Can you use a cup of fermented lemonade as starter for the next batch, rather than whey?

    Thanks!

    • Reply Renee Kohley June 30, 2015 at 8:40 am

      Hi Elise! Bottled lemon juice is typically concentrated and/or has other things added to it to keep it preserved I would guess (I could be wrong?) Just check those ingredient labels! Let me know if you give it a try!

  • Reply Jessica June 30, 2015 at 8:17 am

    We love lemonade but I have yet to try it fermented…I will this summer though!

  • Reply Ariana June 30, 2015 at 8:20 am

    This is how I like to make mine, too! I think whey is seriously the easiest option for fermented drinks– so simple, it feels like cheating. 🙂

  • Reply Ben June 30, 2015 at 8:45 am

    That looks really good. And with the temps near 100 here…some cold lemonade would taste great. I’ll have to try this out .

  • Reply tricia June 30, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Sounds cool and I bet it tastes delicious. I just don’t know if I could wait 3 days for lemonade,lol ! Thank you for sharing…I hope to try this one day.

  • Reply linda spiker June 30, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Gorgeous! Pinned and shared:)

  • Reply Liz G. June 30, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    I love lemonade thanks for posting this.

  • Reply Tash June 30, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    I keep seeing different recipes for this popping up everywhere! It must be a sign telling me to make it already 😉

  • Reply Vanessa June 30, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    This is wonderful! I love fermenting lemonade with water kefir grains!

  • Reply Maria June 30, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Interesting, I had no idea you could do this in a lemonade. I wonder if I could do something with a gluten-free grain instead, since I can’t do dairy?

    • Reply Renee Kohley June 30, 2015 at 5:34 pm

      Hi Maria! You can ferment the same way using a ginger bug (just google it – there are many tutorials), or using water kefir grains – both are dairy free and super yummy 🙂

  • Reply angie June 30, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    love lemonade will have to give this a try

  • Reply Shannon Thomas July 1, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    This looks like such a great thing to keep in the fridge. I am excited to try it!

  • Reply Lois Jones July 1, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    I’ve never seen a recipe for this before. Looks really interesting!

  • Reply Green Moms Network Week in Review July 3, 2015 at 8:02 am

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  • Reply Kylie July 4, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Can’t wait to try this! What do you think about using some strong kombucha in place of whey to make a sort of fermented “Arnold palmer?” Shouldn’t that work?

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  • Reply Cheryl July 13, 2015 at 8:50 am

    So, I am new to all of this and I have one question. How long do you let the yogurt hang from an unrefrigerated door to get the whey?? Super excited to try

    • Reply Renee Kohley July 14, 2015 at 7:39 am

      Hi Cheryl! I’m so glad you asked instead of wondering! That is a great question and I should have included it in the instructions! Drip it off overnight!

  • Reply Amy July 14, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    This was a HIT at my house! Already made again! Thanks so much!

    • Reply Renee Kohley July 14, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      Awesome Amy! That is so great to hear – glad the family enjoyed it!

  • Reply Cindy July 16, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Question: Do you leave the lemonade out of the fridge for the second ferment? I saw that you said it would continue to ferment in the fridge, but slowly. Would it be okay to leave it out for as many as five days for the second ferment? Thanks!

    • Reply Renee Kohley July 16, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Hi Cindy! Yes absolutely leave the bottles out for the second ferment – in fact mine have been taking closer to a week to get where I want them because it has been so cool here – I like to put them somewhere warmer without a draft and they will ferment quicker. I hope that helps!

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  • Reply Bindi August 22, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Hey Renee,

    I made this – left if for three days, then popped it in the fridge for three but it isn’t fizzy. Any ideas?

    • Reply Renee Kohley August 22, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      Hi Bindi! It could have needed more days to ferment. If you live in a cooler area and/or the bottles where were a draft or you have air conditioning on in the house, it will take more like 5 or so days. I know we have been cooler this summer 70s and 80’s and it has been taking my drinks almost a week sometimes to get right.

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  • Reply Elaine October 1, 2015 at 10:08 am

    I have a few cups of whey and was wondering what to do with it! But I made the yogurt at the beginning of the week, and have no idea how long I can keep and use it for something like this. Can I still use it, or does it need to be used right away? My son would live on lemonade, if he could, and this would be a much preferred alternative — For him, too, because he loves the fizziness in things like kombucha.

    • Reply Renee Kohley October 1, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      Hi Elaine! Whey keeps in the fridge for 3 months so you should be good!

  • Reply Sonja February 2, 2016 at 3:16 am

    I have just made your recipe except that I used Jaggery sugar! I hope this doesn’t stuff it up because I am soo excited to drink it! It is quite brown at the moment from the darkness of the sugar!

    • Reply Renee Kohley February 2, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      Hi Sonja! I’m not sure how jaggery will work! You’ll have to let me know! You will find in most fermenting literature to use just plain sugar for feeding probiotic bugs as in a drink like this because they feed better than on sweeteners such as honey, molasses, or even sucanat. I have tried sucanat before and it didn’t ferment as well. I’ll be curious to hear how the jaggery works!

  • Reply Sonja February 6, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Well it went completely moldy! Very disappointing! Will have to try normal sugar next time…

  • Reply Daniel February 9, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Hi Renee! I’m not really sure how this fermentation process work. Will this become alcoholic (hard lemonade)? If not is there a way to make it alcoholic?

    • Reply Renee Kohley February 12, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Hi Daniel – yes there is a very small amount of alcohol produced during fermentation but I am not sure how to make it a hard lemonade. The alcohol in this is quite minimal (about 0.5-0.6%)

  • Reply Emily March 11, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Ok this sounds delicious. Would you totally be ruining this recipe by making a cocktail with it? Like maybe add some lemon vodka? I am putting together a list of creative cocktails with fermented juices and brines. This sounds like a great one for the summer. We are obsessed with fermentation at http://www.spoiledtoperfection.com. Cheers to a fellow fermenter.

  • Reply Julie April 12, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    I have a bunch of whey left over from making yogurt so I’ll be making this for sure! Any idea of how much lemon juice this recipe takes? In cups?

    • Reply Renee Kohley April 13, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      Hi Julie! That’s a great question – I will have to measure it out the next time – I typically just buy a 2lb bag of lemons and use that so I have never measured it out!

  • Reply Kelly April 13, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Hi. For the first ferment do you seal the mason jar or is it a loss fit/cheese cloth approach similar to the first ferment of water kefir?

  • Reply Julie April 19, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    I made this awesome lemonade recipe using the bottled organic lemon juice from Costco (Italian Volcano brand). The only ingredient is fresh lemon juice. It turned out so good!! I put it in my flip top bottles and also GT Kombucha bottles on 3rd day and it got so fizzy just like soda after 2nd day. It tastes a lot like Sprite or 7 up. Cool! I don’t drink soda at all except for what I brew at home if you can call that soda so this was a lot of fun. Thanks for the recipe!

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  • Reply Nicci May 27, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Question-can you save a cup of the fermented lemonade to make a second batch of lemonade rather than getting a cup of whey each time?

    • Reply Renee Kohley May 29, 2016 at 2:22 pm

      That’s a great question Nicci – I have not tried it but it would be worth a try I think!

  • Reply Adria July 19, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Hi, for the second ferment should you leave it on the counter or in the fridge? Thanks for the recipe, my kids and I are making it tonight.

  • Reply Adria July 25, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Hi Renee, thanks for the reply. One more thing though, we didn’t strain the pulp is this OK? Or do you think it can introduce bacteria/mold?

  • Reply Kay August 16, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Question. About how much whey should strain off of the yogurt?

    • Reply Renee Kohley August 18, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      I get about a pint of whey when I strain off the 32oz container of yogurt.

  • Reply Paula January 26, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Hi looking forward to trying this have you used limes instead of lemons or a combination of both thanks

  • Reply Krystn March 19, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Can’t wait to try this, just ordered bottles… But it’s quite cold here… Should I boil the water before I put it in to give it a head start and be warm? Thanks

    • Reply Renee Kohley March 20, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      Hi Krystn! You don’t want the water too warm or it will kill off the beneficial bacteria that will ferment the drink. Lukewarm is fine and you might just need an extra day or so – you can taste along the way. Set it up high in your kitchen were the stove is – warm air rises and it will be warmest up there.

  • Reply Baruch March 22, 2017 at 9:52 am

    I can’t use dairy whey, and I have the same time problem for making a ginger bug. My newbie question is if soy based yogurts have a bioactive ‘whey’ or not.

    • Reply Renee Kohley March 22, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      Hi Baruch! I am not familiar with soy based yogurts as we don’t consume soy. I am sorry I am not much help there!

  • Reply Allyson March 25, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Sounds delicious! What volume of lemon juice do you get from 2lbs of lemons? I have a freezer full of myer lemon juice that I froze last fall just waiting.

    • Reply Renee Kohley March 26, 2017 at 9:14 am

      Great question Allyson! And I’m trying to picture what it looks like after juicing all those lemons – I want to say a good 2 cups or so?

  • Reply Heidi April 21, 2017 at 8:31 am

    I’ve made this now it’s sitting on my kitchen bench waiting to finish Fermenting, I put in and extra 1/2 cup of whey today to help move it along as it is cold here in Sydney Australia right now, don’t know what you think of this? I read somewhere some use 50/50 whey and water! What do you think of that idea? I’m going to wait 4 days as it’s so cold then decanter into smaller jars and bottles, then do you think second ferment adding a teaspoon of sugar to each and wait another 7 days?…
    Thank you for your recipe just love everything ferment!❤️

    • Reply Renee Kohley April 21, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      Hi Heidi! Extra whey will need more sugar to feed on so if you want to add more just add a bit more “food” (sugar) for the bugs to feed on. I have never tried fermenting anything at 50/50 so I’m not sure how the outcome will be! I hope it works out for you!

  • Reply Heidi April 21, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Thank you for your reply, I am now bottling as it tastes so good! Do you stir or shake the big container before you bottle it, to get the white fuzzy stuff all around?

    • Reply Renee Kohley April 28, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      Just gently tip it to disperse it throughout the bottle!

  • Reply Jessica May 17, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Hi there! Making this, second day on the counter and it has a bit of a cloudy white ish layer about 1 inch sitting on the top. Have you encountered this when making it yourself?

    • Reply Renee Kohley May 17, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      Hi Jessica! Yes that is fine – it is called Kahm Yeast and is harmless – part of the fermentation process. If it gets fuzzy or turns colors like green or pink then you will toss it. Second day shouldn’t present that unless the jar wasn’t cleaned well or the batch was somehow contaminated. I hope that helps!

  • Reply Glenna Williams May 26, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Hi, I was wondering what is the amount of lemon juice in ounces? I have a lemon tree but all of the lemons are juiced. Some of my lemons give a cup of juice. I freeze the juice and use it in everything until my next crop. I usually use 1 1/2 cups of juice to the same amount of sugar, then add about 1/2 gal. of water for lemonade. Would this ratio work with the whey? Or would it be too diluted? Or does it even matter? In the meantime I will experiment. I have 2 cups of whey from some homemade yogurt I just made and I’m really excited to use some of it in the lemonade. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Reply Renee Kohley May 28, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      Hi Glenna! How wonderful to have your own lemon tree! That amount sounds about right seeing it in my head – I hope it turns out well for you!

      • Reply Glenna August 1, 2017 at 8:56 pm

        Hi, me again. So first of all, I love the lemonade. I’ve made it several times now. It disappears really fast. I made a batch of it and left it on the counter, then I went on vacation for 10 days. When I got home I tasted it and it was a bit fizzy. I popped it in the frig. Its been in there for 2 weeks. Do you think its still good? I’m afraid to drink it, but I don’t want to throw it away if its still good. I was thinking it may be like wine or hard cider. Should I try a glass?

        • Reply Renee Kohley August 3, 2017 at 8:17 am

          Hi Glenna! Yep it should be fine unless you see anything fuzzy gathered at the top. The white cloudy stuff is fine – that is the “mother” – all the good bugs. It will probably have a stronger fermented taste (and alcohol content), but if you are ok with that, it should be fine! It probably tastes really good 🙂

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  • Reply Glenna August 7, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    My grandson said it is the best lemonade he’s ever tasted. I told him be careful we might get drunk. I’m making more right now.

  • Reply Cory C September 8, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Nut milk bags are pretty inexpensive on ebay and work great. I was at a friends house using their vitamix to show them how to make rice milk. She didn’t have a nut milk bag so we tried using a clean but old kitchen towel. The milk took all the flavor of that old towel with it (repeated washing laundry detergent, etc). It made us gag, and we laughed hysterically at how gross it was. Please for the love of all that tastes good,,, recommend a nut milk bag before a dish towel.

  • Reply Lore October 28, 2017 at 12:50 am

    Hi,
    I just tried lemon ginger soda and I ferementec my drink with a ginger bug. I am ready to use it but want to know if I need to strain the lemon juice pulp that is in the lemon juice.

    Also, I am not very tolerant of carbonation. My question is: if I don’t ferment my ginger lemonade soda a lot as to get very fizzy, will it still have the beneficial bacteria probiotics if it’s a bit flat but has been fermented for 2-3 days? I’m a newbie on fermented sodas and want to give my family the alternative of healthy soda instead of Coca Cola.

    • Reply Renee Kohley October 28, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      That’s great! You can strain the pulp if you wish! There is definitely still beneficial bacterial if you leave it “flat” for sure – ferment it to your taste!

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