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.

Simple Fermented Lemonade

Renee -
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!
4.60 from 15 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings


  • 2 lbs lemons I get 2lb bags of organic lemons at our grocer - usually around 9 of them total
  • 3/4-1 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


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Keyword fermented lemonade, fermented lemonade recipe, lacto-fermented lemonade
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 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!

    1. 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 🙂

  2. 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!

    1. 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!

  3. 5 stars
    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. 🙂

  4. 4 stars
    That looks really good. And with the temps near 100 here…some cold lemonade would taste great. I’ll have to try this out .

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

    1. 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 🙂

  7. 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?

  8. 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

    1. 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!

  9. 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!

    1. 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!

  10. 5 stars
    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?

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

    1. 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!

  13. 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?

    1. 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%)

  14. 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 Cheers to a fellow fermenter.

  15. 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?

    1. 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!

  16. 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?

  17. 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!

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. 5 stars
    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

    1. 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.

  22. 5 stars
    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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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!❤️

    1. 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!

  25. 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?

  26. 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?

    1. 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!

  27. 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.

      1. 5 stars
        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?

        1. 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 🙂

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

    1. 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!

  31. 1 star
    i do not have the flip top bottles, just half gallon mason jars. do you put the lids on tight or do you leave them little loose.

      1. Same here! If I transfer to 2 half gallon jars for a second ferment, how much sugar would I add to each? Can I add strawberries to one jar during second ferment? 2 days on the counter in my big jar, and it’s not fermenting. Wondering if I should move it to the screened in porch outside where it’s a LOT warmer. Lol

  32. I have 2 questions.

    1. What is the overall difference in outcome using an excellent probiotic powder vs kifer grains or a ginger bug?

    I use the probiotic powder to start my nut cheeses and they are amazing!

    2. I put lemon water in my fridge for 3 weeks and it fermented on it’s own. It tastes great. Is it supposed to do that? Is it a good bacteria source now to go ahead and drink it?


    1. Hi Rebecca!

      1.) You could definitely use any of those mediums to ferment and come out with a great product. We use water kefir grains a lot.

      2.) I would not drink it because when you add a good bacteria medium and ferment the drink quickly at room temp and then refrigerate, you are keeping the bad bacteria at bay – your drink may have had a good proliferation of both good and bad bacteria.

  33. weird question.. i just juiced A TON of lemons and want to use some of it to make this. Do you know how much i should use? like 3 cups or something?

  34. I am trying this out for the first time, I am used to making wine and the fermentation producing a lot of bubbles. I don’t see much activity here after a couple days, is it less active with the whey as opposed to yeast?

  35. 5 stars
    Hi there i wondering, should i put the lemons in the jar too when i fermented it? If i dont have cane sugar i never seen that in north sweden there i live. Maybe i can use raw brown sugar then?? In lapland we have cold snow weather and its pretty cold now but i prefer to drink a cold lemonade anyway, when its +10 it feels like summer.

  36. I made this and left it out for the second ferment. I didn’t have a gallon jar so I also divided the liquid in half. By the third day of the 2nd ferment, it had developed mold and I had to dump it all. Any idea what could’ve gone wrong?

  37. 5 stars
    Hi. I made this for the first time three days ago. How do I know if it’s good or if it’s bad? I used a combination of lemons and limes, whey, sucanat and filtered water. Not all of the sucanat dissolved and some of it settled at the bottom of the jar. It looks cloudy at the bottom. Thanks!

    1. Hi Amy! Cloudy at the bottom is not bad – that is the “mother” just like you would see in a jar of real fermented pickles or apple cider vinegar – it is all the beneficial bacteria. I am not sure how sucanat works with fermenting – if you don’t see anything fuzzy like mold at the top it should be fine.

  38. Such a bounty of information here Renee, I am looking forward to making this. The only remaing question I have is fermenting lids. Would you recommend these for the first ferment? Thank you.

  39. I make my own yoghurt but don’t particularly like the taste of whey. I want to try making lemonade, so my question is, can you taste the whey in the final product?

  40. Hey Renee, I made this fermented lemonade for couple times.
    Sometimes I see white puff cloud? Kind of bottom of the middle of the bottle. Does this ok to eat? Should I strain them before I store in the refrigerator? If I only did 3 days ferment, what is the sugar content ? It’s fairly sweet to me. I’m worried my sugar level drinking this… thanks! Awesome recipe for summer. I was gonna throw away all the whey from my home made yogurt!

    1. The cloudy white is the “mother” – this is the active live cultures – the good stuff! It is fine! I don’t strain it. I’m unsure of the sugar content, but you could ferment it longer if you want it less sweet 🙂

  41. I am just getting into making kombucha and fermenting foods. I love lemonade but not the amount if sugar it takes to make it good .. so this is something that I am very much looking forward to making for my girls. Here is my rather dumb question… do I need to let the gas out of jar every day… burp it?? I have no idea what I’m doing lol

  42. Hi, I just made this yesterday but used natural brown sugar as that’s all I had in quantity. I also added a tablespoon of cane sugar. It is very dark. After one day, there is s lot of brown sediment at the bottom. Is this sugar? Can I shake it stir to dissolve if do? I followed the recipe exactly.

    1. Hi John! I’ve never used natural brown sugar for this recipe, so I’m not sure what will happen with it using that. My experience with ferments like this have been that using plain cane sugar is best for the good bacteria to feed on. I would imagine the natural brown sugar would work just fine though!

  43. Hi! I am wondering what to do with the yogurt/cream cheese like leftovers? Can you put back in the refrigerator for another use after extracting the whey? Or would it be spoiled. Do you have a recommendation for any recipes if so?

  44. Hi there – I’ve got two blobs of black mold formed on the top of my ferment… can I just carefully remove them and all should be well? Or should I throw it out and start again 🙁

  45. Hello, I made it three days ago and drink gives off some alcoholic smell and taste since the second day, is this normal?

  46. The lemonade drank is a great idea. I have to drank a lot of lemon to help prevent kidney stones and this way be a welcome change.
    Thank you for sharing

  47. 4 stars
    I began fermenting this lemonade today by pulling out 9 lemons from a 5# bag and juicing them into a glass measuring cup. These were large lemons and I rolled each one against my cutting board before juicing it which helps to get as much juice as possible out of each lemon. By the 8th lemon I had 1 1/2 cups of juice. My guess is that the amount of juice would be between 1 to 1 1/2 cups of juice depending on how tart you want to go, and the amount of lemons needed depends on their size.

  48. 5 stars
    I have made ginger beer for a long while now and will try this. I believe, like with the ginger beer, the water used should be filtered or from a well. Chlorine in the water will mess up the taste and fermentation. Thanks for the recipe, I think my 7 kids will love it.