As I’ve recently written an article, How to Turn Milk Into Healthy Probiotic Medicine, that discussed the body’s need for beneficial bacteria in order to maintain healthy gut flora. Yogurt is probably the most popular probiotic rich food, although making it at home does require precision and time. To add to the options of making yogurt or kefir, there are other probiotic recipes that are a bit simpler and do not require the use of dairy. This article will focus on two of my favorite probiotic drinks: kvass and Kombucha. Both have origins in Eastern Europe and Asia, are a simple to make, and are a low-calorie way to increase your daily probiotic intake.
Even if you don’t have time to prepare some of the more complicated probiotic foods, such as sauerkraut or pickles, or if you don’t want to consume dairy, you might find that preparing these two probiotic drinks is extremely easy and offers a great alternative to the more complicated recipes or expensive supplements.
Kvass is a fermented drink traditionally made out of beets and originating in Russia. You can make kvass out of fruits or a mix of fruits and veggies. Some combinations that work the best include: apple, pear and orange; beet and apple; beet and orange; carrot, pear and ginger; carrot and apple; and apple and fresh cranberries.
Tools – One quart-size jar with lid; and stirring spoon.
Ingredients – Washed and chopped fruits and veggies, enough to fill about 1/3 to 1/2 of the jar; 1 tablespoon of raw honey; and filtered water.
Process – Place fruits and veggies and raw honey into the jar, and then fill with filtered water, leaving about 1 inch of empty space at the top. You may want to stir a few times to evenly distribute the honey. Tighten the lid and set at room temperature. The kvass will take 3-5 days to ferment, depending on the temperature in your house and the type of fruits and veggies that you use. After 2-3 days, you will need to check the lid every day to ensure there’s pressure and you can’t push the center of the lid down. After 3-5 days of fermenting, you can open the jar and smell or taste the drink. It should be tangy, but not rancid. Store your kvass in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Kombucha tea is made from green, black or white tea that is fermented for at least one week with sugar and its fungal SCOBY culture. Kombucha has been consumed for over 2000 years all over the world and has been extensively studied and used medicinally in Russia, Germany, China and many other places. It is naturally carbonated and is purported to have a host of healing properties, including balancing the body’s pH and improving the beneficial bacteria profile. Kombucha is easy and very economical to make because it only requires you to purchase one kombucha mushroom, called SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), which can be bought online. The SCOBY will replicate itself every month so you can pass it on to friends. Even though kombucha tea is made using sweetened tea, most of the sugar ferments out, therefore very little remains in the finished drink.
Tools – Gallon size glass jar (or pitcher); and a coffee filter or thin cloth and a rubber band to fasten it to the jar.
Ingredients – Brewed green, black or white tea (use about 8-10 small tea bags per 1 gallon of water); 1 cup of organic raw sugar per 1 gallon of tea (do not use honey); a SCOBY culture; and a 1/2 cup of liquid from a previous batch or store bought kombucha.
Process – Start by preparing the sweet tea, and then let it cool to room temperature. Hot tea will kill your SCOBY. Pour your cooled tea into a glass jar, leaving over 1 inch of free space at the top. Then pour in 1/2 a cup of the liquid kombucha and gently place the SCOBY at the top. Make sure your hands are clean when handling the SCOBY. It should float on top, but if it does not, let it sink and leave it alone. Cover the jar with cloth or coffee filter and fasten it with a rubber band. Leave the jar in a warm place in your kitchen – ideally 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit – and let sit for about 7 days. Try the kombucha by sliding in a straw under the SCOBY and taking a drink. It should taste tart but still slightly sweet. You can store in the refrigerator in jars with airtight lids for at least 2 weeks.