It all started in March 2019, when I was desperately looking for an effective home remedy for persistent nausea and digestive disturbances, which I was experiencing due to chemotherapy.
After some research, I decided to try a probiotic drink, and started with ginger ale which I sourced from an organic shop. I started drinking about 30 ml twice a day, and it proved to be effective. In a week, my nausea was under control and digestion-related issues were manageable. Refreshing in every sip, ginger ale is also tasty, as it is a brilliant blend of ginger and lemon.
This is one of many probiotic drinks that can be household staples. As I was unable to source the drink regularly, I decided to prepare it from scratch at home.
I started my research, sifting through numerous recipes to understand the process, then adapted the recipe to suit my requirements.
It is actually rather quick and simple. Though ginger, a delicious herb packed with health boosting properties, is the most popular cooking ingredient in South Indian cuisine, we rarely make a health drink based on it, apart from adding it to herbal concoctions for cold and coughs.
One of the main steps is getting the culture — called ginger bug — ready. The ginger ale is prepared by mixing freshly made ginger tea and ginger bug (a culture of beneficial bacteria made from fresh ginger and sugar) and fermenting it naturally to get a fizzy drink which can be stored for many days in the refrigerator. Using the short brew method to prepare the drink makes sure we get a health drink without alcohol.
Another easy-to-make probiotic drink has Mexican origins. Pineapple tepache is made with pineapple peels, spices and herbs. Green chilli can also be added for that extra zing and that unique flavour.
Fermented mexican pineapple Tepache. Homemade raw kombucha tea with pineapple. Healthy natural probiotic flavored drink. Copy space
Mexicans use piloncillo, but that ingredient can be replaced with brown sugar or jaggery. There is a waiting period of two to three days, since you must allow the sugar and pineapple peels to ferment. The result is a drink with very low alcohol content, less than four percent.
A ginger culture
The ginger bug is key to a good ginger ale.
Wash and clean ginger and grate it along with the peel to make about 2 tablespoons. Take a mason jar of 300 ml capacity, and place the grated ginger in it. Then add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar or white sugar. Add 200 ml filtered water to this and with a clean and dry wooden spoon give it a good stir till the sugar is well dissolved. Cover with cheesecloth or a tissue paper and fasten it with a cloth or rubber band. And place it in a kitchen counter. For the next five to six days, add one tablespoon of grated ginger and one tablespoon of sugar and stir well preferably at the same time. By day three itself, you will see bubbles appearing on the surface when you open to add ginger and sugar, indicating the carbonation process is going on. Depending on temperature, it may take up to eight days to create the desired culture. You can tell if the culture is active if there are bubbles forming around the top of the mixture, and it will ‘fizz’ when stirred, and also give out a sweet and mildly yeasty smell. It will also become cloudy and opaque. If mould appears on the top, you will need to start again. If the mixture does not reflect these characteristics by the 7-8th day, you need to discard it and start again. Once the ginger bug has cultured, it can be used to create fermented ginger ale.
To keep the bug alive and continue growing it, you will need to feed it regularly. You can store the remaining culture in the fridge but you have to add one tablespoon of sugar per week to feed the bug. Before using it for the next batch, activate it by keeping it outside at room temperature for a few hours and then use.
Ginger, preferably organic: 400 grams or grated ginger 2 cups
Brown sugar or jaggery: 1.5 to 2 cups
Cinnnamon: one inch stick 2
Lemons: 6 to 8 depending on the size
Filtered water: 2.5 litres
Method: In a vessel add the water, and to this add the grated ginger, jaggery and the spices, and bring it to a boil. Then simmer it for 15 minutes and switch off. Allow it to cool completely, this will take 5 to 6 hours. Once cool, strain it and add juice of lemons, and one cup of strained ginger bug solution and mix well. Now we have to allow the mixture to ferment for a day or two by storing it in air tight glass bottles. Ensure that there is a three inch gap in the bottle. During the fermentation process, the carbonation process takes place and therefore it is important to burp the bottles, once in 8 to 10 hours, or else the bottle may explode. I our weather conditions, the fermentation process will be complete in a day or two. Once fermented, the probiotic drink is ready for drinking. You can keep the bottles in the fridge (burping not required) for upto two months. Ginger ale can be diluted with ice water and had.
Orgnic pineapple: 1 (take the peel, and few pieces of pulp also)
Jaggery or brown sugar: 1.5 cup
Cinnamon: two inch stick two or three
Green chilli one (optional)
Ginger: One inch piece with the peel slightly crushed (optional)
Method: Soak the pineapple in water and scrub well and peel the fruit and place all the peels into a glass jar or food grade plastic container of 2 litre capacity. Discard the crown, but save a few pieces of pulp. Add 1.5 litre of filtered water into the container, add the spices and chilli and ginger and jaggery and give it a gentle stir with a clean and dry wooden spatula. Cover the lid loosely or with a cheese cloth and let it sit for 24 hours. The next day if you notice any moulds, remove it with a wooden spatula and discard it. Then let it sit for two more days and allow it to ferment. On day three, filter the liquid and store it in glass bottles and refrigerate. Pineapple tepache can be diluted with chilled water or has as it is with ice. The tepache can be stored for many days.