Fruity Cocktails: Make Your Own

Earlier this week Reuters reported the findings of some surprised researchers: add some tequila to your juice to increase the antioxidant levels.
Antioxidants are critical in cancer prevention, but some Jack in your orange juice for breakfast just doesn’t seem like the very best path we can take to increase the antioxidants in our diets.

First, alcohol and depression are not the best combination. Alcohol is a mood depressant and it actually requires nutrients to digest.
Second, if you’re going to consume the calories, make them count for a little more.
When juice is squeezed, it begins to oxidize and form cancer-causing free radicals. In fact, it was in the context of researching how to preserve juice that researchers stumbled upon the Jack Daniels/Cuervo option. The alcohol increases antioxidant activity which helps preserve the juice and your health.
When the juice is squeezed, levels of vitamin C begin to decline as well. Vitamin C is important in folate metabolism; there is a solid body of literature that links low folate and depression.
But if you ferment that juice in your own kitchen, you will maintain the Vitamin C levels, increase antioxidant activity, and add beneficial bacteria to your diet.
Home Brew
I like to call this “home brew” or (even better) “hooch” because then people think I’m a little wild. But this really isn’t like what grandpa made in his bathtub or what the science teacher made in the still on the weekends when school was out. It has but a trace of alcohol.
It will preserve that vitamin C, increase the antioxidant activity, and as a bonus will increase the beneficial bacteria in the juice. Check on the cost of probiotics at a health food store and you will see that home brews are nature’s way of saving your money.
I have two methods of preserving fruit juice. I’ll start with my favorite.
The Water Kefir Approach
This approach uses a starter – a water kefir grain – that looks nothing like you are picturing. Here is a picture of some of my water kefir grains floating in a jar of sugar water.

What I do is add the grains to sugar water to inoculate the water with the bacteria. The grains live on the sugar and, as they hang out, they add bacteria to the water. After a day or so, I strain out the grains and then add juice to the water. I let the juice concoction sit until it reaches my desired level of sweetness, which is usually a few days. It will become less sweet by the day until it reaches a vinegar stage.
The Lacto-Fermentation Approach
Without the water kefir grains, you can experiment by adding a few cups of juice to a couple of quarts of water, a couple of teaspoons of salt, and ΒΌ cup of whey (this is the liquid that floats on yogurt). Let it sit in a jar with a cloth on top to keep out the bugs. If the juice has pieces of fruit or pulp, you’ll want to skim the top of the ferment for anything that looks like something you’re not up to drinking. (This can happen with the water kefir too, but it’s more like a film which is totally edible by the way.)
Both of these drinks will ferment in a day in the summer and may take a week or so in the winter.

8 Responses to Fruity Cocktails: Make Your Own
  1. Missy`

    If I add whey from my milk kefir, do I still have to add the salt? What is the purpose of the salt? How does this concoction compare to the water kefir in taste?

  2. Missy,
    If you are making your own milk kefir, I would just set aside some of the grains and use them for water kefir. They aren’t quite the same, but that would be the easiest thing to do.
    The salt’s used to keep certain microbes from proliferating, but it’s not all that necessary with whey so you could try it without. (But I’d just go the grain route myself)

  3. Missy`

    So if I do it w/milk grains, they will just keep proliferating in the juice like the water kefir grains would? I thought I read something about only being able to use the milk one time in the juice- any truth to that?
    Thanks for the tips!

  4. Missy,
    The milk grains won’t grow if you use them in juice but they will work. The water grains actually make a fizzy drink and the flavor is probably a bit better, so those are ideal. But you could grow your milk grains, divide them, and use half in the juice. That way you’ll keep the milk grains as milk grains and just use the others in juice.

  5. Missy`

    A couple more things before starting the water kefir experimentation. Can you please post the recipe you use to make your water kefir in juice- how much juice, water, and sugar do I need to use? Does it matter if I use tap water or do I have to use bottled water? Can I just boil my tap water to get rid of the chlorine and then use it?
    Thanks, I’m looking forward to giving this a try.

  6. Missy,
    Yes, I’ll do that in the next few days.

  7. Homemade Sodas: Water Kefir Drink Recipes

    A week or two ago I reported that a study found alcoholic drinks such as tequila as high in antioxidants. I suggested we make our own brew to boost the antioxidants in our diet. My preferred “brew” is a drink…

  8. Amanda,
    I love the first picture of the pink kefired water! It looks so refreshing and bright!

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