Fermented Lemonade (Recipe plus Video How-to)

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

Fermented lemonadeFor those of you who are wanting to take the leap and start adding a daily probiotic element to your whole foods diet, this recipe for fermented lemonade, also called Hindu lemonade, is one of the easiest to get started with.

Fermented lemonade recipe is delicious and will please both child and adult alike.

It is also the healthy answer to those sugar laden, juice boxes that most kids have packed in their school lunches everyday.   A 100% juice box is still just sugar in the final analysis.  Once you pasteurize fresh juice, the nutrition is long gone and all that remains is obesity promoting fructose and a sugar spike/crash for the child.  Not the best choice for a school lunch by any means!

Packing this homemade fermented lemonade, on the other hand, is a nice treat that will both delight and nourish/strengthen your child’s immune system.   Fresh whole milk is always the best choice for a school lunch (I pack a thermos of cold, fresh milk most days), but when you have run out temporarily or just want to pack a juice treat, this is a great choice.

How to Make Fermented Lemonade

Fermented Lemonade (Hindu Lemonade)


Juice of 6-8 lemons, limes, or a combination (must be freshly squeezed)
1/2 cup sucanat (sources)
1/2 cup liquid whey
1/2 tsp organic nutmeg (sources)
2 quarts filtered water


Mix all ingredients together in a 1 gallon glass jug.    Leave on the counter for 2 days and then transfer to the refrigerator.   The lemonade flavor improves over time, but is drinkable immediately after the 2 day fermentation period.   If it is too tart compared with the overly sweet lemonades from the store, mix 1 or 2 drops liquid stevia to each glass until your family adjusts to the mildly sweet/sour flavor.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sources and More Information 

Nourishing Traditions

How to Make Orangina (Fermented Orange Juice)

How to Make Ginger Ale

Picture Credit


Comments (99)

  1. Hi Sarah,
    I love your blog and videos
    You state that the fermentation process uses up the sugar or digests it during the process…can you tell me how many carbs are left in an ounce of Kombucha or fermented lemonade or cabbage etc. I am on a cellular healing diet which promotes fermented foods as well and have lost 42 pounds in 2 months but I need to be able to count my carbs and protein as I progress to through the phases.
    Thanks for what you do!

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  4. I have been making this for awhile. However, I’ve been sick for 14 days- bacterial sinsus etc. The whey I used didn’t have any mold in it. Didn’t smell funny. Everytime I drink my lacto-lemonade my throat hurts. I took my first dose of antibiotics yesterday and my throat stopped hurting and gland swelling went down- until I had a glass of lacto-fermented lemonade (same batch). I think my glands swelled back up and my throat started hurting.

    Am I paranoid or could there be a bacterial ‘overgrowth’ in the lacto fermented lemonade that gave me a respiratory bacterial infection?

  5. I just had a quick follow up question to the one I just posted. Does the fermented lemonade have more probiotics than the whey alone. I just need to get as much of those good bacteria in my gut as possible as I have been struggling with digestion and it has caused all sorts of havoc in my body for the last 3 years.

    Thank you!

  6. Hi Sarah!

    I just want to say thank you so much. Your website and videos have completely changed my life. I do have a quick question. My body does not tolerate sugar very well. Is it possible to drink the liquid whey by itself to get the probiotic effects or do I need to put in in a recipe with sugar added? I do ok with honey, could I replace the Sucanat with honey with the fermented drinks?

    Thank you again!!

  7. I found your site and watched your video on fermenting lemon lime drink. You said that MILK for your kids is ALWAYS the best for them. If you still believe this about milk you need to do some research. Dairy and especially milk are some of the WORST things we can be eating. DO MORE RESEARCH… check out Dr. Walter Willett Harvard School of Public Health.

    • I predict she’s referring to raw milk, which is far more beneficial than regular, pasteurized milk. Raw milk is a live, nutrient- and probiotic-dense ‘food’ and is often well-tolerated, even by those who are dairy-sensitive.

    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist July 17, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      No, they whey still has milk proteins in it so it is not like ghee which many with dairy allergies can tolerate.

  8. When I make this…I drop the nutmeg and add cinnamon and cloves. If I run low on whey, I use kefir grains….works great!!! To us, the nutmeg didn’t seem to go with the lemon.

  9. I’ve been fermenting veges and drinks for a few years but never tried this one can’t wait to try it. I have the nourishing traditions cook book and under their guide of natural sweeteners it says to avoid sucanat sugars, so why do you use them if they say to avoid it.

    • I have made several beverage from Nourishing Traditions and many of them call for rapadura, which is essentially the same thing as sucanat. I have ginger ale sitting on the counter right now that called for 1/4-1/2 cup rapadura. It is ok to use minimally refined sugars like that in limited amounts.

  10. Sarah,

    Like many of the other commenters, I made this recipe exactly as written, but my lemonade is not fizzy and there were no bubbles on top. How do we know if it fermented. After 3 days, I put it in the refrigerator. If you don’t think it fermented, can I put it back on the counter?

  11. Dear Sarah,
    I made your Hindu lemonade and it has always been delicious ( even after five days ). I never saw any bubbles in it though, and I wonder if it is because I live in Michigan and it is twenty degrees outside now ( I can only afford to keep my house heat at sixty degrees ). Do you think that I should buy a lab-type incubator, and put my lemonade into it so that the bacteria will be able to multiply ? I would be willing to do this, because I love this Hindu lemonade and hope to always have it on hand, and I want to have it teeming with the healthy bacteria ( Lactobacilli ?) Maybe a yogurt maker would work ? Please help me on this – and I guess when it’s summer in Michigan , the healthy bacteria will flourish anyway. Should I buy the incubator box, and do you know where I could buy one ?

    • Hi, I just wanted to share a tip for those people whose kitchen is not warm enough for fermentation. I put my stuff in the oven and keep light on. It works good enough. Also you can use dough proofing function of your oven, if your oven has one of course.

    • Josella.
      I used to make yogurt at home in Chicago (if I remember correctly it was during winter and I left the jar on top of the old style gas range, the next day the yogurt was done. Yes, it needs to be in a warm place for the bacteria to grow, unless you add some culture to it. I sqeezed some lemons and put the juice in a bottle in the refrigerator and I didn’t use it all that fast, so I ended up with fermented lemon juice (so it can be done in the refrigerator also, it will take longer though, that’s how I ran across this website). I just added some maple syrup to it and brewed fresh tea and mixed all together and I had a big bottle before breakfast. It was very good, no whey added. Yes, you can use an yogurt maker (it keeps the temp. constant) and you can find it on-line.

  12. I made this and it is delicious. My concern, it is forming tiny hard black, almost like very tiny pebbles that are at the bottom. Does anyone know what this is?

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  14. I made this and it was delicious! Also, my roommate gets terrible stomach aches (when ever she really starchy meals like potatoes). Literally, she was pacing around, moaning with an ice pack on her stomach. I gave her about 5 oz. of the hindu lemonade and with in an hour her stomach had called down. She was able to sleep through the night where normally she’d be up all night sick. That’s the power of probiotics!

  15. How would this stack up probiotic wise to Kefir or Kombucha? I’ve made this and we love it. Would it be ok to drink this lemonade until I can make some Kefir or Kombucha? Or is Kefir or Kombucha more powerful probiotic wise and I should learn to make either of those ASAP? Thanks!

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  17. forgot to add – my kids don’t like ‘herbs and spices’ so I don’t add the nutmeg, tastes good without. One day I’ll try it with. My fair-trade organic brown cane sugar is also vanilla flavoured (I save all my pods and put them in the sugar sack). Maybe that helps the taste, you can’t taste the vanilla, but it tastes good. I rely on the taste – if there was mould and it smelled bad, I certainly wouldn’t drink it. The foam seems to be part of the process, and as it doesn’t smell bad, I don’t really bother about it.

  18. I’ve now made this 4 times – its great. I let it stand in my kitchen (temp around 16-18 celsius (dkn what this is farenheit – the empire was a long time ago) for 2 days by which time it has a degree of carbonation that is just to my liking – ie quite fizzy. I love it. If you’re that way inclined (and we are) with a quality gin it makes a fantastic ‘gin and tonic/lemon-ade’. Its going to stay as a standard in my kitchen for a long time. And its nutritional too. Thanks Sarah, for the steer – I have ‘Nourishing Traditions’ and use it constantly, but its listed oddly in that and I would not have thought of making it if you hadn’t made this video. Of course, as a side effect, it means I have a lot of ‘cream cheese’ (from making the whey) and the kids LOVE that – I don’t/won’t buy the branded cream cheese because of the horrific ingredient list, but this, they say, ‘tastes just like __.”. Thanks again. Lesley

  19. i have just made your lacto hindu lemonade but is just didnt seem to ferment. what did i do wrong. i love your videos.tha nk you sarah

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  21. Hi Sarah,
    I tried to make a change in your receipe and put some freshly blended strawberries and just one lemon, the result was fantastic! very bubbly and sweet!
    The following time I tried to make it again but without sugar, after 4-5 days the fermentation didn’t occur but I drank it anyway because it didn’t taste bad.
    The problem is that now it’s been three days that I feel some air in my stomach and don’t know if it’s caused by something else.
    My question is, can a beverage like this one be safely drunk even if after 4-5 days didn’t fermented? Thanks!!

  22. Hi!! Loving your blog & learning:) I am just starting to add fermented foods to our diets. I made this lemonade the other day. Drank a little today & my stomach is tight & upset. Would you know why? Do I need to take it slow to get my body used to it? Thanks!!

  23. I just saw the comment by anonymous on Sarah’s presentation skills and must reply that in my opinion Sarah’s style of presentation is perfection. I do not feel talked down to, appreciate that a measured speed allows me plenty of time to absorb the information (and reminds me that taking life at a relaxed pace is healthy,) and delight in hearing a public speaker with immaculate diction. Don’t change a thing!

    • Sarah,
      I agree with Mo. I love your way of presentation. You seem so sincere and friendly.
      Your videos are perfect for me to learn. Please do not change anything about them !!
      Also, I’m new to the traditional foods and fermentation, etc. , and so it is so helpful when you might repeat something again. I was always afraid to try any of the recipes in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook for years now- really stagnated. – it seemed unattainable or way beyond my knowledge and skills. The way you have presented has helped me to be brave and try some of these ways and foods that I’d not been able to figure out how to make.
      I appreciate all of your videos and newsletters. You are awesome ! I have never met you, but you are so wholesome and sharing of knowledge that it seems that I’ve know you all my life … a far away,friend. Thanks so very much for helping me learn very healthful recipes and how to actually make them myself.

  24. I made this with honey. This weekend, I found out that honey doesn’t really ferment :( Can I use “Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sugar” is this like Rapadura? Is this a good choice?

  25. Mines been sitting 24 hours and there is a grey cloud at the top which is falling to the bottom. I followed the directions except that my glass jar doesn’t have a lid so I covered it with a towel. Is the air causing a problem or should this be how it looks? THanks!

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  27. Sarah, I tried this. It tasted moldy and we didn’t wait the 2 weeks to get into it…what could I have done wrong? I still have it in my refrigerator in case there is a way to fix it. I used filtered well water.

    Also, how long will whey stay “fresh” in the fridge? I made about 2 cups or so then realized I only needed 1/2 a cup for the recipe.

    do you have a fermented beet recipe that doesn’t involve cabbage?


  28. Hi Sarah,
    I was very excited to make this fermented lemonaide and it fermented pretty well with just a little bubble. But the next two times I made the lemonaide it just did not have that fermented bubbly quality. Do you have any idea why this might have happened?
    Thank you,
    P.S. I get so much from your videos plus we are doing the GAPs diet!

  29. My family is in a very slow process of changing over to a “nourishing traditions” lifestyle. We do one major change per month this month is fermentation. Your videos are very helpful, but I am still scared I am going to do something wrong and poison us, this is all so foreign to me. I have some of this lemonade sitting on my counter. I know that you say 2 days on the counter more if it is really cold in the house, what if is really hot in the house? How do I know when it is ready, if it worked or if it is bad? Also, can non organic lemons or non organic nutmeg be used? Not ideal I know, but would it work still? Thank you!

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  31. I want to make this recipe, but have no way right now of getting whey. I will next month, probably. Two questions:

    1. If I use honey instead of the sugar you mentioned, how much honey should I use instead?

    2. If I use a probiotic capsule, what kind of probiotic would I need? There’s so many out there, want to be sure of the right kind, and is 1 capsule enough?

    3. I love that juicer you have! What kind is it – brand?

    Tamara Slack

  32. I followed the recipe but left the glass container out for an extra day. I’m worried that it’s moldy…the lid was closed as tightly as possible, but I used parchment paper between the lid and the rim. Egad. Is the beverage supposed to have chunks of foamy looking stuff in it? There was a 1/2 inch layer of foam floating through the second day, then it seems to have fallen to the bottom of the container. NT’s version said to skim off the foam, but there wasn’t any really left to skim. Honestly, I’m afraid to drink it, much less serve it to my family. *sigh* Help‽

    • the only things you need to look out for are mold, and it will look green or blue or fuzzy white just like bread mold. it is not likely to get mold. the whey tips the balance of the bacteria over so that more good bacteria take over and the bad bacteria are diminished. being that there is live bacteria, there will be foam sometimes, and different things. none of it is anything to worry about unless it looks like very obvious mold, like mold on bread. that being said, you may have accidentally eaten moldy bread before, and it doesn’t even hurt you, so relax and let your taste buds figure it out if still in doubt.

  33. I love the Lemonade! Thank you! This might be asking for too much, but my all time favorite drink is a half and half, also known as an Arnold Palmer. Is there any way to make something along those lines, so I can enjoy my favorite beverage guilt free this summer? Thanks.

  34. Does the glass jar have to have a lid? Can it be open in a pitcher? Where do you get your glass jugs with lids? Also can it be done in a plastic milk carton?

    • I found my glass jugs at a home brewing store. They were about $5 each. You can also order them on the internet, but I didn’t want to wait! :) I THINK that anytime you are fermenting it should be done in glass. Sarah specifically mentioned that in the kombucha video.

  35. We don’t have the same types of sugars here in the UK–readily available that is. Could I use demerara, muscovado, or jaggery? I am reluctant to use raw honey at the moment because I am pregnant.

    Also, my nearest source of raw milk is a two hour drive. I was wondering if I ever made the trip, could I buy several gallons and freeze them. Could I then use them to make whey and cheese later? OR would they lose the good stuff? I will have to make whey from yoghurt in the meantime. (I am also reluctant to try raw milk while pregnant).

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  37. This was finally ready yesterday for a tasting. I am surprised by the flavor. I expected it to be much more sour than it is. My kids (5 & 2) really liked it. My little one chugged it and then said Kombucha. I told her it was lemonade. I don’t think it tastes like Kombucha but the color is similar. I don’t think I would go out of my way to make it but if I get 6 or more lemons in my Bountiful Basket this will be my go to recipe. Your recipes are fabulous.

  38. Thanks, Sarah! Another great video lesson – I always enjoy & appreciate them! I am going to try this with grapefruit, as we have a bunch sitting here that need to be used. We’ll see how it goes.

  39. Okay so I just made this two days ago and it smells divine but there appears to be a “mother” floating on top of it. It that right? Do I filter is or do just shake it up and drink it? Thanks for you site I’m here everyday!!!

  40. I am currently breastfeeding and my son seems to get very uncomfortable if I eat any dairy products (even yogurts, raw, etc.) so I’ve cut them out of my diet for the time being. Is there anything else one can use to ferment this and other recipes that require whey that are dairy free?

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  42. Making this right now! I finally got a hook up on some whey! (MN we cannot easily or legally buy raw milk unless you own the cow or own part of it- which I am looking into.) I am excited beyong beleif I have a list of things I need to do with this little amount.

  43. Mine just finished its 2 days on the counter. Was it supposed to be noticeably foamy or anything? There was a little bit of foaminess yesterday but not much. I’m just wondering if it’s OK.

  44. Stephanie B. Cornais November 15, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Is it possible to use rapadura? and what exactly is the difference of rapadura and sucanat?

    So glad I saw this post! I bought 12 lemons to use as decoration for my daughters 1st birthday party and was planning to make lemonade with them, so excited no!

  45. I have just been referred to your site by a colleauge. I love what you are doing, and am learning a lot from you. Thank you! A comment on your video presentations though, this is meant to be constructive criticism. They need polish. Slow, pedantic, you talk down to your audience by stating what is obvious and you repeat almost every point more than once. Most of the information you're sharing could be presented in much less time with much more impact. Your viewers could take twice as much in. Remember we can always watch it again if we have to, no need to hammer every point in. I'd love to see your videos get better, as its great info you are sharing.

  46. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist November 12, 2010 at 2:43 am

    Hi Joy, thaw out your frozen juice and use about 2 cups worth.

    Jennifer, whey lasts about 6 months in the fridge. I cover the lemonade with a lid on the jar while it is fermenting.

    • I tried the fermented lemonade. We absolutely love it!! My whey only lasted about a month in the fridge and it developed mold. Can whey be stored in the freezer?

  47. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist November 12, 2010 at 2:33 am

    No, use liquid whey or a couple of probiotic capsules like BioKult (empty the powder into the liquid and mix in)

    • I also thought this. I wonder what a scoby would do? It would eat the sugar but not sure if it needs the caffeine from the tea or coffee.

  48. Sarah – I can't wait to try this. My 11-year-old son LOVES lemonade (really, the more sour, the better). Two questions – 1. when leaving out on the counter, is that with the top open, or covered (with a cloth or lid)? 2. Somewhat unrelated, but how do you know when whey is no longer useable? I clabbered about 1.5 cups of raw milk and strained off the whey about 2 months ago, and have only used about 1/2 of what I got (which was a surprisingly huge amount). There are little white flecks all throughout what I have left, and I'm not sure if it's okay to use or if it's time to make more. Thanks!

  49. If we are using fresh frozen lemon or lime juice, how much should we use? I have lemon juice frozen in 1/2 c. baggies from the tree, so I am really excited to find another use for them!

  50. Hi Sarah,

    I just love your emails I get. I was wondering if I can freeze this lemonade for a frozen treat? Will it harm the probotic enzymes?


  51. onceuponthekitchencounter November 11, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Sarah,

    This looks amazing and I can't wait to try it! I find it so funny that I read through Nourishing Traditions all the time, but I've never noticed this recipe before, same with some others you've videoblogged – must be some kind of comfort-level goggles I'm reading through!! Thanks for your awesome videos :)


  52. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist November 11, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Hi Anon, fresh frozen juice would be fine. A tiny amount of nutrition is lost this way but no enzymes are lost so the fermentation should work beautifully.

  53. Hi Sarah, I get all your up dates and really enjoy your videos. I have been doing most of what you teach since 2004 but always learn something new every time I watch one of your videos. My question is about the lemon & lime juice. May I use fresh frozen juice? When I'm given extra lemons & limes I save some of them to use fresh and juice & freeze the rest. Thanks again for all you do to enlighten us. Janet

  54. Excellent! I used to make sekanjabin- a medieval middle eastern drink made with mint. It's very similar- make a simple syrup with water and sugar (or honey), add a handful of mint leaves and allow to steep for several minutes. Add red wine vinegar, steep for a few more minutes. Strain. It's shelf stable for years, and you can add a tablespoon or two to a glass of water for a light drink.

    I haven't made it in quite a while because of the sugar content, but fermenting it would certainly take care of that! I'd heard of the lemonade version too, but never made it, so I'm very glad to learn how it's made! :-)

  55. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist November 10, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    No, it tastes like fermented lemonade. There is no cheesy taste. You do not need to ferment any longer with honey. Yes, whey off yogurt works fine. I actually made a batch a few days ago and I was completely out of liquid whey and I used 2 BioKult probiotic capsules instead (I emptied them into the liquid and mixed in with the sucanat. It turned out fantastic and tasted just the same just a little less sour.

    • Wow Sarah – I wonder if I could use that as a culture for homemade yogurt? What an awesome idea. I’m mixing the fermented lemonade right now using whey I got from yogurt. Thanks so much for all you’re doing!

      I’ve been drinking raw milk for a week along with fermented cod liver/butter oil and cultured, grassfed butter and I’ve lost five pounds! Unbeleivable how much it affects my appetite – I’m never hungry!

  56. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama November 10, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Does it taste weird? I have been hesitant to do any fruit/vegetable ferments with whey because I have heard some talk about a "cheesy" taste to the finished product. Also, I assume that the whey I'd strain off raw milk yogurt would work just fine? I'm considering this because my daughter LOVES lemonade and it's been a rare treat (though I usually make it with honey and fresh lemon juice). Also, if you use honey, do you need to let it ferment longer (sucanat gives me a headache)? Thanks!

  57. Natasha @ Saved by the Egg Timer November 10, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Thank you, I am so interested in reading and learning more about the fermenting. Which you have a lot of info on. I love sucanat, my kids prefer it by far when baking…as do I!

  58. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist November 10, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Hi Pavil, best to use sucanat else you are missing out on the wonderful minerals in the whole form of the cane plant.

  59. Pavil, The Uber Noob November 10, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Good job, Sarah. This sounds like fun.
    Question though: What about using modern table sugar? Do bacteria care? If most of the sugar is consumed, do we care?

  60. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist November 10, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Hi Holly, a mild raw honey should work here nicely if you are avoiding sucanat. You could even ferment without the sugar completely and perhaps reduce the lemon/lime juice a bit and just add a few drops of stevia to each glass when you serve it.

  61. Hi Sarah,
    This looks wonderful. I am on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, is there something I can substitute for the sucanat? Thanks!

  62. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist November 10, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Angie, you need to leave 1 inch at the top of the relish for air or the fermentation will fail. Yes, I used a gallon jug as it is easier to shake up without spilling. Just my preference but use a smaller jug if you would prefer.

  63. Sara, you've inpired me and I'm trying very hard to ferment foods. I made the cranberry relish that you linked to and filled the jar to the top, will it still ferment ok or does it need air? I see here that you use a gallon jug but are only making 2 1/2 quarts.

  64. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist November 10, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    The 1-2 g of sugar per 8 oz serving would compare the the 30 g or so of sugar in a typical juice box!!!!! No wonder kids drinking 100% juice boxes have the same obesity risk as kids drinking soda!

  65. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist November 10, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Hi Anon, the recipe makes approximately 2.5 quarts of fermented lemonade. Using 1/2 cup sucanat for the total recipe, there would be 1.2 tsp sugar per 8 oz glass (4-5 g of sugar). This is BEFORE fermentation. The fermentation uses up most of the sugar, so there would be at most 1 or 2 g of sugar per 8 oz serving after fermentation – I rarely drink a full 8 oz glass at one go, though. It is so hydrating and satisfying that 4-6 oz does just fine.

    • Now that I know it’s so hydrating I’m going to send it in my foreman husband’s lunch cooler – he’s been working in 116 (real-feel) degree heat and I think this will be great for him!

  66. Hi Sarah,
    What a great treat! What is the sugar content like once the fermentation is complete? Is this similar to kombucha in that (almost) all of the sugar is gone by the time its ready to drink? We are pretty sugar sensitive and try to avoid spikes. Thank you!


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