Our whole family’s into this stuff. It makes us happy–it tastes like orange soda SHOULD taste! And our guts are happy too. Here’s some secrets for making a great “natural orange soda”- delicious!
When I first started making “water kefir” a few years back, I was very enthusiastic. I juiced the plentiful Concord grapes I’d harvested that summer, and froze ice-cubes of the juice, to add to my brews. Ditto for the apples we got off our tree. Couldn’t eat that many apples as-is, but the juice turned the overabundance of fruit sugar into more probiotics. It was great!
Another flavor for those who love Gingerale: Before I found out about Ginger Bug (oh my- you HAVE to try it… it makes the bubbliest soda ever!), I was buying fresh ginger. I’d cut it into match-stick sizes, rolling up portions in aluminum foil for the freezer, to add as a flavoring. For more ginger zip, I started juicing fresh ginger, freezing ice-cubes of that potent, zesty juice, for future brews. It made a good drink, although not quite as good as the aforementioned ginger bug…
More flavors: Bottled, 100% juices. They won’t be as “lively” as fresh-juiced (which react with the kefir to produce potentially explosive brews), but they certainly do well enough. (We’re not all in the position to be juicing fresh fruits, right?) Pomegranate juice makes a wonderful addition to kefir or kombucha. Or organic black cherry concentrate, or organic tart cherry concentrate, which keep well. If the cupboard’s getting bare, I use that for flavoring and sweetening the 2nd ferment.
However! Citrus is one of kefir’s very favorite thing to feed on. So now I grab some nice organic oranges, processing the peel, and adding orange juice and sugar to it. I make a lot of this “orange concentrate” at a time, and it flavors many batches of kefir. I can make a bunch of the concentrate at a time, since it keeps about a month in the fridge. (Sometimes I freeze an extra jar of it too.)
Oh, by the way, kombucha just doesn’t like citrus. So keep this stuff for kefir. Happy brewing!
Also: below are two different recipes. I found that the addition of sugar wasn’t really necessary, if you have a Champion juicer, or the like.
Original Orange Concentrate (w/Sugar)
- Peel from 3 organic oranges
- 3/4 c. sugar
- Juice from 3 oranges
- 12 oz. frozen organic orange juice concentrate
- Vanilla to taste
Process the peel from 3 oranges in a Vitamix or other blender, until fine. (Or, zest the old-fashioned way, by hand.) Use: > Peel from 3 oranges
Add the sugar, process again: > 3/4 c. sugar
Add the last two ingredients, mixing well: > Juice from 3 oranges > 12 oz. orange juice concentrate
Store in glass jar in fridge. Use about 1/2 c. or so per 32-oz. bottle, plus vanilla to taste.
Sugar-free Orange Concentrate
- Several oranges
- Champion Juicer (or the like)
Juice several oranges in the Champion juicer (or similar juicer). The idea is to have some of the rind in it as well, which adds extra nutrients that the kefir thrives on. No, you don’t want all the pulp that spits out the end of the juicer. But the machine does process enough rind through into the juice bowl. The beauty of this method is that the rind gets more thoroughly processed. Even with the Vitamix dry blender, the peel doesn’t get perfectly ground up. But with the juicing method, it does!
Store in glass jar in fridge. Use about 1/2 c. or so per large bottle, adding a half teaspoon or so of vanilla as well.
Note that you need to strain this after brewing. The flavor’s delicious, but bits of the pureed orange peel tend to float. Not a problem in a smoothie, but not ideal for drinking straight!