Tag Archives: basil lemonade

Strange Brew

Water Kefir was the beginning of this last round of my dietary changes, about a year and a half ago. Earlier changes, sanctioned by my doctor, were just mild improvements over SAD. Going independent and getting serious started with a Naturopath in Michigan, and water kefir was Step One.

It was a super auspicious beginning. I bought my little kit at cultures for health. They are wonderful and have a ton of videos and recipes. It was easy to make, easy to flavor and most importantly my kids loved it. I’ve heard many people say they have trouble with the alcohol content, but we’ve only had that problem if we let the second ferment go more than 3 days. For a long time I was juicing the fruit for the flavoring, but recently, I’ve just been putting cut up ingredients in the bottle after the initial ferment.

On any given day I have a variety of liters of water kefir in my refrigerator. I do not give any of these flavors a second ferment:

Cranberry (with 1/4c Knudson Just Cranberry juice)

grapefruit (1 juiced grapefruit, juiced)

grape (my son loves this, but i find making grape juice to be a bit much)

lemon (2 juiced lemons per liter)

Lemon/Lime (this changes, but up to 2 juiced lemons/2limes)

Ginger/Lemon (about an inch of ginger and 1/2 a peeled lemon)

Pineapple (sometimes with mango. But I haven’t done this a couple of months)

We also do a 1-2 day 2nd ferment for:

Ginger ale (about an inch of ginger)

Vanilla (A split vanilla bean, which I’ll use for 3-4 batches)

But, my favorite kefir flavor is Basil Lemonade. When we first moved out to California I was fortunate to have lunch at The Neon Carrot in San Luis Obispo. It was their signature drink. I thought they were crazy. I was wrong. The first three sips confirmed my initial assessment, but the next 2 glasses started a love affair that is still going strong. I’ve made this drink a variety of ways, blending a lemon and some basil with the kefir (#3), juicing basil and lemon and adding it to kefir (#2) and just popping about 6 basil leaves and 1/2-1 lemon in a liter of unflavored kefir. Typically, if I make it in the morning, it’s flavored by dinner. I’ve attempted other methods (mincing basil and adding it to lemonade for example) with poor results. But these three all work – although -you have to drink it the day you make it as in my experience it gets bitter if you let it sit.

About a month ago, I saw a cilantro cooler on FB. Cucumber, cilantro, lime, simple syrup and vodka. I would have detested this mix most of my life – all but the vodka, which really didn’t need those other ingredients mucking up the works. I especially hated cilantro until 1997 when I was in San Antonio working the annual George Strait Team Roping event, and I unwittingly had cilantro pesto at the Zuni Grill (I am still so surprised by this turn of events, I remember the names of these restaurants!). They brought it out with the bread as a dip. It was amazing – so amazing, I had to ask what it was. I wanted to picket outside when they told me it was my long reviled cilantro. But, it eased me up a bit, which opened my mind for Walt’s Wharf’s Carmelized Salmon in Seal Beach, but that’s another story, another (modified) recipe, and another post….

So, my new alternative water kefir flavor is…

Cucumber Cilantro!

I tried it both juiced and blended, and we preferred blended and on ice. It’s quick and simple..

1/2 cucumber (or 2 persian cucumbers)

6-8 sprigs cilantro (up to 1/4 c, at which point we found it to be too much!)

1 lime, peeled

1-2 cups unflavored water kefir


I was so happy to have a new beverage to enjoy! I am still far more achey than I have been on my other protocols this year, but if I can have enough little wins like this, I’ll be able to give it the 2 months I’d hoped to commit.