Lacto-Fermented Beverages as Electrolyte Drinks

I thought we’d take a quick break from our Ancestral Fermentation series this week to talk about something that may be timely, considering the season we are in.

Summer is nearly upon us and it is important to stay cool and hydrated during these hot months. There is always the option of purchasing commercial sports drinks, but these are both cost prohibitive and loaded with refined sugars.

Another option that you can make right at home, and might already be consuming, is lacto-fermented beverages. These delicious and refreshing drinks are an excellent alternative to plain water and contain everything you need to stay hydrated.

Why Water Won’t Cut It

It’s important to drink water, of course, but if you are working out in the sun, you are in desperate need of minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and more. In fact, it is possible to drink too much water, resulting in an electrolyte imbalance.

Through the process of fermentation, especially if you’re starting with mineral-rich sugar sources, lacto-fermented drinks will contain minerals, organic acids, and basic sugars – all elements that will sustain and truly hydrate you as you lose many of these elements through perspiration.

If you’re already making and drinking kombucha or water kefir then you’re ahead of the game. Consuming a bit of these beverages each day will help with hydration.

There are many traditionally fermented beverages that were made specifically for hot summer work in the field, or simply the survival of a hot climate. I think we’ll save a discussion of these for another edition of our Ancestral Fermentation series.

Fermenting Beverages

There is no need for a recipe if you simply combine a culture starter with a sugar source and any preferred flavorings.

To use whey as a culture starter combine a gallon of sugar-containing liquid (either sweetened water or herbal tea, fruit juice, or a combination thereof) with 1/2 cup of freshly strained whey. Allow to ferment until bubbly, stir in a bit of good quality sea salt, and serve chilled.

You could also use kefir grains that have been well-rinsed, or a bit of sourdough starter to kick start the formation of lactic acid. The sourdough starter will settle at the bottom of your beverage and the kefir grains can be removed before serving.

One more option is to water-down cultured dairy like yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk. This is sometimes referred to as a lassi. By combining 1 part water with 1 part cultured dairy, and then adding salt, you create a super-hydrating beverage that can be sweetened or served as is.

A couple of tasty fermented recipes include:

Lacto-Fermented Ginger Ale

Lacto-Fermented Herbal Tea Drink

Note: I like a combination of oat straw, rose hips, nettles, and dried citrus as a base to a mineral-rich herbal tea.

What lacto-fermented beverages are you brewing for hydration?


Shannon is a mama to four small children, homesteader, freelance writer, and picture-taker. She lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead where they make and eat kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables.

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    • says

      Ina – Yes, I stir it in after it has fermented. I would start with 1/4 teaspoon salt per quart, taste, and add more if you find it needs it. You are looking for that salt contrast to the sweet that you find in some electrolyte drinks.

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