Homemade Orangina

OK, here’s an update on the homemade orangina I wrote about a couple of days ago. The truth is, it didn’t turn out so well. When I opened up the mysterious looking beverage after letting it ferment for 2 days, it wasn’t fizzy and there was a film of oil floating on the top. My dad suggested it might be from the whey, but I’d never had that happen when making beet kvass, which I do regularly. The whey we strained off the yogurt didn’t have any fat in it, so I didn’t know where this was coming from. I thought maybe the mason jars I had used weren’t clean, but that didn’t seem right either as I’d washed them myself.

On a hunch I checked out the orange extract I had used. Bingo. It turns out, in my haste at the health food store, I grabbed “orange flavor” instead of orange extract. The ingredients – orange oil, sunflower oil. So that was obviously the source of the oil. Unfortunately, upon sampling the drink, the oil had given the beverage an off taste, too.

I decided to try to rescue it by skimming off as much of the oil as possible and adding some raw cane sugar. Sugar?, you might ask. I thought you were supposed to be the healthy foodie. What the heck are you doing using sugar? A fair question.

Here’s my reasoning: first, raw, minimally refined cane sugar still contains a lot of the components from the original sugar cane plant which will slow its absorption during digestion and not cause insulin spikes as dramatic as refined sugar. It’s still sugar, and you can still degrade your health with it, but if used occasionally (like a special treat, not every day), in small amounts, I consider it safe. Second, and this is the reason I put the sugar in in the first place, the lactic bacteria feed on sugar. What makes these bacteria “lactic” is that they consume sugar and convert it to lactic acid and the gases that cause the carbonation. I thought that since the drink wasn’t fizzy, the bacteria didn’t have enough to eat. I also think that since much of the sugar will be consumed by the bacteria, not much of it will be left for the drinker.

So I skimmed off as much of the oil as I could, added about a tablespoon of the raw cane sugar to each jar, checked the seal on the jars to make sure the produced gases weren’t escaping and left the drink for another day. It turns out my reasoning was correct – the next day the drink was fizzy! It made a recognizable sharp hiss sound when I opened it and bubbles started rising to the surface.

Unfortunately, the taste was still off. Although I’m willing to choke it down, my family is not impressed. In fact, my dad has suggested that it tastes like rancid oil and, if he’s right, this would make the drink very unhealthy. Rancid oils are extremely bad for you leading to free radical damage and possibly to atherosclerosis. Once I’m done writing this I’ll be pouring the drink down the sink.

I wouldn’t call this a total loss, however. I learned from this experience and used what I learned for the ginger ale recipe I’m going to tell you about later this week. For one, I cut the amount of unrefined sea salt called for in Fallon’s recipe in half (when all was said and done the final orangina tasted a touch too salty as well as rancid) and I would add the tablespoon of raw cane sugar described above. I don’t know how necessary the orange extract is so for my next batch I’m just going to leave it out. Here’s my revisions to Sally Fallon’s orangina recipe.

Homemade Orangina

Juice of 12 oranges
1 tsp. unrefined sea salt (down from 2 tsp.)
1 T. raw cane sugar
¼ c whey (from plain yogurt, strained through through coffee filter)
½ tsp. orange extract (if you can find it, don’t use “orange flavor”)
About 1 ¼ quarts filtered water

Place all ingredients in a 2-quart glass container (I actually used 2 x 1 quart mason jars), and stir well. Cover tightly. Leave at room temperature for two to three days before transferring to the refrigerator.

As I mentioned, I’ve also done a homemade ginger ale using the same methods, fermenting as I write this, which I’ll tell you about once it’s ready. Hopefully it will turn out better than this first experiment.

Vitamin Water: Health Drink or Soft Drink? Have you ever experimented with making your own carbonated drinks? Let us know how it went and what tips you learned from the experience.

A little tip:

I love reading about lac-to fermented drinks.

I make my “orangina” with pure(not from concentrate) orange juice that I buy from the store. It has been pasteurized, however the lacto fermenting process adds a lot back in. And OJ is cheaper.

I add about a tsp of sea salt to a 2 qt container to stop it from turning into alcohol. No orange extract.

It doesn’t have that bright orange color once it’s done fermenting but it tastes great.

I also add whey and sea salt to pure concord grape juice.

My favorite lac-to beverage lately is tea soda. I add 2 heaping tsps of loose herbal tea to a quart of water sweetened with a bar of “brown sugar in pieces”(Asian aisle of grocery store), 1/4 cup whey or tea soda from previous batch.

Let it sit for 2 days with lid closed tightly.

I have also used green tea leaves or orange pekoe. I don’t boil the leaves—just let the lac-to bugs extract flavor and nutrients from the leaves.