Review by Kylie Thompson
Rating: 3 stars
Publisher: Murdoch Books
Fermented, probiotic drinks are all the rage right now, with the ‘gut-friendly’ drinks surging in popularity as celebrities find the joy of globby alien goo down the bottom of their drinks. Kombucha and kefir are clear front-runners in the popularity stakes, granted, but this trend is also seeing a rise in the old favourites like honey mead, root and ginger beers.
It can be hard, though, to find good quality probiotic drinks that don’t cost a fortune, and not everyone can afford the prices being charged for the trendy concoctions. But if you’ve been wondering about the practicalities of DIYing these drinks, you might want to check out ‘Probiotic Drinks At Home’ by Felicity Evans. Evans is a fan of fermentation, and here, she’s determined to prove that probiotic drinks are easy, maybe even fun, to make.
I’ll be honest, I’m still utterly baffled how you’d source a reputable scoby for the kombucha (a scoby being the gelatinous blob of fungus and yeast and bacteria floating in the fermenting drink- sounds delish, right?), let alone have it delivered without the mailman rebelling. But apparently it’s possible, and the results are rather well liked.
Let’s be completely blunt here: I’m clearly not the ideal reader for parts of ‘Probiotic Drinks At Home’- I’m not good with blobby stuff in general, but if I can see it in a drink, I’m not putting it near my mouth, no matter how good for my gut it may be. And I’m probably going to make inappropriate comments to hide my unease at said blobby floaty bits. But those who are okay with floaty bits in their gut-friendly drinks should take my dubiousness with a grain of salt.
It’d be easy to say I disliked this book, but the truth is, I’m actually excited about some of the recipes. Maybe the kefir and kombucha aren’t my thing, but the honey mead and root beers? I’m intrigued. Besides, these are brilliant starting points for people who are wary of the more hardcore, if popular, fermented drink recipes. If you’re looking for a starting point that doesn’t make for an awkward conversation with the partner or postie, these might be a good choice.
Clearly, DIYing this stuff isn’t for the faint of heart, or tender of nose. Regardless of what recipes you’re trying, you’re looking for sour, vinegary, acidic, or yeasty smells to show that the fermentation has worked. Those with a more finely-tuned sense of smell might not enjoy that part of the process much.
This might not be a cookbook to everyone’s tastes, but for those looking for an adventurous culinary activity for the family, or a new, reasonably healthy drink to enjoy, ‘Probiotic Drinks At Home’ might just be what you’re looking for.
‘Probiotic Drinks At Home’ is published by Murdoch Books, and is available at selected retailers.