Book review: 'Fizz: The Beginners Guide to Making Natural, Non-alcoholic Fermented Drinks', by Barbara Serulus

Clinton Cawood

Clinton Cawood

19 November 2019

It seems like everyone’s fermenting their own kombucha or kefir nowadays – and little wonder, considering the complex flavours fermentation produces, not to mention the growing demand for non-alc options. They make great cocktail ingredients too. They might even be good for you.

If you haven’t begun dabbling in the world of non-alcoholic fermented drinks, this new hands-on guide offers an excellent introduction. Antwerp-based food journalist Barbara Serulus has written a practical book filled with recipes and tips, as well as some background info and anecdotes about these traditional drinks. It’s colourfully illustrated throughout by illustrator and chef Elise van Iterson.

If you’ve already been playing around with scobies and kefir grains, the basic instructions for brewing drinks like water kefir and kombucha won’t be anything new to you, and you might need to look elsewhere if you’re after more in-depth information.

What it does offer are various ideas for how to take your fermentations further through interesting variations, like secondary kombucha fermentations using herbs and fruit, such as fennel seed with orange segments, or lavender and lemon peel. Water kefir grains, too, can be used to ferment not just sweetened water, but fruit juice and more.

For those looking to go beyond these fermentations du jour, subsequent chapters are dedicated to other traditionally-fermented beverages like ginger beer, including instructions for creating your own ginger beer starter. Kvass, produced from rye bread, gets its own section in the book too, as does hibiscus soda, non-alcoholic mead and tepache.

There’s a fleeting collection of three cocktails at the end of the book that might provide some inspiration, and maybe suggest some new approaches to integrating these ferments into drinks, such as the instructions for a milk kefir syrup. But they aren’t likely to result in you overhauling your list.

Overall, Fizz is a practical guide, if not particularly in-depth, that’s filled with interesting ideas and inspiration, and will likely broaden your fermented-drink repertoire, even if you’re already well versed in the way of the scoby.

Fizz is published by Bis Publishers and has an RRP of £15.99

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