The Fermentation Mistake I Will Never Make Again

Fermented Foods and Drinks

I love when the teacher becomes the student. 

This happens every so often with clients that so embrace traditional foods that they start teaching me new tips and tricks around the kitchen.

And this happened recently with Amy, my client that I featured in my last blog series on autoimmune diseases.

Amy has really embraced fermentation.  She makes her own yogurt, whey, cream cheese and fermented vegetables.

And when she told me she was going to make her own ginger ale, I was inspired to try it myself.

Ginger Ale Epic Fail

Amy followed the recipe exactly from Nourishing Traditions.

I did not.

I went with my “whatever, good enough” method.   This is a method I use when I don’t have every exact ingredient and will either leave things out or substitute similar ones.  It’s usually fine.

But not this time.

The recipe called for a half cup of fresh lime juice.  I didn’t have any fresh limes.  Nor did I feel like driving 40 minutes round trip to my local health food store just for a few limes.

So I decided to go with the “whatever, good enough” method.

Enter bottled lime juice.

I’ve noticed these funky little bottles in more and more health food stores.

I stock a bottle in my fridge solely for convenience.  When I buy fresh organic limes, I’ll maybe use a wedge or two and then they often sit there and go bad.   Furthermore, organic limes are not cheap.

So I added a half cup of the bottled stuff and let the ginger ale ferment on my counter for a few days.

I was excited for the first taste and it’s one I’ll never forget.

When I tried it for the first time my mouth puckered into the back of my head and I was hit with a shock wave of limeyness that shot through my body like a lightning bolt.


I guess this is equivalent to what happens when some people taste fermented cod liver oil for the first time.

Diluting with seltzer water

The recipe in Nourishing Traditions says, “Ginger ale may be mixed with carbonated water and is best sipped warm rather than gulped down cold.”

Well for my limey ginger ale, that’s putting it mildly.

I needed about three quarters seltzer to one quarter ginger ale to dilute the strong flavor.  It was drinkable at that ratio, but now I had to know…

What is in organic bottled lime juice?

To be honest, I’m still not sure.

A brief search around the internet revealed little information.

Let’s investigate.   Here’s the front:

Looks all wholesome and good, right?  We got nice colors, an artsy fartsy picture of a lime, a nice logo of a sun coming up over a field (that is seriously a great logo) and of course the company name and which conjures up images of pleasant pastoral scenery.

Now you probably can’t read it but under where it says “Lime Shot” it says, “made with organic lime juice and essence.” 

Now I probably should’ve realized that “lime shot” implies concentrated lime juice but the label doesn’t say “from concentrate.”

So is it from concentrate or not?  I really don’t know.  The fact that there’s water in the ingredients makes me think so. When juice is concentrated it loses flavor and nutritional value.  Companies add water back in to make it more juice-like.

OK let’s look at the back of the label.

OK, so what the heck is organic lime essential oil?  AND WHY DOES LIME JUICE NEED MORE LIME FLAVOR?!

All signs point to this not quite being the freshest stuff that the labeling implies.  My taste buds certainly said so.

Still, I’m confused as to the authenticity of this lime juice.

How is this stuff really made?

Maybe someone out there can help me out?  Please comment below if you can help educate me and perhaps others in the process.   If you’re unsure yourself, share this on Facebook and ask your friends.

In the end, I’m guessing it’s fairly harmless.  I know there are worse culprits in the food industry.  Nevertheless, the labeling does seem misleading.

Regardless, I’ve  learned my lesson.   I can’t say I’ll never use this stuff again.  It sure is convenient.  But if a recipe ever calls for more than a squeeze of lime juice, I’ll be using the real thing from here on out. 

And unless you like your mouth ending up in the back of your head, I would recommend you do the same.

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About the Author

Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.

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