A pitcher of water with a hand holding a honey wand overhead.
Illustration: Elise van Iterson

How to Make Fermented Drinks at Home, According to Antwerp Chef Barbara Serulus

The food journalist’s book “Fizz” is a practical beginner’s guide to brewing healthy, alcohol-free drinks within the confines of a kitchen
By Aileen Kwun
May 1, 2021
1 minute read

For her thirtieth birthday, some years ago, Antwerp-based food journalist and chef Barbara Serulus received a living, life-changing gift from a friend: a Scoby, short for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast,” the spongy “tea mushroom” commonly used as a starter for kombucha. “My life did change because, from that moment on, fermented drinks have had me under their spell,” she writes in her book Fizz: The Beginner’s Guide to Making Natural, Non-Alcoholic Fermented Drinks (BIS Publishers). Illustrated with artwork by chef Elise van Iterson, it’s a thoroughly readable guide to fermentation, filled with entertaining historical anecdotes and practical tips, methods, and recipes.

Serulus explores the topic across nine types of fermented drinks, ranging from dairy-based kefir, a sour drink she calls “milk champagne,” to kvass, an earthy Slavic brew made from stale rye bread. Aside from being easy to make at home, each sparkling concoction is packed with health-promoting properties—and also makes for a good mixer for cocktails, to which she’s dedicated an entire chapter, with zero guilt. As Serulus says, “Let’s just call it the retox after detox.”