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Backyard Grocery - local gardening and food source

Lemon tonic recipe

lemon tonic recipe

This lemon tonic recipe tastes great, is super refreshing, and will aid digestion. Now that’s a triple play!

I’ve been wanting to venture into the world of fermented tonics, but just couldn’t seem to find the time or the gumption to do it. This week’s challenge to cook something new (to me) was just the push I needed. I thought I’d start with a real lemon tonic recipe because the kids arrive today and Anwen LOVES anything lemon.

I thought I’d share a little bit about why homemade tonics are a good thing, but here’s a quick summary: yum.

The benefits of fermented beverages

Tonics are a fermented food, and fermented foods infuse the gut with lactobacilli and lactic acid and provide an array of enzymes and nourishing minerals. Tonics are also more more hydrating and thirst-quenching than even water—and definitely all round better than the carbonated drinks you buy in the store. Traditionally they were valued for their medicinal qualities, including the ability to relieve intestinal problems and constipation, promote lactation, strengthen the sick and promote overall well-being and stamina. Taken with meals, tonics promote digestion; taken after physical labor, they replace lost mineral ions in a way that renews rather than depletes the body’s reserves. However, you don’t want to drink them like water. A little goes a long way with fermented beverages. For the average adult, four to six ounces a day is good. Children can take less. and a child would need even less at one time. Keep that in mind, because this lemon tonic recipe is so good, you’ll want to drink much, much more!

Notes about this lemon tonic recipe

One of the things I love about fermented foods is how unpredictable they are. This goes for the tonics as well as the vegetables. The size of the lemons you use, what kind of lemons, what kind of sugar, the humidity in your house…all of these influence the final product. I also love the fact you can’t really get it wrong…you just get it different. So keep making this tonic and have fun!

lemon tonic recipe

My lemon tonic recipe fermenting. I used sucanant in this batch, which is why it’s more brown than yellow. It will still taste excellent!

Recipe: Lemon Tonic

Summary: Refreshing and rejuvenating super drink


  • 2 cups of lemon juice (about of 10 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup sugar or sucanat
  • 1 cup of whey
  • 4 quarts of filtered water
  • gallon size jar (or two and half quart jars)


  1. Make a simple sugar with the sugar/sucanat and 1 cup of water. Add the sugar and water to a small sauce pan and gently heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  2. Add the simple sugar and lemon juice to the jar (or jars) and fill about 3/4 full with filtered water.
  3. Add the whey (make sure the liquid is at room temp so that you don’t kill any of the enzymes in the whey).
  4. Cover tightly and let sit on the counter for 3-5 days. (The longer it sits, the less sugar in the final product; we like ours tart, so it stays out 5 days).
  5. Store in the fridge and drink 4-6 ounces per day.

Quick notes

You can add about 1 tsp of molasses to the sugar before dissolving to add extra minerals and make a slightly sweeter taste. This can be very tart. Add a couple drops of stevia if it is too tart for you! Use a glass jar with a glass or metal top.


You can use lemons or limes, or a mixture of both

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time:

Copyright © Susan Rose.

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What to do with Sunchokes


Sunchokes look like ginger, grow like potatoes, and taste like artichokes. They’re a new favorite for me.

One of my favorite things about the community garden is that people share their abundance. Like if someone’s sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) go completely insane. Which, lucky for me, happened and I have found myself with about 5 pounds of the delectable little tubers. The problem is, I’ve never had them before and I don’t really know what to do with them. So I’m asking you, my readers, to give me some ideas!

I did roast some the first night just to taste them. I can’t believe I’ve never eaten them before! They taste exactly like artichoke hearts, which are one of my favorite things in the entire culinary world. So I am very excited to do more. I’ve chopped and frozen a few pounds, even though everything I’ve read says they don’t freeze well (which seemed more an issue of color then taste). I’m going to ferment some of them because, well, because I ferment everything these days. But I’d really like to incorporate them into a real meal. Any and all ideas are welcome. I’ll report back with whatever I do.

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Our new hand trommel sifter

hand trommel sifter

Rick sends the first batch of compost through our new hand trommel sifter.

The fun never ends here at the Backyard Grocery! This week, Rick built his very own hand trommel sifter to make the job of separating our worms from their castings a little bit easier. Add hand trommel sifters to the list of garden tools I never dreamed existed, but that I now own. The list is getting very long.

Rick is all about making life in the garden easier. He has a point: if the garden work isn’t completely back breaking, I’m more likely to participate in it. And I did…we sifted some of the compost from the manure compost bin in our garden yesterday and it worked great. Rick just has a few more modifications to make, and we’ll be ready to really plough through that huge bin. Then the hand trommel sifter will come home so we can use it with the worms. See, I told you the fun never ends.

hand trommel sifter

Three phases of compost: the good stuff, the almost good stuff, and the stuff to toss back in the bin.

Making a hand trommel sifter

Rick found the plans for the hand trommel sifter from a guy named Mike. I don’t know much more about Mike, except he’s clever and you can find the instructions on his web site. Of course, Rick modified it a bit. He’s going to add a hopper, which will greatly facilitate actually getting the compost inside the trommel sifter (right now it’s not all that easy to do). And he needs to add some smaller screen because the few worms living in our outdoor compost slid right through the screen. We don’t want that. That is, in fact, the opposite of what we want.

All in all, this device cost about $50 to make, which I think is a bargain for the hours it’s going to save us working with both compost bins. And, Rick got to make a new tool, which makes him happy, which is priceless.

hand trommel sifter

The sifter sitting on our compost bin, waiting for modifications.

Do you compost? What methods have you come up with to make it successful and/or easier?

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