Here’s a way to get a wallop of health benefits by fermenting the beneficial fungal species, Saccharomyces boulardii, in cranberry juice for a light and refreshing holiday drink. It’s also a way to get you into the frame of mind of making your own probiotic foods, something I dive deeply into my new book, Super Gut.

Saccharomyces boulardii is a close relative of S. cerevisieae, the common yeast used to ferment beer and wine and make bread rise. While S. cerevisieae is adapted and optimized for these applications, S. boulardii has instead adapted to survive in the human gastrointestinal tract where it provides a number of helpful health functions. While it is a transient and does not take up long-term residence, its passage through the GI tract has been associated with benefits that include:

  • Prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  • Prevention of C. difficile enterocolitis
  • Prevention of travelers’ diarrhea
  • It is a useful adjunct to managing SIBO and SIFO (especially fungal overgrowth as S. boulardii competes with fungal species such as C. albicans)
  • It increases the likelihood of successful eradication of H. pylori when combined with conventional agents
  • Improved growth and development for children
  • Reduced symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease

The process of fermentation increases the number of fungi in the juice, thereby adding to benefits obtained by just taking the capsule since, in general, the greater the counts of microbes, the greater the benefits. Because you can make subsequent batches by “seeding” juices with a couple tablespoons of a prior batch, it means that you don’t have to purchase the probiotic again, provided you keep your culture going.

The fermentation temperature for S boulardii of 70-90℉ means that this fermented juice can be reliably fermented on your countertop without need for a heating device. The addition of diammonium phosphate increases the count of microbes, a method borrowed from home beer brewing. (You can find this in home brewing shops for around $3-4.) If you’d like to make your S. boulardii Cranberry Cocktail an alcoholic drink, add 1/4-cup of your favorite Prosecco. As Saccharomyces species are alcohol tolerant, you will not degrade the number of microbes by adding some alcohol.

1 quart cranberry juice
1 capsule Florastor (S. boulardii CNCM I-745)
Optional: 1/8 teaspoon diammonium phosphate
Optional: 1 cinnamon stick
Optional: Mint leaves

Pour contents of probiotic capsule and optional diammonium phosphate into container of cranberry juice; agitate gently.

Ferment at 70-90℉ for 36-48 hours, then refrigerate. Be sure to vent your fermentation vessel every 8 or so hours to release the carbon dioxide that accumulates, or use one of the inexpensive air lock devices that can be purchased at home brewing supply stores. When ready to serve, pour cranberry juice over ice with an optional cinnamon stick and mint leaves.

You will find plenty of additional recipes in the new Super Gut book. Super Gut treats fermentation projects like ordering from the menu at a restaurant. You walk into a restaurant and the waitress hands you a menu. You don’t freak out and say “I can’t possibly order all these appetizers, main dishes, and desserts!” Instead, you pick and choose the dishes you want. We do the same thing in Super Gut: Choose the microbe for the effect you want. If you want smoother skin and deeper sleep, choose this microbe. If you want reduced arthritis pain, choose that microbe. If you want a healthier baby that sleeps through the night and has less likelihood of having asthma, choose another microbe. In other words, the tools for the microbiome have gotten so powerful that you can essentially order up the benefit you desire. If you pre-order Super Gut here, you will also be given access to some additional perks, including a private group session I’ll be giving in future.