If you’ve been reading other blogs like mine, you probably already know what water kefir is. In case you haven’t, though, I’ll tell you. Water kefir is a drink made from sugar water, which is cultured with kefir grains. These grains are composed of yeasts and good bacteria. I don’t totally understand how it works, but then, I’m not supposed to. There are lots of great posts about water kefir that might understand it better than I do (other bloggers), and I’ll link to those at the end.
Why Drink It?
So, why drink water kefir? It has more probiotics in it than yogurt, and some sources even say more than traditional milk kefir (that was in one of my Health News Tuesdays links). It is a super healthy drink that can help restore your good gut flora and is rumored to help allergies and various digestive upsets. It also is slightly carbonated, and is therefore a healthy substitute for pop! That’s how I got Ben interested, initially.
There is some controversy about whether or not this is alcoholic. Some say it must be; but tests have shown it to be less than 0.5% if at all. It does smell sort of alcoholic because of the yeasts used in culturing. But it’s never made us even the slightest bit tipsy and we don’t drink at all, so if it WERE alcoholic, you better believe an 8 – 12 oz. bottle would do something to us. There’s a link on that at the end, too.
How To Make Kefir
There are many different recipes for making kefir out there. Some people kefir freshly pressed juice. Using a wedge of lemon and/or dried fruit is very common too. When I first started reading about it, I was pretty intimidated by all the variations and the many different things required. I just wanted something simple and straightforward, at least to start! So I’ll give you our simplest recipe here:
- 3 cups filtered water
- 1/2 cup white sugar (most of it will be eaten by the yeast)
- 1 tbsp. water kefir grains
- 4 – 6 oz. organic apple juice
Mix together the water and sugar in a quart mason jar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the kefir grains with a plastic spoon (don’t use any metal). Cover the jar loosely (we use a piece of fabric attached with a rubberband, so nothing can get in, but the gases can escape). It should ferment about 2 days, less if you live in a warm climate. Generally 2 days seems about right, but you can start with 1 if you think it’ll be too much. When it’s done fermenting, strain the grains out and set them aside to start another batch (they need to be kept in sugar water if you’re not using them again right away, and refrigerating is a good idea too). Pour the kefir into bottles (we bought some at a local brewing store) and add apple juice. Seal tightly. Let the bottles stand on the counter, sealed, about 2 days longer. Then refrigerate. This is important because if you leave them sitting out they’ll continue to ferment and could explode. Ben says when he releases the cap it sounds like “a gunshot.” The drink will be lightly sweet and carbonated!
That is our simplest concoction. I’d like to experiment in the future with using ginger (to make a ginger ale, sort of), lemon-lime, and grape juice. I think I’m going to do grape juice next because it’s the simplest. You can add the fruit juice to the original ferment, but then your kefir grains get stained. Best to keep them in plain sugar water and avoid that problem.
Have you ever heard of water kefir? Are you interested to try?
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