You may or may not have heard of water kefir, another wonder in the world of fermented foods.
Fermented foods, long forgotten and neglected are beginning to resurface in our modern world. Articles are being written, workshops taken and people are talking about things like sauerkraut, kimchi, sourdough and making their own yoghurt. Hand in hand with this subject is more education on the importance of gut health – central to our immune systems. It is those wonderful bacteria sourced from fermented foods that can create beautiful gardens in our digestive systems as opposed to disease causing waste dumps.
We have been making water kefir for a few months now after sourcing some grains from a friend. It tastes like a soft drink so of course the kids love it. My son Ethan and I wanted to share the knowledge of this yummy drink. Just like with many other fermented foods, you use a starter in the form of kefir grains (not actually grains but clusters of good bacteria). You feed it with sugar, molasses and water, let it ferment and then add flavours in the form of juices, chopped fresh or dried fruit, herbs and /or spices. After the fermentation process you have a delicious drink teaming with good bacteria.
Below is a video which will walk you through the step by step process of making your own water kefir. Ethan demonstrates how easy it is (well if an 11 year old can do it – you can too!). You may ask why the costume? Well that’s Ethan, he is quite theatrical. Below the video are some specific tips on flavouring your kefir as well as measurements for the ingredients.
Where to get the grains?
The best place to obtain water kefir grains is through a friend or acquaintance who has their own batch. They are a culture that multiplies the more you use it, so any creator of kefir should have enough to pass on. If you don’t know anyone with grains, try asking on freecycle (https://www.freecycle.org/), a great way of sharing in the community. If these free options aren’t available to you, then you will be able to buy the starter online.
Measurements for Kefir
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar per 1 litre of purified water (adjust according to your own taste). Beware never to use tap water which will kill the kefir grains.
- 1 tsp of molasses per litre of water (if you use rapadura sugar you will not need to add molasses).
- When adding juice to the kefir after the first ferment, use approximately 1/2 cup per litre.
- When adding chopped fruit after the first ferment, use approximately 1/2 cup per litre.
Important points to remember when working with Kefir
- The kefir grains do not like metal. Use only plastic, silicon or glass.
- Only add sugar/molasses during the first ferment as the addition of other ingredients may affect the viability of your grains. Especially honey which is anti-bacterial and therefore detrimental to kefir health. If you wish to add honey, do so during the second ferment (once the grains have been removed).
- To store your grains, add them to a bottle of sugar water and keep in the fridge. They will store for up to a month. Replace the sugar water after this period.
- Remember that they will multiply, the more you use them so share as much as possible.
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