{Kitchen tips} How to make water kefir | A simple guide! [probiotic, gut-health]

My newest obsession - WATER KEFIR!  A bubbly drink that is so good I can convince the kids it is coldrink, and so good for you that I don’t mind if they drink liters of it. Not really liters, but a lot… and often. It is packed full of gut-healing probiotics that are great for energy as well. Beat that!

It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you water kefir. A yummy, bubbly, sometimes-fruit-infused water that is packed full of healthy probiotics that not only help heal the gut, easing IBS symptoms such as bloating and gas, but also clears the skin, may improve symptoms of allergies and asthma, is full of nutrients and can even help in the fight against cancer. It is cheap and very easy to make, and the best part – your kids will love it!

But what are kefir grains?

Water kefir grains consist of bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship. The term “kefir grains” describes the look of the culture only. Water kefir grains contain no actual “grains” such as wheat, rye, etc.
— Culturesforhealth.com

When my arthritis symptoms and pain started becoming worse I started experimenting with fermented food and drinks, with the main aim being to increase my consumption of probiotic-rich foods. Gut health can be directly linked to inflammation, and since that was the cause of my pain I wanted to do everything in my power to decrease the inflammation in my body. I was also looking for a drink alternative that is safe and nutritious, and that will be loved equally by myself, Husband and the kids. We don’t do sugar, and I dislike artificial sweeteners so most carbonated colddrinks are out of the question, and sometimes you want something more than just water. I came across kombucha, but no way will I get that into my body! It smells and tastes like vinegar, no matter with what they flavor it with, and that I cannot do. So the search continued, and so I stumbled upon kefir. I was skeptical about the milk – drinking milk kefir is a lot like drinking sour milk. It is fizzy and tastes funny. We also try to limit dairy, and making it with coconut milk works out too expensive and then you still have fizzy milk… yeah I wasn’t sold. Luckily when I went to my local fruit and veg shop I found that they sell milk kefir, and the grains to make milk or coconut kefir, and then per chance one day I saw they also had water kefir grains. Score! I immediately bought them, even though I have never even heard about water kefir, and didn’t have the faintest clue how to make it.

After a bit of research I found water kefir can be better for your health than the nasty kombucha, and making it is way easier! As kombucha, water kefir is also a lightly fermented drink, made from kefir “grains”. Although called grains, they actually come from a cactus, making water kefir dairy- and gluten-free. Because it is a fermented drink, you need to feed the “grains” sugar, which is then used up in the metabolic process, resulting in a slightly sweet carbonated drink.

Here is my simple guide on making your own delicious drink.

The whole process takes about 3 days to complete, with you only needing about 5 min of prep time to get it started. You will need the following:

·         ½ cup water kefir grains (buy from your local health shop, fruit and veg shop or online from Faithfultonature

·         Two large containers or jars (I use 2 x 2l jars)

·         a strainer

·         kitchen towel

·         ¼ cup sugar [for the sugar, I like using organic coconut sugar mixed with cane sugar, and then adding a tablespoon of fine Himalayan salt to the mix. This increases the mineral content, making your “grains” extremely happy]

·         ¼ lemon, or a few slices

·         1l water (preferably hard water, from a tap – if clean and safe. The grains prefer highly mineralized water. Filtered water, soft water, or otherwise altered water does not encourage the same amount of growth, and reverse-osmosis water can kill the “grains”. If you have chlorine in your tap water, leave the water outside uncovered for a day or two to allow the chlorine to evaporate)

·         ½ cup fresh fruit

 

If you buy the grains already activated, they will look like soft, gelatinous clumps, beige in colour. If you treat them right, and feed them correctly, they will multiply. You can reuse and reuse and reuse them again and again and again. If you bought them inactive, follow the package instructions on how to get them started.

 

1.    Start by filling one of your 2l containers or jars half-way with water (so 1l of water)

2.    To the water, add ¼ cup cane sugar or sugar mixture. You can also use honey, molasses, maple syrup, raw sugar, coconut sugar, basically anything containing fructose. Don’t worry about the amount of sugar – the kefir grains basically eat the sugar, removing it from the completed drink. Stir with a wooden spoon until almost all the sugar is dissolved.

3.    Add the water kefir grains and give it a gentle stir.

4.    If you choose to add fruit, add it now.

5.    Cover with a kitchen cloth, muslin cloth, or any other cloth covering that is thin enough for the mixture to breath but will still keep out bugs and other nasties.

6.    Let it sit on the kitchen counter for 2 to 3 days. If it is warm out, leave for 2 days and when it is cold for 3 days. If in doubt, taste the water. If it still tastes sweet, it is not ready yet. Kefir water that is ready will taste slightly tangy, even a bit sour. With practice you will get better at estimating how long to leave it out for.

7.    After 2 to 3 days the kefir water will have started to ferment a bit. Take your second jar and place 1 to 2 cups of fresh fruit in it. You can also add fresh herbs, edible flowers, and other aromatics such as ginger. Strain the fermenting kefir into this jar, being careful to save the grains. Cover the jar tightly with a lid, and leave out on the counter or window sill for another day, or until the kefir starts bubbling. If you use a metal lid, remember to “burp” the jar every 6 hours or so. The gas that is being produced creates pressure, and if enough pressure builds up the lid will be pushed open. Plastic lids work better as “burping” is not necessarily necessary.

8.    After a day, the fruit will float to the surface. Strain out the fruit, and chill the water kefir. Once chilled it is ready to drink! The used fruit can go straight to your compost heap. You can also leave the fruit in, but I find it makes the taste too overpowering after a while.

9.    The strained out kefir grains can be stored in a small jar in the fridge. Top with sugar water or extra kefir water, and remember to feed the grains at least one a week with a teaspoon of sugar if you don’t make a next batch soon. If you are going away on holiday or cannot make more kefir for a while, you can store them in the finished kefir juice for a week or two. After a few weeks, bring them out to room temperature and start making more kefir water again. If you want to grow your grains to have enough to give away, leave the grains in the sugar water on the counter. They grow faster at room temperature than in the fridge.

 

 Give it a try - you will fall in love with it!

Water kefir

Gut healing probiotic

Makes: 1 loaf

Name of image (title of post is fine)

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup water kefir grains
  • Two large containers or jars
  • Strainer
  • Kitchen towel
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ lemon
  • 1l water
  • ½ cup fresh fruit

Instructions:
  1. Start by filling one of your 2l containers or jars half-way with water (so 1l of water)
  2. To the water, add ¼ cup cane sugar or sugar mixture. You can also use honey, molasses, maple syrup, raw sugar, coconut sugar, basically anything containing fructose. Don’t worry about the amount of sugar – the kefir grains basically eat the sugar, removing it from the completed drink. Stir with a wooden spoon until almost all the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add the water kefir grains and give it a gentle stir.
  4. If you choose to add fruit, add it now.
  5. Cover with a kitchen cloth, muslin cloth, or any other cloth covering that is thin enough for the mixture to breath but will still keep out bugs and other nasties.
  6. Let it sit on the kitchen counter for 2 to 3 days. If it is warm out, leave for 2 days and when it is cold for 3 days. If in doubt, taste the water. If it still tastes sweet, it is not ready yet. Kefir water that is ready will taste slightly tangy, even a bit sour. With practice you will get better at estimating how long to leave it out for.
  7. After 2 to 3 days the kefir water will have started to ferment a bit. Take your second jar and place 1 to 2 cups of fresh fruit in it. You can also add fresh herbs, edible flowers, and other aromatics such as ginger. Strain the fermenting kefir into this jar, being careful to save the grains. Cover the jar tightly with a lid, and leave out on the counter or window sill for another day, or until the kefir starts bubbling. If you use a metal lid, remember to “burp” the jar every 6 hours or so. The gas that is being produced creates pressure, and if enough pressure builds up the lid will be pushed open. Plastic lids work better as “burping” is not necessarily necessary.
  8. After a day, the fruit will float to the surface. Strain out the fruit, and chill the water kefir. Once chilled it is ready to drink! The used fruit can go straight to your compost heap. You can also leave the fruit in, but I find it makes the taste too overpowering after a while.
  9. The strained out kefir grains can be stored in a small jar in the fridge. Top with sugar water or extra kefir water, and remember to feed the grains at least one a week with a teaspoon of sugar if you don’t make a next batch soon. If you are going away on holiday or cannot make more kefir for a while, you can store them in the finished kefir juice for a week or two. After a few weeks, bring them out to room temperature and start making more kefir water again. If you want to grow your grains to have enough to give away, leave the grains in the sugar water on the counter. They grow faster at room temperature than in the fridge.