Monday, January 17, 2011

My Water Kefir






                                      



The small soft, crystal-like “grains” are symbiotic colonies of bacteria that have different microbes than milk kefir grains. I am working on including more lacto-fermented foods in our daily regime, eventually to every meal. Water kefir is one of the many products I can serve to meet that goal. With everything being so processes, pasteurized and ulta dead, our gut flora is suffering. I believe this to be the root of many reoccurring illnesses and is what is keeping us from healing completely.

This probiotic beverage is an extremely simple way to increase beneficial bacteria, helpful enzymes and improve digestion.  You can flavor it to your liking, I have found a good place to start is with grape juice, a widely preferred flavoring.  A quart bottle of grape juice lasts us through 2 gallons of water kefir.  The sugar that is used in both the recipe and in the juice is eaten by the bacteria in the kefir grains, the byproduct is lactic acid, a natural preservative.

I have not drunk pop in years and  have never been a fan of other carbonated beverages.  Even though water kefir is only slightly carbonated, it took a little while for me to acquire a taste for it.  If you don’t like it at first, do some experimenting with flavors, fermentation time, increase the amount of sugar to water/ grain ratio.  Also, keep in mind, a serving is only 2 – 4 ounces and like anything else, your taste buds can acclimate over time.

If you are into more carbonation, purchasing some flip top bottles can make a big difference in your water kefir experience.  I don’t even know if that is what they are technically called, one is pictured above.  I got mine at IKEA for about $3-4.  These are strong and durable, as well as attractive, easy to use and air tight.

The directions are simple once you have seen the process.  It takes very little hands on time to create, it does all the hard work it’s self.  The healthier your grains are, the better the end product will be.  The grains love minerals and sugar and hate chemicals and metal.  Well water is the best, I use reverse osmosis and add a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt, which is full of minerals.  An eggshell also adds minerals.  The less refined your sugar, the more minerals it has, but if you are not used to the flavor of unrefined sugar, you may not like the end result as well and what good is a healthy beverage if nobody drinks it?

¼ cup grains
½ cup sugar
7 cups water
1 pinch Celtic Sea Salt
½ clean egg shell (optional)

2 cups grape juice
more sugar to taste

Heat 1 cup of water and ½ cup sugar on stove, stir to dissolve.  Place in half gallon jar and fill to with in 3 inches of the top with room temperature to cool water.  Add a pinch of sea salt and water kefir grains.  Stir gently with wooden spoon. Dunk egg shell in the sweetened water.  Cover lightly with towel and let chill on your counter for 1-4 days.  The warmer your house is, the less time you will leave it for.  You may want to date it so that you don’t loose track of the days.

If you are ever unsure if your grains are working properly taste it before you add the grains and again a couple days later, it should be noticeably less sweet after fermenting for two days.  When you have super healthy grains, they will multiply like gang busters. So you will know that too.  Remember to improve their health they need minerals, sugar and no chemicals or metal.

You can taste for the sweetness of your liking or just guess and adjust the sweetness later.  I tend to guess and give it attention between 1 and 2 days.  At this point, remove the egg shell and funnel the water kefir equally into 2 flip top bottles, eyeballing it.  Hold a small strainer or just a silicone spatula to prevent the grains from flowing into the bottles.  You don’t have to be tedious here, just get most of the liquid out while keeping most of the grains in.  Store your grains in the fridge or start another batch of water kefir

Top the bottles off with grape juice to the shoulder of each bottle and ferment for another day.  It is really ready to drink any time in this process, but I prefer to refrigerate it over night before popping it open.  The beverage still has microscopic bits of water kefir grains in it that will continue fermenting slowly in the fridge.  Be careful when opening after a couple days.  The pressure can build and it will fizz out like a bottle of pop that has been dropped when you open it.

Because it continues to ferment after removing the visible grains, you can also top your bottle off with more juice after it is partly drunk or you can add more sugar if too much sugar has been consumed by the friendly bacteria.

Hope that gives you enough to get started.  Feel free to ask questions in the comments.  In the future, I will turn it into a question and answer page that will be a good resource for others.  I will continue to mail water kefir grains by request ;$12 for 2 teaspoons, which will rehydrate to ¼ cup. Free shipping. Cash, check or paypal.  Email me at TasteisTrump@gmail.com.





40 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing about your water kefir! :) I will add the link to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays when it's up. :)

    I have made water kefir in the past, but since we're not accustomed to drinking soda or fruit juices (or anything other than water!) on a regular basis, we didn't use it fast enough. :)

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  2. I love my water kefir! One of my favorite ways to flavor it is with vanilla and a fews star anise. :)

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    1. I really like your flavor idea! But I like to do a second ferment for fizz, how would that that work if I used your idea for flavoring?
      Thanks

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    2. This recipe includes a second ferment for fizz. After you strain the grains and add the juice, you leave it out at room temperature for a second ferment

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  3. Interesting...made me wanna give it a try. :) Never had these before.

    I'm having the very first GIVEAWAY on my blog. Please stop by to submit an entry. Best of luck!

    http://utry.it/2011/01/happy-birthday-to-meand-very-first.html

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  4. Thanks for this information. Oh how I miss IKEA!

    So white sugar should work with water kefir grains? I haven't had any luck with that - only sucanat and sugar mixed. I'd like to get away from the sucanat if I can because I don't have a good source for sucanat.

    Thanks!

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  5. Yes, white sugar works fine with my grains. I have also used turbinado and molasses with excellent results. Maple syrup and coconut sugar should work also. Honey does not because of it's antibacterial properties.

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  6. Just wondering if you still have the kefir grains to sell. I am intereted-thanks

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  7. What does water kefir taste like? Is it similar to kombucha (didn't like that)?

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  8. I still have grains for sale. Email me how you would prefer to pay and we can set it up.

    Kami, I have never had kombucha, but don't care for tea, so I can't imagine I would like it either. If you have ever had anything truly lacto fermented, water kefir will have a familiar taste. It is slightly yeasty and sour, but the flavor is different depending on what you add to it.

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  9. Hi Kara, finding the grove with lacto-fermentation definitely benefits your health! I make kombucha and lime whey soda weekly and love both. I haven't worked with kefir, but I know eventually I will try it. I also make kimchee, sauerkraut and other fermented veggies and fruits. Love it! Thanks for sharing this on the hearth and soul hop and I am going to feature it on my hop highlights on thoughts on friday at a moderate life so folks can see how easy it is to add in some good lactobacteria to their diet! all the best and stop by friday! Alex

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  10. Awesome! Thanks so much for the link, always appreciate those. I really need to get into doing more vegetables. The trick for me is learning what tastes normal. When I have fermented mine in the past I can't help but worry if I have done it wrong and I am feeding my family rotten food.

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  11. Kara,
    I started my 1st batch of water kefir tonight (thank-you!), after I had just gone to Ikea and didn't remember the bottles. UGH! Do you have any other suggestions for bottles that would work?

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  12. My friend uses regular mason jars with tight fitting plastic lids. I think Ball makes them and they carry them at Walmart. I think they moved all their canning supplies to the grocery section. Hope that helps, I hate finding stuff in that store.

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  13. If you've ever smelled beer, that is what kombucha tastes like (never tasted beer, just smelled it). It tasted disgusting to me but my husband didn't mind it. I just wondered if water kefir was similar to that. Maybe if I decide to buy some (which I am thinking I will, because I'm removing dairy for a bit and am going to stay away from milk kefir, sadly) can I try a taste of yours first?

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  14. There is a slight beer taste, which is from the yeast. You are welcome to try some first.

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  15. If I'm using well water do I still need to add the sea salt? Thanks!

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  16. No, that is just to add minerals to RO water.

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  17. Other "recipes" I have looked at actually use lemon and dates in the fermentation with the grains. Have you tried this? Or is it better to flavor after you ferment the kefir? Also, as to the alcohol content have you had trouble with this and little ones. I would love to give water kefir to my kids regularly, but am a bit concerned about any alcohol content.
    Thanks

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  18. I made my first batch and LOVE it! The only issue was I drank probably 16 oz in a morning and my 3 mo old had diarrhea all day and got a terrible diaper rash! I cut back to 3-4 oz a day and no problem since. I wish I could drink more though, I LOVE it!

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  19. Also, I was googling around trying to figure out if I felt good about giving the water kefir to my daughter with its alcohol content. Also, I'm doing a homemade probiotic class for a church group and want to be able to pass on info about this aspect of it.

    I found this link that discourages giving kombucha tea to children. http://www.happyherbalist.com/cautions.htm#Pregnant,_Nursing_and_children_under_the_age_of_4 Obviously water kefir is different, but the guy seemed to know his stuff, so I sent him this email.

    ...I saw that you suggest kefir and milk ferments for children. In your opinion is water kefir lumped in with the safe-for-children drinks? I do ferment it with a low sugar to grain ration and brew it for longer periods, which I've heard produces the lowest alcohol content, but I'd love to hear your opinion! Thank you so much!"

    He responded with:

    Water kefir has sugar and alcohol. The longer the ferment the lower the sugar but the higher the alcohol. Towards 2-3%.
    For children milk kefir is far superior. As the milk sugar is better and lower alcohol (less than 0.5%) and beneficial minerals and acids and nutrients. Water kefir is better than soda, but know that more carbonation equals more alcohol.

    Happy Brewing,

    Ed Kasper
    HappyHerbalist.com
    eddy@HappyHerbalist.com

    But I really have a hard time believing my water kefir has close to the amount of alcohol as beer (I read average is 4% or so?)! Have you tested yours for alcohol content? I'm tempted to get a hydrometer but I'm too lazy so far! Any tips on how to make it the least alcoholic - short brewing times but what about the ratio of sugar to grains? More grains and less sugar? Thanks again for all your help!

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  20. I have used lemon and dates, which is good too. I am constantly playing around with it.

    Rachel, Thanks for sharing that email here.

    The way I understand it is that all fermented foods contain some alcohol. The normal amount is around .08 or less (for a 48-hour ferment). Because water kefir contains bacteria (and not just yeast like beer or wine) the amount of alcohol it can produce is limited by the acetic bacteria which convert the alcohol to beneficial acids.

    I do keep the quantities small, though I have heard of people who drink huge amounts and claim big health benefits. I will have to get a hold of a breathalyzer and do my own testing.

    Kelly the Kitchen Kop did her own testing. Read about it here; http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2009/10/kefir-sodaan-alcoholic-beverage-real-food-wednesday.html

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  21. Hi Kara- okay so I'm super frustrated! I tried the kefir again- actually have been brewing non-stop for over a month to try to get the grains as healthy as possible and I can never get it to be fizzy! The only way we want to drink it is if it is actually fizzy, so we have wasted almost every batch I've made so far :(

    It is so strange- I follow the directions exactly, and it even looks as though it will be bubbly, grains are healthy because they are multiplying, but we just can't get actual fizz!

    My question is, what is the purpose of "lightly covering" the jar in the initial fermentation stage? I am wondering if I made it airtight at that stage too if it would be more bubbly? The only other thing that may be wrong is my water- I boil it and then let it cool because that is the recommendation from Cultures for Health if you don't have a good filter...

    Sorry for the long comment I just really want this to work!

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  22. Bummer! I don't have any more tips. Once in a while mine doesn't fizz right away, but after a few days unopened in the fridge it builds up.

    Is your house really cold? Everything takes longer to ferment in the cold. Are you using jars with lids or flip top bottles? The top should give a nice "pop" when you take it off. Check it once a day and if it doesn't pop, leave it out longer.

    All the water kefir recipes I have seen cover loosely for the first ferment, so I wouldn't think it is that, you could give it a try though.

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  23. House is fairly cold (around 68-70 degrees) but will probably get warmer soon, but I have been allowing the maximum ferment times. I guess I can try keeping it in the fridge for awhile longer. I got the Ikea flip top bottles because I wanted it to be perfect but it is not turning out that way!

    I got a little burnt out and put the grains in the fridge in some sugar water while I'm on vacation- that is okay right? How do you store them when you're not using them?

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    1. Everything I've heard is that the second ferment is done outside the fridge. The fridge is going to be colder and slow down fermentation a ton. From what I've heard 72-78 is ideal so even your house temp is a bit low...maybe there is a warmer area or your house you could use? Either that or you can make and area warmer somehow...Cultures for health has several youtube videos and a live chat that is open quite a bit you should check it out.

      culturesforhealth.com

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    2. Everything I've heard is that the second ferment is done outside the fridge. The fridge is going to be colder and slow down fermentation a ton. From what I've heard 72-78 is ideal so even your house temp is a bit low...maybe there is a warmer area or your house you could use? Either that or you can make and area warmer somehow...Cultures for health has several youtube videos and a live chat that is open quite a bit you should check it out.

      culturesforhealth.com

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    3. 72-78 is Ideal from my reading and also second fermentation is better done outside the fridge in temps around 72-78. Lower temps like 68-70 might slow or stop the process. The temperature might be your main issue. Check culturesforhealth.com and their Youtube channel for answers. They also have a live chat support you can use to ask questions.

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  24. Yes, sugar water in the fridge is the way to store them. I will keep my ears open for any more tips for you. I am stumped. Sorry.

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  25. are the grains you are talking about the same as the kefir starts that i make my own kefir with? Just use water????

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  26. Dairy kefir grains are different than water kefir grains, though I have hear some people have success changing dairy grains over to culture water.

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  27. Kara, My first batch carbonated perfectly but the second two batches haven't had any carbonation and have been kind of thick. Strange. Are the health benefits still there without carbonation? I teach the church class tomorrow on it!

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  28. Did you use a thicker juice like pineapple or orange? Even when not carbonated, it has all the great benefits. Have fun with your class!

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  29. i tested my water kefir with litmus paper and it's red, PH3.0....can u tell me if this is acidic or alkaline forming in the body? that it's much like apple cider vinegar..acidic in nature, but it forms alkaline ash in the body?

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  30. Body Ecology, a company that promotes kefir says that it is alkaline forming in the body.

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  31. I think I have killed my dairy kefir grains. Can they be restored? I stored mine in a cup or so of milk, changing it every ten days or so. The storage milk was very thick, and grains were then placed in three pints of fresh raw milk with cream, left on the counter in a warm room for two days and just didn't get thick much and taste okay but only a little sour.Can you advise?

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  32. They probably just need to go through a couple more cycles to wake them back up. This is common after storing them for a while.

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  33. I had a problem with getting it to fizz at first too, then I realized that the juice I was adding had sulphites. Now I add juice that is all natural and it's fizzing like crazy. I also put a heating pad on low in my cupboard with the kefir since my house can get pretty cold. It's all doing great now.

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  34. What causes the small sedimentds in the bottom of the jar during the 2 nd fermentation and is it safe to drink ? It is almost powdery. How much is safe to drink everyday and should a break be taken from drinking it?

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It's rude to eat and run. Humor me with conversation please!

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