I received water kefir grains (you can find them here) earlier this month and made coconut water kefir with the kids.
Kefir, both dairy and water, is especially wonderful because it’s so easy, and the many strains of beneficial bacteria work to restore your inner ecology.
Water kefir is a non-dairy probiotic beverage that can use any sort of sugary-liquid to culture; juice, coconut water, sugar water, and I’m sure there are others. The grains are, like kombucha, symbiotic colonies of beneficial organisms. When the grains are put in the sugary water, they grow and multiply, eating up the sugar in the liquid and leaving behind a tart taste, fizz, and probiotics!
Fascinating, isn’t it?
I especially love that kefir is so easy to make. You mix your sugar water or set out your juice, put in the grains, ignore for 24-48 hours, strain out the grains, and then it’s ready!
You can second-culture the kefir soda by bottling it, then allowing it to sit, sealed, for another 24-48 hours. During this time it becomes more carbonated as the lingering beneficial organisms continue to give off gas as a byproduct of metabolizing the sugar present in the liquid.
How does it taste?
It’s an acquired taste for sure, so was kombucha, but I was quickly hooked on that! You can add dried fruit and/or fruit juice to the water kefir before letting it rest the second time to sweeten and flavor.
Are you sure it’s safe?
Kelly talked about the possible alcohol content in water kefir. I am not an expert at all in alchol, but I would think there will be a small amount present in most fermented items. We wouldn’t want to drink excessive amounts of the water kefir, but I would guess that the probiotic benefits outweigh any alcohol risks associated with the kefir. Kefir is a traditional food, which means that it has been used for thousands of years.
Personally, I very rarely drink alcohol- just a couple times a year I’ll have half a glass of wine or half a beer or so. I prefer to not be affected by alcohol, and I have no problem with drinking a small glass of water kefir a day, especially mixed with fruit juice and with a meal.
Your opinions will vary, and I wanted to present this information to you so you could make your own opinion. I personally think that water kefir is a great soda alternative for our family!
How we made our first batch
To make our first batch of water kefir, we used the water from coconuts. I had been wanting to try making our own coconut milk (more on that coming next week) and I thought it would be fun to use the coconut water to make our first batch of water kefir.
When we received the water kefir grains they were dehydrated, we re-constituted them in sugar water for 3 days. You see my kombucha scoby sitting under a napkin as well- as advised to prevent mixing the cultures we do our kefir and kombucha at opposite sides of the kitchen.
First we poked holes in the eyes of coconuts and let the milk drain out. After reading, I read that these lighter colored coconuts likely had been treated with fungicide! Yuck! So I scrubbed them, especially around the eyes, too. Next time I’ll try to find organic coconuts, or at least ones that are a nice coconutty brown.
We drained the now reconstituted water kefir grains and placed them in a quart of coconut water (5 coconuts were required for one quart of water- sugar water or juice is a much simpler way to culture!). The sugar present in the coconut water is enough for the water kefir to culture with. At this stage we just cover the jar with a cloth.
After 24 hours we removed the grains and set the water kefir out for another 24 hours, this time sealed, to become carbonated.
We have enjoyed the water kefir mixed with fruit in our smoothies.
I’ve also been reading The Body Ecology Diet, which has been reminding me of the amazing benefits of fermented foods like kefir have in the human body, something, sadly, our culture has gotten away from in the last few decades. I’ll have a book review as soon as I’m done.
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