Friday, October 22, 2010

How to Make Water Kefir 101

Heard your friends or food bloggers talk about Water Kefir?  I'm on the starting line of water kefir making, so I thought you might want to join on with me as I learn the benefits and joys of water kefir! Also known as "healthy soda pop!" Water Kefir is a probiotic rich drink. The kefir grains, seen below, are actually symbiotic cultures of bacteria.  Similar benefits to yogurt- but in a fizzy homemade soda!

  Why drink Water Kefir?  For our immune system!  Did you know that 80% of your immune system is in your gut (ie: intestinal tract)?  To stay at tip top shape, especially during flu season,  we need to be eating and drinking foods rich in probiotics and enzymes.   The more probiotics we can take in through diet, the better our immune system can function and fight off pathogens.  To stay well- drink and eat more probiotic rich foods!

You Will Need:

Rinse your water kefir grains. Please only use a non-metal strainer. If you don't have one, simply place a cloth inside the strainer before placing the water kefir grains in for rinsing. Measure your 1/3 cup sugar and 1Tbslp Rapadura sugar.

Add to a quart jar 1/3 cup organic sugar
and 1 Tblsp turbinado sugar and yes it has to be sugar- the kefir grains eat up all the sugar- resulting in growing more kefir grains, so along the way you will eventually have enough grains to make several jars of water kefir.

Turbinado Sugar has more minerals and is less processed than even organic sugar. It feeds the grains better, but it's also coarser in texture so it's best not to use all of the sugar as this type or there will be sugar chunks remaining in the jar.

Fill up your jar with room temperature filtered or spring water. Please avoid using chlorinated water, as this will limit the kefir grains growth and may even kill them. You also need to make sure your water has minerals in it, you can add a clean washed and dried (pastured) egg shell to the water for a boost of minerals. The grains need minerals to survive (and it's better for you this way!)  I've found a source for spring water, and you can  find one too!

Then, add your rinsed water kefir grains to the sugar and water mixture in the jar. 

Here's what they'll look like on the bottom of the jar- yum sugar! But it's for the water kefir grains not you!

To add flavor, and help the kefir grains multiply, you want to add some dried fruit. The first way I learned, was to add dried apple (only a few pieces) to the jar.  This results in something similar to Apple Soda!  I've also used dried peaches, for peach soda! Apple is my favorite! Other's prefer to add dried cherries, or other fruits- just make sure they are not sulfur treated dried fruits.  Jenni at Nourished Kitchen, prefers to use lemons, raisins and ginger in her water kefir.  I would recommend only using lemon, after you have experience with making water kefir a few times, and have a backup supply of water grains.

Water Kefir is a great alternative to soda pops. It might take a few tastes or batches to get your tastebuds used to this alternative fizzy drink!  When I made it for the first time, it was a sweet treat to me, as I rarely consume sodas, which are detrimental to health and blood sugar levels. For more info about Water Kefir as an alternative to soda, you can visit Cheeseslave for her water kefir info. 

You'll need to keep it in a jar covered with a cloth for at least 24 hours. I then place a lid on it and put it in the  fridge. It then builds up CO2 with the lid on, and becomes fizzy like soda.  If you prefer, you can also place a lid on and leave it on the counter for an extra day. I'd rather not do this step because we prefer it not very fizzy.  You can later drain your grains out, or leave them in the jar. Keep them in the fridge in some sugar solution to keep them alive until your next batch!

What are some of your experiences with water kefir? Have you made it? What flavors do you like? What have you tried that didn't work?


Tiffanie said...

I've wanted to try this. Do you have a source you recommend to get the grains?
thanks! : )

Elizabeth said...

I'd recommend getting some from someone who has extra! You can network with others who have some here:

Or If you want to buy, you can buy from Cultures For Health, online.


Bastian said...

I have had problems with, that my water kefir keeps getting a white, sticky skin on the surface. Is that because I feed it with too much dried figs and raisins? Or is it because i dont have the slice of lemon that some people advocate for?

Is it important that i use mineral water, our danish tabwater is quite good, and the WK also made problems when I tried with mineral water... I try to keep expenses down.

And is the foam dangerous, to drink the water kefir witch have had this over fermentation? Can I reuse the grains?


Elizabeth said...

If your water quality is good, then by all means use it. The grains just need some minerals in the water, and not too many chemicals like chlorine- which is found in the tap water here in the USA.

The film is most likely from the figs- they have some natural fats in them that might make the coating that floats to the top. (Also if you drink it straight out of the could be from oils from your mouth....just a thought.)

The foam is probably ok to drink- but it also could be "scum" from the dates or figs. and the grains are probably just fine- I would just give them a gentle rinse and make a new batch.

Bastian said...

Thanks Elizabeth

I haven’t tested the waters but there is absolutely to taste of chlorine in it, so I will keep on with the tap water - and then maybe add the egg shell. The only problem is that it is impossible to get pasteurized eggs with shells in Denmark - if they are pasteurized we get them in small plastic cups. Can I use ecological eggs that I boil to kill bacteria?

I don't drink directly from the jar so it can't be that. Actually it's not foam, it is like a film or layer on top of it, but then the bubbles comes through it and create this fluffy old destroyed bubbles.

Just wanted to make sure it's not mold?

It also happened with raisin - I had a whole handful of them, maybe it’s too much, if it’s the fat that creates the film. But why white? And if it’s just fat from the fruit some of it have compressed to an almost hard and sticky consistence...?

The water looked fine the first five-six days, and it was when I wanted to change it the seventh day the problem came - can it stay too long? Some seem to say 24 hours, but mine is not finished eating at that time...

Thanks a lot,

Elizabeth said...

So are you leaving it out at room temp for 5-7 days? I've never left mine at room temp for that long. It could be the dates/raisins going bad?

I doubt it's mold, I would just skim it off the top- if your nose tells you it's not ok to drink then don't, but if it smells fine, its probably ok.

I know the white film you are talking about....this happens to my beet kvass, although it's from the liquid whey i'm assuming.

It could be minerals separating out from your drinking water too!

The bubbles are for sure from the fermentation though and are totally normal! Now that I think of it- the bubbles on mine kind of have a white foam around them too- especially if i've used fruit in the mix. I could see that foam turning in to a film if I left it out longer, I don't like a strong ferment,(and don't want alcohol in it) so I only leave mine out 24-48 hrs.

Aspiring Earth Mama said...

Elizabeth - do you have any more water kefir grains to ship? I don't know what happened to mine, but they're pretty much toast.

Elizabeth said...

I just got back in town and have to check the status of my grains! Hopefully they will perk right back up after being in the fridge for so long.

Aspiring Earth Mama said...

I think I revived mine... added some dried pineapple and they doubled in 48 hours... thank goodness. I was stressing!!

Elizabeth said...

Awesome! I'm going to try that :)! Mine always seemed to do better with dried fruit!

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