Hello fellow fermenter friends! Fall finally showed itself in San Diego over the weekend. The temperature has cooled off and the marine layer has made the day a little gray, but it’s a welcome change. Maybe I can finally break out my boots from hibernation?
I’m sitting in my home office and trying to remember how I discovered water kefir. I think I stumbled upon it when I was researching milk kefir. Anyway, all that matters is that it’s a probiotic rich soda like beverage that is simple to make and has mucho health benefits.
What is water kefir? In the book, “The Art of Fermentation”, by Sandor Katz he describes it as:
a versatile culture that can be used to ferment any carbohydrate-rich liquid. …Used to ferment sugar water with some fruit in it for flavor.
It’s basically a fermented beverage that uses a culture. The culture is called kefir grains and Sandor describes them as:
The culture – also known as tibicas or tibia, sugary water grains…- is a SCOBY, a symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast, which appear as small whitish translucent granules and grow quickly when fed regularly.
The water kefir grains consume the sugar and turn it into a probiotic, fizzy drink. Some people call it a Kefir Soda because adding fruit juice for secondary fermentation makes it super carbonated.
According to Julia Mueller who wrote the book, “Delicious Probiotic Drinks”, some of the health benefits of drinking Kefir Water are:
- Probiotic rich
- Hydrating and a good sport drink replacement
- Contains enzymes and minerals
- Reduces inflammation
- Eases digestive discomfort
- Helps relieve skin irritation
- Liver detox
How awesome are all those health benefits?! Water kefir is a staple in my home. We always have it readily available in the fridge and another one brewing on the counter. It is super versatile, because you can make it taste however you want. You can even make one that tastes like cream soda. It’s very simple to make and has a very short fermentation period (only 1 -2 days). You only need to buy the kefir grains once and you can make it for a lifetime.
When you purchase the kefir grains for the first time there will be instructions on how to rehydrate them and get them going again. I like this recipe because its easy to flavor. I purchased live water kefir grains from Amazon and they have been very healthy and have been producing water kefir for over a year now.
- ¼ Cup Water Kefir Grains
- ¼ Cup Brown Sugar
- ½ cap Liquid Minerals (optional)
- Quart Water
- Fill the mason jar half way with spring water, add the brown sugar and minerals and stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the kefir grains and top off with the rest of the water. Screw on lid and sit on counter for 48 hours.
- Strain the water kefir with a plastic or wooden strainer (they don't react well to metal) into a pitcher or mason jars and place in the fridge. Repeat this recipe to make another batch.
- Drink plain or add your favorite juice.
See my Water Keifr chart at the end of this post for different ratios of sugar, water and kefir grains needed for different size containers.
Water kefir grains require sugar and minerals to survive. Brown sugar has some minerals from the molasses but I noticed that if I don’t add in extra minerals, over time they start to break down. I add a capful of Ionic Tonic or a few drops of Trace minerals to my water kefir to keep it healthy. If you don’t want to buy minerals you can add a clean egg shell to it. The egg shell provides adequate minerals for the grains. Other variations include adding two dried figs and a slice of lemon to the basic recipe too. I have used this method before and it works well.
If you want a clearer water kefir use organic cane sugar, but be sure to add minerals to the water solution or the grains will become weak.
Kefir Soda – Secondary Fermentation
To make water kefir into a fizzy soda add 1 cup of 100% fruit juice for every 4 cups of water kefir. Place in a mason jar, screw on the lid and let sit on the counter for 24-48 hours.
Over time the water kefir grains will multiply. You can split them up to make different batches, give them away to friends or put them in smoothies to give it a probiotic boost. You can also feed them to your dog or put them in your garden.
Water Kefir Chart Makes It Easy
I created a chart of the ratios of grains, sugar and water needed for various size containers. I keep this on my fridge for quick reference and it helps a ton. You can download a pdf of the Water Kefir Chart yourself to print or save later. Or pin it to a board for later.
Let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy!
Resources and products I use:
The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor Katz
Delicious Probiotic Drinks, by Julia Mueller
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