Water Kefir? (Traditionally pronounced ke-feer, but often spoken as kee-fer in the West.) What language are you speaking? It is said the word Kefir comes from the Turkish word Keif describing a state of feeling good. This is a GREAT healthy drink that is overflowing with beneficial bacteria, comparable to a probiotic! It is SO easy to prepare and tastes great. If you let it ferment for long enough it gets a natural carbonation and my boys call it their “soda”! I’m tickled that they get so excited to have their “soda” as a treat and have no idea what everyone else thinks is soda! I have also made Kombucha with which kefir is often compared. I don’t prefer it as much as the kefir and I feel like the kefir is much easier to prepare and flavor as well. (I will post more on Kombucha later.)
I’m referring to water kefir in this post. There is milk kefir as well, but I haven’t tried that yet! Since dear ole hubby is intolerant to dairy, I’m planning on sticking with the water kefir so he can enjoy it as well. I do think the milk kefir is more versatile since it can be added to salad dressings, drink plain, good substitute for yogurt or buttermilk in recipes, and can even make a cheese similar to cream cheese. The milk kefir is usually a little bit more nutrient dense as well. I also have heard that the milk grains also culture pretty well in coconut milk if you are lactose intolerant. Something new to try one day, but I’m happy with what we are doing for the time being!
The kefir grains are put in a sugar water solution to ferment. It does become slightly alcoholic (usually significantly less than 1%), but not enough to make you tipsy unless you drink a few gallons of it! I especially enjoy this drink in the summer since it tastes great cold and can be flavored in so many ways! We often use blueberry juice, apple juice (sometimes freshly juiced) for extra sweet, or cranberry if up for something a bit tart (or trying to kick a urine infection) or lemon is a great new twist on lemonade!
In order to start the fermenting you first have to acquire grains. If you know someone who makes a lot of kefir, then their grains ought to be healthy and reproducing heartily. I’ve been able to share mine quite a few times. The more you use them, the more they grow!
A great resource is Cultures for Health. They sell all kinds of cultures and grains for all types of fermentation needs! 😉 They also have a wealth of information and FAQs about fermentation that I have found very helpful and I also have their ebook on kefir recipes which has some great ideas!
This is the basic recipe that I use which is tried and true and is a success every time!
Water Kefir Recipes:
1/3 Cup of Water Kefir Grains – or about that… more or less doesn’t really matter
1/3 Cup Organic Sugar (Yes, sugar.)
1 Quart of Water
1. Dissolve sugar into water. Do not use honey in place of sugar. Honey has antimicrobial properties and will damage your water kefir grains.
2. Add water kefir grains to the mixture of sugar water in a 1 quart mason jar.
3. Allow your water kefir to brew in a lidded mason jar at room temperature for 24 – 72 hours depending on the strength you prefer and the temperature of your home. The warmer your home is, the faster water kefir will brew.
4. Remove the grains
5. Allow to sit out on the counter after adding about 1/2 cup of your preferred flavor juice for another 36 hours to continue fermentation and produce natural carbonation.
6. Serve cold over ice and enjoy!
A couple variations on flavor I’ve come across are as follows:
- Three tablespoons raisins, half a lemon and a thin slice of ginger with the Kefir at the start of the fermentation process.
- Fresh mint, anise or cardamom
- Or instead of raisins use figs
- Cream Soda: add 2-3 tablespoons of vanilla
Drink up and be healthy!