I am obsessed with all things fermented. I just recently woke up my kefir grains that were stored in the back of my fridge. Pronounced KEE-FUR. I use to make it every couple of days- then I mastered kombucha which has a slower rhythm than kefir and just got into a comfortable pace….then I stopped drinking and my desire for beverages other than water crept up. Kombucha rolls around every 8-10 days and I have a pretty good rhythm going, when to make the brew while a finished brew is doing a 2nd ferment and I have cold kombucha in the fridge; kefir takes a short 2-3 days (!) and only a quick 2nd ferment, again about 1-2 days before its ready to go! I have been mixing mine with hibiscus tea, lemon juice, and drinking it on its own.
- Water kefir is not the same as Dairy Kefir, it is also known as Tibicos and it is believed to have originated in Mexico.
Kefir is referred to as “grains” but they aren’t grains at all, but a living matrix of yeast and bacteria that look more like crystalline mini lumps. You can press them between your fingers and they will mush, I don’t know why you would want to do that, but that is the texture to them. I love these little guys. It has become such a pleasure to nurture them and to drink their gifts! They live off of sugar, so by the time they have eaten through the sugar in the water, mostly what is left is converted to glucose and fructose, and what you drink, has about as much sugar as one green apple. They are FILLED with healthy probiotics which helps promote a healthy belly. Water kefir is a fermented food that is easy to make and enjoy. You can also make an entirely sugar free non-dairy kefir drink by instead of using sugar water, you use raw, living coconut water and let that sit for a couple of days. The end result is almost a champagne like, mildly sweet, effervescent healing tonic!
Fermented foods are known for their anti-aging and cancer fighting properties. “Kefir also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir, which can dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body. They do so by protecting the mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside, forming an army that cleans up and strengthens your intestines. The body becomes more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E. coli and intestinal parasites.” -www.tibicos.org
All it takes is about 48 hours before you are ready to enjoy your first batch of kefir.You can drink this liquid after straining out the grains (now ready for another fresh batch of sugar water) or you can opt to do a second ferment which creates more gas, creating a soda like drink. I love making mine fizzy, this happens by using an air tight bottle of some sort, like an italian swing top glass bottle, Grolsch bottles or any hermetically sealed container. You can flavor it at this point with fruit juice, ,or fresh fruit, or with italian soda flavors- it really is like soda! I find Water Kefir to be more accessible than kombucha initially but that could just be me.
You can’t grow kefir grains without having them! SO you either have to purchase them or be lucky enough to be given some. I am planning on having a kefir party soon but I am serious about my grains, don’t ask me for any unless you plan on committing to them! They are such a blessing!!!
The good news about kefir is that if you are not feeling it or start to get overwhelmed, you can put them in some sugar water and put them in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, where they will go to sleep (become less active) until you are ready to start them up again. Any longer than that, I would suggest dehydrating them.
What you will need to set up your Kefir Kitchen:
- one or two 1 quart glass mason jars or bell jars (the grains don’t like metal and they shouldn’t ever come into contact with any stainless steel or other metal utensils)
- 4-6 hermetically sealed bottles
- fine mesh plastic strainers (get a set of several sizes)
- sugar- they love sucanat but this makes for a heavier tasting brew, no honey (disinfectant qualities kills off the grains) no agave (low glycemic index), I use organic sugar, they LOVE it, it’s is really inexpensive, and makes a light tasting finished product.
- cotton bandana- to cover the jar on the first ferment- the fermenting process needs air but the sugar water attracts ALL SORTS of critters, so you want to keep them from raiding your brew. (and yes those are SoulCycle Bandanas :> )
- rubber band to secure the bandana around the lip of the jar.
- one set of plastic measuring spoons
Basic Water Kefir:
1/4c water kefir grains
4c fresh water
1T dried fruit- I use Goji Berries and fresh ginger, but have tried figs (love), apricots, raisins (not a fan)- the grains LOVE dried fruit, and I notice it gets them more fizz lovin’ but it could just be me- you can choose leave them out entirely.
Dissolve the sugar in a clean glass mason jar- make sure that the water has cooled down if using warm/hot water to help dissolve the sugar crystals (don’t cook the kids!) Add in the grains, the dried fruit and cover with a clean cotton cloth and secure it with a rubber band. Let this sit in a place unmoved for 2 days away from direct sunlight…and on the 2nd day, get ready to rock your Kefir.
The grains will keep on keepin’ on as long as you care for them- feed them! If you notice your grains aren’t producing, or reproducing (which they will do and you get to be the revered sponsor to prospect-ful kefir makers of your choosing!), you can do a single feeding of molasses or sucanat, both of which are sugars with their minerals intact. This will give the grains a boost of nutrition, and then you can go back to your regular sugar water. Also adding a pinch of pink sea salt offers up perfect mineral nutrition.
I will post recipes as I make them. But one recipe to get you started is SO SIMPLE and probably my favorite…
Water Kefir Lemonade
4c 1st fermented water kefir (grains strained).
1/4c fresh lemon juice
Drink immediately! You can 2nd ferment the kefir after removing the grains for a couple of days and then add the fresh lemon for a spikey, bubbly lemonade or fizzy Lemon soda!!!
THIS IS THHHHHEEEEEE BEST!!