A few months ago I started getting interested in probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that are essential to your health. Probiotics can help balance your gut flora, which in turn can help keep you healthy and even reduce allergies. A lot of people turn to yogurt for probiotics, but I didn’t want to ingest so much dairy so I knew I had to find a good source of probiotics that didn’t involve dairy. I looked into commercial probiotics (Bio-kult was the best commercial probiotic I could find) but they are more expensive than I thought I’d like to spend. I did some research and came across something called water kefir.
What is Water Kefir?
Water kefir is a probiotic drink that is made with water kefir grains. To get started, you do have to invest in good quality water kefir grains. I bought mine from the source above. Water kefir is fermented for a few days, which allows the good bacteria to populate in the sugar water solution. Water kefir allows you to introduce your gut to different strains of probiotics without consuming dairy. Water kefir helps keep your gut flora healthy and will help even out any imbalances. Much of our food today is pasteurized so it’s hard for the body to get the probiotics it needs through food.
How to Make Water Kefir
Water kefir is very easy to make. You need the following supplies:
-1 Glass quart jar
-A few pint mason jars
-Water kefir grains
-A plastic strainer
-Organic sugar plus unsulphured molasses (or Sucanat)
-A hankie or breathable cotton cloth
-Spring or mineral water
The first step is to sterilize the jar you are using to make your water kefir. After this is done and the jar has cooled, you want to dissolve 1/3 cup of Sucanat or 1/3 cup of organic sugar plus 1 Tablespoon of unsulphured molasses in a pint of mineral or spring water. It’s very important to not use tap water, as the chlorine and flouride will damage your water kefir grains. When the sugar is dissolved into the water, add another pint of water to the solution. Pour your water kefir grains into your sterilized jar and cover them with the sugar solution. It is very important to not pour the sugar solution onto your water kefir grains until the water is about room temperature. If you pour hot water on your water kefir grains, you’ll kill them. Your jar should look like this:
You now want to cover it with a hankie or a breathable cotton cloth and store somewhere warm, so the water kefir grains can convert the sugar solution into the water kefir. The water kefir grains basically eat the sugar and turn it into kefir. Water kefir grains love minerals, so it’s important to use good quality water and sugar when making water kefir. I filter my water through my Berkey water filter , and use Sucanat (which is evaporated cane juice and contains the natural minerals not found in refined sugar).
After a few days, check your water kefir to see how it tastes. I pour a little into a glass and make sure not to contaminate the water kefir container. You’ll want it to not taste sweet because that means that the sugar has not all been converted yet. Sometimes you’ll find a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) that forms on the top of your water kefir. It will look like scum almost and you’ll want to make sure you don’t pour it in your jars. It’s not harmful, it’s just better left to help work on the next batch of water kefir.
If at any point you see mold or it smells funny, dump it out. It’s not worth getting sick over! When your water kefir tastes like all the sugar has been eaten by the water kefir grains, it’s time to bottle it for a second fermentation. I like to do a second fermentation so that I can add some flavors and get more carbonation. Sterilize the mason jars you’ll be using, and set them aside. When they are cool, you can pour 1/3 cup of organic juice in them and fill them 3/4 of the way up with the water kefir. Be careful not to let your water kefir grains go into the jars. This is where the plastic strainer comes in handy!
Another method is to use unsulphured dried fruit. Organic raisins, mango pieces, lemons, figs, or prunes are all good fruits to add to your water kefir. I just place a small piece of the dried fruit into the jars and then pour the water kefir in the jars. I’ve found that when you fill the jars 3/4 of the way full you have more fermentation than if you fill the jars. I like our water kefir bubbly and carbonated so it’s like drinking natural soda. If you don’t want the carbonation, you can fill your jars more.
Return the jars to a warm place and allow them to sit and ferment for another couple days. Be sure to check on them so they don’t get too carbonated. You don’t want your water kefir exploding! After about two-three days I remove my jars, test one of them, and then refrigerate them if they are to my liking. When the water kefir is in a warmer place, it tends to be ready faster.
After I bottle the water kefir for the second fermentation, I start another batch so I can have more kefir in a few more days! It’s an awesome cycle.
Learning how to make water kefir is very easy once you give it a shot. You’ll benefit from the probiotics, and it’s a wonderful natural soda alternative. Give it a try! It’s so much fun.