Monday, 1 June 2015


In the last year or so we have enjoyed experimenting with water kefir, not to be confused with the yogurt-like milk kefir, usually called just kefir. And you may have seen kombucha at the grocery store, if you haven't tried or made it already. Kombucha is tea, fermented with sugar and a SCOBY 'mushroom,' whereas kefir is sugar water fermented with kefir grains, which consume most of the sugar in both cases. (Here is an explanation of the difference between water kefir and kombucha.) The fermentation process produces carbonation, and adds beneficial bacteria, yeasts, and B vitamins to the drink. It's nice to have a probiotic, fizzy, customizable alternative to just water, with minimal effort. Others find it a healthy switch from a soda habit. I have been able to find starter cultures (small, clear grains) on Etsy for a few dollars, and sugar and purified water is all that is needed to maintain it.

 Here is a quick tutorial of how to actually make water kefir (in a nutshell - grains + water + sugar + 24 to 48 hours on the counter, then flavor and ferment again!). I always use a tightly capped lid for both first and second fermentations, instead of a loose cloth as is sometimes recommended. This traps more carbonation and keeps the fermentation safer.

Our favorite flavors have been lemon (1/2 or whole juiced lemon), any berries (especially pureed strawberries), apple with clove and cinnamon sticks, elderberry (with berries leftover from making elderberry syrup), cream soda (vanilla), mock coca cola (vanilla, lime, and cinnamon, although I haven't gotten the ratio just right), and ginger. You can use any juice, cut up fruit, whole spices or dried fruit for flavoring, which I always do in a second ferment.

The fizziest kefir I've ever come up with was from juice concentrate, given to us by a friend. I suppose the extra fruit sugar in that really had an effect! It looks like real soda.

Although I like to fit cultured foods and fermented beverages like water kefir into our diet, I still consider a high quality probiotic supplement to be important. This gives a good foundation to other probiotics we encounter, such as in kefir, but doesn't leave such an vital part of our health and immunity to chance.

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