by Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist on May 6, 2010
A few weeks ago, I video blogged about how to make homemade milk kefir. Today’s videoblog shows you how to make delicious, bubbly water kefir sodas! Water kefir grains look different and grow much faster than milk kefir grains. You should be able to procure some within your local community by asking around amongst your health conscious friends or at the healthfood store and farmers markets. If you still cannot find any locally, you can order some from Cultures for Health.
Water kefir grains produce many beneficial strains of bacteria and yeasts that aggressively recolonize the gut by destroying pathogenic strains that may have gained dominance over the years through the use of antibiotics, other drugs, and a diet of processed foods. To make, add 1/4 cup water kefir grains to 1 quart of filtered water mixed with 1/4 cup of sucanat, rapadura, or maple sugar. Leave on the counter for 48 hours minimum. Taste after 48 hours and if it is too sweet, leave for another 24 hours. Repeat for up to 5 days until the a fermented, apple cider type flavor with minimal sweetness has been achieved. You may now strain out and refrigerate the liquid (no metal please), clean the mason jar, and repeat the process for a new batch of water kefir. You will have approximately double the kefir grains as they grow rapidly with each batch. You can give them away, eat them as a live probiotic, or make a larger batch.
To add variety, you may also reduce the sugar to 1/8 cup, reduce the water to 3 cups, and add 1 cup of fresh fruit juice. Juice from the store is almost always pasteurized and as such, is not recommended as it significantly increases the risk of mold. Fresh juice has minimal mold issues when fermented and is much more nutritious, and is therefore best to use. If using fresh lemon or lime juice, keep the sugar at 1/4 cup and only use 1/2 cup fresh juice.
After fermenting, you may bottle the liquid to achieve soda pop carbonation if desired. See the video for the types of bottles I use. Only fill the bottles to the bottom of the neck and leave on the counter for 24-48 hours. Chill well and open slowly over the sink as the level of carbonation is quite surprising! To store your culture, place up to 1/2 cup water kefir grains in 1 quart of filtered water mixed with 1/4 cup sucanat, rapadura, or maple sugar and refrigerate until you are ready to use again.
Please comment with any unique recipes you have developed yourself and any questions you may have.