On water kefir: a home-brewed health tonic
|with dried mango and raisins|
Water kefir (pronounced keh-fear) is an effervescent, probiotic drink that is made with a culture of bacteria and yeast -- called 'kefir grains.' Simply put, it's water fermented by a mother culture (like kombucha). There are two types of kefir: water kefir (squishy, opaque grains that ferment sweetened water) and milk kefir (cream colored grains that ferment milk). Water kefir is especially beneficial to lactose-intolerant folks -- like me.
|water kefir grains|
Water kefir is so easy to make. In about a week, you will have a fizzy probiotic drink to enjoy! Here's a basic recipe:
- Nonmetal Strainer
- Wooden or Plastic Spoon
- 1/2 Gallon Mason Jar (with rubberband and cheesecloth or paper towel to cover it with)
- A couple of 12 oz. bottles with flip-top lids (mason jars with lids can also be used)
- 1/3 Cup of Water Kefir Grains (I bought my grains dehydrated at my local health food store)
- 3 Tablespoons Organic Raisins or Other Unsulphured Dried Fruit
- 1/2 Cup Organic Sugar
- 1/2 Organic Lemon
- 1 Thin Slice Fresh Ginger, Peeled
- 1 Quart to 1 1/2 Quarts Filtered, Chlorine-Free Water
- Dissolve sugar into water. Do not use honey in place of sugar. Honey has antimicrobial properties and will damage your water kefir grains or delay their proliferation.
- Add water kefir grains, raisins, half a lemon and slice of ginger to the mixture of sugar water in a 1/2 gallon mason jar.
- Allow your water kefir to brew in a mason jar covered with a piece of cheese cloth or paper towel fixed with a rubber band. Brew 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.
- Strain the water kefir grains, raisins, lemon, ginger from the water kefir and bottle the liquid into smaller containers.
- Allow the smaller containers to sit out for another 24 - 48 hours to continue fermentation and produce natural carbonation.
- Serve cold over ice and enjoy!
Water kefir is remarkably versatile. This basic recipe can be altered slightly to introduce different beneficial herbs or flavors to produce a wide array of probiotic beverages. Some people enjoy replacing the ginger with fresh mint, anise or cardamom while others replace raisins with figs. I’ve even used dried cherries for a lovely rose-hued water kefir.