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Water Kefir

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2010 by PickMeYard

Water kefir is our latest obsession.  We love it!  I  recently heard about it for the first time and I had to get some.  I wonder where it’s been all my life.

I find water kefir to be very, very interesting.  Some refer to it as “grains” and some call it “crystals” because that’s what they look like.  The water kefir culture is a mixture of friendly bacteria, yeast and water in a cute little compound.

Water kefir grains… really, really good-for-you bacteria.

The water kefir grains are  loaded with millions and millions of probiotics.  Probiotics kill off bad bacteria and are proven to be beneficial to your health.  A lot of people pay a lot of money to buy probiotic supplements in the stores.  They lose their effectiveness each day that they sit on a store shelf.  Water kefir grains are a fresh source of probiotics.

I researched for hours to find out where water kefir originates.  I’ve found stories about it coming from Mexico, the Caucasus Mountains, Tibet and England.  I’m not sure what to believe.  I do believe that it has been around for centuries… maybe even dating back 1,ooo years.

Are you wondering what to do with them?  The water kefir grains are added to water and sugar.  The grains eat the sugar and create a delicious, carbonated, lacto-fermented drink.  It’s basically a homemade soda.  If we add vanilla, it turns into a cream soda.  Our favorite flavor is ginger-ale made with our backyard-grown ginger.  We also really enjoy it when it’s fermented with dried prunes.  Sometimes, we like to add a slice of Meyer lemon from our tree (we know there are no pesticides on it which would kill the kefir grains.)  

This brew was fermented with dried prunes, dried currants, dried cranberries and dried raisins. The color varies depending on what is in it.

Water kefir grains require maintenance.  They need non-chlorinated water and sugar about every 2 days.  I try to filter my grains out of my current brew and add them to a fresh batch of water and sugar every day.   They always stay at room temperature on my counter, not in the refrigerator.  The grains need oxygen to grow, so the top of the container should only be covered with a paper-towel or cheese cloth and secured with a rubber band.

Jars with fermenting water kefir grains, sugar, dried fruit and water in them. They’re covered with cheese cloth so they can breathe. They are placed in pans with water to keep out ants…just in case.

Once the grains are filtered out of the beverage, then it can be put in the refrigerator.  It’s really refreshing when it’s cold.  If we want to make a really bubbly drink out of it, we leave it at room temperature in an air-tight container for about 1-2 days.  (The kefir grains have been strained out of it at this point and will be used to start a new brew).  I’ve had it produce so much carbon dioxide that the bottle popped like champagne when I opened it.  The fizz hit the ceiling.  My family laughed, but I wasn’t laughing with them.  I had to clean it up,  though it did taste yummy. 

The water kefir grains  grow and mulitply like crazy.  My son has already started a science experiment with his share.  I’ve given some of my extra grains to friends and family and I’m starting to do my own experiments with it. 

My grains love dried fruit.  I make sure it’s unsulphured (sulphur is anti-bacterial) and preservative-free.  We never ferment the grains with honey either.  Honey is an anti-bacterial.  The honey could be added to the drink when the grains have been removed.  I try to use sugar that is made from dried sugar cane juice.  The grains love that too.  I’ve recently started adding a few drops of trace minerals and a smidge of liquid coral calcium to my brew.  This has to be one nutritious drink!

Almost every website that mentions water kefir on the internet says that it shouldn’t come into contact with metal.  That means no metal spoons, containers or filters.  However, Dom’s Kefir website says that he can find no evidence that metal damages the grains.  Dom’s website has a wealth of information on kefir… it’s my favorite. 

I’ve found several recipes for making water kefir.  I’ve been sticking to 4 cups (1 quart) of non-chlorinated water and 1/3 cup of sugar.  I don’t measure my grains, but I’m probably adding about a 1/4 cup of them.  The grains feed off the sugar to produce lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol) and carbon dioxide.  The grains look like they’re alive as they move around the container.  The CO2 gets trapped in the grain and they float.  When the bubble escapes, the grains fall to the bottom.  The longer the kefir ferments, the more folic acid it will have… and alcohol.  It can have from .5% – 2% alcohol depending on how it’s made.  Increasing the sugar, dried fruit and fermentation time will increase the alcohol content.  Brewing it in an air-tight container will also increase the alcohol content. 

I ordered my first batch of water kefir grains from Marilyn Kefirlady.  She also sells the dairy kefir grains, which are an entirely different culture.  I paid $15, plus $5 shipping.  It’s been worth every penny to us.

The best part is… the grains last forever.

Come grow with us!

*Note to Lynne – please contact me again.