Pages

11/29/11

Water Kefir!


It's a healthy, delicious, fizzy drink. Full of probiotics & enzymes. It's also frugal & simple! I have 2 half gallon jars going at all times, so I got into the habit of making it daily, and we were able to stop buying soda for a while. I'm not able to do it daily now that the weather is cooling off. The grains seem to like it a little warm, and work slower when it's cooler. My children don't drink soda, but my husband & I are trying to break our soda habit. We like water kefir because not only does it help us break free from that, it's also very healthy!

I thought you might like to see just how simple it is, so I'm going to take you through the process. Here you can see a half gallon canning jar with the water kefir grains in some sugar water. It's been sitting here for at least 24 hours. I received my grains from a friend, already hydrated. I've heard you can buy dehydrated grains via the internet. Apparently, if you go that route, it takes a time or two of going through this process to wake the little guys up. Mine was ready to go, as my friend sent them in sugar water, in 3 zip baggies, priority mail. So they weren't in there long, and nothing leaked. You can find sources for buying them online. Just do a quick search.


Basically, the water kefir grains live in sugar water, and eat the sugar. Then you strain them out, and use the liquid to make a fermented drink. You return the grains to more sugar water & repeat.

Water kefir grains do not like metal, so use all plastic utensils & tools for them! After some trial & error, I've found a few items that really help out. They make this simple process even quicker & easier! I had to purchase them through Amazon, as they were not available locally for me. I recently added an Amazon store to my blog, so I'll show which ones I use & link to them. At minimum, you need a plastic strainer, and something to catch the liquid & pour it into the jars. The half gallon jar and the strainer were the only things I purchased to start with, and I just used a bowl & small canning jars that I already had on hand. Then after a few weeks I got the canning jar funnel & a better bowl. The new items have helped a lot, but you can begin with just a plastic strainer & a glass jar!


Start with a half gallon canning jar, and put in 1/3 cup of sugar. I use organic sugar, but have read that any sort will work. Originally, I was using more than 1/3 cup of sugar (I used an amount I found on the internet) and my grains were sluggish, and my second ferment wasn't getting fizzy. I played around with it a bit & found through trial & error that I was using too much. I guess since these grains are alive, different grains need different amounts of sugar. So, just see what your grains like!





 Put the sugar in, then add 2 bottles of water.













Water kefir grains do not like chlorine or fluoride. I have a PUR filter for now, and until I get a better water purification system, I think my grains are better off with bottled water, even though it's not completely free from either. It's not ideal, but it's better than my filtered water for now. So, I put in 2 bottles, then stir vigorously to dissolve all the sugar. You wouldn't want your grains getting beat up during that process!








After the sugar is dissolved, add your grains to the jar. The canning funnel is helpful in several steps, but THIS is the step I actually bought it for! So helpful. And I should have had this handy gadget on hand anyway. You probably already do!











Next, add some of the third bottle of water. Not all of it though, as you want some headspace in here. If you're not using bottled water, follow the same process, just fill the jar a little more than half-way after putting the sugar in, stir till dissolved, put the grains in, then add more water.











Now the grains are ready to eat most of the sugar from the water. Let them sit on the counter for a day or two. After a while, you'll see the grains zooming up to the top, and floating back down to the bottom. There are different schools of thought on tightening the lid. I think it depends on your grains. Experiment & see how they respond. Mine seem to like it tightened in the very beginning, but then loosened after a couple hours. A friend swears that hers only do well with the lid completely tightened throughout. Mine zing around the jar more when it's looser, so I think they like it that way! In the summer, mine are ready for the next step after 24 hours. Now that it's getting cooler, it's more like 48 hours. I haven't had my grains through a winter yet, but I expect them to slow down even more.


The jar on the right has been resting on the counter for a day or two & is ready to go through fermentation. The one on the left is about to sit for a day or two. It contains fresh sugar water & the grains haven't eaten the sugar yet.You can see how the water is clearer in the jar that's been sitting for 24 to 48 hours. The water kefir grains have eaten most of  the sugars! You can see a few of the grains have risen to the top, but I wasn't able to capture their movement on my camera.








A note about my nifty red bowl: I tried several different kitchen items (bowls & measuring containers) around my house before finally purchasing my Pourfect bowls. I don't often spend a lot of money on kitchen items that do something simple. But since this became a daily thing for me, and my husband kept urging me to get them, I finally did. I really wish I hadn't waited so long, and he teases me daily about it, ha ha! I rarely give glowing reviews for kitchen items, or urge friends to purchase them. They're usually just not THAT big of a deal, and I like to be frugal about such things & encourage others to be as well. But these things are the bomb. They really do NOT drip, they have a non-slip ring on the bottom, and measuring marks along the inside. Since buying them, I use them several times every day! You don't hold the handle, you put your entire hand under it (see pouring pic below). Because you're using your arm, not your wrist, you have so much more control over holding the bowl and it saves your wrist from the weight & strain. Didn't sound like a big deal to me, but wow, is it ever! (Disclaimer: I signed up with Amazon as an associate, and I put this item in my store. So, yes, I suppose I could benefit from recommending it. But, I recommended it to people before signing up, and would honestly be recommending it even if I couldn't benefit).


So back to the project at hand... Set up the strainer over the bowl & pour out the contents of the jar.


Rinse the grains under purified cool water, and set them aside for now.

To the liquid in the bowl, add some fruit juice. We use coupons to build our food storage, and have gotten some great deals on non-organic 100% juice. So, we're using several flavors & brands of store-bought juice. I guess it makes my water kefir a little less healthy, but my budget currently requires it. Hey, I'm just keepin' it real! I have previsouly used fresh fruit juice, and I'm sure I will do that again someday. Do either, or both! Lemon juice alone is very good & creates a fizzy lemonade type drink. The kefir liquid you're using will impart a slightly sweet flavor to the end product, but it's not nearly as sweet as the sugar water that the grains started in. To the slightly-less-than a half gallon of liquid, I'd estimate that I add about a cup & a half of juice. You can add more, or less. The higher the sugar content (which is determined either by increasing the amount of fruit juice, or by using a sweeter fruit rather than acidic) the fizzier it seems to get.



Now pour it into very clean, airtight containers. We use various sized canning jars to ferment the water kefir during the second stage. They give a great seal, and they're a good serving size. Leave some headspace in the jars because they build up some carbonation while fermenting. These smaller jars are filled a little too much, since I was distracted with the camera.





Seal the containers, and set them aside for 24 to 48 hours. I can tell mine are ready because I'm not able to press down on the canning lid easily & hear it pop. In other words- you can tell it's building up pressure from the fermentation. I can also see tiny bubbles around the top of the liquid inside the jars. At that point, I put them in the fridge & they're ready to go.







I'll be honest, I was intimidated by the whole process when I first heard about it. But trust me, it's so simple. I spent an afternoon searching Youtube & watched all the top rated videos. I suggest you do that as well, it really gave me the confidence to jump in. A few of those videos recommend adding raisins or lemon peel to the first step. It's up to you if you'd like to try that. Since I'm in a climate that stays hot & humid for about 8 months out of the year, I thought it best to avoid any issues so I decided to keep it simple.

Are you thinking of trying it? I encourage you to go for it! Have you already tried water kefir yourself? What health benefits have you noticed? Please comment & share any tips that have worked for you!

This post has been linked to The Homestead Barn Hop.

2 comments:

  1. Instant boiling water is Australias premier manufacturer of filtered boiling and chilled water units for use in private and commercial applications. Manufactured in Victoria and represented nationally.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I found your blog when I was looking for a different sort of information but I was very happy and glad to read through your blog. The information available here is great. . I know something information, to know you can click here
    water cooler
    water delivery

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...