Water kefir: what is it and how to make it…
Many people have heard of (dairy) kefir – a fermented milk drink with the consistency of runny yogurt- but not as many have heard of water kefir.
So what is water kefir anyhow? Most simply stated, water kefir is a fermented drink that is made by combining sugar, water and fruit with special ‘grains’. The so-called grains are actually small clusters of hard-working yeasts and bacteria that ‘eat’ the sugar and bio-transform your brew into a healthy, effervescent *elixir* chock full of probiotics…a truly magical alchemy…
Water kefir vs soda
If you have, or want to, kick a soda habit, water kefir is a fantastic choice. It is so much more than a soda ‘substitute’- water kefir *builds* health by repopulating the gut with beneficial microorganisms!
Water kefir is teaming with the healthy bacteria you need for proper gut function. This is important because 80 per cent of our immunity is rooted in our gut. Healthy gut = healthy you.
By rebuilding your gut flora, kefir can help you actually absorb and assimilate the important vitamins and minerals in all of that healthy food you are eating. That’s why our health mantra has shifted from, “You are what you eat.” to “You are what you ‘absorb.”
Kefir water can be used to treat an incredibly wide range of health issues including:
- constipation, leaky gut syndrome, IBS and more
- liver, kidney issues
- high blood pressure
How to make water kefir
Kefir water is really easy to make. Kefir grains can usually be sourced online or from people in your community.
All you have to do to make your own kefir water is follow these 5 easy steps:
- Measure 2 tbsp of kefir grains into a 1 quart jar
- Add 3 tbsp unrefined sugar such as sucanat, panella, etc (unrefined sugars still have their minerals intact and are brown, not white)
- Insert 1/4 citrus fruit such as a lemon or orange. (people often start with citrus but you can actually use ANY kind of fruit.)
- Fill jar to within 1 inch of the lid with filtered water
- Screw the lid loosely onto jar and allow to ferment for about 48 hours (or less, depending on the temperature of your home)
*Do not use honey in your water kefir since honey has antibacterial properties (and your kefir grains are bacteria!).
The reason you need unprocessed sugar is because the kefir grains need minerals to survive (just like us!). If you need to use a processed sugar, make sure to use a piece of eggshell or something to add minerals to the mix. Organic blackstrap molasses is also a suitable substitute.
Also, try to get in the habit of getting your kefir started in the morning or afternoon. There’s nothing that will break your commitment to kefir faster than having to make it at midnight every second day!
You will know your kefir water is ready to drink when it is effervescent and tart. If it is still sweet after 48 hours, something isn’t quite working. Let it keep fermenting…
FYI: Healthy kefir grains are clear and have a cauliflower shape. They are alive and reproduce all the time!
How to store kefir water
Separate your kefir water from the fruit and grains by pouring it into a separate container. Allow to sit on cupboard (with lid on tight to maintain the fizz!) for another 8 hours. Refrigerate.
*If you like your kefir water less fizzy, you can refrigerate immediately.
Four things to do with excess kefir grains
- Experiment with new ferments. Try beet kvass (cubed beets instead of fruit). Mango. Whatever!
- Give them to a friend! That way if yours die for some reason you have a back up. And you’re helping improve your friend’s health 😉
- Store grains in the fridge in some kefir water and a few tbsp of sugar. Note: grains should be ‘fed’ weekly. When you take them out, you might think they’re dead but just give them time to ‘wake up’ again. Be patient.
- If you are on a farm, feed them to your chickens for a probiotic boost…
You can find instructions for drying and freezing your grains for long term storage by doing a quick Google search.
NOTE: My kids LOVE kefir water and ask for it every day. It’s fun, and thankfully, their version of pop.
Another alternative to water kefir is juice kefir.
Juice kefir is made by putting your grains in a quart jar that is half full of water and half full of your choice of (pref. organic) juice. This mixture is ready after 24 hours instead of 48.
Making kefir juice is a lot tougher on your grains, so it’s best to keep your water and juice kefir grains separate.
If your kids currently drink juice, transforming it with water kefir grains is a great way to get them drinking something that has less sugar and has probiotic benefits…
Have you ever made water kefir? What are your favourite flavours?