How to Make Water Kefir.

Water kefir is a sweet probiotic drink that is very versatile. During the secondary ferment you can add things like a splash of vanilla extract to make a vanilla cream soda flavored drink. Toss in a quartered orange (the whole thing) with the vanilla and you’ve got something that tastes like an orange creamsicle. The preferred flavor in our house is lemon. You can do this in a number of ways, but hubby’s favorite is when I add the lemon juice after the second ferment.

I can tell you that water kefir helps me keep my mood stable. I drink a glass every day. Not only because it’s beneficial, but because it’s delicious! As an added bonus, it’s even easier than kombucha to make.

You’ll need:IMG_0660

  1. Glass jars
  2. Canning lids or other airtight lids
  3. 1/2 cup sugar per 64 oz.
  4. Trace minerals (if using white sugar)
  5. Filtered water
  6. 1/2 cup water kefir grains/crystals per 64 oz.
  7. Mesh colander
  8. Large bowl (a pour spout on the bowl makes things easier)
  9. Extra jar, water, sugar for storing the crystals when not in use

To make:

  1. Pour the sugar into the jars.
  2. Warm up a little water and cover the sugar enough for it to dissolve.
  3. Fill the jar with the rest of the water after the sugar has dissolved, leaving 2 inches at the top.
  4. Add in the kefir crystals and top off the jar with water if there’s more than an inch left after adding them.
  5. Put the lids on the jars and let them sit for 24-48 hours. The longer they ferment, the higher the probiotic content.
  6. Strain the crystals out and set them aside, returning the liquid to the original jars.
  7. Put the lids back on the jars and let this ferment for another 12-24 hours. The longer it sits, the more bubbles in the finished product. This is the time to add flavorings like juice, fruit, extracts, herbs. Whatever you fancy, really.
  8. Place the crystals into the extra jar, cover them with water and a spoon or two of sugar, stick a lid on it and put it in the refrigerator.

I use sucanat for my water kefir as well as my kombucha. The sucanat seems to have a good balance of minerals to keep the grains healthy. I’ve tried using coconut sugar and my results were rather dismal. My grains got slimy and gross (which is an indication of a mineral content that is too high) and the end result wasn’t very pleasant tasting. White sugar works well too, you’ll just need to add in trace minerals or a drop or two of solĂ© every once in a while to keep the kefir grains happy. You need to add minerals if your kefir grains get very small.

Advertisements

Kombucha and Water Kefir.

Fermentation and civilization are inseparable.
-John Ciardi, American Poet (1916-86)

Hibiscus kombucha and lemon water kefir.

Hibiscus kombucha and lemon water kefir.

I’ve been making water kefir, and now kombucha for a little over a year. I like to refer to my kombucha SCOBYs as my jellyfish pets, which may be something you only understand if you’ve handled a SCOBY yourself. So, what is a SCOBY?

S.C.O.B.Y. stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. A SCOBY is what ferments the sweet tea into kombucha. It doesn’t look very appetizing, and is a big turn-off to a lot of people (including me) looking to brew their own kombucha at home. I got a SCOBY from a friend of mine. Had she not given me one, I probably wouldn’t have started brewing on my own. I knew that water kefir helped me a lot, so I thought kombucha might be equally as beneficial so I overcame my initial squeamishness and started brewing at home. It is one of the best decisions I’ve made for my health.

There are quite a lot of claimed benefits to drinking kombucha daily if you read about it on the Googles. What sold me the most was the claim that it supports your liver function, helps with candida albicans overgrowth, and aids in repairing your gut wall. When I first started brewing kombucha I had liver stress, candida albicans overgrowth, and a high probability of leaky gut – I found this out using Live Blood Analysis(LBA), which is somewhat controversial. So I figured I’d give it a shot to see what would happen. Once I started drinking it my LBAs slowly began to show more healthy blood than not. Kombucha wasn’t the only factor in this, but it was a large player.

So, what is the official analysis of what’s in kombucha? Well, this site has a pretty good rundown. The thing you must keep in mind is that every SCOBY is slightly different depending on the kind of tea and sugar it’s eating and other environmental factors like airborne yeasts and temperatures.

Kombucha is fairly hardy, only needing to be fed every 30 days, so it’s pretty low-maintenance. Part of the draw for me was the low level of care. It’s essentially an hour of active work every 8 to 15 days depending on how long you want the fermentation to last. You can also do a continuous brew where you place your sweet tea and SCOBY in a glass drink dispenser with a spout and just add more tea as needed, or on a certain schedule. I really want to start a continuous ferment, but I haven’t found a good drink dispenser yet.

What about water kefir? Water kefir has a higher probiotic count than kombucha but this is, again, subject to some variation depending on what you feed it. Water kefir is similar to kombucha in that what ferments the sugars to create the drink is a culture of bacteria and yeast. Kefir grains are basically the SCOBY in the kefir world. The name is a little misleading because there are no grains in water kefir. You can eat the grains for a good probiotic boost (I’ve never tried that with kombucha SCOBYs, because…well…ew) in addition to drinking the water kefir.

Since I’ve started drinking kombucha and water kefir my overall health has improved. I can tell when I haven’t been drinking water kefir or, to a lesser extent, kombucha. I start getting brain fog and a little grumpy. This is probably a sign that my digestion still isn’t up to snuff, but it’s a work in progress.

Overall, these two drinks are something that I will continue doing for the health of my family. Both of them are easily flavored during a second ferment, so the possibilities are pretty much endless. This is a plus because you’ll never have to get bored of drinking the same old thing all the time.

Cultures for Health has a great rundown on the differences of water kefir and kombucha that is really interesting to read.

Next week I will post about how to brew kombucha and the following week will be water kefir. See you then!