We have a new baby at EcoVida: our friends at Rancho Mastatal gave us some water kefir grains to start a culture and we are thrilled about it. But, have you ever heard of Kefir? Here’s a short introduction in case you are missing the benefits of this wonder.
Kefir “grains” aren’t actually grains but a complex polysaccharide matrix in which clusters of bacteria and yeast live in a symbiotic relationship and they look like grains of jelly. The bacteria and yeasts in the grains utilize sugar to produce lactic acid, carbon dioxide and a small amount of ethanol.
The water kefir grains are known by different names all over the world and its origin is still uncertain. But regardless of what name is given to it, the technique for using them is basically the same throughout the world: Mix them with water and sugar and let them culture in a warm place for a day or two, producing a fermented drink.
Kefir is easier to make than kombucha and offers almost the same benefits to your digestive system while it can be easily flavored in many, many ways.
Plain water kefir is drinkable, but it becomes much more enjoyable when you turn it into a flavored soda which you can do by adding tea, juice or fruit to the fermentation process. Then, let the carbonation build for 1-3 days and you’ll have a refreshing and fizzy soda filled with healthful probiotics.
There are countless recipes for water kefir, so feel free to make your own up. Here, we will leave you a few of our favorite ones…
LEMON-LIME WATER KEFIR
3 1/2 cups water kefir
1 tsp. Sucanat or white sugar (optional)
Remove the water kefir grains from the finished water kefir, and pour it into a quart-size vessel.
Juice the lemon and lime through a sieve to remove the seeds, then pour the juice into the water kefir.
Move this juice to an airtight bottle.
If your water kefir wasn’t very sweet after the first fermentation, add the sugar for extra carbonation.
Swirl the bottles to distribute the juices and sugar. Leave tightly capped at room temperature for up to 72 hours, or until level of desired carbonation and sweetness is achieved.
PINEAPPLE-FLAVORED WATER KEFIR
3 ½ cups water kefir
½ cup pineapple juice or several chunks of pineapple fruit or the rind of a whole pineapple
Remove grains from finished water kefir.
Combine water kefir and pineapple ingredient of choice in airtight bottles leaving 1-2 inches headspace in each bottle.
Cap tightly and ferment 24-72 hours, depending on the temperature in your home and the activity of your water kefir. If using fresh pineapple or pineapple rind, remove fruit every 24 hours and add more fresh fruit.
These and more recipes can be found at Cultures for Health, our favorite site to learn about kefir.