This is a guest post written by Jennifer Cote, a foodie, chef, and organic gardener. Read more about her at the end of the post.
In the past year, I’ve discovered Kafir leaves (great to add to Thai soups); more recently I heard about Kefir (pronounced ka-FEER). I hadn’t realized that kefir has way (way) more probiotics than bottled supplements, or yogurt. So I looked into making my own.
I’ve had my doubts about making my own cultured milk products. Organic milk gets expensive, and if it isn’t organic, is it worth the bother of culturing it into kefir or yogurt? Call me a purist, but I don’t want to make homemade kefir out of commercial milk. Homogenized milk goes through quite a process; plus it contains so many chemicals and hormones.
But then I heard about “water kefir”. It doesn’t use the same “grain” that milk kefir uses, but it is similar. The grain itself is a globular little blob, resembling a quartz-type formation. Only it multiplies! And it feeds on something as simple as molasses and sugar, turning it into a probiotic brew that we humans can drink to our advantage. What a deal!
The grains can be purchased on Amazon, unless you have a friend who’s started brewing their own water kefir. My local friends and family don’t need to order their own grains; I’ve been able to give most all of them some starter grains, as they multiply abundantly.
But what’s all the excitement about? Kefirs cleans the digestive tract, it’s enzyme-rich, full of electrolytes, amino acids and active live cultures. Plus, it’s loaded with vitamin B-12, vitamin K and biotin. And, it’s bubbly and rather delicious!
When you start drinking kefir regularly, you’ll probably notice that your digestion and metabolism improve. It might even help those battling leaky gut syndrome and colon cancer, yeast infections and general immune system issues. And, it helps regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels. How great is that?!
But where do the water kefir grains come from? Wikipedia says they have been found on a type of Mexican cactus; granules of the water kefir could be scraped off and cultured in sugar water. Other stories suggest that the grain was a gift from God. Maybe it’s both!
The following are the simple steps for making your own water kefir.
Recipe for Water Kefir
- 1/3 c. sugar (organic or regular or brown or sucanat, but not honey)
- 1-2 tsp. molasses
- 1 slice lemon (if available)
- Spring water (non-chlorinated)
- Kefir grains (a half cup or so)
1. Fill a quart jar with: > 1/3 c. sugar > 1-2 tsp. molasses > 1 slice lemon > spring water (leaving a few inches’ space at the top)
2. Shake jar well until sugar and molasses are mixed in.
3. Add kefir grains, cover with plastic wrap or lid
4. Let mixture brew for 1-2 days, until not-so-sweet, but fermented and somewhat bubbly.
5. Strain brew into jars (or bottles with ceramic stoppers); refrigerate, or do a second ferment if desired
6. Rinse grains under tap water (best with non-metal strainer), then add to fresh jar of sugar water, repeat steps. (As grains multiply, discard some as necessary, or give to friends.)
Ingredients for Second Ferment
- Handful of dried fruit (raisins or other), or fresh fruits
- Other spices if desired (cinnamon stick, fresh sliced ginger, organic orange peel, vanilla, tamarind)
- Optional: Favorite juices
Preparation for Second Ferment
1. Into jar, decant the brewed kefir water, leaving space for other ingredients.
2. Add favorite dried fruits (or experiment with fresh fruits)
3. Optional: Add other flavorings if desired (cinnamon stick, etc.), or a cup or so juice
4. Let ferment another day or two, with lid or cap on. Refrigerate if desired, for a week or so. Remove lid with care, as it may become quite bubbly!
Jennifer Cote opened The New Deli in 1985 and has been cooking ever since. What beats a homemade meal, made from scratch?! Follow her blog at gratefultable.com.