Do you want to taste a soda that is healthy, fresh tasting of what ever flavor you fancy, and the best of all: to have your own soda factory in your kitchen? Ahh.. then you should try Water kefir! And it is fairly easy to make in your home.
It has a wonderful mildly zesty flavor, like a lemonade or mild cola. It is more mild than milk kefir or kombucha, having just a light tang (and can build more carbonation if bottled a couple days). It can be likened to a natural, light and refreshing soda. The dried fruit, lemon, type of sugar and other ingredients will largely determine its flavor as well.
These are my favorite flavourings: Passion fruits, blueberries, blackberries, ginger, fennel seeds/ licorice, Chai -spice blend, pelargonia, peppermint, yerba mate, elderflowers… And the list goes on and on… 🙂
I don´t even like soda – it is far too sweet for me, and makes me feel bad. Kefir is different: Water kefir, like most fermented foods, supports good health and systemic wellness. The beneficial bacteria in the water kefir grains consume the sugar in the sugar water, and as they metabolize the sugar, they produce a variety of beneficial acids, food enzymes, B vitamins and more beneficial bacteria. This process of fermentation also reduces the sugar content of the drink.
Water kefir, like kombucha, is first cultured by introducing a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts) into sugar water.
So transforming sugars… Does it contain any alcohol? Yes. But just a little bit. It can be compared to sour milk. Its been found in a couple studies now to contain about 0.038% – 2% alcohol, or 16-38 g/L (grams per litre). With the normal amount being around .08 or less (for a 48-hour ferment). Kefir that is stored and ripened for a few of days will continue to increase in alcohol, up to 2-3% (when it is sealed tightly). But it gives many the same feeling as drinking beer. My boyfriend Erik, who is a big beer -fan, has finally got a true competitor to accompany the meals.
Water kefir grains are small, translucent, gelatinous structures and are comprised of assorted bacteria including lactobacillus hilgardii which gives them their characteristic crystal-like appearance. When properly cared for and regularly cultured, they produce a wonderful probiotic-rich beverage and will continue to grow and reproduce indefinitely!
There are many sites online where you can order the grains. I got mine from a network on fermented foods on face book in Norway. As they grow, it is easy to share, and it is for free!
The Kefir needs special conditions to thrive. They do not like contact with chemicals from non organic food, or soap. It also dislikes metal, and to be happy and multiply, it needs temperature above 18 degrees C. Instead of using soap, vinegar serves as a excellent dissolver. It copes with both fats and bacteria’s. I got a special sift cloth for rinsing them, instead of using the metal one. You can also just use a clean kitchen towel and a rubber band.
There are many recipes on how to make it. This is how I do it: The ingredients you need, is: 1 liter of Pure water – a bit colder than luke warm, 3 -4 tbs of organic cane sugar, a small handful of organic raisins, 2 tbs Water kefir grains, one slice of organic lemon (sometimes I remove some of the skin, to make the drink less bitter. If you don´t have organic lemons available, remove all of the skin. The taste then gets very mild and a bit boring compared to leaving the skin on. ) – and maybe a drop of malt syrup. – They like the minerals in the syrup, but it is not necessary every time. They thrive in many forms of sugars (except for honey, which is anti bacterial, and not working for kefir grains..) and dried fruit. It is good to change some once in a while.
Then: Stir the syrup and cane sugar till it is nicely dissolved. Add the rest.
This needs 48 hrs on a nice and warm spot to ferment. Now in winter time, the only suitable place in our house is in the bathroom – with heating cables on… After about 24 hrs the raisins and grains will start to swim around!
Sieve the Kefir, take out raisins and lemon. Then you´ve got the 1. ferment. It tastes slightly like a champagne, but with less bubbles.
For the 2. ferment, flavor is added: Put the liquid in a new jar, and add whatever you want of fruit, spices, herbs.., and let it ferment another 24 hr. Sieve again (leftover berries taste delicious), put on a bottle, and it can keep in your fridge for 2 weeks. I bet you drink it all within a day or two… Haven´t heard anything about it being harmful drinking too much of it, in that case I would have been very ill.. Instead it is all Healthy and lovely!
Her is one (of many) helpful site, to answer questions on this ancient magical grain: yemoos
And last but not least – once or twice a year they appreciate to rest for a while. A little holiday. Maybe you do too! Then just put them in a jar of sugar water, in the fridge. change the water ca once a week. It puts them into hibernation.
Good luck! Magic time ahead…