Recently I've discovered a wonderful beverage, called water kefir. I've been a kombucha drinker for years, but wanted to dabble with making my own water kefir as an alternative. The name and process may sound intimidating, but I assure you it's easy and fun to make. You can get creative with the flavor and it's actually quite inexpensive. The result is a fruity, bubbly probiotic drink, that's perfect for the warm summer months (or anytime). It's also a great option for those who cannot tolerate caffeine that's often found in kombucha. Additionally, it's a great substitute if you're dairy free and cannot consume milk kefir.
Kefir grains or tibicos are not actually grains at all but clusters of yeast and bacteria. These when combined with sugar water that's at a 65-90 degree temperature, cause fermentation, producing a bubbly soda like drink. The main difference between kefir and kombucha, is that you won't have the vinegar like taste, which some people have a hard time warming up to.
It's no surprise that water kefir is beneficial for the gut since it's made up of bacteria. It's a fantastic way to get probiotics that don't come in pill form. It's also great for a number of reasons:
- it's a healthy, low sugar option to soda
- it provides healthy gut bacteria
- fantastic for digestion
- immune support
- may help to prevent allergies
If you want to get started with making your own kefir water, you will first need the kefir grains, which can be purchased here.
Once you have the kefir grains, the culturing your grains part is fairly simple but it does take time.
What you need for starting your grains:
- one quart jar
- measuring cups
- 3-4 cups spring or filtered water
- coffee filter or kitchen towel
- rubber band
- thermometer (I didn't use one)
- one packet dehydrated kefir grains
- 1/4 cup cane sugar or sugar in the raw
- small pot
- mesh strainer (plastic is best, stainless steel is fine too but no aluminum as it reacts with the grains)
Mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1/2 cup boiling water and pour into jar. Swirl around to ensure that all the sugar has dissolved. Next add 3 - 3 1/2 cups of room temperature filtered water. At this point, if you want to be exact, you can measure the temperature to ensure it is between 68-85 degrees. Then, add the kefir grains. Cover with coffee filter and secure with rubber band. Store at a temperature of 68-85 degrees for 3-4 days.
Once your grains have cultured, strain the grains and set aside in a bowl. They should look plump and squishy. Now you're ready to start flavoring your water.
Fruity water kefir
- 2-3 sliced strawberries
- seeds from 1/2 passion fruit
- a few slices of mango
- 2-3 raspberries
- 1/4 cup sugar or sugar in the raw
- 3-4 cups spring or filtered water
Mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1/2 cup boiling water and pour into a clean jar. Swirl around to ensure that all the sugar has dissolved. Add 3 - 3 1/2 cups of room temperature filtered water and add the cultured kefir grains. Again, prior to adding grains, you can check the temperature if you want to be exact. Lastly, add the fruit, cover with coffee filter and secure with rubber band as shown below.
Let this sit for 24-48 hour. Next, pick out the fruit and strain the fruity water into a storage bottle and store it in the refrigerator. Strain the grains and set aside. Repeat the above process for the next batch of fruity water. You can get creative with the fruit. I've used bananas, and other sweet fruit as the grains love feasting on the sweet stuff but you'll be left with a low sugar, beneficial drink as the bacteria and yeast consume most of the sugar.
The beauty of these grains is that you can use them over and over and make batch after batch. Enjoy!