March 3, 2012

Water Kefir - Best Soda Ever!

Water Kefir
I am hooked on water kefir (keh-FEER). A friend of mine gave me some fresh kefir grains about a month ago. They look like a juicy gummy candy (or some describe them as 'cauliflower looking pieces'). It comes dried for purchasing and starting - like from Cultures for Health. There's quite a few videos on youTube - like this one. Kefir is so healthy - full of probiotics (see link for list)! Here's another link with lots of info.

A basic recipe for WATER KEFIR -
In a 1/2 gallon jar dissolve -
1/3-1/2 C sucanat or organic white cane sugar -
fill to 1" of top of a quart jar with cool water (best to not be chlorinated or with flouride)
Then add -
1/4+ C kefir grains

Cap with a plastic lid - tighten and shake - then loosen the lid to breath. Then store in place with no direct sunlight for 24-48 hrs. The kefir grains will have multiplied. Taste. If too sweet, sitting longer eats up more sugar. Eventually it starts making alcohol (very slight). Strain the liquid into another jar. You'll need to eliminate some of the grains since they multiply (I give them to my chickens or throw them in with some juice). Start the process over.

Eat the extra grains. Throw them in your garden. Compost them. Share them with friends.

You can experiment with flavorings. Try adding sliced ginger. I so like the plain kefir. You can add some molasses, and vanilla flavoring. Try orange juice. Try raisins and sliced lemon. Try other fruits. But do these additions after straining off the kefir grains so you don't compromise their integrity - you could call this a second ferment. Let sit another day and strain to refrigerate.

Vacation? Your jar with sugar water and grains will keep in the fridge several weeks. Freezing works too. And since it comes dry in packets, it must be able to be dehydrated.

Added later note: I'm now making it only with organic white sugar and a tsp of blackstrap molasses and a washed egg shell - for added minerals. I'll occasionally do a second jar with the extra grains (I always keep extra grains in a small jar in the refrigerator). A couple Tb raisins, and/ or lemon could be brewed in it.

I'm now always adding a teaspoon of vanilla to the 1/2 gallon glass pitcher I keep in the fridge. It tastes like cream soda. Water Kefir doesn't need to be refrigerated, if you're a room temp beverage drinker - like me - like I prefer room temp flavored beer - I guess I'd make a good European. There's lots of flavoring ideas out there.

I've ordered Madagascar Vanilla Beans to make my own vanilla extract, and will post about it.

Since I'm going to be doing a raw milk piima culture (probably similar to the dairy kefir), I've been reading more. Just in case you are "brewing" differing strains of things in your kitchen ... Separate them by at least 3 feet, so no "cross-pollination" (gardening term). Once bottled in fridge there's no problem.

Newest note-  Am going to start making the dairy kefir too. As I've researched more, it's the only strain that will keep reproducing using raw milk. All the other cultures (Villa, and yogurt ...) require a sterile milk mother culture which requires heating milk to at least 160-180 degrees and refreshing this culture.
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