Kefir is a fermented drink that is full of probiotics and good bacteria. Essentially, it’s made from good bacteria and yeasts, and the resulting drink is excellent in helping to restore your digestive ecology. Plus it’s delicious.
I’ve experimented with various ways of making kefir. Body Ecology sell sachets of culture starter which works really well, and I’ve also used water kefir grains. I’d say that using the grains is the easiest and cheapest way of making kefir, so I’ll explain how you do that.
Firstly you need to get hold of some grains. Happy Kombucha in the UK sell them and they’re very good quality – www.happykombucha.co.uk. Or ask around and get a batch from someone else – me and my pals have a wee kefir network going and are always giving each other batches of grains, as if you feed them well, they multiply rapidly and you have more than enough to go round.
The following method was shared with me by my friend Cheryl, who has kefir grains galore and has definitely mastered the art of kefir making.
- You’ll need a glass jar with a rubber seal, about 1 litre in size, and make sure it’s really clean. I also pour boiling water in mine and swish it around a bit.
- Fill it with approx 3/4 litre of spring water. Don’t use tap water that is chlorinated as it kills the grains apparently.
- Add the grains, probably about a couple of tablespoons worth – the amount doesn’t have to be precise.
- Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. You could also use normal sugar, or agave, but not honey – because honey is antimicrobial, it kills some of the good probiotics you actually want in your drink. The purpose of the sugar is to feed the kefir and make the drink ferment.
- Add the tiniest pinch of good salt (Himalayan pink , or sea salt) and the tiniest pinch of bicarbonate of soda. This adds minerals that make the grains strong and healthy.
- Stir gently to mix everything together.
- Seal the jar and leave for about 2 – 3 days to ferment. The time really depends on the temperature of your house. You will know it’s ready when it’s fizzy. You might hear it fizzing as air escapes the jar, and you will see tiny bubbles rising and popping on the surface. When you open the jar, you’ll hear it pop like when you open a bottle or can of carbonated soda.
You can drink it like this, but I’m not keen on the taste – it’s just a bit boring for me. So I do a second ferment with juice. Like so….
- Take another jar, or to keep the fizz in better, a bottle like the one in the picture.
- Add some of the water kefir liquid. Strain out the grains first (see below).
- Add your favourite juice. The ratio should be roughly 1/3 water kefir to 2/3 juice. My current favourite is cherry juice – it makes a beautiful refreshing healthy cherryade! Or fresh orange juice – the result is similar to bucks fizz, but without the alcohol. Coconut water is another favourite of mine. And you can make a gorgeous ginger beer too with vanilla stevia and ginger.
- Seal the jar and ferment again, as per the first process. It will take 2 – 3 days, and again, you’ll know when it’s ready when it’s lightly fizzy.
- And there you have it, delicious fruit kefir.
One thing to be aware of is never bring your kefir grains into contact with metal. Use a plastic or wooden spoon to stir with, and a plastic sieve, don’t use a metal sieve.
The grains should last for ever if you take good care of them. I’ve managed to kill a couple of batches previously – don’t worry, they don’t go off or poison you, they just dissolve. But since I’ve been using Cheryl’s method, I’ve had no trouble at all, it keeps the grains very happy and healthy.
This website is a really good resource for all things water kefir http://www.yemoos.com/faqwaintro.html
There’s loads of information out there on water kefir, and Facebook pages and such like. There’s really a lot of enthusiasm for it! You can get creative with it, adding dried fruit, or different flavoured herbal teas as well as juice.
I drink kefir every day, it’s lovely, and so good for your tummy.