|Fermenting water kefir grains|
I have heard about water kefir for the longest time but I've always been intimidated to make it. Little did I know that it is so easy to make and requires very minimal maintenance. My family has been enjoying this natural probiotic drink for about a month now and I love knowing that we get our daily probiotic dose to improve our digestion and gut health. Even my two year old loves it and asks me for her portion daily. I think she is hooked!
What is Water Kefir?
Water kefir is a natural probiotic drink made with water kefir grains (good bacteria), sugar, and water. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are important for our digestion and gut health. It is rich in vitamins such as vitamins A, B2, B12, D, and K, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, enzymes and amino acids such tryptophan - all that are important for a healthy nervous system and calming the nerves.
How does Water Kefir Taste Like?
Water kefir is a fermented drink that is slightly carbonated. It is fermented for 24 - 48 hours, producing lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol), and carbon dioxide. The alcohol content is very low, about 1-2%. As the grains feed on sugar, the longer you ferment it, the less sweet it (and more carbonated) becomes. I ferment mine for 36 hours because I don't want it too sweet or overly carbonated. For those who like sodas, water kefir is a natural fizzy drink alternative without the added sugars and preservatives. And those who are lactose intolerant can have this beverage and get the living probiotics in their diet.
There are ways to flavor water kefir and to increase its mineral content but for this introduction purposes, I will keep it simple. You can read more about water kefir here and here.
How to Make Water Kefir?
Making water kefir is very easy. It is also very cheap to make compared to buying ready-made probiotic drinks or probiotic supplements. Let's get started!
|Water kefir grains|
1. Get your water kefir grains. There are many places online where you can buy water kefir grains, but the easiest is to find someone in your area who makes water kefir. The grains multiply as it is fermented so overtime they will be extras. If you are in Singapore, contact me for the grains. I can share my extras when they are available. They are free, of course! First come first serve.
2. Prepare the following tools:
- Big glass jar (I get my 1.5 liter glass jar from iSetan for $4.50)
- Plastic spoon
- Plastic bowl
- Plastic strainer/colander
- Long non-metal spoon
- Dried apricots
3. Recipe (to fit a 1.5 liter glass jar):
- 1.2 liter distilled or mineral water
- 2 pieces of organic dried apricot (available in organic stores)
- 5 tbsp of sucanat (available on iHerb and organic stores)
- 8 tbsp of water kefir grains
Put everything together in the glass jar and stir with a long non-metal spoon. There will be 1-2 inches of space left in the jar. Don't fill to the max. The grains grow and it will overflow if it is too full. Cover the glass with a breathable cloth or tissue and tie it with a rubber band. Place the bottle on the table counter, away from direct sunlight. Let it ferment for 24-48 hours. Once it's done, strain out the grains by placing a plastic strainer over a bowl and pour the water kefir through it. Throw away the apricots. Refrigerate water kefir and enjoy the drink cold. Repeat the process to a make a new batch.
|Fermenting milk kefir and water kefir|
|Straining water kefir grains|
A note on:
Water - Only use distilled or mineral water. Do not use tap or boiled water as it can still contain chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine which can damage the grains.
Sugar - I use sucanat because it is less processed and contains more minerals than refined sugar. More nutrients also become available in the resulting beverage when you use natural, unrefined sugar.
Tools - Never use metal utensils or bowls. Metals are reactive and the grains do not like it.
Storage - Extra grains can be stored in sugar water in the fridge. Replace the sugar water once a week. For long term storage, you can freeze the grains. You can also eat the grains! It sounds disgusting but they don't really taste like anything.
Damaged grains - If your grains don't multiply or shrink, this is a good site to learn on how to repair damaged grains.
How to Make Milk Kefir?
|Milk kefir grains|
Making milk kefir is even easier than making water kefir. All you need is milk kefir grains and fresh whole (mammal) milk. It doesn't work well with UHT milk because it is so devoid of the naturally-occurring bacteria and yeasts as they are destroyed through the heating process. Notice the layer of fat forming on top of the milk kefir in the picture below. I used grass fed, non-homogenized cow's milk for this. Grass-fed full fat milk kefir for maximal nutrition! Soy or nut milk is also not suitable. Milk kefir is similar to yogurt and is rich is probiotics and other health benefits. I love that I can make my own "yogurt" at home anytime!
|Bubbles forming in milk kefir means it's ready.|
Directions: Add two tablespoons of milk kefir grains to a cup of fresh milk and let it ferment at room temperature for about a day. It will be ready when you see bubbles forming in the jar, has a consistency like sour cream, and smells sour like buttermilk. The longer you ferment it, the more sour it becomes. Run it through a plastic strainer and refrigerate. Add honey or fruits to taste.
|Milk kefir and berries smoothie|
What do I do with milk kefir other than consuming it internally? I use it as a face and hair mask! This cooling mask rejuvenates our skin, reduces skin inflammation, and helps to balance our skin's pH level, making our skin healthier and youthful. It nourishes our skin naturally without all the chemicals and preservatives that come with store-bought masks.
My milk kefir grains don't multiply nearly as much as my water kefir grains, but if you are interested, let me know, and I'll reach out to you when I have extras.
Have you tried making water kefir and milk kefir? Would you like to try making some?
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