Are you brave enough to culture your water yet?
I can’t believe I’m saying this after my mediocre review last week, but this water kefir thing is really growing on me. I actually like it! My husband thinks I’m crazy, but both kids are sucking it down like it’s a major treat, and I’m happy with all the probiotics we’re getting. Read on for the rhythm I’ve discovered for keeping up with making kefir and the way we “flavor” it now so that I enjoy drinking it daily. Plus a great freebie for you!
More Taste Test Dummies
My sister-in-law was brave enough to try some water kefir last weekend. (She’s no dummy, I’m just punning away in the heading.) She reads the blog, so when I offered, she said, “How old is it?” and then, “I hear Lovey Girl loves it but my brother thinks it tastes terrible.” She had some mixed about 2/3 kefir, 1/3 blueberry pomegranate juice. The verdict? “It smells terrible, but it doesn’t taste too bad.” Her husband said it’s not something he would order on purpose!
That being said, many “healthy foods” take some getting used to. Shucks, a lot of people make themselves get used to things like beer and coffee after despising their first taste, so why not water kefir? It’s grown on me…
What to Put in Kefir?
Juice. You’ve got to use juice.
A few people said that they put a cup of blueberry pomegranate juice in a quart of kefir. I thought, “I’ll never buy blueberry pomegranate juice. It sounds exotic and expensive.” Then I ran into some at Meijer. It WAS expensive, but it was on clearance, so I sprang for it.
I used to add it half and half with the kefir, but I’ve gotten so that I pour a glass of water kefir over ice and add – literally – just a splash of the juice, and it suffices.
I asked this morning at breakfast if anyone wanted cider-kefir for a beverage. Poor husband nearly choked on his scrambled eggs. “You kefired our cider???” Apple cider is one of his favorite parts of fall. I assured him that his cider was safe; I just add it to the kefir glass by glass. It tastes like watered down cider with a little fizz.
I was encouraged when a reader commented that only 20% of the sugar is left in the kefir. Still more sugar than I’d consume in water, but a very tiny amount overall.
Other Water Kefir Recipes
A reader recommended this recipe (for a 1/2 gallon, I believe):
* 1/2 lemon (peeled if not organic, cut into chunks)
* 2 TB raisins
* about 2-4 TB chopped fresh ginger (not exactly sure of amount)
* about 4 fresh apple mint leaves
You put all this in while it cultures and strain out the solids when you take the kefir grains out.
Apparently it tastes a bit like ginger ale. I’m excited to try it when I get my hands on some fresh ginger, although I doubt I’ll spring for mint leaves.
Kelly the Kitchen Kop, who is much more of a pro at making the “kefir soda pop” than I, has some cool photos of her bottles and her successful recipe.
Refined Vs. Unrefined Sugar
Kelly also says that the less processed the sugar, the more fizz you’ll get. I bit the bullet and purchased my first “evaporated cane sugar” (that’s just organic white sugar) and “palm sugar” this week. This is a serious commitment: whereas I can get 5 lbs. of white sugar for $2, this stuff was $3 and $5+ for a pound, respectively. Yikes. I opened my first jug of kefir made with the new sugar last night: “Psssssst!” It had some serious carbonation! The fizz is a LOT closer to soda pop. Admittedly, that’s pretty fun!
Here’s how the palm sugar makes the kefir look:
Getting into the Rhythm
Here’s my process for making kefir, after you follow directions for rehydrating the grains.
- Leave a quart of water out overnight to let the chlorine evaporate. (I have city water.) You could also whiz it in a blender or boil it, but I’m all about lazy.
- Add 1/4 cup sugar to the water, cap and shake until dissolved. (Again, you can use a bit of boiling water to dissolve the sugar, then add it to room temp water, but I choose simplicity.) Sometimes I have to shake, then wait, then shake, but I’m always doing something else in the kitchen, so no big deal.
- Put kefir grains into the jar. If you can get a muslin bag to hold your grains, it is so much less work when it’s time to take them out.
- Cover with something breathable: I use a coffee filter, but you could use cheesecloth or a cloth napkin or thin washcloth. Secure with a rubber band, or the ring of a canning jar.
- Leave at room temperature for 24-48 hours.
See my lineup? From left to right, there’s the finished kefir sitting out for a day, the fermenting kefir grains for 2 days, and the water evaporating the chlorine. I get this water ready every time I move the grains, so I don’t forget.
The water kefir rhythm:
- Day one: pour a jar of water
- Day two: add sugar and kefir grains, pour a new jar of water
- Day four: move kefir grains to new sugar water, cap finished kefir, pour a new jar
- Day five: move finished kefir to fridge
- Day six: repeat day four and so on!
I would recommend keeping a little checklist of the dates you start and finish the kefir. It starts to get confusing as to when the stuff is done!
You can use the kefir grains for a half gallon or a quart, either way. I think the grains I thought I killed with the Powerade have been revived, so I can make a half gallon at a time if we could keep up drinking it!
An important note that should be added to the water kefir instructions: When you don’t want to make kefir for a few days or are going on vacation, you can “hold” the grains in a bit of fresh (non-chlorinated) sugar water in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. You could also put the finished kefir with the grains in it right into the fridge if you’re short on time to transfer grains.
Are you ready to take the plunge yet? You can reuse the grains indefinitely, so in the long run, this is a pretty frugal investment and really stretches the juice, if your family drinks juice with breakfast anyway. Find water kefir grains at Wise Choice Market or Natural Leavening.
- We were blessed with an extra gallon of raw milk, so I made my first attempt at homemade mozzarella cheese! It worked, but it’s really bland. Suggestions?
- Tried a homemade baked bean recipe. So-so reviews, so I’m still looking for the family stand-by. Maybe someone will link one to the October Fest Carnival of Super Foods this week!
- Pizza on the Grill. If you have one more warm weather day, you must try this! I did 100% whole wheat and it worked great. We made the last one with leftover refried black beans, homemade fresh salsa, jalapenos and Mexican cheese. Seriously yummy.
- Freezing and dehydrating lots of Farmer’s Market Peppers.
- Roasted red peppers for the first time. Those smell sooooo good!
- Dehydrating tomato slices.
- I captured yeast! First sourdough recipe: Whole Wheat Sourdough Crackers. Hubby actually said they taste a little like Cheez-Its. Total success!
- Sarah is such an amazing chef: we tried her Sourdough Focaccia, Best Ever Minestrone, and Fire-Roasted Pico de Gallo this week. Oh, my. Yum-a-licious!
- Froze kale cubes for green smoothies.
- Tried black bean brownies. Awesome option without flour.
- Roasted a pastured, organic chicken that was just slaughtered the day before. I hit up the farm on the last day for “Fresh Chicken Saturdays!” Mmmm…
- Made a big pot o’ homemade chicken stock – three birds’ worth! Finally figured out the trick to making it gel…More on that next week when the Super foods carnival theme is broth/stock!
- Cultured butter…this stuff takes way longer than it should! I need a better method!
- A batch of homemade pesto for the freezer.