One my better half’s friends, Marian, introduced us to milk kefir, a few years ago, and then another friend gave us some water kefir grains to try.
I love the idea of kefir, strange little granules that make a drink that’s full of healthy bacteria. I’ve read for years about the ways that we lose healthy bacteria from our systems (such as stress, antibiotics and bad diet) and concomitantly, how good it is to have healthy bacteria. I knew that probiotics could be found in yoghurts, that weird Japanese drink Yakult and pills. But having a personal probiotic seemed a good thing.
We were happy to discover that water kefir is pretty easy to make. You do need to get your hands on some grains (there are Facebook groups, and if you asked around, someone in your social circle might have some). Once you have your own grains, if they’re happy and healthy, they’ll grow and you can give some away!
All it takes to make is water kefir grains, water, sugar and a few other ingredients. There are lots of recipes on the web, but here’s an easy method below. The result is a delicious, fizzy drink that tastes sweet but the sugar has been eaten up by the kefir, so it’s supposed to be low in sugars (and calories). Some people go to town and make flavoured versions (after you’ve strained out the grains) by adding fruit like blueberries or strawberries or watermelon. I suspect most of the kefir enthusiasts online would find it sacrilege that I’ve found that it makes a very good gin cocktail…
Currently, I’ve decided to try to brew two batches of kefir, and because it takes about two days, to alternate them so that I always have about a litre of kefir (rather than making two litres at a time, and then having to wait in between batches for the new kefir to brew). We’ll see if it works.
So, here’s a recipe for two litres, which you can multiply or divide!
- About one cup of water kefir grains
- About two litres of filtered water
- Half a cup of raw sugar (organic would be good)
- A teaspoon (no more) of molasses
- A pinch of bicarb soda (don’t put in baking soda like I did once or twice)
- A slice or two of lemon
- A slice or two of ginger
- A dried fig, or a prune
- A handful of raisins
You could also add a pinch of eggshells (grind the shell of one egg up with a mortar and pestle and you’ll have enough for ages).
Put them into a mason jar with a tight lid. You can stir it if you want but you don’t have to. After about two days (some people do it for less, some a bit more), the fruit will float to the surface, and the kefir will taste not too sweet. The longer you leave it, the less sweet it becomes. Use a strainer and make a new batch with the grains. The fruit you could always put into smoothies. It’s at this stage that people sometimes add more fruit and different flavours and brew it up for another day or two (but we’ve not tried this yet).
- Once, our water kefir got really syrupy and thick. Agh. I think it was too much minerals, which could have been too much molasses, or the mistaken baking powder. I tried to revive them with hints from the web, but in the end, I had to get new grains.
- You can take a break of about three weeks by just doing the same recipe above with only grains, water and sugar, and putting it in the fridge.
- Check every once in a while to see if they’re growing, and if you have too many grains, put them aside (for a friend; or other people compost them or put them in smoothies). Apparently, too many grains can ruin your kefir too.