We all know by now that sugary drinks are toxic, but if you’re like me, I still want something other than boring old water! When I am craving something sweet, usually right after dinner, I reach for a refreshing glass of probiotic sparkling goodness. What could that be, you might ask???
Another name for this refreshing, home-fermented drink is water kefir. This is my go-to drink whenever I need a little pick me up. It is loaded with beneficial bacteria, yeast, vitamins, minerals, acids and enzymes. The best part is how amazing it tastes. It is almost too good to be true!
Water Kefir is a probiotic drink made from a gel-like culture that supports many different strains of bacteria and yeast. These “kefir grains”, as they are often referred to, feed off of a sugar-water solution to produce the primary fermented drink. The water kefir liquid is a mildly zesty, sugar-water beverage, similar to a natural soda.
Kefir soda, like most fermented beverages, supports the growth of natural and beneficial bacteria in our gut. The growth of these helpful bacteria are essential for our bodies in breaking down our food, absorbing nutrients and producing enzymes and vitamins. These helpful little fellas even fight other pathogens and toxins, reduce inflammation and can help us get a better night sleep!
To make an especially fizzy, flavor-loaded drink, I ferment my kefir soda a second time. This not only adds natural carbonation, but also increases folic acid, B vitamins and FLAVOR. It is important to note that the secondary fermentation process does increase the alcohol amount, but normally it will not go over O.5% to O.75% alcohol. This is a lower amount than over-ripe fruit will produce. Most of the alcohol in water kefir is converted to beneficial acids by the bacteria.
- Heat water, dissolve the sugar, then let cool to room temperature. - Add the warm water, kefir grains, lemon and/or ginger, and ConcenTrace mineral drops to the mason jar. Cover the jar with a cloth secured with a rubber band or jar lid. - Allow your kefir soda to culture for 18-36 hours. I find that the best amount of time for my culture is 24 hours. This gives enough time for the sugars to reduce, while still producing a light, fizzy drink. Be sure to strain your liquid from your grains and store your soda in the fridge. It is best to use non-metal utensils and strainer, as the metal can react with your culture and weaken it over time. - You may find that your culture is faster or slower depending on the ambient temperature of your kitchen. The best way to check on your kefir soda is to taste it and decide for yourself how long you prefer it to culture. Enjoy your soda now or go for the secondary ferment.
-Add your sugar or juice along with any spices and herbs you like to the bottle. Have fun and experiment with different flavor combinations. Be creative! - Add your kefir soda, making sure to leave at least one inch of space at the top of the bottle. - Leave your bottles out in a warm spot for 18-24 hours. I have even left mine out up to 36 hours when my kitchen is on the cool side. I check my bottles by looking for tiny bubbles near the top and throughout the soda. This is a great indicator that it is time to put them into the fridge. The fridge will slow, but not completely stop the fermentation process, so USE CAUTION when opening your bottles. Opening over the sink is advised. Enjoy a glass of probiotic sparkling goodness!
* The kefir cultures do well in mineral rich environments, so I help them out by using ConcenTrace trace mineral drops. Only 2-4 drops are needed to keep your culture happy and healthy.
* Use the grolsch-type beer/flip- top bottles that are round. The square type bottles are not as strong and will result in exploded bottles and a sticky mess! I found this one out the hard way.
* Sugar substitutes should not be used when culturing food, (nor should they be ingested by any human for that matter) they contain harmful chemicals that will kill your cultures. Honey should also not be used when culturing, as it contains natural antibiotics that will weaken your culture over time. Jaggery, a sugar cane honey, unrefined cane sugar, and brown sugar are all good sugars to feed your growing culture.
There is a growing amount of scientific research pointing toward the connection between a healthy digestive system and improved brain development, decrease in disease and even elimination of diabetes. We can certainly find good probiotic drinks in the health-food stores, but they usually cost around $4.00 for a 12oz. bottle. At that rate, my family alone would consume over $20.00 worth of probiotic drinks every day. With a little time, love, and attention to detail, I can make it for less than $2.00 per GALLON
At these prices, I can afford to raise a glass of probiotic sparkling goodness with almost every meal of the day. Cheers!
Tags: Water Kefir
Category: Using the Food We Grow
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Feb 24th, 2016
You and your recipes continually amazed me! Thanks for sharing your wisdom.