Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How To: Water Kefir


Water kefir is a way to make a natural, well tolerated, affordable source of living probiotics.  Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria we are born with in our guts & on our skin, and they are destroyed every time we eat cooked foods, take antibiotics, eat animal products that have consumed antibiotics, as well as when we drink, bathe, swim, drink from a water fountain, brush our teeth, & wash our hands in chlorinated & fluoridated water.  Also, eating foods & drinks ready-made & on-the-go (tea, coffee, soda, juice, etc.) are made w/chlorinated & fluoridated water unless they state they are made w/reverse osmosis or distilled water.  

Keeping that in mind, it would seem hopeless to replenish the good bacteria if we dwelled on that info alone, but good thing for us God provided a way to replenish our bodies by simple means in our very own kitchens, & many require minimal time & cost involved!  Some are more involved w/complex and more expensive ingredients, but there are some really great, quick inexpensive options.  One of those options is water kefir.

Here is the way I make water kefir, but there are many ways & you may find that you need to tweak my instructions to fit what works best for you.  Feel free to experiment & have fun!!


INGREDIENTS:


·   Add 3-4 cups reverse osmosis, distilled, well, or spring water to 1 QT jar (the water MUST be NON-fluoridated & NON-chlorinated… you add 1 cup of water PER TBSP of water kefir grains)


·     1 TBSP white sugar PER CUP of water… you can also use raw sugar, brown sugar, sugar cane juice , cane sugar, or even muscavado… do NOT use honey.. it will KILL the grains/good bacteria.  Fructose can be used for diabetics… NO artificial sweeteners!

·     1 tsp of unsulphured molasses every other batch or so (optional, but really seems to help ‘em grow like crazy… I use a few drips every batch!!)

·      1/8 – 1/2 tsp of baking soda (you will need 1/2 tsp for 8 C water if you are using distilled or RO water… less if using water w/minerals in it, such as filtered tap water, etc.  You probably do not need this if using well water or spring water, but feel free to experiment.)

·    **  Optional ** About 14-20 unsulphured organic raisins (you can use regular ones too, as well as other dried fruit… figs, apricots, cranberries, sultanas, dried prunes, or any other fruit… some claim success by brewing w/bananas, fresh, frozen, &  dried, but mine turned out to be a horribly nasty goo when I tried fresh bananas)

·   ** OPTIONAL (but oh so good & I find mine do best WITH lemon!) ** 1-2 small qtr slices of organic lemon (I buy them bagged fresh, wash & slice them, put them in a freezer bag, & then pop 1-2 frozen slices/slivers in a jar w/the grain mixture... the organic lemons have been about the same price or even cheaper than the regular lemons the times I have had to buy them.. if you use non-organic lemons, peel the skin off 1st).


DIRECTIONS:

To begin, just add all the ingredients to the glass jar EXCEPT the water kefir grains, stir vigorously until the sugar is dissolved, THEN add the grains, cover loosely (make sure it is NOT air-tight), & set on your counter.  You can also use a canning jar rim over a coffee filter instead of the canning jar lid disk. 



I brew for 24-48-72 hours & enjoy… shorter brewing time in warmer weather… taste it every so many hours in warm/hot weather to every ½ day to day in cooler weather ;0).... I usually sip some after 24 hours & may even drink some then... in the heat/higher temps, I have been brewing for 48 hours max... if I wait the full 3-4 days, it tastes like alcohol & the grains can turn into a yeasty goo... the 1st brew you do (or maybe even the 1st 2-3) may need to brew a little longer though, so as to get used to different brewing conditions/ingredient variations....

When temps are colder, it may take the full 4 days... just sip it as you go along & stop brewing when you like the taste...** note** the taste gets stronger the next day after it has been refrigerated for several hours, so you will learn what taste you like & figure out if you should brew 12-24 hours shorter, if the taste is too strong for you after being refrigerated... if that makes any sense. 

It is easy, really... you just wing it & go w/what taste suits you... the longer you brew = more alcohol content, which is apparent by tasting & smelling it. 

*** Something new I learned about is using 1 tea bag (I was told 1 tea bag no matter how much water) in place of using any dried fruit & fresh/frozen fruit… so you’d just mix the water, sugar, & baking soda (add baking soda only if needed for your water type… it usually isn’t for spring or well water, but IS for RO or distilled water) ‘til the sugar is dissolved completely… add the grains & then the tea bag (it can float around if it is tag less… if not, hang the tag over the side of the jar)… I haven’t yet used a tea ball, but I plan to… it is stainless… I think it will be fine as long as it is not sitting in the grains… & even then I think it would be fine, but I am not willing to risk that.
 
Also, since there is not a lot of info out there about brewing w/tea bags, I suggest you use the fruit & dried fruit every few batches to revamp the grains… it is not yet known if brewing w/tea bags stunts growth of the WKG, so to be on the safe side, rotate what you use…. & keep some spares in the fridge, dehydrate some, etc. 

When I brew w/tea bags, I find it takes 12-24 hours LONGER than usual to get to the same strength as the fruit brews do… which is really helpful if you forget about it like I do from time to time. ***


TIPS:


EASY BASIC RATIO TO REMEMBER
GRAINS  :   SUGAR   :   WATER   =             1       :        1          :         1
for example----------------------    2 TB GRAINS :  2 TB SUGAR  :  2 CUP WATER


Do YOU ferment anything??  Have you ever had water kefir??  Do YOU make water kefir??  Will you try to brew it yourself now after reading how frugal & easy it is??