Water Kefir

Working with a new ferment produces all kinds of insecurities, like a first-time mother learning how to breastfeed.

I call up my kefir mentors the way an uptight mother relies on the nursing hotline.

“So Tara, do you think our house will be warm enough for the kefir to ferment?”

…”Shanon, it’s me again, I just had to call you back because I forgot to boil my water to get rid of the chlorine before adding the grains. What should I do now?”

And on the phone calls go. I try to alternate between the two of them, to give them each a break. Sometimes I ask them both the same question, just for extra assurance. Now that I’m on my third batch I’ve let up a little and realize that it’s all going to work out just fine. In fact, right beside me on the counter is a jar of it, burping out a bubbly song in harmony with the gallon of kombucha from the other side of the kitchen.

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Kefir at the end of it’s first ferment. It takes 3 days in our house because we let the temp. get down to 15C at night.  I also add a piece of ginger and a couple of dates to the first ferment. You can see them floating in the cheese cloth.

We had brewed kombucha on and off for about seven years, when I decided it was finally time to take the plunge with the next probiotic on my list: water kefir. You can order kefir grains online but I think it’s best to get them fresh. That way you can call up your benefactor every couple of hours with a new question. My kefir grains have already reproduced enough for me to give some away–if you have a hankering for some, let me know!

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Kefir grains are not actually a grain, but a culture of bacteria and yeast. Their consistency is like steamed-cauliflower. They look like crystals but they are soft.

If you are interested in learning about the process, I recommend this site, where I found lots of helpful information to supplement my hourly phone calls. You will find all kinds of reasons, online, why people go crazy for this stuff.I’m doing it for three reasons:

1. It’s fun to sit around at night and talk about how the kefir grains are doing and watch the bubbles float to the top. It’s like our own little aquarium, only instead of fish, we watch kefir grains and a floating piece of ginger.

2. My guts need all the friendly bacteria they can get. Instead of buying a bottle of pills for sixty bucks, brewing my own kefir gives me a tasty probiotic punch whenever I need it.

3. Choosing the flavouring! After the kefir grains sit in the sugar water for a few days, I strain out the grains, add flavour to the water, and bottle it up so it gets fizzy. My flavour additions, so far, have been nanking cherry juice concentrate; sweetened lemon juice; and vanilla.

There are many websites that outline more health benefits and give details about the process. This is not one of them. Instead, here are a few more pictures to make you thirsty!

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Strained kefir, in the blue pitcher; soon to be bottled for the second ferment.

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I tried vanilla because of the promise it would turn out like “cream soda”. It did. (I also added sugar.)

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We bought a bottle capper to use with recycled beer bottles. The fizzy gasp, when you twist off the cap, is beautiful! In this picture I am capping the bottles for their second ferment (this one takes about 2 days).

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finished cherry kefir

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“Cream soda” kefir float

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If you stop in at our place, drinks are on the house!

Tricia

Hey, before you go (there’s still a bit of that desperate newbie in me)–does anyone out there have other flavouring ideas or tips?

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10 thoughts on “Water Kefir

  1. What a timely post! As I just spent another $50 on kombucha, I have to get off my butt and start my fermenting! Have you done sauerkraut too? I might be emailing you regarding all this soon! The cherry kefir looks divine!

      • Have the kids ever tried it? I’m currently using the Bubbies brand and the kids love it. Usually have it raw with scrambled eggs and avocado for breakfast. And raspberries and rhubarb…so many good ideas, so little time! 🙂

  2. I just did sauerkraut and it turned out very sour – I’m thinking of adding a dab of honey next time or some sweetener to cut it! I’m currently the only one eating it in our household. 🙂 My other favorite kefir flavourings are apple juice (the homemade kind from all those fall apples) – brewed and left to sit a few extra days (in the fridge) gives it that alcoholic cider taste! Also, rhubarb lemonade (also from the freezer rhubarb stash) with orange and lemon slices. So good! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the kefir!

  3. Oh course you’re making kefir! You’re my favourite. I want some, you make it look so appetizing, but then I’d want the bottle capper and pretty tags too…also, who is drinking the beer? Do you force Stan to drink beer so you can have the bottles? 🙂 I’m sure I could convince Julio to do the same. I think I’d also like some so I could call you all the time with my kefir questions.

  4. I’ve seriously been thinking of trying kefir – and you DO make it look good! We are fighting thrush around here, and I’m wondering if/how kefir is better than yogurt and whey (my current probiotics). Any idea?

    • Jaimee–so good to hear from you! I’m sorry you have thrush. I do not know much about the specific bacterial differences between water kefir and yogurt, except that they would be different. Sorry I am not much help–put Jer on this one! 🙂 I do know that even in one kind of probiotic drink (kefir or kombucha), their are different strains of bacteria that thrive during the varied stages of fermentation. Some people encourage drinking these beverages at different stages to take advantage of this diversity. My humble, non-expert opinion would be: the more diverse, healthy bacteria in your intestines, the better. I wish you well! Tricia

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