Water Kefir — Where Have You Been All My Life?
Fermented foods and beverages have been rediscovered and become the darlings of today’s food scene. There is one ferment, however, that has been under the radar but is making a splash back into our lives. Let us introduce you to water kefir!
What is Water Kefir?
WATER KEFIR IS A FIZZY FERMENTED BEVERAGE THAT IS BRIMMING WITH PROBIOTICS AND VITAMINS
Water kefir grains, also known as tibicos and cultures, have been around for centuries and are thought to have originated in Mexico in the 1800s. Though nothing has been proven, these origins are fascinating and differ from many other fermented food and drinks around the world. Water kefir grains have withstood the test of time and are able to continually ferment through the toughest heat, and the coldest of cold (they can be frozen, and even freeze-dried). Water kefir grains can be regenerated, making them one of the superheroes of the fermentation world.
Water kefir grains (nothing to do with cereal grains) are a symbiotic relationship between good yeast and good bacteria which form a clear jelly that when fed sugar, produces a powerhouse probiotic beverage that boosts gut health, energy, and immunity. Often, the grains will grow and multiply with each batch brewed—you can share your excess grains with your family and friends, add them to smoothies for an extra probiotic punch, or feed them to your animals to boost their gut health. One other beautiful feature is that you can make the beverage on an as-needed basis because you can put them into a rest state or dormancy for up to 3 months. Just put the grains into water and place them in your fridge. You can stop and start any time.
Why is Water Kefir so Amazing?
The best part about making water kefir is that within 24 hours you have a fermented low sugar drink that is:
- contains 30 probiotic strains
- concentrated with b12, b6, and b1
- full of magnesium, folate, vitamin k, electrolytes, and enzymes
The First Ferment
The ultra simple recipe for making water kefir is:
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water kefir grains
- 4 cups water
Place your brewing jar in a warm spot and the grains quickly eat up the sugar. Within 24 hours you have a fermented drink that has a mild, slightly sweet flavour, with just a hint of fermentation. It is neutral enough for even the pickiest of palates, and readily supports any flavours you want to add. The first ferment can be ingested as-is or added to your smoothie for a probiotic boost. Since it is brimming with vitamin B12, it’s ideal for vegetarians and vegans.
The Second Ferment
The second ferment, for an additional 24 hours, will make a naturally carbonated beverage with all of the benefits of the first ferment. The effervescence is refreshing and a welcome substitute to sugar-laden pop and other flavoured waters.
Strain the liquid from the first ferment into a swivel top bottle that has a tight rubber seal. Flavour your ferment, by adding your favourite juice, tea, herbs, or fresh fruit to the bottle. Seal and leave it in a warm place for 24 hours. The water kefir eats up the sugar in the bottle, creating natural carbonation, leaving you with a fizzy drink that is light and refreshing.
- Water kefir grains have a chemical reaction with metal that can damage the grains, so ensure that you use a nylon strainer, plastic funnel, and a wooden spoon to prevent the grains from being damaged.
- Remember, water kefir loves summer and can be explosive if you leave it out in the warmth too long during the second fermentation process. Always refrigerate immediately after you have reached the perfect flavour and effervescence. Burp your bottles periodically to reduce the built up pressure.