I am sure that by now you know fully well how big of a fan I am of lacto-fermented foods. I admit I have been going crazy over them during the past year. But I do not regret it one bit. These foods make me feel better so I will continue eating them.
In this post, I want to introduce you to my recipe for water kefir. I almost always have a batch fermenting in my kitchen, available to drink first thing in the morning. It tastes great as it is but it can also be customized to give your kefir a unique flavor of your own. I have tried many of them over the past few months (I even made root beer water kefir once!) but the one I find myself making most often is strawberry water kefir. I am lucky to live in an area with plenty of small strawberry plantations that provide me with good and organic strawberries, free of GMOs and pesticides.
Any other fruit will work well too! I made lemon, orange, pomegranate, berries, raspberry, plum, and plenty of other kinds of water kefirs and not one of them tasted badly. Just use whatever you have on hand or is in season currently.
But before you choose your flavor, first let’s talk a bit about what water kefir actually is and why it’s worth taking the time to make your own.
Water kefir – what is it?
It’s a lacto-fermented drink that you can make at home if you have water kefir grains (they are called grains because they look like them but it’s actually just a specific type of symbiotic culture). The water kefir grains are submerged in sugar water and consume the sugar to produce natural probiotics (healthy bacteria). Once they produced enough probiotics, you remove the water kefir grains and flavor the drink with the fruit or spices of your choice! That’s the gist of the water kefir making process.
That’s what the process of lacto-fermentation is: turning sugars into lactic acid and cellular energy. The byproducts of that are those important probiotics that are also found in other fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and natural yogurt. If you eat yogurt because it is good for digestion then you will surely become a fan of water kefir as well! It will make you feel better and healthier.
The process also creates some natural fizziness. In that aspect, water kefir tastes similar to commercial soda drinks. If you find it hard to give up artificially sweetened soda then water kefir might just be the thing that will help you abandon that unhealthy habit once and for all. There is no doubt that store-bought soda drinks are bad for you and should be avoided at all costs. Corn syrup and processed white sugar are the main culprit behind childhood obesity and dental issues. Non-sugar sodas (think zero calorie sodas) are artificially sweetened with suspicious chemicals that have no business being inside your body. Not to mention the carbonation process that makes those sodas difficult on your digestive system. But because water kefir’s fizziness is caused by a natural lacto-fermentation process, it won’t cause you the same negative side effects.
So water kefir is not something you drink as an indulgence, like soda. It’s something you drink because it’s good for your body and the indulgence is just a side effect. Perfect combination if you ask me!
Making water kefir is a lot of fun, too! I like to include my son in the process to show him how natural processes work and how good they can taste when done properly. It also makes me feel more connected to nature. Making anything on my own using only organic real foods always feels good but it’s a whole different level if you are working with actual living organisms!
Water kefir grains are very economical because you can reuse them multiple times. I have had my batch for over a year now and they still work perfectly, just as they should. I feel like my water kefir grains have become a little living friend I have always beside me to heal me.
Here’s what you will need to brew your own homemade water kefir:
The water kefir grains are the key to the whole recipe. You can order them online. The packaging will most probably have all the basic instructions written down. It’s really pretty simple!
You will also need some plain organic sugar to make the sugar water. Careful, don’t use whole cane sugar for this because it won’t work! Regular sugar is the best here. Don’t worry about it being unhealthy – the bacteria cultures will eat it for you!
The quality of the water is also of utmost importance. Regular tap water or even basic filtered water will kill the water kefir grains and the recipe won’t work. That’s because of fluoride and other toxins it usually contains. If you have a home filter that gets rids of these substances then you are probably good to go. I don’t have a home filter so my only option is to go to a local water supply store. There you should find something called reverse osmosis water (RO). RO water is completely pure. It doesn’t contain any toxins but also it lacks minerals. If you use RO water, add some commercial mineral drops or a pastured egg shell to give that water some nourishment. You might also find Macro Porous Polymer water (MPP) that is toxin-free but still has all the minerals. That’s the best one but it’s quite difficult to find.
And for the other equipment, you will need a few glass mason jars with lids and some other items that can be found in most kitchens. I usually use one big half gallon jar. That’s all! Finally, time for the recipe:
- two half gallon glass jars
- a storage lid
- a soft kitchen cloth
- a strainer
- 1 package of hydrated water grains (about quarter of a regular cup)
- pure but full of minerals water
- 1/2 cup of plain organic sugar
- 1 cup of diced fruit OR fruit juice OR coconut water
- optional: 1 clean pastured egg shell
- optional: 5 drops of mineral drops
- Fill the glass jar with filtered water to about 3/4 of its capacity. If you are using mineral drops, add them at this point. Leave a couple of inches of free space at the top.
- Transfer a little bit of that water in the jar to a saucepan and bring it to a boil.
- Add in the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Be careful not to burn the sugar. It’s safer to turn off the heat once the water has reached boiling water.
- Put the sugar water back in the glass jar.
- Carefully add water kefir grains to the water. If you are using egg shell to enrich your water with minerals, add it at this point.
- Cover the jar with a soft cloth. It will keep the fermenting jar free of dirt while still allowing it to breathe.
- Leave the jar to rest at room temperature for one day. If it’s cold, two days is better.
- Taste to see if it’s sweet enough. If it is, move on to the next step.
- Strain the contents of the jar into another clean jar. If your water kefir grains came in a muslin bag, you won’t need to strain them out. Discard the egg shell and put the water kefir grains aside for now. It’s best to reuse them immediately so I usually put them in a jar with a new batch at this point.
- Now add the flavoring to your water kefir. In my case, I add 1 cup of diced strawberries to the water kefir.
- Cover the jar with a soft cloth again.
- Leave the jar to rest at room temperature for one day.
- Uncover the jar and screw a lid on top of it tightly.
- Leave the jar to rest at room temperature for a few hours. This will create the fizziness.
- To stop the lacto-fermentation process, transfer to the fridge.
- Serve chilled. I like to add a slice of lemon to my glass of water kefir to up the refreshing factor even more.
Enjoy all the benefits of this wonderful fizzy probiotic!