By now most of us know about the benefits of probiotics for digestion, assimilation of nutrients and for a host of other processes including proper brain function. I have written about foods that are rich in probiotics, such as kimchee and sauerkraut, yogurt and naturally fermented pickles. Now I want to add another to the list! You may have heard of milk keifer; a probiotic rich drink, much like yogurt, but with different beneficial bacteria and in liquid, drinkable form. I want to introduce water kefir to you.
Water kefir is made by adding sugar water to kefir culture and letting it ferment. This creates a naturally effervescent, slightly sweet and refreshing beverage that is full of probiotics. It is a bit confusing at first, to hear about fermented drinks that start out with sugar water and end up being beneficial and nutritious. It doesn’t make a lot of sense until delving into the world of fermentation and the art of making these probiotic rich foods and drinks in your own kitchen.
What are Kefir Grains?
Kefir “grains” are not grain at all. They are granules of yeast and bacteria that look much like crystallized sugar, but larger and soft. They reproduce quickly and make the bubbly beverage in about 2 days. You can get the culture either in dried form as a powder (online) or wet from someone who is currently making kefir water. The “grains” multiply quickly after making a batch of the effervescent liquid and are reusable many times over. People who are lactose intolerant can drink water kefir as a substitute for milk kefir while getting all of the benefits of the healthy drink.
Water kefir is made in two days with the final fermentation of a day or two creating a bubbly delicious brew. Start with ¼ cup of Rapadura (unrefined, dehydrated cane juice) per quart of water. Dissolve the sugar in water and add about 3 tablespoons of the kefir bacteria to the cooled (to room temperature) sugar water and place in a glass jar. Cover this concoction with a cheese cloth and let sit for two days on a counter top. Then strain the liquid and bottle it. Add any type of flavoring, like ginger, or lemon juice to the liquid. Put in a jar and cap it for another day of counter top fermenting. When you open the jar you will have a bubbly and tasty drink that is also beneficial for digestion.
Experiment with making it and add it to the list of fun and delicious healthful drinks with good gut bacteria.