What’s the buzz about kefir lately? The USDA has recently decided to exempt kefir beverages from the Class I classification of milk. That goes for kefir and other drinkable yogurt products which contain at least 20% yogurt by weight and for meal replacement products as well.
This is just a reflection of the fact that kefir doesn’t really compete with milk. It is often consumed as a healthy snack just like yogurt; hence, it is priced as Class 2 milk. And while the USDA does that, have you heard of water kefir?
It’s an effervescent drink that can be cultured at home and served as a healthy alternative to soda. There’s even a workshop about making this drink. The process is so easy and more so, it tastes really good.
Water kefir is composed of 40 strains of probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that both yogurt and kefir are famed for, and yeast. Kefir grains are generally needed for making or growing any form of kefir and you can buy them in a lot of companies and places online. For this recipe, its sugars are mostly eaten on the process of fermentation and the longer you leave it, the stronger the kefir will be.
But first, here are just a few points to bear in mind about making water kefir. Never fill your bottles more than ¾ full. The carbon dioxide produced in the fermentation creates pressure and this pressure potentially forces the lid off the jar which could even explode.
Do not have your kefir grains come in contact with metal like metal containers, spoons and metal strainers. Any type of metal could interfere with or destroy the microflora in kefir grains. If you can, try to have those handheld bottle capper and caps, and recycled glass bottles.
Now, for your basic water kefir, you would need ¼ cup of organic sugar and you may replace a tablespoon of this with rapadura which encourages faster growth. Other ingredients include half an inch of ginger root that is peeled and thinly sliced, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or 2 slices of organic lemon -whereas if it’s non-organic, you have to remove the peel- and 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda. Of course, you need 4 tablespoons of water kefir grains for this and 1 cup of spring water.
Mix your spring water, ginger root, lemon and baking soda in a quart glass jar and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the water kefir grains and spring water making sure that it’s not more than ¾ of your container, loosely cap and let it ferment for 24 to at room temperature. After which, you can strain the kefir.
Strain into your glass bottles with your hands or plastic strainer and seal strongly enough to hold out the pressure. Store airtight at room temperature once again for 1 to 3 days and then refrigerate. When it’s ready, expect a lot of fizz, so open carefully over the sink and serve chilled.
The strained kefir grains can still even be used in the next batch to ferment. You can also experiment with this drink with fresh fruits or fruit juices. There you have your water kefir, a sparkling healthy probiotic drink.