How to brew water kefir

How to brew water kefir.

I think I’ve decided that water kefir could be my favourite ferment of them all.

It’s exciting to me to have such a healthy fizzy herbal soda, where I can control the quality of the ingredients. It’s also done in such a relatively short period of time from start to finish.

I’ll try and lay out the bare bones basics of how easy it is for those of you who ask me!

  1. Dissolve approximately 3 tablespoons of sugar in a mug of hot water. Stir to dissolve. Top up with another 3 mugs of cold water. Add the grains. I usually use a glass vessel of 1-2 litre size for this- and once the grains have been added to the sugar water I cover the top with a cloth or tea towel and rubber band. If I have a spare lemon in the house, I might also squeeze in a half lemon at this point, but this isn’t necessary.
  2. Let this sit out at room temperature for 24-48 hours. Taste from time to time and when it’s at an agreeable level of less-sweetness and not too tart, I strain the grains from the liquid.

Repeat the 1st step with the grains- as they need this sugar water to ‘survive’.

3. Take the strained water kefir liquid and here’s the fun experimental part: either drink as is/ add lemon or flavouring, add to a smoothie or fruit juice if you don’t want carbonation- it’s ready to drink anytime!

or if like me, the fizz is what you’re looking for- bottle the water kefir liquid into a Grolsch beer bottle style clamp down lid bottle (or a plastic bottle for those who err on the side of caution- take note that this can create a dangerous amount of carbonation- be warned!) and sweeten with a cordial, syrup, fruit juice, fresh/dried/frozen fruit of choice, ginger, lemon juice, or a sweetened herbal tea. It’s best if you make it slightly sweeter than your preference at this stage as the extra sweetness will be what creates your carbonation. Clamp down the lid firmly, label your bottle with your flavourings and the date- and leave out another 12-24-48 hours at room temperature, then move to the refrigerator. Chill and enjoy!

The benefit of the plastic bottle, especially as you are learning, is that you can ascertain when the bottle has fully carbonated, as the fizz will expand the plastic bottle and it will become rock-hard. As soon as this happens, you can move to the fridge and enjoy when cool.

Be warned: If you don’t use a glass bottle with the rubber grommets/ gasket, there is a very real risk of the glass exploding.

Best if made and drank within days as the carbonation will keep building up as fermentation progresses.

My favourite flavour combinations:

ginger and lemon

elderflower cordial makes a nearly exact cheat version of elderflower champagne

elderberry or blackberry and ginger

fresh pineapple

fresh apple juice added 1/4 to 3/4 water kefir makes a lovely light effervescent apple fizz.

This website has another nice explanation about how and why to brew water kefir:

How to Brew Water Kefir (a quick tutorial)

Or as always, I highly recommend you visit Cultures for Health website and find a rich resource of information including their free ebooks which you can download.

http://culturesforhealth.com/media/docs/Water_Kefir_Ebook.pdf

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/water-kefir/how-to-flavor-water-kefir-video/

water kefir grains

Ginger Lime Water Kefir Recipe

I finally got some more water kefir grains today from Healthy Habits in Wicklow Town.

I had water kefir grains in the past but quickly felt overwhelmed from too many cultures on the go. I am now superhuman (ha, you should see my countertops!) at balancing all of my cultures, so I decided to give it another go.

If you’d like to learn more about water kefir grains and read loads of recipes, one of my favourite websites is Cultures for Health.

This recipe is slightly adapted from Bar Tartine’s Cortney Burn’s of San Fransisco. I highly recommend this cookbook.

 

Ginger Lime Water Kefir recipe

Makes 3 cups/ double the recipe if desired. 

Ingredients:

 

3 cups/ 750ml filtered water, preferably non-chlorinated

¼ cup/ 50 gram sugar

½ teaspoon molasses, preferably blackstrap

a washed, organic eggshell (for added minerals)

pinch of sea salt

2 squeezed lemons or limes, including the peel if organic

a couple pieces of dried fruit such as raisins or apricots

1-2 inches of organic fresh ginger, sliced finely.

¼ cup/ 45 grams water kefir grains

Method

 

In a 1 litre non-reactive container, such as a glass milk bottle, dissolve the water and sugar. Once mixed, add in all of the other ingredients: molasses, eggshell, sea salt, lemon peel, (save the juice for later) dried fruit, sliced ginger and lastly the water kefir grains. If you add the water kefir grains loosely in a small muslin sack or bag they are much easier to remove after.

Screw the lid on tight and give it a shake to mix everything. Then (importantly) leave the lid on, but unscrewed so that the carbon dioxide can escape. Or use an airlock if you have one. Bottles can and will explode if you don’t take care! If you’ve screwed the lid on, be sure to release the carbon dioxide every 6-8 hours by opening the container.

Let stand in a warm place of 68-72F/ 18-22C for 48 hours. 72 hours if the room is cooler. It should be gently fizzy.

Remove and discard the fruit (you can eat it) and lemon pieces and eggshell. Remove the kefir grains. Strain the liquid through a sieve to catch any other bits or kefir grains.

Stir in the lemon or lime juice using more or less to taste. In Cortney’s recipe, she also adds fresh ginger juice.

Transfer the liquid to flip top bottles such as glass Grolsch bottles with the rubber gasket. Leave at least 1 inch/ 2.5 cm of head space to allow the carbon dioxide to expand. Let stand at room temperature until pressure builds, about 24 hours. You can use a plastic bottle if desired to remove the possibility of explosions, but also to gauge that the pressure has built up sufficiently. Once the bottle feels hard, move to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for up to 1 month. Serve cold straight out of the bottle.

I’d recommend opening the bottles with care. I open them over the sink and with a plastic jug over the top of the bottle in the event of a surprise geizer!

The kefir grains need to be fed, so once removed from the mixture feed them again immediately in a sugar water mixture of ¼ cup sugar/ 50 grams to 1 quart or litre of water. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. Drain and add fresh sugar water every 7 days. Or repeat the recipe and start again!

ginger water kefir