Written by Jessika Schaad
As the warmer weather returns, so does my water kefir making. It’s a beverage I love making over the spring, summer and early autumn time. My kefir culture hibernates over winter.
This home-made delicious beverage is loved by my family. It's our fizzy, effervescent treat drink with wonderful benefits to our gut. Water kefir is a traditional fermented drink made with water and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts held in a “polysaccharide biofilm matrix created by the bacteria”, well said by Wikipedia. It is a low sugar and non alcoholic beverage that has the health benefits of increasing friendly bacteria in our guts which leads to better digestion and a stronger immune system.
If you do not have this already going in your kitchen and you would like to give it a crack, here is my basic recipe and method to make, here is how I make a basic water kefir.
I use a big glass jar that holds about 1.5L fluid.
½ cup kefir culture grains (ask around your community)
½ cup organic raw sugar
A small handful of organic sultanas
1 dried organic fig
A slice of lemon
A pinch of salt
Method for the first ferment
Boil some water to dissolve the raw sugar and fill up the jar with filtered water.
When the water is cool, add the kefir grains, sultanas, fig, lemon slice and pinch of salt.
Cover with a paper towel and rubber band and place on your kitchen bench with plenty of light but avoiding direct sunlight.
Watch it do its magic as the sultanas begin to bob up and down, looking like some brilliant year 7 science experiment.
The first ferment will typically be ready in 2-4 days over summer, depending on how active the grains are, and longer in winter. The best thing to do is taste it after a few days. It’s ready when the sweetness turns to a tangy taste and will have an effervescence to it. Leaving it too long to ferment will make the brew too sour like vinegar.
When the desired taste is reached, strain it off with a plastic sieve. The culture doesn’t like metal, so use a wooden spoon and glass to store when not in use.
Compost the sultanas and fig and keep the kefir grains in filtered water ready for your next batch.
I pour the first ferment into glass jars, add some delicious extra’s to flavour and put it in the fridge.
The grains are ready to start a fresh batch
The second ferment
This is the water that has been strained from the kefir grains, sultanas and fig.
This is the fun part where you get to add some of your favourite plants and fruits to make a truly delicious drink. Typically, I put about 3 things into the water kefir at one time for flavour.
Some of things I like to put into the second ferment which goes in the fridge are; fresh peppermint and lemon balm, ginger root, cardamon pods, star anise, fruits like watermelon, orange, lemon, stone fruits. Whatever you fancy really.
For the ins and outs of looking after your culture, there are many websites with information. One site I found helpful is ‘Yemoos nourishing cultures’. Once you have made this beverage for a while and know your culture, there is more experimentation and art to be discovered in the craft of making this beverage.
Enjoy and be effervescent this summer!