Have you heard of water kefir? Water kefir is a fermented beverage that is produced by introducing a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (the water kefir "grains") into a prepared sugar water mixture, and letting it sit out on your counter for a couple of days. The grains eat the sugar in the water, and turn the water into what is alleged to be a health-giving, probiotic-rich tonic, called kefir water. Thereafter, the process is repeated numerous times (subsequent batches) by straining the grains, and reintroducing the them into fresh sugar water. The kefir water can be drunk after the first fermentation, or fruit (dried or fresh), flavorants (vanilla, lemon peel) and/or fruit juice (apple, grape, cranberry) can be added, and a second fermentation performed. If capped tightly, the kefir water will be lightly carbonated. It is supposed to be tangy, delicious and healthy for you to drink. Katie, at wellnessmama.com, is an water kefir aficionada, and has gotten her kids to drink water kefir "soda", as well. She just delivered a healthy baby, and safely enjoyed kefir water during her pregnancy. After reading a couple of her articles on the subject (she is a fan of lactofermentation, as well), I decided to give it a try.
So, I ordered some Water Kefir Grains on Amazon the other day, together with a nylon mesh strainer, to strain my grains. The grains arrived early, while the strainer is still missing. That did not stop me from traveling to my local Walmart, buying some mason jars, bottled spring water and coffee filters, and starting to brew my own water kefir.
What I did:
I combined 1/3 cup of palm sugar with warm water to dissolve, then added the grains, and enough spring water to fill a 1 quart mason jar almost to the top. I covered the top of the jar with a coffee filter, and fixed it down by using the round part of the screw top (lid removed). I did all this on Saturday... today is Monday, and the 48 hour ferment is over. Once I get home, I have to strain the grains, start a new batch of water kefir, and figure out what the heck to do with the stuff I've already brewed. My plan: I am going to pour out about 4 ounces, mix with fresh lemon juice and pour over ice. This is called water kefir lemonade - I am going to see if I like it. Then, I am going to put the rest into a mason jar, add some dried cranberries and orange peel, cover tightly with the lid, and let it engage in a second ferment in the fridge for a couple of days, and see how that tastes.
So far so good. Going to Walmart to get the mason jars was the right decision to make. While I am an Amazon junkie, you just can't get mason jars from Amazon cheaply. I saved at least $12 by going to Walmart - no joke, 12 x 1 quart mason jars with lids for less than $8.
One sketchy thing and a note: the description of the water kefir grains I purchased said that they were being sold by Cultures for Health, LLC. This is a company with a good reputation for sending out dehydrated water kefir grains, and is the company whose grains Katie at wellnessmama.com used with good results. However, the product was not actually sold by Cultures for Health, but by some other guy. It was kind of shady. There were some really positive reviews, so I'm encouraged. I just don't like what appears to be dishonesty. Also, imagine my surprise when I received LIVE grains, not dehydrated grains. I mean, the brew seems to be working, so I don't have any complaints about the product (at least not yet as I haven't tried it and cannot attest to the success of the brew or the longevity of the grains). Still, I feel like I was misled into purchasing a product from an unknown vendor, when I thought it was coming from a company whose product was reviewed by someone whose opinion I trust. Just saying...