Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Adventures in Water Kefir

Much of my focus lately has been on ways of saving money.  One of our biggest budget expenses is food, so obviously that is a good place to start.
I have noticed a significant improvement to my gut health drinking Kevita daily.  Often on the mainland, we could find Kevita for around two bucks a bottle on sale.  In Hawaii, we routinely pay $3.69 per bottle when we can find it at all.  Don't get me wrong; I love the stuff.  My budget, however, does not.

The best I can figure, Kevita is a water kefir made with coconut water.  Until we are set up to process our own coconuts, I am sticking to plain water kefir.  I purchased the grains on Amazon.  The supplier is Cultures for Health.  You must rehydrate the grains prior to production.  Clear instructions are included in the package. Here's a copy:

 It takes a few days.  Be patient.  Once they are fully rehydrated, you can begin production.  The instructions do caution that it can take a few go-rounds before the water kefir really starts tasting as it should.  I have been working with this particular batch for about two weeks now and I think I'm on to something good.

I use quart jars and produce a quart of water kefir every other day.  Based on ambient temperatures in my kitchen, I let the grains work their goodness for about 36 hours in the first ferment and another 36 in the second.  My husband would like a sweeter final product that still has carbonization, so I am still working out how much fresh juice I am using for the second ferment.  More on that in a minute.

Day 1
I prepare a simple syrup with a 1/4 cup of sugar and about a cup of boiling water.  I use filtered water from our Berkey.  The instructions specifically state not to use water with chlorine in it, so boil your water first, if you're using tap water.  Once the sugar has melted, I fill up the quart jar to about 1 1/2 inches from the top with cool filtered water.  Make sure the water is cooler than 85 degrees fahrenheit.  Then I add the grains.  Where did I get the grains?  I filtered them from the last batch.  Be sure to use a non metal strainer.  I got mine here.

Here's what the grains look like after sitting overnight.  The sugar I used, Alter Eco Organic Cane Sugar, is what is coloring the water.  Initially I used good old C&H Cane Sugar, but the minerals in unbleached organic cane sugar is supposed to keep the kefir grains happy.  The grains are all sitting in the bottom of the jar.

Be sure to cover the jar with either a paper coffee filter or fabric (like a thin dish towel) and a rubber band to keep out critters.

After 36 hours, I filter out the grains and put them in a new batch of liquid (1/4 cup sugar to 1 scant quart of water as above). 

Here is the water kefir in the second ferment with lilikoi (passionfruit) juice.  It will be ready to drink in another day.
Questions?  Let me know and I'll try to answer them.

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