August 5, 2012

Water Kefir "Soda"

I like to try new stuff in the kitchen, especially if it might be healthy, cheap, and requires me to tinker.  To this end I keep a sourdough pot, like to make sauerkraut, and now I'm making water kefir.

A blog I stumbled upon, and now follow, is Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity.  Sarah, the blog author, wrote about making water kefir "soda" and that intrigued me.  It took me a while to gather everything up and get the kefir going strong, but I've finally gotten it working.

I got my grains through in a dehydrated state and set about reconstituting them.  In their natural state they look like irregular gelatinous cubes.  What you really want isn't the grains so much as the water they sit in.  To get kefir water you need a few ingredients, and time.

Ingredient list:
Glass container
     (I use a 1/2 gallon mason jar)
4 Cups Chlorine-Free Water
     (I use Glacier filtered water that is left out for 24 hours)
4 drops Trace minerals (if using filtered water)
1/4 Sugar
     (I prefer to use evaporated cane juice)
1/3 Cup kefir grains

Water Kefir and Sugar Water
You really want to stay away from using metal implements when dealing with water kefir as the metal can react with the grains in a negative way.  Also, don't use honey as the sugar source because of honey's anti-bacterial properties.

Water Kefir Grains Strained Out of the Water KefirPut all the ingredients, save the grains, in the jar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Some people heat up the water to make it easier to dissolve the sugar, but room temperature works well for me, but you want the water to be room temp before adding in the grains.  Cover the container with something that lets air in, but keep bugs out.  I either use a seed sprouting lid or a jelly bag.

In the next day or two the kefir grains will eat the sugar and turn it into another form of sugar, fructose I think.  Filter the grains out to start another batch of kefir water.

Water Kefir and 100% Juice
Water Kefir/Juice MixNow you should have about four cups of water kefir.  You can drink it as-is, but I'm not aiming for some sweet water, but a base for some soda replacement.  At this point I add 1 cup of 100% fruit juice.  Sarah recommends sticking with the purple juices, which is advice I've stuck with.  I like to use a blend of juice.  Once that is mixed I put it into some flip top bottles and let it sit our for about 48 hours.  At first I was needing to keep it out for three days to get any carbonation.

Water Kefir Soda
You can get some flip-top bottles at your local brewing store.  If they are on sale you might get them from $1 to $2 a piece......or, you can just go buy some four-packs of Grolsch.  At my store a four-pack is $9.99 and goes on sale for at least $8.99.  When I hear about some folks paying $2.50 per flip-top bottle at the brewing supply store I shake my head.  Of course, if you don't drink beer you should probably get the bottles not filled with beer.  Otherwise, get your drink on.

When your water kefir "soda" is done, simply place it in the fridge and drink it when it is cold.  Take care to use the soda in a reasonable amount of time because it will continue to ferment, albeit a slower rate.  If you leave the bottle out too long they will continue to pressurize as the water kefir converts the sugars in the juice to small amounts of alcohol and a decent amount of carbonation.  Taking the advice of several people, place a towel over the bottle before you open it....just in case.

Water Kefir Soda "Labels"
Since most of what I've posted here is easily found elsewhere on the internet, I should try to add something unique to the body of water kefir knowledge.  This might be lame, but it is something I finally came up with.  Right now I'm making a new batch of water kefir every two days, but it is taking my bottles 3 days to get enough carbonation.  Because of this, the collections of bottles on my counter slowly grows and I'm worried about knowing which bottles are which and accidentally leaving them out.

The obviously answer is to simply label the bottles.  The thing is for me, just exactly how?  I thought about using tags, paper labels, even china markers.  The thing is I don't want to be having to clean labels off of the bottles or fiddle with tags.  This morning it came to me....a simple ring that would slip over the bottle top would work.  I could make some rings, but in the end I just took a marker to some mason jar rings that easily slip on and off the bottles.  Now I know when each bottle was put away.


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