Monday, May 9, 2011

Intro to Water Kefir (& How Easy It Is to Make & Drink)


Who drinks water kefir?
Water wha-fir?
You heard me.  It's a probiotic drink.
??
It's a laughably easy drink to make that gives your digestive system good bacteria which enables your gut to be healthy and support good immunity, nutrition absorption,  and overall health.
... ???
It's a fizzy drink that's really good for you.
Oh.  Okay.  You are curious in the head.

That's the conversation I just had with an imaginary health skeptic.  
Movingrightalong.

Making water kefir was something on my list of things to try for quite a while now.  I've been making milk kefir for years and love it.  It's so simple to make, and all the equipment I need is a glass jar with a lid.  We make kefir smoothies daily, but if we miss a day, my body feels the loss of it.  Back to water kefir...

A couple weeks ago, I  finally pulled the trigger and ordered a water kefir kit.  I was so pleased to find such clear, easy instructions, along with some great recipes.  The strainers that came with the kit are perfect!  All plastic (normally I stay away from plastic but all kefir grains react to metal, so plastic it is) and the holes were nice and tiny so I wouldn't lose any of the precious grains.

Did you know you have to keep your ferments away from each other while they do their thing or else the different (beneficial) bacteria found in each one can weaken the other?  I did not know that, but I do now, thanks to the instructions I got with my new experiment.  Otherwise, I totally would have had a cute little "ferments" corner on my kitchen counter.  Veggie (like sauerkraut) and dairy (milk kefir and creme fraiche) ferments along with their new water kefir friend would have been closely lined up along my kitchen counter so I could admire them all the live-long day, and they'd be quietly hurting each other without be knowing it.  Yikes.  They all need to be several feet apart, but I'm playing it safe and keeping the water kefir in my room while it ferments 24-48 hours. 


It was time.  Time to try water kefir.  Time to strain those grains out of the final product, dump the grains into a new rapadura-water mixture, and give this stuff a try.  Did I mention how wonderfully stress-free the strainers are that came with the kit?


Here goes... I poured myself a glass.  There were some definite reservations.  What if it tasted putrid?  What if I couldn't handle this amazingly probiotic-rich beverage?  What if I just wasted money on something that might be too healthy to taste good?  What if....? Oh.  I'm drinking it now.  Ooh, it is a bit effervescent.  My, it's not bad.  But if I stop drinking, will the aftertaste evoke a dry heave?  Hm.  No bad aftertaste.  It was actually.... a pleasant experience.  I think I might have another glass, thank you very much.  Victory!

The imaginary health critic just came back to grill me.

Why are the grains and the drink brown?
Because the grains were fed on, and continue to feed on rapadura (a much better choice than refined white sugar).  If you fed them with white sugar, they would turn white.

Wait.  There's sugar in this drink?  Isn't that bad?
Kefir grains, both dairy and water, feed on sugar.  Just as milk kefir feeds on lactose (milk sugar), the grains in water kefir eat up and break down the rapadura, leaving a probiotic-rich drink without ugly sugar side effects.

So, if the grains eat up sugar, why not just use cheaper white sugar instead of rapadura?
Water kefir needs minerals to survive.  Unlike depleted white sugar, rapadura is loaded with minerals, and that makes the grains happy.  Everybody loves a happy grain.

If you're already using milk kefir, why water kefir too?
We use milk kefir in smoothies, but it's important to have something with probiotics in every meal to aid digestion and heal the gut if there are any issues or to keep it healthy.  Water kefir is a quick, easy solution to drink throughout the day and with meals.  Kefir is on the GAPS diet list, and anything found there is known for it's strong healing properties and gentleness on the digestive system.

Why do you let the water kefir ferment with a cloth tied down with a rubber band instead of just screwing the lid on?
Water kefir grains need to breathe while it changes the water solution into kefir.

Okay, so you like it.  What about your kids?
Our two youngest gobble it up.  Their pallets were formed on probiotic-rich foods.  No big deal.  They love it!  The older two?  Well, because our food wasn't super healthy until after their pallets were formed (by age 3), everything is an uphill battle.  I'm just being honest here.  It doesn't mean I stop offering it to them, it means introducing new healthy things to kids (and adults) who weren't raised on the stuff is no cake walk.  But it can happen, they get used to it (and even begin to like it), and they feel a difference when they haven't had a real food meal, especially my son who struggles with acid reflux (the reason we are inching toward the GAPS diet).

Any other things you like about this drink?
Yes!  It is yummy all by itself, but there are lots of recipes out there to flavor water kefir.  If you sign up for the Cultures for Health's newsletter, you can receive a free, 30-page ebook with only kefir recipes, like cream soda, ginger, lemon, vanilla...  Also, this stuff doesn't need to be refrigerated!  I can pour some in a mason jar, screw a lid on it, take it with me on errands or outside as I work the land, and not have to worry about it going bad, even if it's sits out all day.  It can sit out for several days, and it just gets fizzier.  One less thing to squish into my fridge is a very good thing.

My imaginary health critic is finally silent.  Are you satisfied now, imaginary health critic?  I sure hope so.  Now go drink some water kefir.  I'm going to bed before I write myself out of readers.


Note:  Although I did buy the kefir water kit with my own money and planned to blog about my experience and share all about my new-found love with Cultures for Health, I am now an affiliate with them and get a small percentage anytime someone buys something form them if they click a link from this blog.  All the opinions above are 100% mine and none of it was scripted by Cultures for Health, nor are they responsible for any of my statements.  The end.  Am I legal now?

21 comments:

  1. If only I liked fermented stuff lol.... I'd still try it though

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  2. ha, too weird. i just read through your debt-free journey last week and have your honey-mustard chicken recipe on my menu plan. now we have the same post on the same day!

    www.lesstoxiclife.blogspot.com

    i love water kefir too!

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  3. That's fun, Kim. Great minds think alike. ;)

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  4. That's it, you're officially my favorite blogger. :)

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  5. I have also made kefir for several years but never took the jump to water kefir. I have wanted to try it recently. Glad to see this review!!

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  6. I am writing this comment as I sip my apple-juice-water-kefir-soda. SO good! I kinda liked the taste of plain water kefir but now, after tasting this, I will always do two fermentations. One with sugar water & grains, then a second with juice or fresh fruit & water kefir. Love it! Hope to hear more of your experience with it! :)

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  7. I'm following you from the Friday Blog Hop at Deborah Jean's Dandelion House. I've been wanting to try water kefir. I've never used grains for kefir, only the powdered stuff. Time for me to learn. Drop by my farm blog when you get a chance. I'd love to have you follow me back. Have a great week!
    Patrice
    www.everydayruralty.com

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  8. Just Passing Through...May 19, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    A few thoughts from a milk and water kefir maniac.
    Mixing water and milk kefir is a favorite for breakfast here...what a delicious surprise that was!
    For introducing newbies to water kefir, I always suggest a 2nd ferment adding grape juice. It makes a tasty, easy-to-win-skeptics-over grape soda.
    Rapadura is a good growth choice, but it gets very strong (and unpleasant IMO) tasting and is rather expensive. I've gotten great results for several years using primarily organic sugar (plus an unsulphured apricot) with a few teaspoons of Rapadura or molasses when growth is lagging...which rarely happens. My grains double in volume every few weeks.
    I ferment for 2 days and then pour off, mix with juice or fresh fruit, bottle in emptied Perrier and one quart organic (Knudsen) juice bottles and ferment another day. No egg shell either. My water kefir is vibrant, slightly fermented tasting, fizzy, and well received. I really don't mean to sound braggy, and I highly respect Cultures for Life, but I'm wondering if they're making it a little more complicated than it needs to be. Anyway...just a random thought from a lurker! :)

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  9. Thanks, this is super great advice!

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  10. That's awesome that you are sharing this drink. My mama made me something like this to drink but I can't get use to it yet. I know it is really good for you.
    Come & Play: Thursday Two Questions

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  11. Love water kefir... I use azomite in mine....it's a clay with minerals from a to z.... The Grains love it, it's like superfood to em. I usually did the 50/50 with organic fruit juice and water but have my forst basic batch going now....gonna make a lemon/lime/ginger...should be ready tomorrow. To the folks who "don't like fermented"..... Well do you like natural soda, it's like that.... not like other fermented foods/drinks...unless you leave it out too long and it turns to wine

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  12. I just ordered some Water Kefir grains the other day. Thanks for the great info and tips!

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  13. THANK YOU for explaining in detail. I've heard water kefir mentioned often but never exactly knew what it was or anything about it. I was familiar with milk kefir, but water kefir sounded a bit gross! I'm new to you, btw, and so far loving your blog! Go girl! You helped me feel better about us living in small spaces with our two kids, that love and health are all that really matter, not size of home.

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  14. Thanks!! Ive been wanting to try water kefir but a little chicken. :)

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  15. I have been reading your blog off and on for a while now (reading when I have time!) and have been intrigued by water kefir. Finally followed your link today and ordered a kit. This should be interesting. :-) I am fortunate my son will generally try anything a few times. We shall see how this one goes!

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  16. Fun! I hope you and your son enjoy it! It's really fun to play around with different flavors.

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  17. I find if he can be a part of making something he is much more inclined to give it a fair shot. :-)

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  18. It is good. Really there is nothing in it that could be awful tasting. My daughter made some and now I am making my own. Love it.

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  19. I recently gave water kefir a try, and am puzzled about something. Is it supposed to be fizzy? I was under the impression that it was, but mine never is. I even put it in flip-top bottles after I strained the grains out. Any thoughts?

    I was very surprised to hear that it's not good to keep it with your other ferments. I've been keeping it very near my Kombucha as it brews...maybe that's the problem?

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  20. You might also want to let it ferment for longer. The colder it is, the longer it will take to ferment. So it might get fizzy faster in the summertime than it will now.

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  21. Sorry, but the Kefir mentioned in the GAPS diet is milk kefir and NOT water kefir, I cant find 'water kefir' in GAPS book nor in Dr. NCM website...

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