Image by Perpetual Tea Party.
When I first heard of water kefir, people were saying that it is a great soda replacement. Now, I didn’t drink a lot of soda, but every once in a while I started craving the fizzy drink. (You might think I’m strange, but it is more the texture of foods rather than the taste that makes me like or dislike them.) Since I started eating real food, I vowed to never drink soda again, but to drink water kefir instead.
What Exactly Is Water Kefir?
Water kefir is a probiotic beverage made from sugar water and water kefir grains, which consist of bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship. Water kefir grains allow for the fermentation of sugar water to create a carbonated lacto-fermented beverage. When you drink water kefir, you are getting benefical probiotics (healthy bacteria) to promote gut health and a strong immune system!
How Is Water Kefir A Soda Replacement?
First of all, soda is really, really bad for you. It is full of sugar, which can cause obesity and diabetes. It may also contain high fructose corn syrup and aspartame, which you really do not want to put into your body. Aspartame is a neurotoxic substance that has been associated with numerous health problems including dizziness, visual impairment, high blood pressure, seizures, depression, and many more. I won’t even start on caffeine, let’s just say it makes everything worse.
Water kefir is a great soda replacement because it builds up your immune system instead of breaking it down like soda would do. It also tastes sweet and can become fizzy if placed in an air tight bottle.
How To Make Water Kefir
First, you need to obtain some water kefir grains. I bought mine from Cultures For Health, but there are many other places to buy them. You may even be able to get some from a friend, since they can multiply. You will also need a fine plastic strainer to separate the kefir grains from the water.
When you buy kefir grains they usually will come with instructions, but I will briefly share how to make it just so you get an idea of how easy it is to make.
You will need:
- 3-4 Tablespoons of strained kefir grains
- 1 Quart of filtered or well water
- 1/4 cup of sugar – whatever kind you’d like.
- A fine plastic mesh strainer
- A glass quart jar
- 1 coffee filter
- 1 rubber band
Since the water kefir uses up almost all of the sugar in the fermentation, the type of sugar is not very critical, but of course a more natural sugar is better. Note: Do not use honey with water kefir, it will damage the kefir grains!
It is also very important to use a glass container to store your water kefir, as plastic may leach harmful chemicals.
I place my sugar in the glass container and add a little hot water to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved I fill the rest of the container with cold water up to an inch from the top. The water should be at least lukewarm or colder! Then I add my kefir grains, put a clean coffee filter on top of the glass container and secure it with a rubber band. This only takes me 2 minutes!
I leave the kefir sit on my counter for 24 hours during the summer and 48 hours during the winter, then I strain the kefir grains from the kefir and start the process over again. After straining the kefir grains you can flavor the kefir, with whatever you’d like. I have added lemon juice to make lemonade, or vanilla to make cream soda, but the options are endless.
After flavoring the kefir you can place it in the fridge, leave it on the counter to ferment some more (if you flavored it with fruit juice, the kefir will use the sugar in the juice to ferment), or place it in an air-tight bottle to create fizziness.
Water Kefir Grains Can Multiply
Also, if your grains multiply you can start making more water kefir at the same time! Just use the proportions in my instructions above. My water kefir grains seem to have stopped multiplying for now, so I’m trying different things to encourage them to multiply again. It doen’t matter if they multiply or not; I just have friends that would like some from me. 🙂