Delicious and Beneficial: Water Kefir Soda-Making 101

http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/delicious-and-beneficial-water-kefir-soda-zbcz1306.aspx

My family goes through a 1-liter bottle of water kefir soda every night at dinner. We look forward to havingWater kefir is a healthy soda replacement and snap to prepare. a delicious and bubbly treat on a daily basis. My four-year-old calls it “sparkly juice,” and loves judging the quality based on how much it makes his nose tickle.

What exactly is water kefir soda? Well, I describe it as pop that makes you forgo buying cans from the store, all while making your tummy happy. The experts call it a “probiotic beverage made with kefir grains that consist of bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship.”

The grains involved are not actual grains that contain gluten, but rather something that looks like rock candy. When added to a sugar water solution, the grains “consume” the majority of the sugar, and produce an effect that is similar to carbonation. The liquid that remains contains less sugar than it started with, and it is a great base for being creative with flavors.

When you first get your grains, they’ll be dehydrated for transport. Follow the directions that come with them, and don’t expect any bubbling action for 3-5 batches. Basically, the first few weeks will just be used to get the grains back to a plump stage. Once they’re ready to get to work, you get to channel your inner non-alcoholic bartender and get mixing!

How to Make Water Kefir SodaWhen making water kefir at home, use the sugar you are most comfortable cooking with.

  1. Add ½ cup of hot water to a 1-quart canning jar. Add ¼ cup of sugar, and stir to combine. Fillthe jar with the coldest water you can muster. Everyone has a different type of sugar they use in making kefir soda. I use evaporated cane juice, while others prefer sucanat, white sugar, or rapadura. My vote is to use something you already have and are comfortable working with. Sadly, honey is not safe for the grains as it can render them sterile.
  2. Put a plastic mesh strainer over a plastic bowl, and dump the grains and kefir water through the strainer. I know plastic isn’t the greatest for cooking, but anything metal is not safe for the grains, as it can “burn” them.
  3. Once the water has cooled in your jar, carefully add the grains in, and cap with a lid.Stir the sugar solution for your homemade kefir soda until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Add 1 cup of 100% juice to a flip-top bottle (I’ve found them at thrift stores, and a local brewing supply store), and pour the kefir water from the bowl in to the flip-top bottle.  Tighten the lid, and store in a place on the counter that doesn’t get a lot of drafts.
  5. Let the flip-top bottle and canning jar (containing the grains) sit for 24 to 48 hours, and pretty soonyou’ll have a lovely and carbonated drink to share with your whole family. Every 1 to 2 days, you’ll repeat the whole process again (use Steps 1-4).

Tips & Tricks For Making Kefir at Home

  • Our family has decided that our favorite “sodas” have all been flavored with a purple-based juice like 100% grape, blackberry, etc. We’ve tried other flavors here and there, but in the end, we alwaysPour the sweetened water kefir soda solution into your flip-top bottles and allow the solution to ferment. come back to something “purple”.
  • For a change of pace, consider putting three chunks of fresh ginger in the bottle. It tastes like a really spicy and delicious ginger ale.
  • 2 cups of limeade with a bunch of fresh mint makes a fantastic mojito soda.
  • Try not to let the grains sit in the water for more than 48 hours without making a new batch of soda. If you’re not up for it, or need to put the grains on “vacation mode,” add a bit more sugar, and stick the jar in the fridge. It will likely take a few batches after that to get them back up to bubbly mode, but it is better than having your grains go bad.
  • When the weather is warmer, the soda can get bubblier faster. In my own ignorance, I’ve let bottles sit at room temperature for too long, and I’ve had two bottles burst on me. Call it user-error, but it has happened. When opening the bottles for consumption, place your palm on the lid, and open the flip top slowly and carefully.

Everyone is busy. Everyone already has too many things on their plate. I get that. Why should you add one more thing to your routine? For one, after you’ve gotten comfortable with the process, you can make a batch in 3 minutes flat. Additionally, this drink has replaced buying soda in our home, and in our budget! Between the price of purchasing 12 packs, the sketchy ingredients, and the waste generated by the consumption, soda is persona non grata in my house. Water kefir soda, though? A welcome addition that is both delicious and healthy.

Cheers!