I was given some water kefir 'grains' by my sister-in-law, and spent a bit of time Googling up how to deal with them. Kefir grains are a kind of 'SCOBY' (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast - how I love an opportunity to use the word symbiotic). Apparently the kefir liquid created with these grains is chock-full of beneficial organisms for the digestive system. There's also a different sort of kefir that is done with milk, which I guess is more of a yoghurt type of thing.
I'm so pleased with how it's been going. How's this for a recommendation, it's:
- very, very easy
- no waste
Does it get any better than that?
Here's how I have been brewing kefir.
A ratio of:
1 tablespoon fresh kefir grains (mine came in some sugar-water so I just drained them)
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
1 cup water, if using tapwater, leave to sit for at least 12 hours to allow chlorine to evaporate
2 - 3 thin slices fresh ginger
I started with about 3 tablespoons of kefir grains and the resulting (roughly) 3 cups of kefir is a great amount to share amongst the five of us in the family.
1 large glass preserving jar
piece of mesh/tulle to cover top of jar, and a rubber band to hold it on
1 large glass jar or bottle with hinged, airtight lid
In a saucepan, heat a small amount of the water together with all the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the rest of the water to cool it down. When it's no warmer than blood temperature, pour this sugar-water over your fresh kefir grains. Add ginger slices. Cover the jar top with the mesh (I used a piece of tulle left over from these alien masks!) and allow to ferment at room temperature about 48 hours. That's the kefir grains at the bottom of the jar in the photo below.
Remove ginger slices and drain kefir into the sealable jar. Repeat the sugar-water process with the grains to start brewing your next batch.
Close the lid of the sealable jar and let it sit around 12 hours at room temperature for a second fermentation (a slight fizz will develop). Refrigerate and drink!
With the added ginger the flavour really reminds me of the ginger beer my brother used to brew at home using a ginger beer 'plant' that somehow involved sultanas and, I guess, wild yeast. Yum! The boys all love it and we have a fresh batch available every second day. I have actually noticed a slight similarity in flavour to the yeastiness of Coopers Pale Ale... perhaps that means that a Pale contains beneficial tummy-stuff?? (One can only hope.)
Initially I was using raw sugar but I think the fermentation has been better since I switched to soft brown sugar. The colour looks slightly less appetising though, ha. But check out the fermenty-froth!
From what I have read, the grains like the minerals in richer sugars. Gradually, the grains should multiply. After about a month I have been able to divide my batch in two and share grains with a friend.
Are we feeling healthier? Eh, who knows. I don't want to jinx us by supposing that we've avoided any ills by drinking this. But it's yummy, and fun. And if it's helping our guts, well, that's a bonus.
- Jane x