Thursday, June 23, 2011


Well-I thought I'd be kind since I've been taunting one too many of you with my photos of bliss...aka...water kefir soda. There are practically hundreds of different flavors you can make with it, but I'll keep it simple for you today and give you some ideas for your own!
My family guzzles this stuff like it's nectar in the desert and it contains WONDERFUL enzymes and probiotics (yes, just like yogurt but even BETTER) for helping to maintain digestive health and immune system health. And just because I am awesome I even took pictures to show you what I do. It's a great alternative for those who deal with dairy sensitivities as it is a dairy-free drink but gives you much of the same benefits of cultured dairy products. I also love that instead of giving my family a highly-sugared juice drink I can use said juices and "culture it" and end up with barely any sugar but an AMAZINGLY nutritious beverage! It's dirt cheap to make and WAY cheaper than buying expensive bottles of stuff. Plus your kefir grains just keep multiplying and spreadin' the love so it's really a great frugal investment in making inexpensive probiotic, gut-strengthening, nearly sugar-free soda.
Read about some benefits of drinking water kefir.
Get kefir grains and all of your fermenting supplies from Cultures For Health or by asking around your area or online to see if someone is willing to part with some. Chances are they will because they can multiply like cwazy.

Water Kefir Soda Tutorial

mail (640×480)
These are what kefir grains look like-spongey translucent alien-food-like things

mail (640×480)
Things you'll need. You also need a liquid funnel for pouring your liquid into your bottle as well as a canning guard. Neither are pictured here because I'm a spacebrain. 
1 gallon jar
1 cloth + 1 rubber band
1 c. measure

pourable bowl & metal strainer
3 to 4 grolsch-style bottles with seals that aren't cracked and old.
rapadura, sucanat or turbinado sugar
eggshell (cleaned)3-6 TBSP. water kefir grains
water (can be tap water or filtered but NOT distilled)

Step 1: fill your jar with about 4 c. warm water. Add 1 c. sugar and swirl around.

Step 2. Fill up the rest of the jar with COOL water up to just below bottom of neck. Water needs to be about room temperature or a bit cooler...otherwise you'll kill your alien rocks. Add a CLEAN egg shell (all of you germaphobes can just take a breather. it isn't unsanitary and those alien rocks? those are little colonies of bacteria and yeast.) The egg shell is full of minerals that the kefir grains like to feed on. If they are happy, they will feed. And if they feed on minerals they will multiply. Hence the sugar and minerals. 

Step 3. Add your kefir grains. I like to add more than just a couple of tablespoons, but you can add in as little as 3 Tbsp. I think I have close to a cup full of grains because the little aliens multiply like crazy. 

Step 4. cover with your cloth and rubberband and sit in a warm place out of direct sunlight like the top of your fridge or in a dark creepy corner of your kitchen. Let it sit all lonely for about 24-36 hours. You can check on it occasionally and "swirl" the jar around. if you see bubbling going on and grains floating around then that means they are happy and "doin' their thang."

Step 5. pour out your kefir grains over the strainer and into a large pouring bowl. Compost/discard your eggshells. get your liquid funnel ready and make sure your bottles are rinsed and free of sudsies.

 Step 6. add about 1 c. of juice (preferably organic-we LOVE Trader Joe's variety of juices!) or about a 1/4 cup of whatever mashed fruit you want (strawberries, blueberries, mango, peaches...lemon juice...a mix of several of those-you name it!). Then pour in your filtered water kefir up to where the neck starts curving in (about 2 or 3 inches of air should be left. otherwise if you have too little headspace it'll explode if your house is warm. no. builds up THAT much fizz!)

Step 7. if you wanna start the process again just go back to step 1. Otherwise you can store your grains in a quart jar with a lid by putting your kefir grains in there, adding a 1/4 c. sugar and fill the rest up with cool water. give it a stir, and then refridgerate. If you aren't making any for a while, feed them once each week. Otherwise get crackin' and make some more!

 Step 8. Seal your bottles and allow to sit out at room temperature for about 24 to 48 hours. (you people in warmer climates, 12-24 hours MAX should be sufficient to build up the CO2 in the bottles. You know-the stuff that makes the fizzies.) Then REFRIGERATE until chilled. This slows the fermenting process.  Be careful when you open up the bottles and for heaven's sake DON'T SHAKE THE DARN THINGS. Unless you want Mt. Vesuvius all over your kitchen and your awesome "World's hottest homemaker" shirt. 
Enjoy. Get addicted. Share. 

Some FAQ's:
1. What do I do with all of the "extra" grains? 
You can compost them (great bacteria and yeast for the soil!), give them away (we can all use better gut health!), use them for another gallon (because you'll get addicted and want to make more), and if you're feeling adventurous you can even eat them! This also brings me to another conclusion: your kefir grains survive on three things: sugar, minerals and water. so the most IDEAL environment for these suckers is to have a non-bleached sugar, the occasional eggshell (for extra minerals) and water that is filtered but NOT distilled. 

2. My kefir soda isn't fizzy and I've done everything perfectly! What's up?
Well, several things could be contributing to this here:
a. you need to let it brew longer initially before you filter it off and add your juice and kefir to the bottle. (house may have been too cool.) kefir grains are a mesophilic-type bacteria/yeast combo that thrives best in warmer temps. 
b. you need to replace the rubber seal on your grolsch bottle because the CO2 being created by the kefir liquid feeding on the sugars in the juice is leaking out instead of building up inside of the bottle.  (you can find them for uber cheap at your local homebrewing supply store or online.)
c. your grains need some "loving"...use the eggshell in your first fermentation. you don't have to use it every time you brew, but it does help, especially if you are using filtered water (the buggies need minerals to be happy.)
d. you need to add just a bit of sugar (about a tsp. or so) to your kefir bottle and let it sit out for another 24-36 hours. chances are it didn't have enough sugar to feed on and couldn't create that lovely CO2 you're wanting! 

3. Can I use honey instead of sugar to brew my kefir?
I'd say yes and no. Yes in that you can do it for several brews. No in that honey is antibacterial in nature and will slowly kill off your grains. You can "refresh" your grains by doing a cycle or two with just your sugar...then adding the honey back in, but the honey can't be a permanent sweetening option. Otherwise you'll end up with a bunch of dead grains and no yummy soda. SAD. 

4. my kefir grains are slightly brown. Is this okay?
Yup! Perfectly normal! especially if you are using a non-refined sugar or less-refined sugar (avoid bleached white sugar...the closer you can get to natural sugar the better.) the "molasses" content in the sugar/natural color of the non-bleached sugar just basically colors the grains. Now, if they are grey or black or something crazy...then throw them out immediately. they're dead and will make you sick. It takes alot to kill these little "grains"...but just keep an eye on them and you'll be brewing happily for years to come;)

5. there's some "floatie" stuff at the bottom of my bottle during my 2nd fermentation (with the juice.) Is this drinkable? 
Yes! Totally normal. this is basically the "excrement" or "leftovers" of after the yeast and bacteria feed on the sugars. It's the "byproduct". It's also baby kefir grains trying to form because of the yummy environment for them.  It doesn't taste weird and it's totally okay for you to drink. 

6. the kefir water smells slightly yeasty. is this normal?
Yes! It'll have a slightly fermented or "beer" smell...but not alcoholic. It's a pleasant mild smell. 

7. where do i find "grolsch" style bottles?
You can find reusable "pop-top" bottles at your local IKEA, a local homebrewing supply store, online, or from Ross. Just remember, if they are at ross, sometimes the rubber seal is old and you might need to replace it. 

8. can you get drunk from kefir?
No, you can't.  Kefir is brewed in an aerobic environment so eventually it would turn into a sort of "vinegar". If it were brewed from the start in an anaerobic environment, it would take on a slightly alcoholic quality...but such a small amount that it's almost imperceptible. you'd have to drink a bajilliion gallons of the stuff to get tipsy.  Also, it takes the right bacteria and yeast to make the alcoholic thing work...kefir grains contain bacteria and yeast that doesn't support alcoholic production well at all. So no worries and completely safe;)

9. can I use any kind of dried or fresh fruit to flavour my kefir?
Yes and no. You don't exactly want to be drinking a bunch of pesticides, so yes-organic really IS best. plus pesticides can mess with the grains and kill them. If you are wanting to use dried fruit (like raisins, dates, or mangoes)...make sure it is UNSULPHURED.  When they treat dried fruit with sulphur it will kill your grains and mess with the chemical process that takes place. You can find unsulphured fruits at Trader Joe's, Whole foods, etc. 

10. can I brew kefir for medicinal purposes?
Yes! It works GREAT as a tummy tonic! helps with morning sickness and yeast infections as well. Add some fresh ginger and lemon to your 2nd fermentation for a calming refreshing tummy tonic! For yeast infections just brew some (with the 2nd fermentation) without any juice. and take a few ounces several times a day for a few days to flush the bad yeasty beasties out of your gut)
11. what if i DON'T WANT to brew a WHOLE gallon every time i make kefir soda?
Easy!! just figure a 1/4 c. sugar per quart. So if you wanna make a 1/2 gallon, it's a 1/2 c. sugar or even just a quart amount, just a 1/4 c. sugar and fill it up with water and about 2-3 tbsp. of water kefir grains. 
12. can i use any kind of sugar to brew my kefir grains?
yeah, if you wanna kill 'em. IDEALLY you want a raw organic sugar, something like sucanat or rapadura, but a REAL brown sugar or turbinado sugar (you can get it in bulk at winco) will do just fine! please, PLEASE do not use bleached sugar. this will KILL your kefir grains. it may not happen immediately, but they will...and start killing off the probiotic strains your body needs! 

1 comment:

  1. I really like this idea. Do you have any guess on what the sugar/ًcalorie count is compared to soda? I'd love to find a replacement for my soda addiction, but should also cut back on the calories. Does anyone ferment tea? Is that what kombucha is?