Kefir: The Probiotic Elixir (oh and it's free!)
Ke-what?! Some of you are asking. Well have I got news for you! Kefir is one of these things that come along in life once in a while that seem too good to be true. Kefir is a mega super health drink that is easy and practically free to make at home! So what is kefir?
Kefir is a fermented, cultured and live beverage containing over 35 strains of probiotics, which are the secret to a healthy gut- the building block of overall wellbeing and vitality. Water kefir is made using water kefir grains that can be used to culture water with sugar added to it, juice or coconut water. Milk kefir is made using milk kefir grains to culture dairy or non-dairy milks. In this post, I will be focusing on water kefir.
The term "kefir grains" describes the look of the culture only (see image below), kefir grains don't contain actual "grains" such as wheat, rice or barley, so water kefir is not only raw and vegan-friendly, it is also gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo. (FYI kefir made with dairy milk is not vegan or dairy-free).
So what's the fuss?
Well here we go... Kefir is the ultimate health drink, as it cleanses the intestines, provides beneficial bacteria and yeast as well as essential vitamins and minerals. Kefir is such a balanced and nourishing drink, as it contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes and cancer. Moreover, its calming effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
The regular consumption of kefir can help relieve intestinal disorders, promote bowel movement, reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system and thus a flatter tummy and slender figure. In addition, its cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity.
Kefir can also help eliminate unhealthy food cravings by nourishing and balancing the body by allowing a more efficient absorption of essential vitamins and minerals from what we ingest. Its excellent nutritional content offers healing benefits to people in every type of condition. It is also highly recommended for maintaining good health (not just curing an ailment). It is totally suitable for kids, pregnant and nursing women, the elderly, coeliacs and the list goes on...
Happy Kefir Fermenting! Stay tuned for my next class on How to Make Kefir to learn more about this awesome probiotic elixir and also get your own kefir grains (for free as part of the class price)!
Water Kefir – The Probiotic Elixir
Makes 1 litre
- 1-2 litre glass jar with a wide mouth (good for air circulation and easy to clean)
- 1 plastic mesh sieve (not metal)
- 1 plastic funnel
- 1 litre glass jar with a stopper
- 1 wooden or plastic spoon (not metal)
- Water kefir grains (these are translucent, as opposed to milk kefir grains which are white and opaque)
- Cotton cloth
- Coconut sugar or maple syrup or other high mineral sugar (not honey)
- Filtered water
In UK-type climates, making kefir takes 7 days in the winter months and around 3 days in summer. In warmer climates like Hong Kong, it takes between 24 hours in winter and as fast as 8 hours in summer.
Kefir grains are living, they change, they have moods, they have different needs at different times – below is a basic recipe, but as you ferment more and more you will find you need to adjust the amounts of sugar and the time. So this is more of a ‘starting guide’ than an exact recipe that must be followed.
Part 1: Starting the Kefir Ferment
Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of kefir grains
- Add 2 tablespoons of either coconut sugar or maple syrup (you can even use white sugar as the kefir grains will consume it, there won't actually be sugar left in it)
- Add 1 litre of filtered water
- Stir until the sugar is dissolved
- Add half a fresh lemon or some dried pineapple (optional, the grains like the acidity and it adds a nice taste)
- Cover with a cotton cloth secured on with a rubber band
- Place in a warm place – the top of your fridge or washing machine for example
- Kefir loves to be agitated – move it, shake it, stir it. This is the reason the top of the fridge or washing machine works well, as it will move every time it is used.
- Taste after 24 hours, after 48 hours, after 72 hours... When it stops tasting sweet, and tastes somewhere between ‘like nothing’ and ‘a bit sour’ it is done!
OPTIONS: Instead of using water and sugar, you can use coconut water or fresh fruit juice. When you
use coconut water or fruit juice do not add any sugar, also do not add the lemon. Please note
that all of these will ferment much faster than water and sugar – so the times will be greatly reduced.
Part 2 – Straining the Kefir Grains
Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Place your mesh strainer (not metal) over a 1 litre pitcher or jar – use the plastic funnel under the strainer not to spill your kefir all over the place
- Strain the kefir water into the bottle, the plastic strainer will catch the grains for you to use them again
- Remove the lemon from the grains (you can use it in your smoothie or to help flavour your second ferment)
- Start your next batch right away, or rinse the grains thoroughly in water and store them in a glass jar in the fridge.
- You can opt to drink it now – it will have a very mild taste. I often put this straight into my green smoothie in the morning. Other options are to cover and store it in the refrigerator or opt for a second ferment.
Part 3 – Optional Second Ferment – this takes about 5 minutes
- Choose a second ferment jar – it can be closed or open. If you choose a closed jar – be sure to 'burp’ it to let the gas out and minimise potential explosions.
- Add your desired flavour to the jar, with the kefir water. There is NO need to add more sugar
- Let it sit on the counter for 12-24 hours, then taste it.
- Put in the fridge and enjoy!
Second Ferment Ideas for Water and Coconut Water Kefir
- Ginger – tastes like ‘ginger ale’
- Lemon – very refreshing
- Ginger and Lemon – a classic
- Ginger, Lemon and Berries –
- Ginger and Turmeric – great immunity booster
- Mint and Lime – a probiotic mojito
- Raspberry and Chia – fun to see the chia seeds expand
- Ginger and Strawberry – light and fruity
- Cranberry and Raw Cacao Nibs – gentle taste
- Orange and Cinnamon – sliced orange and cinnamon sticks, Christmas feel!
- Mango – with fresh or dried mangoes
- Coconut Water Kefir and Lychee – a probiotic lychee martini
- Coconut Water Kefir and Ginger – very refreshing
- Fresh Peaches - a probiotic peach bellini
Go WILD and try any other combinations that take your fancy!
Show me your kefir concoctions #BMwaterkefir