I've been making Water Kefir for several years now.
What the heck is Water Kefir, you ask?
Water Kefir is a probiotic beverage. It's carbonated, sweetened with fruit, provides beneficial bacteria to our intestinal tracts (TOTALLY necessary to heal the gut and for our immune health), and in a FUN and inexpensive AND dairy-free way!
Water Kefir grains are these rubbery looking nuggets lets call them. You can buy them online or get them from a hippied-out friend of yours who does stuff like this. They are inexpensive and last for years in the fridge - even when your not using them! When you place Water Kefir grains in sugar water, the grains feed on the sugar, creating a fermentation process that imparts healthy bacteria into the water and creates carbonation naturally. Strain the grains, add whatever fruit you fancy and wait a few days. Voila´- Water Kefir, Pro Style!
Below are step by step instructions for Water Kefir Making - Enjoy!
Purchase Water Kefir Grains - Make sure they are water kefir and not dairy kefir!
There are two places that I'd recommend.
RawfullyTempting.com OR CulturesforHealth.com. Neither of which I have ordered from because I got mine from a friend. BUT - they both look like reputable and genuine natural health-loving businesses. It takes one to know one! But if you do put an APB out of Facebook - I think you'll find them pretty darn easy to find. A friend of mine even got hers locally on craigslist. Totally cool!
Boil Purified Water. Dissolve Organic Sugar in it to make Sugar Water; cool over night.
In the morning, add your Water Kefir Grains to the Sugar Water. Secure your ball jars with air tight canning jar lids and store jars in a dark, warm place for 7 days OR until the lid to the ball jar becomes tight. This indicates that pressure is building in the jar.
I like to keep my jars in a warm cupboard near a heat vent in the winter time. Check them at 7 days, they are almost certain to be ready.
You may also see bubbles in the jar if you swish the jar gently from side to side. The top of the lid should have NO give at all; this indicates that the fermentation process has happened.
Open your jars carefully - they shouldn't explode or anything, perhaps just fizz a little. Strain water kefir grains away from the liquid with a fine mesh metal strainer. NOW, most people will tell you that you shouldn't use metal with fermentation processes. But I've been doing it this way for years with no ill effect. Strain the grains and sit them aside.
You can either store the grains in the fridge in a bit of sugar water to use for later, or immediately prepare another batch. In my experience they can keep in the fridge for years. I've never managed to kill mine despite not brewing for long periods of time. It's great for the lazy Water Kefir maker that I am!
Prepare the fruit mash! You can use whatever fruit you like for the most part. It must be sweet, ripe and ideally more on the sugary side to continue the fermentation process and make the Water Kefir Soda really yummy.
In the past I've made Water Kefir with oranges, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, lemon, tangerines, satsumas, peaches, pears - it's SO fun to try different flavors. Grape and Raspberries are a few of my favorites. Always do organic fruits! Today's Water Kefir was made with Blackberries and Lemon - wow, it's likely the most beautiful color I've ever seen - Crimson red!
I simply mash the heck out of the fruit with either my bare hands (like a cavewoman) or with a potato masher as shown. The idea is to make a lot of juice so your fruit must be super ripe and sweet for best results!
Wait 3 days or until the jars begin to bubble at the top. You should see fruit gathering at the top of the jar. It will be very active looking when it's ready - it might even be seeping air out of the top of the jar with all the pressure that has built up.
I feel the need to warn you - with sweet fruits like oranges, I've had a few bottles (not canning jars), but other types of bottles I've experimented with build so much pressure that orange soda was squirting out all over my kitchen. I have not had this happen with canning jars. And I only ever had it happen with oranges, presumably because they are so sweet. You've been warned! Keep an eye on it and if it starts to do this, refrigerate it. This will stop the fermentation process.
Once your Water Kefir is super bubbly at the top, strain the fruit away from the liquid. I like to eat the fruit because usually it's so good - and likely loaded with healthy probiotics! Carefully (with the use of a good funnel), pour your water kefir into jars or bottles of your choosing. I like to let them sit on the counter for another day after straining. This furthers the fermentation process and makes them super carbonated. Then refrigerate for 6-8 hours before consuming.
Water Kefir is so fun to make - I hope you enjoy it too!
Cheers to your health friends!