Saturday, September 14, 2013

What is water kefir?



Water kefir is a lacto-fermented beverage made with water kefir crumbs and sugar water. It is easy (and relatively quick) to make, and provides an abundance of probiotics to improve digestive health.

Water kefir crumbs are not crumbs at all, but rather "bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship" (as noted by Julie of Cultures for Health.) The term crumbs really just describes their appearance.

Because the crumbs feed on sugar, the resulting beverage is not overly sweet.

Water kefir is often bubbly and has a reputation for being a natural alternative to soda pop.


Is water kefir different from dairy kefir?

Yes. Water kefir grains and dairy kefir crumbs are two different things. Dairy kefir grains are whitish in appearance and generally clump together, they feed on lactose and grow well in milk.

Water kefir crumbs do not clump together, and are clear and translucent. They often take on the color of the beverage or type of sugar used in the culturing process. For example, my kefir crumbs have a brownish tint due to the fact that I use sucanat in my sugar water mix.

It is possible to convert dairy kefir crumbs to make water kefir, but it is my understanding that they will not last as long as true water kefir crumbs, which will multiply indefinitely.

Where do I find water kefir crumbs?

If you have a friend who makes water kefir on a regular basis, chances are they will have extra crumbs at some point. Mine were almost doubling with each batch!

There are a number of places online to purchase water kefir crumbs. I bought mine from Cultures for Health and have been extremely happy with them (like I said, they were doubling with each batch. They are very healthy crumbs)! The Kefir Guy sells both fresh and dried kefir crumbs (I have not purchased from her myself as yet).

While it is possible to buy fresh crumbs, my preference is to get dehydrated ones (unless I were to get them from a local friend). The reason for this is that life is often hectic and fresh crumbs need to be dealt with immediately, while dried ones can wait until you are ready. It would be disappointing to spend money on crumbs only to lose them due to unforeseen circumstances surrounding their arrival in the mail!


How to rehydrate water kefir crumbs

When purchasing dehydrated kefir crumbs, they will look like this:

Most crumbs come with instructions for rehydration, which generally involves soaking the crumbs in a sugar water mixture for a few days. The crumbs I purchased from Cultures for Health required 3 to 4 days of soaking.

To make the sugar water mixture for rehydrating dissolve 4 to 6 tablespoons of sugar in 4 cups of water and let cool to room temperature. Pour into a glass jar and add the dehydrated crumbs. Cover with a  tea towel or coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. Let sit until crumbs are plump (no longer than 5 days).

Once the crumbs are rehydrated, they should look like this (if you use white sugar they will have a lighter color):

During the rehydration process, 2 tablespoons of dried crumbs plumps up to approximately 1/3 cup!
Once this process is complete you are ready to make water kefir!

How to make water kefir

Making water kefir is not an exact science.

The general idea is to dissolve sugar in water and allow the crumbs to ferment in this mixture for one to three days. Once fermented, remove crumbs and drink kefir as is, or add flavoring (in the form of fruit of juice) and allow to ferment for another day. It is during this second ferment that kefir often becomes very bubbly (but not always).

The amount of sugar, type of sugar, length of fermentation, and type of flavoring can all vary.

Here is a step-by-step of how I usually prepare water kefir:

:: In a pot, on the stove top, dissolve 1/3 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water*. Allow to cool a little then add 3 cups of water. Pour this mixture into a 1/2 gallon mason jar and add another 1 1/2 to cups of water (so the jar is filled close to the shoulder or 6 cup mark).

:: If the water is room temperature, add 1/3 cup of water kefir crumbs.

(Some people choose to contain the crumbs is a muslin tea bag, which makes removing them from the jar easy. However, I found the crumbs did much better when allowed to float freely.)

:: Add 4 drops of liquid minerals.
(This step is optional, but highly recommended. Water kefir crumbs thrive on minerals and I notice a difference when I don't add them.)

:: Cover with a tea towel or coffee filter and secure with a rubber band.

:: Leave in a warm place to culture for 24 to 72 hours. The longer you leave it, the less sweet it will be (the crumbs eat the sugar!).

:: Taste the water kefir each day to see if the it has reached your desired level of sweetness. Once it has, strain out the crumbs by placing a plastic strainer over another mason jar and pouring the kefir through it:


Be sure to use a plastic strainer as metal is reactive and not recommended for use with kefir crumbs.
Store the crumbs in a sugar water mix in the fridge or use them to begin a new batch of water kefir.
Once the crumbs have been removed, I like to do a second fermentation.

The second fermentation is a great time to add fruit (fresh or dried) or fruit juice for extra flavor. I often add a cup or so of grape or cranberry juice. (I'll give some other options below.)

Instead of using a towel or coffee filter to cover the top, place plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar and then the lid. This will keep out the air and allow bubbles to form.

Leave the water kefir covered for another 24 to 72 hours. Then strain out any fruit pieces and pour into a clean container or bottle.

Store in the fridge.


Variations

I have used the same basic method to make a larger amount of water kefir. In fact, I use the same amount of kefir crumbs, 1/3 cup, but dissolve 3/4 cup of sugar in 2 cups of water, then pour into a gallon size jar and fill to the shoulder with water. 

It is possible to place the kefir crumbs directly in juice or sugar water containing dried or fresh fruit. If you have extra crumbs, then I would suggest experimenting with these methods, but when just starting out I highly recommend keeping the crumbs in sugar water only. This way they will not be compromised before you have any extra stored away.

To make fruit juice water kefir: Place 3 Tablespoons of kefir crumbs in 1 to 2 quarts of juice (preferably organic). Cover as directed for the first fermentation and allow to sit for 24 to 48 hours. Strain and enjoy!
Cream soda: Add 3 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract to 2 quarts of water kefir after straining.  Increase (or decrease) amount of vanilla to your taste.

Add raisins, dried figs, or whatever takes your fancy!


How to store kefir crumbs

If you need to take a break from making water kefir, the crumbs may be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks in a sugar water mixture. Dissolve a 1/2 tablespoon of sugar in a 1/2 cup of water. Cool.  Add crumbs and sugar water to a clean, airtight container. Keep refrigerated.

What type of sugar should I use?

I use sucanat because it is less processed than other sugars and still contains minerals, which the kefir crumbs love! If the sucanat flavor is too strong for your taste, try using organic sugar, or half organic sugar and half sucanat.

You can order your water Kefir starter Grains online as well here: Purchase Water Kefir Starter Grains

Friday, August 16, 2013

How to Brew the Best Milk Kefir Online Instructions


Process of Brewing Homemade Milk Kefir at Home


To be able to brew milk kefir at home, you will first of all need to have good Milk kefir grains to start with. The Milk kefir grains are the home made and fresh type that have not been added with preservatives that may interfered with your brewing of milk kefir process. You can look for homemade milk kefir grains locally from people that prepare them and ask them if they have excess grains to spare. The milk kefir grains are a collection of probiotic bacteria which resemble a cauliflower or cottage cheese. 

Making milk kefir at home is a very easy process which starts with raw fresh cow milk and the milk kefir grains. Brewing milk kefir is gaining a lot of popularity among people due to the need to eat traditional and local foods economically. Milk Kefir beverages have been prepared since time immemorial and it was first made in the Caucasian mountain between Europe and Russia.

The Health Benefits of Brewing Homemade Milk Kefir At Home

Most people will brew milk kefir regularly at home as a way to supplement their diets with more balanced and nutritional foods. The best park with milk kefir drinks is that they can be made into any form of flavor and mixture from almond to chocolate to orange flavor with actual fruit juice. 

Milk kefir brew has been found to be an anti-inflammatory. The drink is also known to relive the intestinal distress that happens when one is treating diseases caused by e-coli or pylori. The drink is a culture of probiotic bacteria which are known to be good for returning the normal flora of the intestinal walls.

Homemade milk kefir beverages are also known for their anti tumoural qualities and have been proven to help in prevention of bladder cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. There are also hundreds of other health benefits of a milk kefir brew that would convince you to start brewing or fermenting the drink.

What is the Process of Brewing Homemade Milk Kefir at Home

You only need to have the quality kefir grains, a mason jar with a breathable lid, and raw fresh cow milk.
1.   You can then proceed to place the kefir grains in the glass jar and pour the milk to a decent level.
2.   Next is to place the lid on the jar and make sure that the lead can allow the carbon dioxide produce to escape while keeping away insects and dust.
3.   You will then put the jar at a safe place at room temperature for about 12-48hrs depending on how much you want the drink to ferment.
4.   After the culturing of the milk kefir drink, you will now strain it using a plastic, nylon or bamboo strainer to reveal a good mixture of homemade kefir drink.

You can now make milk kefir smoothie using banana, almonds, paw paw, avocado blends.

Where Can I Get Clean And Homemade Milk Kefir Grains?

One of the options of getting good kefir grains is to look locally for people that make kefir in your area and ask them for any extra grains they may have. You can also purchase milk kefir grains online and get the shipment to start making the milk kefir drink. 

If you are not sure of following this process, you can get a Video course onhow to make milk kefir.