Along with my jam-making and things, I’ve been experimenting with some fermentation at home. One of my favorite (and usually pretty easy and tasty) things to make is water kefir! You may be familiar with dairy kefir and its non-dairy counterparts (I’ve only seen coconut kefir in the store), and while the slightly sour flavor can be similar, water kefir is made from a completely different kefir grain. The result is a fizzy, mildly sweet drink that can be customized with all kinds of flavors. Much milder than kombucha, and like a soda, but SO much better. There are a couple of commercial varieties, but I haven’t had one that I like as much as homemade.
Kefir grains look a bit like misshapen tapioca pearls, you can reuse them over and over again, and they’ll last indefinitely in your fridge so long as you remember to culture them from time to time. As you continue to make kefir, the grains will actually grow, and you can start sharing them with friends!
The basic process for making water kefir involves dissolving sugar or sweetener in water in a glass container, adding the grains (and perhaps some ginger, lemon, and a piece of dried fruit), then covering the jar with a piece of cloth. You wait 1-3 days until small bubbles begin to appear in the liquid, then strain out the grains and fruit. While you can drink it at this point, I like to do a second fermentation by adding some juice and/or coconut water, which has become extra fun and easy since I got myself a dozen swing-top bottles! This time around I made some orange-coconut water kefir and it’s probably the best batch I’ve made yet! (The last time I made apple-ginger water kefir which, while delicious, I let ferment too long and it exploded out of the bottles when I opened them. The remaining kefir also made me feel a little tipsy. Oops!) The color is rather dark here because I used coconut sugar; next time I will probably use some evaporated cane juice to lighten it up a bit.
I got my current (second) batch of kefir grains from an etsy shop called Grow Indie…they have been really resilient to my periods of neglect, unlike the first batch of grains I ordered from a different seller. Although, unfortunately, it appears they are no longer selling anything through their page (sadface!).
Have you ever made or tried water kefir?