Weedy Wednesdays! KEFIR

Yep! Not really a plant, but oh so good! I just wanted to share my love! I grew up drinking kefir and I am loving it so much! I just know you will too, once you try!

I don’t do Kambucha (tried it and it’s just not for me) But I ADORE kefir!!!

There are two different kinds of Kefir: Milk Kefir and Water Kefir. Another name for Kefir is Tibicos, or water kefir grains, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals and California bees.

Here are a few of my grains! These were kept in water with white sugar, so they are all brilliant white!

Most of you will probably be familiar with the milk Kefir. You can buy it in your helath-food store and most regular grocery stores carry it as well in their dairy section these days. I am going to talk to you about the lesser known water kefir today. Both are a symbiotic culture of bacteria, microbes and yeast. The cultures are called Kefir grains and are held together in a polysaccharide matrix created by the bacteria.  The microbes feed on the sugar in the water and produce lactic acid, Ethanol (it’s a form of alcohol. It varies with fermentation time, but it usually does not reach over 1% in the liquid) and carbon dioxide (the bubbles). It will result in a carbonated, fermented drink.

Both Milk- and Water Kefir have tons of probiotics. These are micro-organisms such as bacteria or yeast that are believed to improve health. You can get probiotics through supplements and some foods. If you are shrinking from taking bacteria, it’s normal as we are all programmed that bacteria is bad. WHICH IS NOT ALWAYS TRUE! Some bacteria IS bad for you, but probiotics are the good kind of bacteria! Our bodies naturally teem with such organisms.

My kefir! The dark one is organic cane sugar and bananas and the red one is raspberry syrup and white sugar.

The human digestive tract contains more than 400 different bacterial species. They help keep intestinal linings healthy and assist in breaking down food. Beneficial organisms are also believed to help regulate healthy immune response.

Research suggests that certain digestive problems are the result of an imbalance of these good bacteria in your system.

Water kefir gives you a nice variety of micro-organisms and bacteria that is definitely good for you. If you are lactose-intolerant, you probably thought there is no way for you to enjoy kefir and the benefits it offers. Use water kefir! You will get the same benefits as with the dairy kind, but no lactose!

The sugar you add to the water might look like a lot (4 tablespoons to 4 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of grains), but the Kefir grains feed on the sugar, break it down and change it. There is far less sugar in the finished kefir water after fermentation then what you put in at the start. You will definitely notice the difference in sweetness as you try it along the way.

Tiny little grains! happy little campers!

Water kefir grains like it warm. You can keep them on your counter top to ferment, that is the best place. You can keep them in the fridge, but it will slow down the kefir grains. Temperatures over 150 degrees however will kill your grains! So never ever put them in boiling water! Besides sugar, kefir grains like minearls in their water! So if you have a well, you are soooo set! I don’t have a well, so I am using tap water. I do let it sit out over night to let the chlorine evaporate, but you can absolutely use the tap water straight up (I have read you should not, as it can harm your grains, but I have not noticed any adverse reaction in mine, when I tried it). I have also read that you need a plastic strainer for your grains, as the metal does not agree with them either. Well.. I have a metal strainer and mine are as happy as clams! They don’t sit in there for long anyway. I just strain them out of my water and rinse them thoroughly, then pop them back into their glass.

I do recommend a glass container to ferment though! I have a nice glass vase I use for it instead of for flowers. It holds  the 4 cups of water just fine. I like glass better then plastic to begin with and I do believe the grains are happier in glass.  Do not cover them with a tight lid! The carbon has to have a way to escape, or it might “blow the top”. I have a bit of fabric over the top, to keep the dust out of it. I hold it in place with a rubber band.

I also only use pure, organic cane sugar for my grains. I have had to use regular white sugar, as I ran out and did not get to go to the shop right away and I just don’t like the taste of it, but they certainly will work with white sugar. The only other difference I noticed with white sugar is: They are not as happy! With the cane sugar, they sometimes float to the top and are generally much happier and reproduce much more prolific! You can absolutely mix your sugars, use molasses now and again, try out and see what you like best!

Kefir grains will take on the colour of whatever water you keep them in. With white sugar, they will be a nice bright white, with cane, or brown sugar they will be tan and if you use raspberries, or any other red fruit or juice, then they will turn pink! The reason for this is ” the grains do ingest the water they live in. Whatever colour is in the water is then in the grains. They also give it off in to the water again. So, if you flavour it with raspberries, the next batch will still have a hint of raspberry in it, until all the red is gone!

My dehydrated grains! See how they have different colours? How fun is this? They last about 6 months in this state.

I am going to give you a few recipes, that I have found I like best:

Ginger kefir (kind of makes it taste like ginger beer)

4 tablespoons of grains,

4 tablespoons of organic cane sugar

4 cups of water

1 organic ginger tea bag, or some fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

Stir the sugar in the water until it is all dissolved, add the grains, then add the ginger, or the tea bag. place  the fabric over the top and let sit for 48 hours. Strain and enjoy. You can either drink it just straight up, or mix it with a bit of sparkling water. If you let it sit in a bottle with a tight fitting lid after you strain out the grains and the ginger, it will develop it’s own carbonation. Let it sit for the second fermentation for up to 5 days. You can put the ginger in a fabric bag, it’s easier to take it out that way. I just take a spoon to it, but a few little bits will stay in the grains! I don’t mind that though.

Banana and vanilla kefir:

4 tablespoons of grains,

4 tablespoons of organic cane sugar

4 cups of water

4-5 slices of fresh banana

2-3 drops of vanilla flavouring
Stir the sugar in the water until it is all dissolved, add the grains, then add the banana and the vanilla. place  the fabric over the top and let sit for 48 hours. Strain and enjoy. You can either drink it just straight up, or mix it with a bit of sparkling water. If you let it sit in a bottle with a tight fitting lid after you strain out the grains and the ginger, it will develop it’s own carbonation. Let it sit for the second fermentation for up to 5 days. You can put the banana in a fabric bag, it’s easier to take it out that way. I just take a spoon to it, but a few little bits will stay in the grains! I don’t mind that though.

Raspberry vanilla Kefir:

4 tablespoons of grains,

4 tablespoons of organic cane sugar

4 cups of water

4-5 fresh raspberries, or 1 tablespoon raspberry syrup
Stir the sugar in the water until it is all dissolved, add the grains, then add the raspberries and the vanilla. Place  the fabric over the top and let sit for 48 hours. Strain and enjoy. You can either drink it just straight up, or mix it with a bit of sparkling water. If you let it sit in a bottle with a tight fitting lid after you strain out the grains and the ginger, it will develop it’s own carbonation. Let it sit for the second fermentation for up to 5 days. You can put the raspberries in a fabric bag, it’s easier to take it out that way. I just take a spoon to it, but a few little bits will stay in the grains! I don’t mind that though.

You can absolutely ferment the kefir without any additions and then flavour it in a second fermentation. I just prefer to have it all done in one step, as I can never wait to drink it! 🙂

I do have a few for sale right now, if you are interested! I do dehydrate them for easy shipping.  Just leave a comment here, or email me if you want some! ($10 for 1/4 cup of dehydrated grains = a bit more then the 4 tablespoons required to start, plus a starter guide) I will start a waiting list after these grains are gone. I dehydrate some on a daily basis, so it wont take very long! Since I flavour my kefir right while I ferment it, the grains I dehydrate do have various colours. Do re-hydrate them and then start flavouring your own. Just toss the first water, unless you like the way it tastes. It will flavour it with a bit of the flavour the grains were in last, as they do ingest it and will give it off in the next batch. But only this first one. Just put them in a bit of white sugar over night, that should do it!

Further reading:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibicos

http://www.waterkefir.org/

http://webpages.charter.net/rhamley/bread/kefirsecrets.htm

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/probiotics-topic-overview

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2 thoughts on “Weedy Wednesdays! KEFIR

  1. Do you still have Kefir grains for sale?
    I too live in WV and am having a hard time finding any for most of the folks I know don’t have a clue as to what they even are.
    Please let me know and we can make some kind of plans, OK?

    • I put mine on hyphenation at the moment. So I do not have any right now. So sorry. I will pull them back out when things settle down. With the new shop and so much more scheduled work out of the house than I had as a SAHM the last 18 years, I have to get used to it and the Kefir had to be put on a back burner….

Happy to hear from you! :)

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