It's been one of my goals for the last year or so to add more fermented/probiotic foods to my family's diet. Of course, homemade yogurt (with all its beneficial bacteria) has been a regular part of our diet for many years. And I use a good-quality, raw, organic apple cider vinegar for all of our salad dressings.
Given all the benefits of eating fermented foods, I would really like us to be having 1-2 servings per day. And of course, making them myself is a much cheaper option than buying ready-made ones! I'd tried my hand at fermented lemons and sauerkraut last spring but that experiment didn't end well and I got frustrated and gave up for a while.
Several months went by. Okay, okay, it was basically a year! And then all of a sudden I started seeing a lot of references to water kefir popping up all over the place and I got curious. I read a bit about it, but was feeling skeptical. Probiotic? Yes. Delicious? I thought not (my initial response to the concept was more along the lines of "eeew, that sounds gross!").
Then one day my friend Anita happened to mention that she was looking to rehome some of her water kefir grains as she was getting overrun with them and I thought "what the heck - I'll give it a whirl". Although I wasn't yet convinced I was going to actually enjoy it, I thought I should at least give it a try because as far as fermented foods go, it's supposed to be one of the easiest to have success with, and it's also really inexpensive to make.
As it turns out, water kefir's a lot more pleasant than I expected. The thing that really gives it great potential is that after it has done its initial ferment for 48 hours or so, you can do a "second ferment" where you remove the kefir grains and add fruit or juice to the water kefir (in the photo above, the jar on the left is in the middle of its second ferment, the jar on the right is doing its first ferment). When sealed with a tight lid, you end up with a pleasantly fizzy beverage after another couple of days.
I have been doing the second ferment with lemon juice and fresh, chopped ginger (juice of one lemon and about 1 tablespoon of ginger to a quart of water kefir). I can't tell you how happily surprised I am by how fantastic it is! It tastes like a homemade lemony gingerale and is incredibly refreshing. My whole family loves it to the point where there might be some arguing about who got more of a particular batch :) I'm so fond of it that I already get upset by the idea of not having some around, and I only started making it a couple of weeks ago!
While there is a small amount of maintenance to making water kefir, it's a few minutes every 2-3 days and in my opinion it's totally worth the effort. Aside from the water kefir grains (which you can probably get by asking around to see if anyone in your area has some to spare), the only other supplies you will need are white sugar and some quart Mason jars, plus whatever you want to add to flavour the water kefir for the second ferment.
If you're interested in trying to make your own water kefir, I'd recommend checking out this video from Cultures for Health, along with their instructions on how to flavour water kefir.
Have you tried water kefir? Do you have a favourite way to flavour it?
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