Fermented foods are front and centre in the food world these days. Everywhere you turn, probiotics for gut health are the new wonder children in healthy eating. With so many options out there, which fermented foods are easiest to integrate to your diet? For me, kefir is a great option. So what is it and how can you get on the gravy train?
Kefir is a sour fermented drink that can be made of water or milk. It is made using kefir grains. These grains are a combination of yeasts and bacteria and appear in the form of little clusters like in the picture above. They feed on sugars in a liquid, either lactose in milk or sugar in a sugar-water mixture, to produce a sour drink. This can then be flavored and carbonated as you like! It’s a veritable treasure trove of healthy “sodas” which contain a fractional amount of sugar and an insane number of good bacteria!
What you need:
- Large glass preserving jar – I use kilner jars. Having 2-3 helps with straining and making multiple batches.
- Muslin, cheesecloth or tea towel – to cover the preserving jar
- Swing top glass bottles
- Plastic sieve
- Plastic funnel
- Live Water Kefir Grains – I bought mine here. If you are in Ireland, you can get them here. You can buy them dried but here I am talking about live grains so you may have to activate them.
NB – Do not use metal utensils when working with kefir as it slows their activity.
- 50g/2-3 tbsp organic, raw sugar
- 200ml boiling water
- 800ml de-chlorinated water – Simply fill a bottle with water from your tap and allow to sit overnight. The chlorine will evaporate as it sits.
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.
- 1 few raisins or dried unsulphered apricots.
- Fruit, juice or other flavorings – this is for the second ferment.
- Add your grains to the large preserving jar. In a measuring jug, mix the boiling water with the sugar and stir well to dissolve, as seen in the image above
- Add the remaining 800ml cold water to the jar with the kefir.
- Top this up with the sugar-water mixture.
- Stir in the bicarb, cover with muslin and set aside, open at room temp for 2-3 days.
- After this time, the kefir will have fed on the sugar and have produced a fermented liquid.
- Strain liquid into jug or straight into a preserving bottle using the funnel and plastic sieve to catch the kefir grains. You will use these to make another batch!
- Now is the fun part – choose a fruit to flavor your kefir with. I often use raspberries, cherries, lemon juice, even pineapple.
- Once the fruit and liquid are in the bottle, close your preserving lid tightly. This will ferment at room temp for another 2-3 days.
- A word of warning…open the lid on this bottle at least once per day while it sits at room temperature. It is fermenting again and the gases can build up in the bottle to point of explosion!
- When you are happy with the fizz levels, pop your kefir in the fridge. This will slow down the fermentation so it can sit happily for a few weeks.
- Don’t forget to make more batches with your grains. They are a living organism and need to be fed and loved!