Are you a soda drinker? If so, you need to stop. Seriously, that stuff is not good for you at all. Are you trying to improve your health plan — you know, like eating more whole foods, less processed junk, get more exercise, that sort of thing? If so, good for you! Keep going! You’ve got this! What if I were to tell you that there’s a healthy drink you can make at home? It requires an initial investment of less than $20, a tad bit more if you don’t have mason jars. You can start a perpetual healthy drink factory by making water kefir. It’s made from water kefir grains, which are composed of lactic and acetic acid bacteria. The strains of bacteria found in water kefir are the good-for-you kind of bacteria. Water kefir packs a probiotic punch that will whip your immune system into great shape in no time.
Making a batch of water kefir takes approximately 15 minutes or less. There are many ways you can flavor your drink, or you can drink it plain. I find that it tastes better when it’s really cold. If it sits out at room temperature, it starts to get a bit yeasty tasting. The benefits of drinking water kefir are many, including protection against cancer. As mentioned earlier, it improves the overall condition of the immune system, too. And, for those concerned with such issues, water kefir is dairy-free and vegan-friendly. My favorite ways to flavor water kefir are to add fresh halves of lemon that squeeze into the jug (drop the lemon slices right in there, too) or to add several drops per gallon of high quality essential oils (I use Eden’s Garden oils.), such as grapefruit, lemon or, my FAVE — sweet orange!
It’s easy to add water kefir to your health plan
The grains you’ll use to make water kefir (I keep including the word “water” because there is another type of kefir grains that makes milk kefir look like this:
(I keep including the word “water” because there is another type of kefir grains that makes milk kefir, which is a separate drink and process altogether.) In person, they sort of look like tapioca — tiny bead-like bundles that are somewhat translucent. These grains contain billions of living bacteria — many different strains. To make water kefir, you’ll need the ingredients included in the following list:
- 1/4/ cup or more of Water kefir grains (You can purchase online.)
- 1 Mason jar per 1/4 cup of grains
- Microwave safe glass jar or measuring bowl with a spout
- Brown coffee filters
- Ponytail holders or rubber bands
- A whisk that fits inside your mason jar (or a long-handled spoon)
- Raw cane sugar (1/4 cup per 1/4 cup of grains)
- Glass jug that will hold the amount of water kefir you choose to make
- Strainer with a handle
Before I explain exactly how to make water kefir, I want to address two issues related to the raw cane sugar. First, you might be thinking, “What’s so healthy about a drink with sugar in it? That’s what soda is, and the whole point of this is to improve my health plan.” Bacteria thrive on sugar. The purpose of the raw cane sugar is to feed the kefir grains. Once you’ve carried out the process of making water kefir, you’ll strain your final product into a glass jug. The grains will have consumed all the sugar so that only trace amounts are left in your drink. Secondly, whatever you do, do not try to substitute white processed sugar for the raw cane sugar. It can damage your grains. (That should tell us something about how toxic white processed sugar is, shouldn’t it? Even bacteria can’t eat it without being harmed!)
Water kefir instructions
Here is the basic recipe I have used for years to make water kefir, which has been a tremendous help in improving my family’s health plan:
- Put some water in the measuring jar with a spout, enough to add about 1/2 cup to each mason jar.
- Heat it in the microwave until warm enough to dissolve sugar.
- Add 1/4 cup raw cane sugar to each mason jar.
- Pour just enough warm water to cover and dissolve the sugar in each jar.
- Whisk the sugar in each jar to help it dissolve.
- Fill each jar the rest of the way with cold water, leaving an inch or so of head space at the top.
- Gently add 1/4 cup of kefir grains to each jar.
- Cover each jar with brown coffee filter.
- Hold each filter in place with a ponytail holder or rubber band.
- Carefully set jars on a countertop or inside a cabinet where they won’t be disturbed.
- Let the water kefir ferment for approximately 48 to 72 hours.
When the water kefir is ready to drink, you should see a few bubbles rising to the top of a jar when you lift one. If you’ve waited the proper amount of time and don’t see bubbles, it doesn’t necessarily mean your drink isn’t ready or that anything went wrong. Taste it. If it’s ready, it will have lost most of its sweetness by now. If it tastes sugary, it’s not done. It should also have a hint of tartness in its taste and might taste a little yeasty. If you think it’s done, get your glass jug and strainer with a handle ready. Gently pour each jar’s worth of water kefir over the strainer while holding it over the glass jug. This will result in the liquid going into the jug and the grains staying on the strainer.
Transfer those grains into a clean bowl and set aside for a minute. After filling your jug, place it in the refrigerator and enjoy some every day! It’s best to drink a whole batch within a week. With the grains you set aside in the bowl, you start the whole process over and make a new batch.
Second ferments and flavoring water kefir
If you’re giving up soda to improve your health plan and will miss all the tiny bubbles, you can turn water kefir into homemade, healthy soda! To do this, instead of transferring your final product directly to your glass jug, you’ll pour it into a jar that’s under pressure instead (like the kind that have hinged tops or corks, or just a tight lid). Add some berries or citrus fruits that you squeeze a little to release some flavor. Let this concoction sit out for another few days on the counter top. Make sure to “burp” the bottle (i.e. open the lid to let air escape) each day. This is called a “second fermentation” and when it’s done, you’ll have a carbonated drink! BE CAREFUL opening it in case it explodes! This can happen if you forget to burp your bottle each day. (Voice of experience speaking!)
Even if you don’t do a second ferment, you can toss some berries or citrus fruits into your glass jug. This adds flavor to the water kefir and helps override the yeasty-ness. You can also use lemon juice instead of fresh fruit to flavor water kefir. Some people give their kefir a cream soda taste by adding vanilla extract. You might also want to try infusing your water kefir by straining one part finished water kefir in with one part herbal infusion, such as nettle leaf or raspberry leaf. An herbal infusion means you’ll have already adding the dried herbs to boiling water to let sit for approximately five or six hours. You strain that liquid and mix it with the finished water kefir.
Healthy drinks instead of sugary drinks lead to a health plan victory
It’s hard to break bad habits when it comes to what we eat and drink. Making a simple change, such as learning to make water kefir to replace all the soda in your life, helps improve your health. You might be surprised at how much kids love water kefir! My grandson asks for some every time he visits!