Fermentation is an art. It takes fine attention to detail to really make a great batch of kefir.
You’re dealing with living organisms when fermenting and this makes things a little more tricky compared to regular cooking. Just like any other living thing they aren’t fed properly, have poor living conditions and stale oxygen then they’re bound to act up.
What is Kefir Soda?
Also known as water kefir, it is simply sugar-water that is fermented at room temperature. For kefir water, you typically with ferment with kefir grains for about 24-48 hours.
It has many wonderful benefits:
- Water kefir is loaded with probiotics and can have just as many (if not additional) benefits than traditional yogurt or milk kefir.
- It’s a wonderful probiotic liquid alternative for those who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to casein in dairy kefir.
- It heals the gut/digestion due to it’s probiotic richness.
- It’s hydrating and has plenty of minerals.
- Balances the gut micro-biome.
- The affordability of sugar and water makes it not only healthier than most ferments, but cheaper too.
- Not to mention, the grains grow like crazy and are reusable — the sustainability of using grains makes it very cost effective. Off the top of my head it’s under a dollar per 24 ounces of probiotic goodness.
Kefir has gained in popularity lately, due to interest in local, economical and responsible eating, combined with a greater awareness of the health benefits of probiotics. It’s a fun DIY hobby that promotes the balance of ones health and life.
Authentic kefir can only be made by real kefir grains, not from a kefir starter like when making coconut kefir. Most kefir available in stores are simply imitations. As with most nutritious foods, real kefir can only be made and experienced at home.
Water Kefir’s origins are a bit unknown, pointing towards either Mexico, Tibet and even Russia. Regardless, it has been around for centuries and for good reason.
There is an old popular Mexican beverage called Tepache. It is traditionally made with ‘Tibi’ (water kefir grains), pineapple and cinnamon. You can count on me making this soon considering in my mind I’m 97% Mexican blood.
Anyways, back to the point of this post…
Making the Best Kefir at Home
I’ve noticed over the years of making living fermented foods that there’s certain things I can do to ensure a good final product.
First of all, let me define a good final product. When I’m talking about kefir, a good batch is when it’s fully fermented, it’s tangy, slightly sour, bubbling, and tastes amazing.
You’ll know something went wrong when the kefir is flat, the grains are shrinking or dying, the sugar isn’t being consumed and at worst, it’s starting to go bad (mold).
To make the BEST kefir soda here are the exact ingredients I use and things I do…
Here’s what you’ll need
- Spring water (wild spring water if you can!)
- Glass containers
- Organic water kefir grains (I use these)
- Organic sugar (I use sucanat, it gives it a rich, full body taste)
Here’s how you make it:
- First things first, get the cleanest water possible. I order spring water monthly to ensure a very pure base liquid. Even better, use the site Find a Spring to source mineral rich, living water. This will make your kefir that much happier and healthier.
- You want to find an environment that stays a consistent temperature, somewhere around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the room gets too cold they won’t ferment and could eventually go into hibernation or die. If it gets too hot they will just ferment really quickly. As long as it’s not reaching somewhere in the 100’s that might kill them, then hotter is better. You also want consistency as I mentioned. If the temps fluctuate too much this could mess with the process.
- Be sure to sterilize your glass containers and avoid using metal when handling the grains. The best options are glass, bamboo, nylon and ceramic utensils. You also want things sterile so boil your jars and any other utensils you use to handle the grains.
- Once you have the water, clean containers and a solid fermenting location the rest is simple. If you ordered your grains from the link I recommend they will come in a packet and are ready to go. Simply drop them into a quart sized jar for easy measuring. The ratio of grains:sugar is 1:1. Each tablespoon of grains and sugar should properly ferment about 1 cup of water. To make things easy I use quart sized mason jars and add 4 tbsp of grains and 4 tbsp of sugar each batch. This always ensures the perfect kefir for me. Add the grains and sugar to the jar with enough water to fill the jar just below full.
- Next, add your minerals and EcoBloom. These are the secret ingredient to thriving, robust grains and also a very fizzy delicious drink. The minerals feed the grains so they reproduce like wild and eat up the sugar properly. The EcoBloom is a prebiotic (food for the grains). It is so easily digested by the grains that soon as you add it to the mix you’ll see activity (lots of fizzing). When I started using these two things consistently, every batch turned out perfect.
- Once all the ingredients are in, you can put on a lid and let them sit on a counter, table or where ever they will have consistent warmth. Let them ferment for 24-48 hours or until you’ve noticed the sugar is all eaten up. The color should be similar to the color of beer, a sort of amber tone due to the molasses in the sucanat. When it’s finished there will be a lot of bubbles, no more sugar and when you open the lids you’ll see a lot of carbonation.
- The last step is to strain the grains. To do this, get a large nylon strainer and a new clean jar. Pour the finished kefir through the strainer into the new jar and you can enjoy as is or you can do a double ferment. This is where you would add in things like organic, cold-press fruit juices, herbs or teas. I have recipes that demonstrate this process, like this one.