About six months ago, my sister gave me some kefir grains. It is a gift that keeps on giving! I’ve learned to love kefir, and so has most of my family. It’s good for you, low in sugar, high in pro-biotics, and it’s cheap and easy to make.
If you’ve never heard of it before, kefir is an ancient fermented beverage that is barely alcoholic. Kefir grains are gelatinous symbiotic lumps of bacteria and yeast, and date back thousands of years. Some researchers believe that kefir is the “manna” mentioned in the Bible that God provided for the Israelites while they wandered in the desert for forty years. Kefir contains an abundance micro-organisms, beneficial to the digestive tract and believed to be the reason why the inhabitants of the Caucasus Mountains live such long lives, well into their hundreds and beyond. Water kefir (as opposed to milk kefir, a fermented dairy beverage) is slightly tart, slightly carbonated, and usually flavored with fruit or fruit juice.
I place 1/2 cup of kefir grains in the bottom of a half-gallon glass jar. I add 1/2 cup of sweetener (brown sugar, raw cane sugar, white sugar, anything except honey.) Fill the jar with tap water and stir gently. I place a lid on the jar and let it sit in a dark place for 48 hours. Next, I pour the liquid through a strainer to separate the kefir grains. The grains are put in new water, with more sugar, to start another batch. To the fermented liquid that I poured off from the kefir grains, I add 1/2 cup of fruit or fruit juice to flavor it, let it ferment in a dark place for another 24 – 48 hours, then chill and enjoy.
Some of the flavors that I’ve tried: 1/2 cup full-strength frozen grape juice concentrate. (This is my favorite!)
1/2 cup full-strength frozen pulp-free orange juice. (This is the most carbonated. If you use pulp juice, it gets gross- the pulp clogs up the top of the bottle, and I can’t drink that stuff.)
1/2 cup dried dates
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup vanilla extract
1/2 cup full-strength raspberry-cran frozen juice
There are hundreds of other fruit and flavoring combinations online. You are limited only by your imagination. So, find someone in your area who makes kefir – you might post a “help wanted” sign in your local health food store. Then get started- it is really easy. I’ve tried making wine before, and I’ve thought about making beer. But kefir is a snap.
I bought the reusable amber bottles at Amazon.com, and the dry-write reusable labels at Hobby Lobby.