Introduction: How to Brew Proper Water Kefir
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KEFIR (KEH - FEAR)
Kefir, keefir, or kephir is a fermented drink made with kefir "grains" (a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter) and has its origins in the north Caucasus Mountains.
It is prepared by inoculating a water and sugar mixture with kefir grains.
Traditional kefir was made in skin bags that were hung near a doorway; the bag would be knocked by anyone passing through the doorway to help keep the water and kefir grains well mixed.
Kefir grains are a combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars, and this symbiotic matrix, or (S.C.O.B.Y.) forms "grains" that resemble cauliflower. For this reason, a complex and highly variable community of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts can be found in these grains although some predominate; Lactobacillus species are always present.
Several varieties of probiotic bacteria are found in kefir products such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, Lactococcus lactis, and Leuconostoc species.
OK, enough of the blurb - lets get started!
Step 1: Gather Your Goods.
To make Kefir you are going to need a few things, they are as follows:
- Kefir grains (may be obtained from a friend in a health food store system)
- Glass jar (about 1 1litre jar for 4TBSP Kefir grains)
- (NOT METAL) bowl to hold the grains
- Plastic strainer/fine sieve
- Some dried fruit (to feed the grains so they grow)
- Napkins/paper towels
- Rubber bands
- Spring water (No chlorine)
- Sealable jar (to store the finished drink)
I think that is all you need!
You will need a few basic measurements but that will come later.
I will be documenting our batch of Kefir that is currently about 15 liters (or 3.5 Gallons).
Once you have gathered all your goods you are set!
Step 2: The Sugar Part.
You will have to first measure out your grains to decide how much sugar you need.
The ratio is 1:1:1, 1 Tbsp grains to 1 Tbsp sugar and that equals 1 Cup of Spring water.
Don't worry about the water yet but make sure you have a large/ish jar to contain it all.
Now for a 1 litre (.25 gallon/1000ml) jar with 4 TBSP grains you will need 4 TBSP of sugar.
Put this into the base of the jar and then dissolve in a little bit of warm water.
Once it is dissolved you can move on :)
Step 3: Water Water Everywhere!
Well the title is right if you spill it...
Anyway, it is time to add the spring water.
You need to add 1 cup of water (if you are doing a different amount to me you will need to convert).
Pour this water into the sugar/water mixture and then stir a little to mix it all up.
Once you have added the water to your jar/s you can move on!
Step 4: Grains.
Now it is time to add the grains.
For my 1 litre amount I added 4 TBSP of grains, just pour this into the jar and then let it sit.
Unlike the more popular drink Kombucha, it is OK to move the grains around - they actually like it (as stated in the intro).
Now you have your grains in the jar/s it is yet again time to move on.
Step 5: Brew Time!
Now it is time to cover the jars and let them sit.
Cut a paper towel in quarters to get 4 squares.
You can use Muslin but paper towels work well and they are much much cheaper!
Put the little towel square over the top of the jar and secure it with a rubber band.
Now put the jar/s aside and let them brew!
You will let the Kefir brew for 24-48 hours (normally 48 hours is best).
When you are new to making water kefir, you probably won't know exactly what taste your looking for, but as you continue to make your water kefir, you'll get to know better when you need to strain the kefir
Step 6: Straining Time!
It is time for you to uncover your Kefir and strain it into another jar.
This jar needs to have the ability to be airtight for what is called the second ferment.
You strain out the grains and then put them aside in a bowl (NOT METAL!) to wait for the next brew.
This is the stage when you can flavour the Kefir.
I like Kefir plain, I think it tastes a little like a hotdog (especially when fed on fig). but you can flavour the Kefir to anything you like!
One flavour my sister tried was Raspberries, Ginger and Cloves.
This turned out quite nice but I still like plain the best.
The second ferment normally lasts for 24 hours and after that it is ready to drink!
When you have finished bottling and flavouring your Kefir you can re-use the grains immediately and start yourself another brew!
You can rinse or wash the jar if you want, but it is not necessary every time. Rinse or change jars once you notice excess build-up. The build-up can cause your kefir to ferment too quickly, or make it too yeasty which in turn makes it not tasty!
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