Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Water Kefir

Water Kefir...an Experiment!!

 So my Father dehydrated and mailed me some Water Kefir Crystals from Sidney, British Columbia the other day. They arrived on Friday!!! Now to find out if they survived the dehydration and Arctic temperatures. Let the experiment begin!

Kefir, which actually means “feel good” in Turkish, is a handcrafted, effervescent, cultured and enzyme-rich probiotic drink that's filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your inner ecosystem.
Drinking Water Kefir will help you achieve your optimal health, strengthen your immune system, and help to prevent diseases of all kinds.

 Wiki gives the following desccription of Water Kefir:
Tibicos, also known as tibi, water kefir grains, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals and California Bees, are a culture of bacteria and yeast held in a polysaccharide matrix created by the bacteria. As with kefir grains, the microbes present in tibicos act in symbiosis to maintain a stable culture. Tibicos can do this in many different sugary liquids, feeding off the sugar to produce lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol), and carbon dioxide gas which carbonates the drink.
Tibicos are found around the world, with no two cultures being exactly the same. Typical tibicos have a mix of Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus and Leuconostoc bacteria with yeasts from Saccharomyces, Candida, Kloeckera and possibly others. Lactobacillus brevis has been identified as the species responsible for the production of the polysaccharide (dextran) that forms the grains.
People who do not wish to consume dairy or have a vegan type diet may find that water kefir provides the living pro-biotics without the need for dairy or tea cultured products, like kombucha. Since the finished product, if bottled, will produce a carbonated beverage, it provides an alternative to sweet soda drinks for children and adults.

Basic preparation method is to add Water Kefir Grains to a sugary liquid and allow to ferment 24 to 48 hours.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ofWater Kefir Grains (I dont have this quantity - just the 1/2 tsp my Dad sent)
  • 1 dried Fig,quartered
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 4 tablespoons of White Sugar (Honey, Cane Sugar or Molasses could be substituted)
  • 1 litre (4 cups) of Water (Natural Spring Water with no Chlorine works best)
  • 2 litre jar with lid
Dissolve the sugar in the water.

Add the juice of the Lemon, the Lemon half, and the Fig. 

 I love Ginger...so I threw in a few Slices of Fresh!

After mixing, drop in the Kefir Grains and cover the jar. If the lid is on tightly, you get a carbonated drink; if loose, a still drink. Set the jar aside to ferment at room temperature  for 24 to 48 hours.

When finished, strain out the Crystals to add to the next batch.

It is important to use ingredients that will not inhibit the fermentation. This means:
  1. If using tap water, filter or boil to remove chlorine.
  2. Fresh fruit should be washed to remove pesticide residues, and ideally be Organic. Most Grocery stores carry Organic Fruit now.
  3. Dried fruit should be Preservative free, so as not to unbalance the bacteria counts in the Water Kefir.
It is recommended to follow the above recipe to maintain a healthy culture. The fruits used may be changed and mixed to create difference taste, however, it is very important to use the lemon or other acidic fruit like grapefruit. This is for the safety factor of those drinking the finished beverage as the pH of 3.0 to 4.6 is desired.
Additional precaution has to be taken in order to keep culture healthy. All the handling needs to be done without usage of silver, since it can cause considerable damage to the grains.  Stainless steel is preferable. Culturing grains in a glass jar with tight fitting lid and using clean metal or plastic items when handling the grains is recommended. Once a batch is ready it may be consumed fresh throughout the day or stored in sealed bottles in the refrigerator for a few days.

 Cooks love to grow things...be it Sour Dough Starter...Yogurt...even Creme Fraiche ....so I am totally stoked to see if the culture has survived the frigid weather. I'll keep everyone filled in on the results in a couple days....and if there is anyone out there with Milk Kefir Grains...please contact me via acookslife@hotmail.com ...I would love to start culturing it also(I actually prefer Milk Kefir).

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