I’ve seen bottled kefir in the organic section at the grocery store for years; never tried it. Recently I went through a fit, a spell, a phase, a compulsion, of making my own natural body products from things like beeswax and baking soda and vinegar and shea butter and coconut oil, and chronicled my experiments here as well as on a message board.
A commenter on the message board has been at this for years, switching everything over from store-bought to homemade. She talked about kefir. Kefir! What’s that?
I ordered my little pouch of water kefir grains from someone on Amazon. They didn’t cost a lot, and arrived in two ziploc bags, one inside of the other one. I left them sitting on my desk over last weekend, thinking I’d get to it eventually. What do you need to do to make kefir? Hmm…
One January Monday morning I decided I needed to get it going, and looked quickly at a kefir-making list:
- 2-quart glass jar with a lid that will let air escape (so the jar doesn’t explode)
- water kefir grains
- 1/4 cup sugar (I use organic palm sugar)
- non-reactive strainer
- non-reactive whisk
Directions: mix sugar and warm water so that the sugar and water blend together thoroughly…and then add some cooler water…you don’t want to cook your kefir grains….then add this sugar-water mix to your jar, add the kefir grains, add some more water, up to filling the jar about 2/3 full…put the lid on the jar, leave this on the counter for 24-48 hours, depending on how warm the room is, and within 48 hours bottle and bottlecap the water kefir…and/or you can add 2-4 ounces of fruit juice, like unsugared grape juice, or I like acai juice…add that to the sugar/water mix and the result is slightly fizzier than “regular”…
..hmm…may have to buy a few things…
So I barely knew what I was doing when I assembled all my kefir stuff that Monday night: the kefir grains, some sugar, a glass measuring cup, a couple of chopsticks — I like those to stir with, since I don’t own a whisk anymore — and water. Stir it up, mix with a little water, add the rest of the water, let it sit on your counter overnight, for 24 to 48 hours, and voila, you’ve got a wonderful healthy probiotic drink that’s a little fizzy. The sugar feeds the kefir grains — they’re alive little guys — and they carbonate your water for you. Sounds good: make my own soda.
As I read and re-read the directions, I noticed they said NOT to use tap water: use spring water. Spring water? Okay, I’ve got that big plastic jug of Poland Springs water I bought a couple of weeks before ever hearing about structured water. I haven’t used the Poland Springs water at all. I could use it for kefir!
Looking again at the instructions, they said DEFINITELY do NOT add tap water, because kefir grains do not like chlorine, which is in tap water. Tap water will basically kill your kefir grains.
Okay…so I thought I’d try a little experiment. Two jars, not one; half the kefir & sugar in one jar with the structured water out of my tap, and the other half of the kefir grains and Poland Springs water in the second jar. I used two quarts of water, not one, as the directions said.
So…one packet of water kefir grains straight from Amazon Land…I left the packet on the desk for two days…opened it up…they were already starting to expand…added half a cup of sugar and a little water and the kefir grains in a glass measuring cup…added half the mixture to the jar on the left and the other half of the mixture to the jar on the right, then filled the jars up with water…jar on the left got tap water with the structured whole-house unit…jar on the right got Poland Springs, from a previously unopened plastic jug out of the fridge…they sat overnight on the countertop, next to each other…and this is the 24 hours later picture.
Now, a freaky thing happened. The structured water crystals remained clean looking, and kept expanding, getting bigger and bigger. They just looked like they were happy. On the other hand, I got worried about the kefir grains in the Poland Springs jar. There was NO growth, at ALL, on the bottom of the jar, NO fizz at all, the grains were not metabolizing the sugar, or whatever it is that goes on there…AND, there were some small black grains and small white grains — they looked like seeds — forming in the Poland Springs jar. There were a few of those in the structured water jar, as well, but the Poland Springs jar had a lot of them. And they didn’t look all that great. What’s going on?
I got so excited about the kefir growing in the structured water, growing so phenomenally well, I listened in on Clayton’s conference call on January 22, hoping to be able to tell the world about this. Clayton had other callers, though, and I really enjoyed listening to them talking about structured water and their questions and answers and experiences.
The next day I decided to really go for broke. I decided to make ginger beer. I am a great fan of ginger beer, and needed to find all of the ingredients first…and a bottle capper. Fortunately there’s a place I know locally that sells beer and winemaking items; they had bottle caps and cappers. I have TONS of used ginger beer bottles in my recycling bin, and now I’m going to recycle them.
Now all of my kefir jars have only structured water in them; yesterday I bottled & capped about a dozen bottles of kefir, some being kefir ginger beer, some being kefir and lemon for sort of a lemonade kefir, some being “just plain” kefir and water and sugar, and some being coconut and ginger and kefir.
All of this kefir grew (amazingly fast!) in structured water. I haven’t used Poland Springs water since the first jar grew the kefir so very badly. I was actually worried about the grains dying if I kept feeding them sugar and Poland Springs water.
I sure have been enjoying my home brewed kefir, and had my first taste of homemade ginger beer today. Not bad! I’d actually pay for another bottle of ginger beer tasting like this! And I have all those bottles in the fridge now…
So the real kicker is this, now: the kefir grains have grown SO phenomenally in structured water. What am I going to do with all these kefir grains?!
And now it’s been about eight weeks since I originally posted this on another one of my blogs. Here’s a photo of my kefir grains now, even after having given away about 4 cups of grains:
Now I keep three big jars of kefir grains in the refrigerator, with sugar water and a small amount of juice, and that will rest comfortably for about a week; then I bottle the kefir water and start it again. I drink several bottles of kefir water every day and really enjoy it. The grains don’t multiply so fast in the refrigerator. I’m more able to handle the grains this way. But I’d love to continue to give it away! I have way, way more kefir grains than I can possibly use by myself. I’m pretty sure my kefir grains are so prolific because of using structured water.