I’d heard of kefir before – the milk based cultured yoghurt like beverage which many non vegans consumed for its healthy bacteria. When I saw a recipe for a smoothie that called for it, I began to look for a vegan version.
I didn’t find a vegan version of milk kefir on the market, but I did discover a thing called Water Kefir. Fully vegan, these fermented grains of kefir (or tibicos) SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts), feed off of sugar to ferment water in as little as 2 days!
A fast alternative to kombucha, after 24 hours, there is a decent amount of fermentation already but the drink is still a little sweet and delicious. The longer it’s left, the less sweet it becomes and the more alcoholic it becomes and you can even allow it to ferment into vinegar.
One thing I love is that the grains can be stored indefinitely in a little water and sugar in the fridge, just top it up every so often, bearing in mind that the grains feed on the sugar.
On that note, don’t be put off by the sugar – the sugar is there to feed the grains which convert it into all the goodies that are so beneficial to the body. Water kefir is known to be especially curing of candida.
You’ll also see your grains rapidly multiply, so you can make bigger batches or share away. I got my grains on eBay.
How To Make Water Kefir
Ingredients: makes 1 litre/4 cups
- 1 litre/4 cups filtered or spring water
- 3 tbsp water kefir grains
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Dissolve the sugar in the water in a jar large enough to hold 1 litre/4 cups, then add the grains. A Kilner jar is great for this as it can be stored in it after fermenting safely.
- Cover the jar with a breathable layer, I use thick kitchen roll (Regina Blitz brand) but cheesecloth, a nut bag or a new jay cloth will be fine. Tie it with string or an elastic band and leave the lid of the jar off.
- After 24 hours, you will have a sweet kefir, taste it and see if you would like to leave it for a further 24 hours for a more tart drink. After your chosen time, strain the liquid into a clean bottle or jar and either start a new batch with the grains or preserve them in solution (see below).
- Put the kefir in the fridge, it will continue to ferment but at a slow rate due to the cold temperature. At this point you can make it flavoured with things like fresh or dried fruit, tea, spices, flavourings or fruit juice at any ratio you prefer.
You can also try different flavors
Pineapple Ginger kefir: equal amounts of fresh blended pineapple or fresh juice (not from concentrate) and water kefir plus 1 tbsp of finely minced ginger.
Tropical Kefir: make a tropical blend of banana, orange, pineapple, mango, lime and kiwi (or any other combination or addition you like) or use a fresh pressed tropical juice (not from concentrate) and mix in equal parts with water kefir.
How To Store Kefir Grains
Place in a small jar with an equal volume of sugar to grains (so 1 tbsp sugar per 1 tbsp of kefir grains) and fill up with water, add a tablespoon of sugar once a week to keep alive. When you want to use them again, simply drain the storing liquid, rinse the grains and use as above.