When I first heard of people fermenting milk on their counter-tops, I was torn between intrigue and a gag.
However, after learning about the importance of a healthy balance of bacteria in the GI tract to overall immune health, I began to appreciate this relatively simple and cheap way to boost our immune systems.
I started with the traditional milk kefir, taking the grains and “feeding” them milk as needed. However, the whole gag factor never went away. Even masked in a smoothie, I was not a huge fan.
Then a friend introduced me to water kefir.
Water Kefir 411
What is it?
Water + kefir “grains” + some kind of sugar + 2 days on your counter = water kefir, a fizzy, slightly sweet brew of probiotic goodness that may be mixed (or fermented a second time) with fruit juice for extra flavor.
You’re still fermenting something on your counter-top, but to me, the taste (and look) is infinitely preferable to milk kefir.
After fermenting, you can drink it straight, but I find that it tastes a bit like beer. I’m not a huge beer fan, so I like to add a little juice. My favorite combo as of late is a splash of lemon and grape.
Then it tastes more like a cross between a beer and an Izze. Emphasis on the Izze.
(Just to clarify, despite all this beer talk, I am not giving my kids an alcoholic beverage. Kelly proves that here. And she’s pretty much a kefir expert in my book).
What’s up with those grains?
Well, they aren’t actually grains at all. They’re basically a combination of a variety of beneficial bacteria and yeast that produce lactic acid, carbon dioxide (hence the bubbles), and ethanol as they “eat” the sugar.
What’s So Great About It?
It’s a cheap, relatively easy way to get a nice daily shot of probiotics in an easily digestible form (it’s easier for the body to digest than a pill). And it doesn’t taste half bad. If you’ve got a soda habit you’re trying to kick, this might prove a reasonable substitute.
This is one healthy treat that’s gotten a big thumbs up from Hubs and Bun. Buckaroo just likes to dismantle his sippies and pour out the contents, so I couldn’t say for sure about him.
1.) The grains multiply like crazy, making for excellent house-warming gifts (kidding…so far) and loads of fun on the kitchen floor for my three-year-old.
2.) Hearing your three-year-old ask for kefir (especially if they say it the traditional way: “kuh-feer”) is pretty awesome. Kind of like during the Olympics when we’d ask her to say the names of countries just because we thought a toddler saying “Ser-bee-ah” was adorable.
Come back next time and we’ll talk logistics: how to make it, store it, and keep those grains alive.
Have you tried water kefir? Would you?