Regular and flavored kefir brewing at different stages.
In yesterday's post I shared how to make water kefir. There were a couple of questions that came up that I thought I'd clarify and then I'll share some of our favorite ways to drink it.
First of all, water kefir is gluten-free. So, if you have an issue with gluten, water kefir won't be an issue for you. Secondly, there was a question about the second ferment. After you strain out your kefir grains, you use those to start a new batch. The second ferment takes place without the grains in the liquid. Although there are no actual grains in the brew, there are still plenty of active organisms ready to get to work on the juice or fruit you add. I hope this clarifies things a little.
You don't have to do a second ferment for your water kefir to be ready to drink. I just like when it gets all fizzy. :0) Also, there are probably a blooming gazillion ways to flavor water kefir. I'm simply going to share a few that have become our favorites, so far. Ready?
1. Cream Soda - Add 2 - 3 tsps. of vanilla extract per quart of kefir. That's it!
2. Lemonade - Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice per quart of kefir. I tried this with bottled lemon juice. It was good, but a little tart. I think that the juice from a real lemon would be even better. Makes me kind of wish for my old Meyer Lemon tree from our days living in Florida. :0)
3. Juiced-Up Kefir - Add an equal amount of your favorite juice to the water kefir. You can also add sparkling water to fizz it up.
This is where your options get really wide. Note that if you go this route you'll want to seal your container (glass please) instead of covering it with cheese cloth or a coffee filter. Sealing it off is what will cause it to become naturally carbonated or fizzy. I have been using quart or half gallon canning jars because that's what I have. But, these Grolsch flip-top style bottles are on my wish list because they are supposed to be superb at capturing the excreted gas that gives it all the fizzy goodness.
Method 1: Add fresh or dried fruit to the kefir after it has been strained. Some really great options are apple or cranberry. Or apple and cranberry. There is also apricot, mango, or whatever your favorite is. This method can ferment anywhere from an additional 1 to 7 days. Just make sure that you change out fresh fruit every day. Dried fruit can ferment with your kefir for up to a week...if it's around that long.
Method 2: Add 1 part 100% fruit juice to 3 parts water kefir. Let it sit at room temperature for several days before refrigerating. Refrigeration will cause the fermentation process to stop. I also have successfully used equal parts juice and kefir and let it ferment all day or overnight and it gets a lovely fizz to it. Some of our favorites have been made with grape, cranberry, or cranberry pomegranate juice. Isaac's favorite is made with orange juice. When you're ready to drink it, add a dash of vanilla extract for an orange cream soda style drink.
Well, I hope that you're a little more inspired to start experimenting with the endless possibilities of water kefir!