So, even though as a teen I consumed mountain dew like it was going out of style, as an adult I have never been a soda drinker. When we go to birthday parties, I give my kids sprite mixed half and half with water and they think it’s amazing. So last Fall I started making my own fermented beverages, namely kombucha and kefir water. The kombucha was a hit with my husband, but the kids really enjoy the kefir water or “homemade soda” as they affectionately call it. We have experimented and made a variety of flavors including ginger ale, grape, strawberry lemonade, cranberry maple, apple and raspberry. We love it, because it is refreshing and delicious, but also full of pro-biotics, b-vitamins, electrolytes and is very low in sugar.
To make this delicious, healthy beverage, you have to start with the water kefir grains (for a good source of water kefir grains, click here). The name is deceiving as they aren’t made of grain, but are granules of soft, rubbery cultures. I put the grains in a jar with 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of sugar. This is what they will feed on during the fermentation process. If you are on a low sugar diet, don’t worry, because the kefir will consume more than 80% of the sugars you feed them.
Then I fill my jar up the rest of the way with de-chlorinated water (since I don’t have a water filter I have a gallon jug I fill with tap water and let it sit out for 24 hours). I add some dried fruit (must be unsulphured), sometimes half a lemon and sometimes calcium or magnesium (the grains like minerals). Then I seal the jar and let it sit out on the counter for 24 to 48 hours.
During this time the grains will float around, rising up and falling down. Bubbles will form and it will be active. Fun to keep an eye on. After this first ferment of 24 to 48 hours I strain out the kefir grains and either start a new batch with them or put them in the fridge to hibernate. Depending on what kind of “soda” I want to make this is the point where I add flavor before the second ferment. Fruit juice really helps it carbonate and is my kids favorite. Or if I want ginger ale I grate ginger and add and fill up a cloth tea bag with it. After adding my desired flavors I bottle it and leave it on the counter for another 24 hours for a second ferment. If I use pop-top bottle that can hold pressure, the fruit flavored sodas get quite carbonated. These are the bottles I use:
Although if I want to add chunks of fresh fruit I use these big jars instead:
After the second ferment, I put the finished product in the fridge to chill. We love this and drink it all the time. It’s a great way to consume lots of pro-biotics and populate your gut with “good guys”. Kefir has more beneficial bacteria strains than yogurt, so, when you first start drinking it, take it slow. If you don’t have a lot of pro-biotics in your diet now, you may experience some uncomfortable symptoms as the new bacterias get settled in and make themselves at home. But this is a good thing, because once there, they improve digestion and boost your immune system. The types of homemade kefir “soda” you can make are limited only by your imagination, so have fun! If you come up with any good recipes, please share them with me!
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