I have become obsessed with fermented foods. Sourdough bread, sauerkraut, yoghurt, milk kefir and water kefir have all become part of my daily diet. If I were to buy these fermented foods from a health food store, I’d be spending a small fortune on my habit. Thankfully, fermented foods are easy to make at home.
My current favourite ferment is water kefir.
Water kefir is a naturally fizzy fermented drink laden with probiotics.
It is bubbly and refreshing like soft drink, but without the artificial ingredients and with far less sugar. The beneficial bacteria and yeast are an added bonus.
You can buy water kefir from many heath food and organic stores. Here in Newcastle we’re fortunate to have it made locally by a small family business. Imbibe Water Kefir is delicious, but at $12.95 for a bottle it’s a drink I reserve for special occasions.
You can make your own water kefir at home for only a few cents per litre.
You’ll need some water kefir grains.
Despite their name, water kefir grains aren’t actually ‘grains’. They are small translucent bundles of yeast and bacteria living symbiotically.
You can buy water kefir grains online, but I think cultures are best shared.
Find someone who makes water kefir. Perhaps a friend of a friend. And ask for some grains and culturing tips.
I like the idea of cultures being used to culture community.
For me, sharing my excess grains is part of the fun of making kefir. A friend gifted me some grains and I have since passed on grains to others. Kefir grains have been shared like this across the globe for hundreds of years.
There are many stories about the origin of water kefir. One story suggests it originated in Mexico, where water kefir grains were collected from a prickly pear cactus. Another, and my favourite, suggests it originated in Tibet where monks gifted some grains to Mother Theresa to improve the health of India’s poor. There was a condition on the gift, that it must never be sold. It should to be shared for free instead.