So you want a probiotic food source for better digestive health and a flatter tummy, but:
- you are lactose intolerant and cannot consume yogurt or dairy kefir
- fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut are too high in sodium
- you are trying to avoid fermented soy products like miso or tempeh, because they may be genetically modified or because of their phytoestrogen content
- you need to stay away from kombucha due to its caffeine content
- you are simply not patient enough for the fermentation process
Well, I have got some great news! My friend, fellow Nutritionist, and fermentation connoisseur, Suzanne, introduced me to water kefir, which is a non-dairy, caffeine-free, probiotic drink that only takes one to five days to make! Not only did she make me some of her blueberry-flavoured water kefir to try for my first time, but she also gave me some of her extra water kefir grains so that I can start making my own! This delicious and good-for-you beverage tastes mildly sweet and slightly tangy. Also, it may or may not have added flavour and/or carbonation. I have not seen water kefir sold in stores (yet). So if you would like to try this drink, find a knowledgeable water-kefir maker in your area and then try making your own perhaps! If you can get your hands on water kefir grains from a health food store, from online, or from a trusted water-kefir producer, here is how I have been making this healthy beverage successfully (thanks to Suzanne for the recipe and all her help and guidance):
- 1 cup (250 mL) to-be-boiled filtered water
- 2 cups (500 mL) cold (refrigerated) filtered water
- 1-litre glass jar
- 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 10 drops ConcenTrace trace mineral supplement (Instead of this, Suzanne uses 1 tsp of molasses, which is also mineral-rich and works.)
- 1/4 cup water kefir grains
- an elastic band with a coffee filter or cheesecloth or towel to cover the jar
- plastic strainer
- glass bottle or glass jar with a lid for completed water kefir
- Boil 1 cup (250 mL) of filtered water and add it to a 1-litre glass jar.
- Dissolve 1/4 cup of organic sugar in the jar of hot water.
- Add 2 cups (500 mL) of cold (refrigerated) filtered water into the jar.
- Add 10 drops of ConcenTrace trace mineral supplement or 1 tsp of molasses into the jar.
- Add 1/4 cup of water kefir grains into the sugar and water mixture, which should be lukewarm. (If the mixture in the jar is warmer than that, place it in the fridge until it is not warmer than lukewarm BEFORE adding the water kefir grains. Hot water can kill the live bacterial cultures.)
- Cover the jar with an elastic band and a coffee filter or cheesecloth or towel. Let the jar sit somewhere at room temperature away from direct sunlight for 24 to 48 hours. Since fermentation occurs more rapidly at warmer room temperatures, both Suzanne and I like to keep our jars on the kitchen countertop beside the stove.
- After 24 to 48 hours, the liquid in the jar has turned into water kefir! Strain out the water kefir grains with a plastic strainer (the live bacterial cultures dislike metal) and repeat steps 1 to 6 with the strained grains for your next batch of water kefir! You can drink your first batch of water kefir as it is, or you can flavour and carbonate it during a second fermentation process.
- To flavour your water kefir, add pure fruit juice/jam, dried/fresh fruits, herbs, spices, ginger pieces, and/or whatever else you want to try and let this concoction sit at room temperature for a second fermentation period of 1 to 3 days before drinking. For carbonation, seal this mixture with a lid or bottle it up during the 1-to-3-day flavouring period. Make sure to taste test the water kefir daily as it carbonates, because it can carbonate quite rapidly and you do not want any explosions!