Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lazy/Busy Person’s Water Kefir and Ginger-Ale

Today's guest post is by Peggy Matthews, who is a good friend who has helped me in many ways to get my word out. Most of us are always looking for short cuts and she shares the one she now uses for making water kefir. She makes a fabulous Ginger-Ale with this method. Read on!

When I told Sharon about my different approach to making water kefir she asked me to share how I do it by writing a short piece as a guest contributor to her blog. So, here it is.

My approach differs from Sharon’s in that it cuts out some of the steps so that I can quickly assemble the water kefir and then promptly forget about it. I call it the “lazy/busy” person’s approach because I am usually one or the other, depending on the day. Let me state right away, though, that Sharon’s method is the tried-and-true one that most people use with consistent success.
Here is my method, and afterwards I’ll explain what’s different about it.

Lazy-busy person’s Water Kefir (1 Quart)
1. Sugar-Water: Dissolve ½ cup of light or dark brown sugar in 3 cups of filtered water.
2. Pour off and save (for baking or drinking) almost all of your previous batch of water kefir, leaving behind the kefir granules which should be barely covered by the remaining brew.
3. Pour the new sugar-water into the jar containing the kefir granules.
4. Plop in a handful of raisins and small pieces of lemon.
5. Cover, label with date (I use freezer tape and a marker) and store in refrigerator.

Differences between Sharon’s method and mine:
SUGAR: I use more sugar (1/2 cup vs. 2 tablespoons) in order to keep the kefir granules well-fed for a longer period of time. My water kefir will not need to be made again for an entire month.

FERMENTATION TIME: I place my water kefir directly in the fridge and leave it there. Sharon let’s hers ferment at room temperature for 24-48 hours after which she removes the fruit and then refrigerates it. (I don’t want to have to remember to check it after I’ve assembled it as I’m liable to forget!)

FRUIT REMOVAL: I don’t remove the fruit. I leave the raisins and lemon in the water kefir until I’m ready to make a new batch.

JARS: I use the same jar every time. Sharon begins each new batch of water kefir in a new, clean jar by first making the sugar-water solution, then adding the fruit, then adding the water kefir grains. I prefer to throw everything into the old jar.

If there is any way to cut corners and simplify things that need to be repeated I will usually find a way to do it! The water kefir that I make works very well as a booster for gluten-free sourdough starters, and is delicious as a tonic. The one down-side to my method is that you do have to wait a couple of weeks before the sugar-water is fermented enough to be of any use. It will still taste sweet after 2 weeks in the fridge, but it can be used for bread baking at this time. After 1 month it is perfect for drinking, very fizzy and with only a touch of sweetness left.

I make Ginger-Ale by mixing pressed ginger juice with water kefir. I press my own ginger using a Samson Gear Juicer and I then freeze the juice in small ice-cube wells (about 1 tablespoon per well) so that it will last me a long, long time. I peel fresh ginger root, cut it into small pieces and feed them through the gear juicer. I like to use 1 tablespoon of ginger juice in 24 oz water kefir.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Recommendations for Same Recipe-4 different Results

My last post talked about my experiment using the same recipe with 4 different grinds of brown rice flour. If you remember, I made 4 starters using a different grind of brown rice flour for each:

1. Once-ground on a KitchenAid Grain Mill attachment on finest setting
2. Twice-ground same mill, first on medium, #4, and again on fine #1.
3. Bob's Red Mill with added rice bran
4. Bob's Red Mill

I made my Sourdough Bread #3 recipe which is a rice and chia gel based recipe. They all came out relatively well except for the third trial using added rice bran.

I thought that adding rice bran might add some needed coarseness to the Bob's Red Mill flour but it didn't work at all as I had hoped. The bran absorbed huge amounts of moisture and resulted in a bonafide brick. Couldn't even make it into bread crumbs. Went straight into the compost.

Moving on to the successes:
-The once-ground was acceptable albeit a bit heavy.
-The twice-ground was very good, rose well, tasted good, felt good.
-The loaf with Bob's Red Mill was extremely good. You can see that it rose higher than the others in the photo, it's the loaf on the right.

I have also made this recipe using Arrowhead Mills brown rice flour and it worked very well. (I didn't try this for this particular test, though)

I was very glad to know that this recipe will work well with commercially ground flour as well as with twice-ground on a KitchenAid.