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.





GINGER-ALE
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.

7 comments:

  1. thanks so much for sharing that recipe Sharon I will be experimenting with that. How much could you drink per day?

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  2. You are so welcome, Maleny. How much you drink depends on how much sugar you can tolerate. Even though the bacteria and yeast in the ferment eat most of the sugar, there still is some left. I can only have 1-2 ounces at a time. I know other people that drink 8-12 ounces at a time in place of soda. I know one woman who makes a new batch every day for her family. Enjoy it!

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  3. Hi there! I tried this method for the first time and after almost one month, my batch has a odd white "slimy" film on the top of the water and covering the fruit. It has remained covered and untouched in the same spot in the fridge. Have you seen this before? Wondering if this batch is a bust and if I should dispose of my grains? THanks!

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  4. HI Hybrid RM, I believe the white covering on the top is yeast. I will contact Peggy to see if she has ever had a white film on top of her water kefir. I have seen yeast on top of my salt brine veggie ferments and it is considered harmless. What I would do is

    1. gently remove the fruit and the white layer and discard.

    2. pour off the top few inches of the water kefir and discard that.

    3. Pour the leftovers including the culture into a clean jar.

    4. Smell it for any unusual smells. It should smell sweet and sour.

    5. If it smells good then taste a small amount. If it tastes good then it's probably fine to use.

    6. Use your best judgment about this, nobody wants to ingest problematic food.

    If you ever saw mold or fuzzy, black stuff then I would dump it all out since mold makes many of us very ill. I have never seen mold in water kefir.

    Let us know how it goes.

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  5. Hello Hybrid Rasta Mama. I have found that the water kefir granules do leave behind a film which also adheres to the sides of the glass jar. What Sharon wrote makes good sense. I always rely on my sense of smell and taste which can detect even the slightest degree of spoilage. The only time I've noticed spoilage in water kefir is when the sugar has been used up and the granules begin to starve and die off. Is this the first time that you're using your grains? If so, I think it's advisable to discard the first couple of batches to allow the grains to acclimatize to their new environment. Otherwise, I'd say it's perfectly fine.

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  6. I took your suggestions and do believe that it was yeast on top of the kefir. I forgot that I had this once on a batch of fermented pickles and I went ahead and ate them.

    Thank you for the help! I think my grains may be defunct anyway. They are over a year old and the reason I tried this approach was because my kefir was no longer getting fizzy and my grains stopped multiplying. I thought I would shake things up a bit but after a month the water is pretty flat and rather sweet still. I think I need new grains! However, I did like this method quite a bit. Keeping up with my counter top kefir was a pain!

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  7. HI Hybrid Rasta Mama,
    Glad we all sorted out the mystery. My grains don't multiply much but I have enough and occasionally have enough to share some. It might be worth your while to get a new batch. www.culturesforhealth.com has an excellent dehydrated product with a generous amount of grains to start with.
    Best,
    sharon

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