By Gillian B
As the years have gone by and my passion for nutrition and healthy living has blossomed, many turning points have really made a difference in my journey, and learning how to ferment is one of them! For a long time, I knew that cultured foods were important and that fermenting could be done at home, but I just didn’t know where to start.
So I read Sandor Katz’ book Wild Fermentation and it totally opened my eyes to how easy fermenting at home really is! I also read The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates which changed my life. (I was healing from a Candida overgrowth at the time.) Both books are HIGHLY recommended!
Before starting to ferment at home, traditional dairy yogurt was kind of out of the question for me. I was relying on my daily dose of probiotics to get what I needed. But as with all supplementation, it’s important to realize that their purpose is just that… to supplement the diet and not replace. As I slowly started fermenting my own veggies, my curiosity led me to purchase a starter kit to make my own probiotic-rich kefir drinks at home. I got mine HERE but Body Ecology also has an amazing Kefir Starter Kit that uses packets instead of keeping grains. Both are great options!
Alternatively, if you have a friend who is already making water kefir, just ask him or her for some grains! The little babies multiply so you will be able to give some away to your family and friends. When I went traveling, I picked up some grains from a friend in Thailand and took them with me to Bali. The coconuts there make the perfect kefir, so I had plenty of probiotics with me everywhere I went. I was in heaven!
Health Benefits of Water Kefir
Like I said, water kefir contains probiotics! These good bacteria help us to digest our food, prevent allergies, boost our immune system, and keep the body healthy. It is also beneficial for those who suffer from Candida issues. Generally speaking, probiotics help to balance the beneficial bacteria in the gut and are extremely helpful with skin and digestive conditions. Since probiotic supplements are not reliable for many reasons, its wise to get our probiotics through fermented food and drinks — and water kefir is a great way to do that! Other great fermented food and drinks that are helpful to our inner ecology include kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi!
Making this dairy-free kefir at home is a breeze and even the toughest critics cannot deny how good it tastes! I filmed this little video showing how to make and flavour it, so if you are serious about making it yourself, check it out:
Note: Since the original filming of this video, (besides growing up a lot and changing the colour of my hair) I have switched to primarily coconut water as my sweet liquid of choice. I found that adding sugar water to the culture took away some of the sweetness, but not all.
Coconut water just feels better, ferments perfectly in 24 hours and by the end, it is not sweet at all. This makes it more ideal for someone with compromised digestion like leaky gut and/or candida overgrowth. If young coconuts are not local (like in Canada), you can buy good quality coconut water that is not from concentrate. While it is not as good as the raw stuff, straight from the coconut, it does the trick! I love adding a squeeze of lime to my coconut water kefir and having it as a wake up tonic that primes the digestive track and flushes the liver!
- Leave on the counter top with the bottle top covered with a paper towel and an elastic band. The babies need to breathe!
- Lower sugar content liquids or less liquid will take less time to process.
- The warmer the room, the faster the ferment.
- If you are having trouble with your grains, try a different type of sugar or switch to coconut water.
- If you are traveling, put the jar in the fridge with a little sweet liquid. (Will keep for months.)
- Drink half a cup just before a meal to aid digestion.
There are a million different ways to flavour your kefir!
Here are some of my favourites:
- Kefir Lemonade (so simple — just add lemon!)
- Kefir Raspberry Lemonade
- Kefir Sangria
- Kefir Mojitos
- Coconut Water Kefir (with lime or lemon)
Happy Fermenting, Folks!!