Did you know that Moonshine was originally named during prohibition because it was made under the “moon shine” so to be hidden at night.
That’s NOT what Kefir is… at all! And, I think I may be the only one that calls Water Kefir juice “Hooch”. Myself and a dear friend shared a giddy and sober camping trip, drank the bubbly grape Water-Kefir-Hooch out of plastic wine glasses… classy! That was when it became the 'Hooch'.
Water Kefir is less like hooch and more like kombucha. Water kefir is fizzy, like kombucha and unlike kombucha it tastes a bit like beer once it gets too fermented... Kombucha is sour and tart while kefir is tangy, and bitter (…beer face).
Again like Kombucha, water kefir is thriving with probiotic cultures that contribute to a healthy gut, glowing skin, better digestion, dental hygiene, immune power, and so much more!
When I make Water Kefir for delicate taste buds I make a 2nd ferment with the starter, add juice to and it is transformed into an amazing fizzy probiotic pop; it IS fizzy just like kombucha and I find kefir easier to make with a quick 48 hour turn around (Kombucha can take up to 3 weeks to get to a fizzy pop).
The liquid starter Water kefir that is used to make pop is also called “Butterfly Juice” by some gurus from Australia… Such a beautiful name! It goes by many names:
Tibicos, Tibi, Sugar Kefir Grains, Japanese Water Crystals, California Bees, Tibetan Sea Bees, Bébées, African Bees, Ale Nuts, Australian Bees, Balm Of Gilead, Beer Seeds, Beer Plant, Bees, Ginger Bees, Japanese Beer Seeds And Vinegar Bees
To make the pop you will first need to score some Water Kefir Grains to make a STARTER.
Order from me, The Herbal Mama if you live near Edmonton, AB or find your local WAPF chapter: www.westonapricefoundation.org.
Then follow this recipe using your newly acquired kefir grains:
1-2 Tbsp live Water Kefir grains
1-4 tbsp raw, unrefined cane sugar (Succanat, cane sugar, rapadura, Panela. NOT: coconut or palm… although some use it with success!?! Coconut sugar is slightly anti-bacterial so it seems counter-intuitive to use it, but I have used it when the yeast levels smell high and it seems to clear it up)
3 cups approx. of spring or purified water
Inside a 1 litre glass jar, mix those ingredients together with a wooden or plastic stick/ spoon (some metals may damage the probiotic bacteria). I know the sugar amount is a giant range… I have varied that amount, when the grains are BIG and plump I start cutting down the sugar; you want to see bean-sized grains that produce fizzy bubbles, then you know you are feeding them enough.
Let this mixture sit at room temperature with a closed lid for 24 – 48, up to a maximum of 72 hours. You should start seeing bubbles and hear a hissing sound, when you do they are pretty much done! You can also taste the starter liquid to see if the sweetness has disappeared and more of a bitter, yeasty beer smell & taste is preferred.
If you do not notice this within 72 hours, toss the water out and start the recipe again (adding a little more sugar, molasses, pure spring water or mineral drops this time) until the grains are active and bubbly! When you have achieved a bubbly result, strain off the water kefir grains with a nylon, silicone or plastic sieve (remember: the water kefir grains SHALL NOT PASS by metal).
Plop those grains back into some clean sugared water and allow to ferment again or rest the grains in sugar water in the fridge until you are ready start another batch.
The slightly fizzy or not fizzy at all… sour-sweet water that you strained off, my friend, is your Mother STARTER (This is also what I was referring to as the “Butterfly Juice”, because now you can begin the synergistic butterfly effect to make a 2nd fermented juice, tea, coconut water, pop, etc…..).
The so-called water kefir “grains” are not actually made from a wheat grain, nor are they dairy based… they are a form of SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast). Where did they come from? Nobody knows; deep in a cavernous mountain, fallen from angels in heaven, from ancient aliens… a bit of a mystery as far as I can tell!
Making a 2nd Ferment:
Here is a delicious Water Kefir, Probiotic Pop recipe that I make regularly:
1/4 cup or more sour-sweet Water Kefir starter liquid/water only.
1 Litre of Concord Grape juice or an apple-grape blend (grrapple!) add more water to dilute the juice based on your preferred concentration. I prefer to dilute after fermentation is complete. The more concentrated the juice, the faster the ferment.
Add dried herbs such as: elderberry, black currant, rose petals, nettles, rooibos, juniper and red clover. 1 Tbsp total herb blend per litre of liquid.
Frozen or fresh fruit (add less juice and more water if desired)
Let this fruity-herbal blend ferment at room temperature for another 24 to 48 hours (the longer it sits the more beer tasting it will be and the more alcohol will be produced, they say 7 day ferment with water kefir for approx. 1-2 % alcohol).
After you have fermented this brew for your desired time, TASTE AND SEE, strain off all the fruit and herbs.
Best to strain off any fresh or frozen fruit after 24 hours! After that it gets a funky taste! Dried fruit or herbs can ferment for up to 36 hours… then it too will create a funky not so pleasant taste.
Store the juicy POP in the fridge which significantly slows down the fermentation process. I recommend drinking this within 1-2 weeks, or you will notice that it starts to taste like beer (Ke-beer).
Coconut Water Kefir
This recipe is great for hydration and cleansing. The Body Ecology Diet has a “Cocobiotic” drink that they will send as part of many of their detox kits! Let’s make our own shall we?
1 litre of coconut water
2 Tbsp to 1 cup of Water Kefir starter liquid (no grains)
Mix ingredients together in a glass container, let sit on the counter to ferment for 12 -48 hours with a tight lid, the longer it sits and the tighter the lid fits; the more effervescent it becomes. Store in the fridge and consume within 1-2 weeks.
Some people “train” their Water Kefir Grains to ferment in coconut water directly. I've never... But if I did I would watch the performance, fizz, reproduction of the grains to gauge when to feed them with sugar water again and allow them to “rest" periodically.
If you live in the Edmonton area, look for any upcoming fermentation workshops HERE.
Print or save this CHECKLIST for your own step-by-step Water Kefir Mother Starter making journey:
Common questions & feedback from everyday people like you! “I’m following your instructions and your awesome recipe and made some delish Kefir pop (yay! So exciting!)” 1. Should I be rinsing the grains off each time after I strain them before adding more sugar water to them? I haven’t actually been rinsing them. The Herbal Mama: No need to rinse I never rinse them. 2. What should I do with my grains while I drink up all the pop I’ve made? I may not be ready for another three or four days to make it again. For example, let them ferment again in the sugar water before putting in fridge or add them to fresh sugar water and put in fridge right away? The Herbal Mama: I stash the grains in the fridge when I’m not using them, that’s how you “store” any ferment. Either way feed them in the fridge or feed them, ferment them, then store in the fridge, no matter-either way works. 3. Do they ever get “tired” of “eating” and stop working or go bad? The Herbal Mama: They may get tired and need a rest, just rest them in the fridge or give them a mineral boost with molasses or mineral rich water (trace mineral drops). I don’t believe they will ever die! All starters (SCOBYs) have been known through history to be passed down generation after generation. I think the most common mistake when people think they “killed” their SCOBY is that it just needed a “rest” and to be fed some boosters (molasses, mineral drops, egg shells, etc). References: www.culturesforhealth.com, “Art of Fermentation” Book by Sandor Katz
I finally made it to your website, as the water kefir I got from my friend Joi was just sweet and not fermented even after a week. Now I followed your great advice and will start over. Great website!
And I see my very good friend and long-time neighbour Jill found you too. - Gudrun
Elaine! My apologies, I didn’t see this response, but then I found you anyway that the Waldorf school! I bought from you yesterday. Just checking your excellent website about care of grains. Thanks so much! - Jill