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Fermentation. Kiefer water and kombucha.
Water kefir is a beverage favoured for both its fizzy flavour and impressive health benefits. Best of all, it can be made at home using just a few simple ingredients. Water kefir is a fermented, carbonated beverage that is produced using water kefir grains. Unlike regular kefir, which is made from cow, sheep or goat milk, water kefir is made by combining sugar water with water kefir grains — a type of grain-like culture of bacteria and yeast. The mixture is then typically fermented for 24–48 hours, producing a probiotic beverage rich in beneficial bacteria. Water kefir is not only delicious and easy to enjoy but also packed with health benefits and can be an excellent addition to a well-rounded, nutritious diet.
It’s simple to prepare and easily tailored to your taste buds. Traditionally, kefir is made using cow’s or goat’s milk combined with kefir grains to produce a thick, probiotic-rich beverage.
However, since water kefir is made using sugar water, it’s a good option for those who choose to avoid dairy, either due to health concerns, dietary restrictions or personal reasons.
Particularly for those following a dairy-free, plant-based or vegan diet, it’s perfect for bumping up probiotic consumption and boosting gut health while minimizing consumption of animal products.
The taste can vary based on many factors but is often described as slightly sweet with a bit of a flat aftertaste.
To make it yourself, combine (120ml) of hot water with (50 grams) of sugar in a jar and swirl the mixture together to dissolve.
Next, add about (700 ml) of room-temperature water to the jar, along with your water kefir grains.
Cover and place the jar in a warm area with a temperature around (20–30°C) and let it ferment for 24–48 hours.
The water kefir grains can then be separated from the mixture and added to a new batch of sugar water, while the completed product is ready for you to enjoy.
You can drink water kefir as is or experiment with different flavourings like vanilla extract, fruit juice, frozen fruit or mint leaves for a refreshing and tasty treat.
Kombucha is made by fermenting tea using specific yeast, bacteria and sugars. Kombucha starts out as a sugary tea, which is then fermented with the help of a scoby. “SCOBY” is actually an acronym for the “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” It’s very close cousins to the mother used to make vinegar.
The SCOBY bacteria and yeast eat most of the sugar in the tea, transforming the tea into a refreshingly fizzy, slightly sour fermented (but mostly non-alcoholic) beverage that is relatively low in calories and sugar. Let’s talk about that scoby — to be honest, scoby kind of looks a little weird, it floats, it’s rubbery and a bit slippery, brown stringy bits hang from it, and it transforms sugary tea into something fizzy and sour. It’s fairly weird. But if you take a step back, it’s also pretty clever.
There are a lot of theories about why the bacteria and yeast form this jelly-like layer of cellulose at the top of the kombucha. But basically it protects the fermenting tea from the air and helps maintain a very specific environment inside the jar that is shielded from outsiders, aka unfriendly bacteria. I think of it as the mobile home for friendly bacteria and yeast, happily travelling from jar to jar of kombucha. Making your own kombucha at home takes time and patience but is well worth the effort.