Home made soft drinks with water kefir

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Zasso Nouka
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Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by Zasso Nouka » Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:50 am

We've been experimenting with making our own soft drinks over the last few months with water kefir as we wanted to have something a bit more healthy than shop bought drinks. It's surprisingly easy and supposed to be healthy giving you all sorts of vitamins and enzymes. The kefir grains are a symbiotic mix of bacteria and yeasts and are jelly like crystals.
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The process is pretty straightforward, water, sugar, optional fruit juice and water kefir mixed in a bottle and left overnight in a warm place.
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To make up a one litre batch pour around 200 - 300ml of fruit juice (grape or apple work well, orange produces a rather unpleasant murky mess that tastes foul), add 2 - 4 tablespoons of sugar (depending on sweetness preferred, brown sugar works better than white and a bit of molasses adds extra minerals). Add around 75 - 100g of kefir grains and top up with water, give a good shake to mix everything up and close lid. If you want fizzy drinks use an airtight container, if you prefer flat drinks that isn't necessary but make sure the bottle will be able to take the pressure without exploding, then leave overnight in a warm place.

Next morning you have a healthy soda drink ready. Once your drink is made store in the fridge to slow the process down and stop it going alcoholic.
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You can adjust the sweetness of the drink by adding less sugar or adjusting the time it brews for (longer brewing and the grains consume more of the sugar. Apparently you can also make your own vinegar using water kefir grains by letting them consume all the sugar and then leaving that to turn into vinegar but we've not tried that yet.

If anyone is interested you can order the water kefir from here

kurozatoukinoko.com

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by Makichan » Fri Oct 30, 2015 10:32 am

Hello Zasso Nouka,

That looks very interesting. Is it safe for children to drink ? I was wondering if it contains any alcohol in it as you mention that the yeast eats the sugar, also can I use white sugar to make it ?

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by Zasso Nouka » Sat Oct 31, 2015 6:44 am

Mostly it is made for children to replace soft drinks so you should be fine giving it to them, it can contain alcohol but when brewed overnight those amounts are negligible (less than 1% and mostly a lot less). Over 24 hours and you might start to get noticeable amounts and at 48 hours will almost certainly have some. Obviously much is dependent on temperature and amount of sugar.

Try making some up for yourself and see what works best for you in your situation and then you can make it for kids.

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by donguri » Sat Oct 31, 2015 10:04 am

Hey this sounds great, fermented drinks rule!

Do you know if you can you use a portion of the kefir sludge as a starter for the next batch? Like using live yogurt as a starter for yogurt?

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by Zasso Nouka » Sat Oct 31, 2015 10:13 am

Yes you can Donguri,

The kefir crystals increase in number with each brew, after only a couple you will have doubled the amount of kefir crystals you have. You can eat them when you have too many (they taste like slightly sweet agar) or use them to pickle vegetables, add them to your compost to speed the breakdown or use them for other things.

We've not tried using them to pickle any vegetables yet but it seems fairly easy to do, from reading on the internet.

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by paradoxbox » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:52 am

This is cool - I had searched around for a source of the actual kefir grains before in Japan but could only find the powder. I drink kefir originally made from a powder I bought 2 or 3 years ago, I've kept the same batch going for the whole time.

Are these crystals actually kefir grains or are they something else? The site's calling them 黒砂糖きのこ - never heard of that outside of Japan for a description of kefir..?

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by Zasso Nouka » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:01 am

These are water kefir (as they are known outside of Japan) and slightly different to milk kefir, although they share some of the same species of bacteria these ones don't work well in milk. You can buy milf kefir grains fairly easily herea quick search on Google for 'ケフィア' brings up plenty of results but most of those are for the powder however someone on Rakuten is selling the grains if you prefer those.

Have you tried Caspian yoghurt ? We bought a freeze dried starter pack ages ago and still have it going now, it's just as easy to make as milk kefir but doesn't taste fermented. We both prefer it to regular shop bought yoghurt as it's a live culture and has a naturally slightly sweet flavour.

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by Makichan » Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:19 pm

Caspian Yogurt is really nice but I lost my culture a while ago and haven't got around to buying another starter culture yet.

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by Zasso Nouka » Sun Feb 21, 2016 7:25 am

An observation on brewing with fruit juice, with grape or apple juice added and brewed for a day after several cycles the grains start to break down so keep colony going separately and after two of three brews start with a fresh batch of grains.

If you are brewing in a sealed bottle to obtain a fizzy drink it can be quite explosive when opening, bit like shaking a bottle of champagne vigorously before opening . Refrigerating it for a few hours first seems to help.

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by paradoxbox » Mon Feb 22, 2016 5:44 pm

Letting it ferment a little longer so the sugar content is not so high anymore before sealing the bottle is another way to make sure it doesn't burst out when you open the bottle.

Another method is to let it ferment with the cap loosely on and then cap it tightly only 12-24hours before you want to drink it (This is my preferred method when making sparkling wines). Keeping the mix cooler will definitely slow the carbonation as the kefir grains are basically yeast+bacteria which are both slowed down by cold.

My house is so cold still that the damn thing won't even ferment at all yet :lol:

Thanks for the advice about fruit juices. I wonder if it's not the acid content in the juices that are destroying the kefir grain structure. Might be worth experimenting.

BTW ZN did the milk kefir grains arive alright?

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