|Water Kefir Lemonade prepared by my lovely daughter.|
Let me tell you a little about the kefir grains you need, in order to culture your water kefir. The grains are called tibicos, tibis, Japanese water crystals, or California bees. They are believed to originate in Mexico, where they form on a cactus. The grains are a culture of healthy bacteria and yeast, and they are held together in a polysaccharide matrix. In a sugar/water solution, the microbes in this symbiotic relationship will feed on the sugar and produce lactic acid, a very minimal amount of alcohol, and carbon dioxide. This fermentation process takes approximately 24 to 48 hours, and the outcome is a delicious, healthy beverage.
Why is it good for you? The probiotics delivered to your intestines will feed on unhealthy bacteria and bring a healthy balance back to your gut. I used to take probiotics as a supplement, but with how easy it is to culture, and how much cheaper it'll be in the long run, it makes sense to me to drink it as water kefir instead. Plus, my children love water kefir lemonade.
What do you need? I highly recommend making your order from Cultures for Health, a company located in Vancouver, Washington. Their outstanding customer service leaves nothing to be desired. You have a problem? They're here to help... by phone, chat, or e-mail. (No, I'm not getting paid for this little promotion.)
They offer the grains by themselves or as a kit. I simply bought the grains and the mesh strainer. Additionally you'll need mason jars and of course sugar. I use raw, organic sugar. Your grains will come in a small box, and they'll be dehydrated. Don't leave them in your mailbox for too long, especially in the summer! You'll have to follow the instructions that come with your grains to rehydrate your grains. No worries, it is super easy.
Once rehydrated, you can culture your grains with a solution of sugar and water. I always make two quarts. The mixture sits on my kitchen counter for 48 hours. I then strain the grains, pour the kefir into smaller mason jars (of course you can use bottles, too), and immediately start a new batch. Every 48 hours I have two more quarts of water kefir.
We really like lemonade, so I just add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to 1 quart of kefir and store it in the refrigerator. But I think I'm ready to try some new flavors. I've heard of people adding fruit juice or fresh fruit, and they turn out wonderfully.
Is it Paleo? I will use the Cultures for Health Frequently Asked Questions to answer this one:
Q. How much sugar does finished water kefir contain?
A. While certainly variation will exist between batches, generally speaking approximately 20% of the sugar you start with will remain following a 48- hour culturing process and almost all that sugar will have been converted to fructose from its original glucose-fructose state. Therefore if you use our recommend ratio of 1/4 cup sugar to 1 quart water, the finished kefir will contain approximately 1.4% fructose.
In my book, this makes water kefir perfectly acceptable for us Groks and Grokettes! :)