Japanese Water Kefir
There’s a fair bit of life out here on the hill with us. Lots of things that need our daily attention and feeding. And it got just that little bit livelier today. 5 little chicks hatched out and came chirping through the succulent garden with their Mumma this morning. Adorable little critters. Then 3 (and another in progress) ducklings hatched out too. All this new life happening on the 2 minute walk from the house to give Mr Windsor his breakfast of pumpkin and carrots. So cool. On any given day it seems sharing our space with such a collection of brilliant souls is a permission-slip to wonderment. I can’t imagine ever tiring of it.
Then there’s the building obsession with the less furry or feathered kinds of life – cultures. We realised it had turned into a bit of ‘thing’ when we added up all the other growing members of the family. There’s the kombucha. And the sourdough. The sprouts. Mushrooms. Apple cider vinegar. And the Japanese water grains. If there’s something we’re missing please, please don’t tell me what it is. Some women like shoes I’m told.
The lovely thing about Japanese water grains, besides the delicious probiotic, naturally effervescent drink they produce, is that you can share them. In fact you’ll probably have to figure out who’s on your culture list before you even get yourself some grains. They multiply like baby chickens I tell you.
So here’s the recipe to make our version of this amazingly good for you little number, especially for all those people I handed little packages of grains to at the Farmer’s Market last week. Please let me know if you missed out, we’re bound to have spares in a minute or two.
Japanese Water Kefir
makes 1 litre
1/2 cup water grains
50g organic rapadura sugar
1 organic lemon, quartered
3-4 organic cumquats, halved
2-3 organic cloves
1 stick organic cinnamon
2 organic cardamom, crushed slightly
1 organic dried fig, halved
1 slice organic ginger
1 litre filtered water
The fruit is all optional, bar the lemon, you really need lemon for it to taste great and have the bonus of an alkalising effect. Feel free to mix up the spices, take out the ginger or put lots in if you love it. Add dried apple or pear. Anything goes really, as long as you feed the grains with a sugar mixture to ferment, they’ll be happy. The fermentation results in less that a 1% alcohol rate too, so perfectly safe for little people and pregnant bellies.
To make the kefir, place your grains in the bottom of a 1 litre capacity glass jar (don’t use any other container because the kefir is quite reactive – glass is definitely the best) and add the dissolved sugar mixture. I find the rapadura dissolves in room temperature water but if you’d rather add hot water just make sure it has cooled to room temp before adding it to the grains. They don’t like being cooked!
Then pop in your choice of citrus and dried fruits, spices and fresh ginger.
Top with a square of muslin cloth held in place by a rubberband and leave the kefir to do its thing for 1-2 days. No need to stir in that time. When the sweetness has all but gone and you have a tangy, slightly bubbly drink, strain the fruit, spices and grains and bottle the liquid in the fridge for a day or two more before drinking. The longer you leave the kefir capped in the fridge, the bubblier it will be. Just remember not to leave it too much past 2 days before ‘burping’ the bottle to ensure you don’t have any fridge explosions.
You can use the fruit and grains for 2 batches of kefir, then refresh the fruit and spices and rinse the grains with filtered water. You can then give half away (or if you have chooks, they loooooove eating them and they get a probiotic fix too) or start 2 batches of kefir to meet your increased demand. It’s really yummy, you won’t have a problem getting through it. We drink it straight up, first thing in the morning before juice, or mixed into a green smoothie, or like this morning, poured over a fruit salad of loquats, grapefruit, passionfruit and fresh nutmeg. So good.