Waterkefir, for all that ails you

Ever heard of waterkefir ?

A few months ago one of my students proudly presented me with a jam jar of what looked like overcooked rice.

Intrigued, I began researching the stuff and came to a few remarkable conclusions.

Most of us have a vague notion of making yogurt by adding some lifeform to milk, causing it to ferment. Well, waterkefir works along the same lines - except it's perfect for people like me ( I hate milk ! Can't even see anyone drinking it, without my stomach turning).
But this stuff actually tastes good. I'd even call it refreshing, except that with summers like ours that not a reason for making large amounts.

Getting started

What you do, is to get yourself a huge container (glass or earthenware, minimum 2 l). I've actually got mine in an aquarium...
Make sure you can put some sort of lid on it, or you'll find yourself breeding fruitflies instead.
It needn't be on too tight, once fermentation is in progress you'd be amazed at the steam these creatures get up to !

On top of the waterkefircristals (say about 10 spoonfulls) you pour a solution of about 80g of unrefined sugar (I use 20 sugarcane cubes) in 1.1/2 l water. They convert this sugar into a type that's good for you. To stop unfriendly bacteria you add half a lemon (bio !), sliced, our cut in halves. And to promote growth (although they need very little encouragement) add some dried fruit. Figs work best, but apricots, dates or raisins will do. You can of course experiment to your heart's content (you'll find all sorts of recipes on the web).
After about half an hour you should see some movement, bubbles rising to the surface, cristals going up and down - I find it very relaxing at the breakfast table...
This means our symbiotic life form has gone to work, converting sugar water into something resembling cider.

If you like yours sweet, you can harvest as soon as 24 hours later. I prefer mine at 48 hours, but if you like it dry (or you're just lazy) you can leave it for up to three days. After that: don't bother tasting.

You need a large sieve, (did I mention you can't use any metal with these guys ?) a couple of empty bottles and a funnel. Just fish out and discard the fruit, squeeze out the lemon for extra tang and pour off the liquid. Now you have a choice: you can either wash the cristals, or limit yourself to picking out bits and pieces of lemon and fig and just restart the whole operation. I only wash my cristals from time to time and they seem none the worse for it.

You can keep bottles of waterkefir for up to 2 weeks in your fridge. But if you're having a liter a day - like you should, they won't last that long.

Why switch to waterkefir ?

There's plenty of talk of how bad commercial sugary drinks are for you, so even if there were no therapeutic effects this would be reason enough. But there's actually more to this drink !
Professor Menkiw spent a life time studying the effects of kefirdrinking in the Kaukasus and in Germany we have doctor Drasek to thank for his research. Apparently it's good for all that ails you. Bottom line is that kefir has a cleansing effect on the bowel. And you can't get more fundamental than that in keeping your system running smoothly !

If you're trying to detoxify your system, you might also consider a daily dose of green, sun dried clay

Want to find out more about kefirgrains?

Reiss, J. : Metabolic activity of Tibi grains.
Rubio, M.T. et al., : Microbial and biochemical studies of the fermentation of sugary solutions inoculated with tibi grains.
Zacconi, C. et al : Microbiological and chemical characterization of "sugar grains".

Or surf to: The kombucha page

or GEM Cultures

Want to start up a culture yourself ?

OK, but know what you're getting into : it's alive ! Which means it can't be left alone for more than a week - so ask around for kefirsitters ! Actually, the cristals will keep for a week or so in the coldness of your fridge on a sugar solution, but anything longer is risky, although you can deep freeze the lot if you need to take a break. And think about where you'll home their offspring. Make sure they get an owner who'll appreciate them.

Waterkefir ? Try it! To your very good health !

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