Today I want to tell you about one of the yummiest discoveries I’ve made my journey toward nourishing my family well.
Enzymes are a key ingredient in a nourishing diet, allowing us to digest the food we’re eating and get the most nutrients out of it. I have been taking a supplement of digestive enzymes regularly since first going to a naturopath nearly 8 years ago. I hate having to take expensive pills, but my body needs support in this area (as most of us do). But gradually, as I have learned to make and add cultured condiments and drinks into my diet, I’ve been able to skip the pill at my meal more and more often.
Some of you may be squeamish about the yeasty flavor of kefir or the tang of sauerkraut (as I was until I cultivated a taste for it). The good news is, Kefir Water (or Kefir Soda, as we like to call it), is a very mild and tasty way to add a little culture to your meals. It’s easy to make and my kids actually drink it.
Kefir water starts with a packet of kefir starter. Normally you’d use this with fresh milk to create kefir. Instead, we use water as a base, and flavor and sweeten it a little so it makes a mild drink with all the benefits of lacto fermentation.
You’ll find these packets in the health food section of your grocery or health food store. I keep mine in the freezer when I get it home.
You can flavor your kefir water lots of different ways – there’s a bunch of recipes out there. I have only tried one so far, but loved it so I’ve not branched out any further. Hmm. Maybe I should get out of my rut.
Anyway, my favorite recipe is Homemade Ginger Ale from “Eat Fat, Lose Fat“. Now, ginger ale connoisseurs may not agree it’s worthy of the name, but I think it’s delightful and a good replacement.
Ginger Kefir Soda
1 inch fresh ginger root
1/2 c. sucanat, honey, or maple syrup (or sugar, but c’mon, we’re trying to be healthy here, right?)
2 limes (or lemons – we’re also trying to be thrifty)
1 packet of kefir starter (the packets have two sides – kind of like a yeast packet? I use just one side for a batch)
Chop up the ginger root coarsely. Peel the limes or lemons and chop them into chunks. Add the ginger, citrus, sweetener, and the packet of starter to a half-gallon glass container (if you don’t have a two-quart jar, try using a glass pitcher or even a bowl. It’s gotta be glass, not metal or plastic!) Fill with filtered water, stir with a wooden spoon, and cap.
Ok, are you ready? This is the trickiest part…
Leave on counter for 3 days.
See? I told you this was easy-peasy!
After it’s sat at room temperature for 3 days, the cultures have done their work and you will have an enzyme rich concoction ready to be enjoyed. Strain the ginger and citrus out by pouring it through cheese cloth (You don’t want a metal strainer here, either). You can totally drink it now, but I recommend cooling it in the fridge first.
As with all cultured creations, it gets better with age. If you can wait a week or two to drink it, the flavors will have matured, and the carbonation increased. So, cap it and put it in the back of the fridge for a week and forget about it. Then you can get it out and enjoy this delectable, nourishing replacement for soda at your next pizza party!
EDITED TO ADD: You can reserve a half a cup of your kefir water and use it (in place of a packet of powder) for the next batch. The resulting batches will be a bit yeastier than the initial batch, but it does mean you can make more batches for less investment IF you don’t mind the stronger flavor. 🙂 I have made up to 3-4 batches before beginning fresh with new starter.
Also, I frankly do not know how this recipe works with kefir grains as I’ve never been able to get my hands on any (the packets are a powder). I would love to hear about it if any of you make kefir water with the grains!
Curious as to how I manage to incorporate cultured stuff into each of our meals? Well, I don’t. But this is the goal…
- A bit of yogurt or kefir with breakfast – usually in the form of a smoothie.
- Kefir soda, kombucha drank , or Fermented Sun Tea with lunch.
- Cultured condiment like sauerkraut or kimchi with dinner.
I’ll be sharing more about the 4 different kinds of sauerkraut I’ve got in my fridge next week…
Do you have anything ‘alive’ in your fridge? What fermented condiment or beverage do you enjoy?