A healthy and delicious alternative to soda and sugary sports drinks!
When I married my husband he was a Gatorade addict! He’d been drinking it his whole life and reasoned that it helped him meet his daily water quota. Bottom line? He didn’t enjoy drinking plain water. Ya’ll, I actually used to buy him the giant tubs of powdered neon-colored Gatorade from Costco (shudder)!
Once we began eliminating processed food from our diet and following a more “traditional” way of eating, he was stuck again with just water to drink. He did train himself to drink (and even like) kombucha, but there was still the desire for something “lemon-limey” and cold and refreshing to sip throughout the day.
In an attempt to up our probiotic game I bought some water kefir grains. I had never tasted water kefir before, so it really was a shot in the dark. After making our first batch I added a splash of organic lemonade and gave some to The Hubs to try…
Sayonara Gatorade! There’s a new kid in town! And it’s packed full of beneficial bacteria! Hello happy tummies!
Due to The Hub’s affection for Gatorade (and subsequently Gator Nation), we lovingly named our newest Kitchen Pet, Stokely*.
Although water kefir has fewer strains of bacteria than milk kefir, it still has more than other fermented products like yogurt or buttermilk. My general rule of thumb is to eat fermented foods with each meal, and to eat a variety of fermented foods to populate my gut with as many strains of the “good guys” as possible.
Furthermore, fermented beverages are said to be more beneficial to our bodies than plain water! Excess water puts unnecessary strain on our kidneys because it’s devoid of electrolytes. Our body will try to excrete it as quickly as possible (I’m sure you’ve experienced this when you increase your water consumption…#gottapee!). Too much water consumed close to, or during meals can also dilute stomach acid. This inhibits proper digestion and causes undue strain to our digestive process, upsetting a proper pH balance. However, sipping a fermented beverage during meals actually aids digestion by providing lactic acid and digestive enzymes.
Water kefir is simple to make, and only requires 24-48 hours to ferment. Water kefir grains will last indefinitely, making the only cost the initial purchase and a steady supply of sugar to keep them “fed”. As a thank you, the grains will consume the sugar creating a carbonated, very low calorie, lacto-fermented drink.
Furthermore, if you mix a 50/50 amount of kombucha and water kefir together, you will create an extremely delicious probiotic “Arnold Palmer”.
If you’ve been leery of giving kombucha a try, fearful everyone in your family will hate it, you might find you have successful results with water kefir.
*In 1967, the Florida Gators (fueled by the newly invented “Gator-aid”) beat favored Georgia Tech for the coveted Orange Bowl title…years later, my husband memorably recalls buying “Stokely’s” Gatorade as a young boy. (It’s times like this, when discussing sports history, I’m certain I make my hubby proud!)
…fizzy and sweet without the added sugar and chemicals. Your tummy will thank you for this treat!
- Hands On Time: 5-10 minutes
- Hands Off Time: 24-48 hours
- Yield: 1/2 gallon water kefir
Lemonade just happens to be our favorite way to flavor water kefir, but we have tried many of these flavor options and most all were delicious!
*Update: My new favorite flavoring method is to toss half a frozen sliced peach into the jar before fermenting! The result tastes like a peach Italian soda!
You can also double ferment water kefir (just like you would kombucha) in these Grolsh Style flip-top bottles. But consider yourself forewarned that they build carbonation much quicker than kombucha! The Hubs was the recipient of a kefir bath after I asked him to “check to see if the kefir ‘pops’ yet!” (It was like Old Faithful!) Use these chalkboard labels to help remind you how you flavored your kefir and when you started your second ferment!
If you need to take a break from making water kefir, you can let your grains “hibernate” in a quart of sugar water in the refrigerator. Be aware that they may take a little extra time to “wake up” once you start fermenting again.
Water kefir grains are known to grow and double in size over time. Share the love and gift some to your friends! Their tummies will thank you, too!
Have you ever tried water kefir? What’s your favorite way to flavor yours?