History: In 1776 Dr. Joseph Priestly created the first man-made glass of carbonated mineral water. Bottled mineral water was not well received in America until 1832 when it was considered a health practice. American pharmacist who were selling the bottled water started adding medicinal and other flavorful herbs (ie. Dandelion and sarsaparilla). Sugar Kefir grains, however, have an even deeper and more nourishing history. The sugar kefir grain combined with herbs and juices make a delectable healthy “soda”. The Kefir does this because it consumes the sugar and the by products are beneficial bacteria, yeast and minimal to no sugar and carbonation. If the average American consumes 50 gallons of sugar-laden, artificial colors, flavors and neurotoxins wouldn’t it make sense to completely avoid it and enjoy beverages that are nutritious, bubbly and very tasty? Well here’s ONE way.
Step 1:Basic Kefir Soda 1st fermentation:
Large jar with lid
12 cups filtered, chlorine free, water
1 cup sugar
1 TSP molasses
2-3 slices of lemon (preferably organic)
Small piece of organic dried fruit
¼ TSP baking soda
¼ TSP clean egg shell
2/3-1 cup Sugar Kefir grains
Fill jar with water. Add sugar, molasses, lemon, dried fruit, baking soda and egg shell. Stir until all is dissolved. Add kefir grains. Cap the lid tight. Let sit in warm room (about 68-74 degrees) for 24 hours. Open jar, stir and taste. If there is a very mild sugary taste and it’s effervescent you are done and ready to move to the next step. If it is flat and sweet cap and let sit another 24 hours. The temperature of the room will determine the length of fermentation. Strain the liquid (basic kefir soda water) out and use it in the next step. Discard used fruit, rinse grains and start over again.
Step 2: Grapes Soda (2nd fermentation):
Screw or flip top bottles
Grape juice with NO preservatives
Basic Kefir soda
In a ratio of one to one add soda and kefir to bottle. Cap tightly and let sit in a warm place in your kitchen until the outside of the bottle is very hard. Chill. Open over a sink because these can get explosive. Enjoy.
Frequently Asked questions…
General care guidelines:
Sugar kefir are like little pest that require just a little attention. They like to be fed sugar, have space and to be active they need to be warm. You will want to always start with the “basic kefir soda” recipe. To keep your grains uncontaminated do not mix with juice or syrups. For more information go to google: Doms Kefir site. Make sure you are reading about SUGAR KEFIR GRAINS.
*What is a SCOBY?
Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. This is what Kefir and Kombucha are.
*What can be fermented into soda (2nd fermentation)?
Almost anything as long as there is enough sugar (about ¼ c in 1 Quart of liquid). I love using grape or apple juices because they already have enough sugar. Feel free to experiment with different juices or syrups. Remember fermentation is sometime unpredictable.
*Why are Lacto-Fermented Soda better for me?
Each starter culture is never the same but will contain Lactobacillus bacteria, Streptococcus bacteria, Pediococcus bacteria, Leuconostoc bacteria, Saccharomyces yeast. Naturally fermented soda aids in digestion, detoxify and purifying the body. They also provide an easy to make and consume probiotics as well as a good source of B vitamins (another byproduct). Making herbal infusions adds to the nourishing tonic as well.
*How much sugar is in a soda?
Well that depends on how long you leave it to ferment. The longer you leave it the more the sugar is consumed. I leave my second fermentation at least 3-5 days.
*Is there alcohol in these sodas? How much?
Alcohol is a natural byproduct of fermentation. The amount is typically less than 1%, hovering somewhere between .05% and .075%, so very minimal, or about the same amount that you’d find in an over-ripe banana.
*What is the difference between 1st and 2nd fermentation?
In the first fermentation you are basically creating a “base” for your soda. This base is often consumed “as is”. The second fermentation is used for flavoring and/or extra effervescence.
*What is the difference between water kefir and milk kefir?
They are completely different grains. Milk kefir feed on lactose and creates a runny yogurt sort of drink. Sugar Kefir Grains (SKG) feed on sugars. There are times when you can intermix them but I’d only do that with EXTRA grains.
Frequently Asked Questions Continued…
*What’s the ratio of juice to kefir? Typically 1:1
*What kind of sweetener can I use and can I use less?
I use plain white sugar, raw sugar, turbinado, sucanat or rapadura. You DO NOT want to use honey, agave or other sweeteners as they may weaken your SCOBY. Do not use less than the recipe.
*How long can I ferment?
You do not want to ferment more than a few days as all the sugar will be consumed and your grains will suffer and may die.
*What do I do with extra grains?
Several things. 1)Share them with friends 2) Set them on the counter to dry and have back-ups should anything happen 3)start another jar 4)eat them 5) add them to the garden/compost.
*Are there other ways to make soda?
Yes there are. The 3 ways that I am familiar with are 1)SKG (this lesson) 2)ginger bug and 3)whey (liquid from yogurt with LIVE/ACTIVE cultures).
*What if I want to take a break?
There are 2 ways that I have done and that have been successful (there may be more). 1)Dehydrate the grains: this is for long bouts of time in between. They take 3-5 days to re-hydrate and a few batches to really get working again. 2)Put up to 1 cup in a quart jar and cover them with sugar water (½ cup to the quart of SCOBY)
***IF you'd like some kefir grains and are local (Fremont Iowa area) e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange for a pick up.****