The first line of defense against imbalance, or disease, before outsourcing medicine or supplements, is to introduce your body to some culture. By that I mean probiotics, or beneficial micro-organisms that are the essential part of good gut health. But where do we get our naturally available probiotics?
Probiotic cultures thrive when provided with the right food and comfortable living conditions. Fermentation is what happens when you leave a place a whole lot of culture or a scoby into the right conditions with food for a period of time.
SCOBY(n) is the commonly used acronym for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, and is formed after the completion of a unique fermentation process of lactic acid bacteria (LAB), acetic acid bacteria (AAB), and yeast to form several sour foods and beverages such as kombucha and kefir.
In the case of water kefir, the culture presents as grains or scoby’s and they look and feel like florist ice. The grains or scoby’s ferment the mixture by ‘eating’ the sugar and minerals in the water. The process happens fairly quickly if the environmental temperatures are in a green zone: between 22 degrees and 27 degrees Celcius, and the kefir scoby’s begin to thrive and grow.
The fermentation is complete when the sugar has been consumed by the water kefir scoby’s. The fruit, or medicinal root in this recipe, flavours the fermented water kefir.
Kefir scoby’s OR grains, are a good way to produce naturally occurring probiotics. You can get kefir grains here.
Now to get started making your ginger kefir, have your kefir grains ready.
Dehydrated kefir grains/scobys need to re-hydrate, this can take up to a week of soaking and might take longer to come back to ‘life’ in winter. Before your kefir grains can thrive, they need to be well hydrated. If you have live kefir grains/scobys you can start immediately, if not start hydrating now (how to rehydrate kefir grains/scobys. You can also order fresh grains from us or get some a friend.
Makes 2L, half an hour preparation and a waiting time of 24 – 48 hours depending on environmental conditions.
Ingredients2 litres filtered water – chlorine is not a friend of kefir1/8 tsp Himalayan salt or bicarb8 Tbs cane sugar1/4 cup sliced ginger root4-5 Tbsp water kefir grains – scobys6-8 Raisins
Start making your ginger kefir by placing the sugar and 1 litre of water into a pot on the stove over low heat for 3 minutes, stir with a spoon to dissolve. Add ginger and simmer for 20 minutes.
Strain the ginger and allow the sugar mixture to cool to room temperature. This is important because water kefir grains can’t survive in high heat. If it’s too hot for you to touch, it is too hot for the grains.
Once the ginger sugar water is cool add it to your 2 litre jar and fill the remaining space with cool filtered or previously boiled water. This is to ensure you do not introduce contamination from other cultures found in our environment. Remember, you want to make kefir rather than a science experiment.
Scoop in 4-5 Tbsp of water kefir grains into your ginger sugar mix. Add raisins. Secure the lid and place the jar on your kitchen counter, but not in direct sunlight. Wait 24-36 hours.
While you wait the fermentation process out, check your kefir jar now and then. Observe the bubbles that form as it comes to life and smell the flavour of the kefir in the jar. After 36 hours begin tasting the kefir and if the grains have consumed most of the sugar and the sweetness is gone, it is ready. This time may vary depending on the season and the temperature.
Strain the drink from the grains/scobys and sweeten to taste before bottling with honey or a healthy sugar if you must. You may leave on you kitchen counter before refrigerating to allow some carbonation to build up. Keep an eye on this as a forgotten about ferment can get messy if it explodes. Keep refrigerated once you have enough carbonation built up to inhibit further fermentation. Make and add some more sugar ginger mix to your grains and top up with water for your next jug of delicious Ginger kefir.
You may find if your kefir is exposed to a warmer than fridge temperature, perhaps you’ve taken kefir with you on a picnic, remember to keep a tight gripping lid on your bottle and open with slow and patient caution; to avoid the kind of pop explosions best saved for new year celebration!
PS. If you are not into home chemistry in the kitchen, buy our delicious Ginger kefir already fermented and nurtured at nume S.A. by our attentive carers, online here. Or the Granadilla kefir, or the Berry flavour… so many choices. Written by Viv Brown