Following on from my last post about gut health it seems only appropriate that I share a gut-loving recipe, especially after I tempted you with one! So here you have it: Coconut Water Kefir.
But first, I really ought to tell you a little more about what kefir actually is.
Traditionally kefir is a fermented drink made using dairy milk. It can, however, be made using coconut milk or any other nut or seed milk, plain filtered water or coconut water. It is made using kefir grains which are basically symbiotic cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeast. Here we are using water kefir grains which are similar to those used in the traditional dairy version but are made of different cultures (i.e. contain different strains of bacteria) and are much more versatile.
Kefir is filled with probiotics (a.k.a. gut goodness). During the fermentation process the grains metabolise the (naturally occurring or added) sugars in the coconut water/milk/water, producing lactic acid, digestive enzymes, probiotics and friendly bacteria, whilst also increasing the vitamins and mineral profile. This means that the result is actually relatively low in sugar and a probiotic powerhouse. Due to the natural sugars already present in coconut water there is no need to add any more.
And for the sceptics, let me tell you: it tastes good too!
Kefir is actually really delicious and can be made to suit your preferences. Fermentation creates a slightly sour or tangy taste to the coconut water since the sugar is removed. The longer it is left to ferment the less sugar there is and the stronger the sour ‘bite’. Coconut water kefir is my favourite and if you choose do a second fermentation you can add a variety of different flavourings if you want to. It's just as good for you either way. You can also add some fizz by using an air tight lid which I do on the second fermentation. Personally I like mine pretty sour and a little fizzy (but not too much since I don't want to be burping non-stop! That would be awkward...).
Coconut Water Kefir Recipe
1 litre young coconut water
3 tbsp water kefir grains
- Combine the kefir grains and the coconut water in a jar and cover with a muslin cloth or similar to prevent unwanted bugs being attracted.
- Allow to stand for up to 48 hours at room temperature. It’s worth checking every 12 hours to see how the fermentation is progressing. You’ll know if it’s strong enough by taste testing the sourness (to your preference). After you’ve made a few batches, you’ll get a feel for how you prefer it. Warmer room temperature and the more grains you have in the water will also result in quicker fermentation.
- Strain the coconut water kefir from the kefir grains using a plastic sieve (nonreactive). Keep aside the grains in sugar water so that you can grow some more.
At this stage you can either store the coconut water kefir in the fridge or ferment it a second time to add extra flavourings.
- Combine the coconut kefir with flavourings of your choice in a bottle that has a tight-sealing lid. I used sliced fresh ginger and apple but you could use around ½ cup fresh fruit juice instead.
- Leave to stand at room temperature for 48 hours. This will cause a second stage fermentation, where the kefir (even once the grains have been removed) will break down the sugars in the juice and go fizzy. To avoid exploding bottles it is best to ‘burp’ the kefir everyday by letting out some of the gas from the bottle.
Once you are done you can store the kefir in the fridge for up to 2 months.
A couple of notes:
- Any pure coconut water will do but for added goodness I used super fresh, raw and antioxidant-rich coconut water from the Unoco brand, which is why it is pink (it only maintains this colour when it is refrigerated so after the fermentation process it became a cloudy white colour).
- You could also use the pasteurised kind (most of the stuff you will find on the supermarket shelf will be pasteurised). Since this is heat-treated it has lost some of the living enzymes but it is still full of a good balance of electrolytes and the fermentation progress adds even more nourishment for your gut.
- On buying kefir grains: these can sometimes be bought in specialist health stores or even Whole Foods, but take it from me and save yourself a wodge of money by buying them on eBay. Once you have your first set of grains you can very easily grow your own in a sugar water solution and you should soon have a more than ample ongoing supply (which is why people sell them on eBay). If you're really lucky you'll have a fermenting friend that will gladly give you some.
- It’s worth mentioning that this shouldn’t be drunk in huge quantities all at once, especially if you're a beginner, as it is a very strong source of probiotics and can cause an upset tummy if you over do it. A small glass is all you need.
Yum! I have loved experimenting with flavours and can't wait to try out some more. It's so much fun a a great way to get create.
If you have and tips or tricks that you want to share then please do in the comments. Or if you're a newbie to fermentation then don't hold back from sharing your enthusiasm either - I'd love to hear it!