Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Happy Kefir-versary!

Concord Grape Kefir Soda
And just what ever happened to that half-gallon of murky Concord grape juice that I threw in the freezer last month? Well, part of it went into making some kefir soda. It so happened that we were out of store-bought juice and there was all that leftover grape juice just sitting there.

I introduced it to my water kefir and SHAZAM! As you can see in the photo, water kefir loves raw organic unfiltered unpasteurized fruit juice! Duh, right? Of course it does! Fizzy bubble-rific-ness. Delicious, free (yea!), and full of all kinds of health and happiness. Hubs calls our kefir sodas Fizzy Lifting Drinks, after his favorite boyhood film.

It's been just over a year since I started these kefir grains. We still drink kefir soda every single day and the little darlings seem to be going strong with no signs of stopping... except that one time when I left Hubs in charge of them... but enough said on that. They bounced back and were none the worse for the ordeal.

We've all settled into a nice routine and they're pretty forgiving if I'm late a day here or there. I still make the kefir soda as cheaply as possible, and I only make as much as we can consume before the next batch is ready. It works out really well... nice and predictable!

My secret to making great budget kefir soda (from juice), is this: Use the best juice you can find for the best price you can find it at.* It sounds obvious, and it sounds easy... but it isn't if you're trying to do this on a squeaky-tight budget. I tried a lot of different brands from a lot of different stores and read a whole lot of labels...

 Juice Buying Tips For Making Kefir Soda
  • Don't believe the front of the label... even if it says 100% juice. Go directly to the ingredients list. Know what you're paying for.
  • If the label lists water as an ingredient, I don't buy it. The finished kefir soda flavor will be diluted. It'll work well enough, but why pay for water?
  • The ingredients list should show only real fruit juice (or juices) as the ingredients. Nothing but fruit juice... (if it lists ascorbic acid or vitamin C that's o.k.)
  • Many real fruit juices will include other cheaper juices (like apple, pear, or grape) in the blend. They may be there as fillers, but they're still real juice and they keep the cost down (I use these all the time). The main flavor may not shine through as strongly in the finished kefir soda but it will still taste really good.
  • If you have extra fruit you don't know what to do with (like a half-ton of Concord grapes for instance)... cook it briefly, mashing it up with a little sugar, and then strain the juice and let it cool before using. Your water kefir grains will say thank you with extra happy fizzy sodas!
Why water kefir? Because I can make my own probiotics! Not only is it fun, but it's cheaper, better, and a lot tastier than store-bought lab-made supplements. We get a big daily dose of probiotics, but all we taste is a fizzy, fruity, refreshing soda. Cheers! Here's some info on water kefir, probiotics, kefir sodas and more...
Name That Culture!
I still don't have a name for my kefir colony. I've always been bad at naming pets and apparently that deficiency extends to bacterial entities as well. My sourdough starter has always been Edwina, as in "Put Edwina back in bowl!" from the 1984 Steve Martin movie All Of Me. I thought about calling my water kefir grains "Sutherland", as in Keifer Sutherland.... but well, you can see why I need some help. Leave suggestions in the comments below, all reasonable and/or humorous submissions will be considered.
    *For instance, I found boxed liters of real juice at our local discount grocery for 1.99 each. Shelf-stable and 100% real, they were a real bargain. Our favorite was the tropical blend and the mixed berry. All they've got now is Litchi and Guava (the kefir grains are loving the guava; the husband is not loving the litchi).
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    1. Okay, I need to try this again! You've convinced me. :)


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