Accompanying article: Kefir
Using the same kefir grains (see Kefir—Homemade) as for making kefir milk, you can make a variety of healthful, lactic-acid fermented beverages.
Sandor Katz, writes in Wild Fermentation that “You can kefir fruit or vegetable juice, or water with any sweetener you like, or rice milk, soymilk, or nut milk. Cranberry juice dyed the grains red and Gatorade (!) left a neon blue stain. Whatever the medium, the grains seem to transform it, though they do not rapidly multiply as they do in milk. The process is exactly the same as kefiring milk.”
My favorite medium is apple juice. Apple cider is a bubbly, refreshing and healthful lacto-fermented beverage with a pleasantly acidic and complex flavor derived from fermentation.
Fermentation (1) eliminates the carbohydrates and (2) forms lactic-acid and lactobacilli. Either fresh or pasteurized apple juice may be used, however fresh juice yields a longer-lived and more vital cider. Note: This cider may develop about .5 percent alcohol and so it is not recommended for recovering alcoholics. To reduce the development of alcohol, you may add a pinch of salt.
1 quart unfiltered apple juice*
2 tablespoons of home brewed cider or a lacto-fermented starter (see Kefir)
Place apple juice, starter and salt in a quart jar. (Fermentation works best in full containers.) Rest, do not tighten, the lid and leave at room temperature for 12 – 24 hours or until it gets bubbly (fermentation time varies). Cover tightly and refrigerate. Note how the flavor profile changes over the next several days from mildly sweet and “green” to rich, buttery and mildly acidic rather than sweet.
Reserve some cider or the kefir grains from this batch to start your next batch. If kept overly long the flavor becomes “off”, it tastes funky-yeasty and a thick, yeasty sediment develops on the bottom. Although it’s not harmful to drink, discard it. Your sense of taste will unerringly prevent you from drinking spoiled cider.
*Tart juice from less sweet fruits such as pear, sour cherry, apricot or pomegranate may be substituted. Note: juice blends with grape juice concentrate will not work. Neither will a “sweet” juice, such as orange, peach or mango. However, for a flavor variation, add a tablespoon of cranberry or blueberry concentrate to apple juice.
May you be well nourished,