TRAVELS WITH NINA

is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

A KEFIR A DAY

Dry July. What can I say. It’s been… interesting. And a bit boring.

But today is hump day! I’m halfway so it’s definitely going to get easier now, right? Right??

Anyway I thought I’d miss the partying side of drinking. I had a couple of dinners and a hens day that I was dreading without booze, but they were actually better when I was completely present. And of course I felt nice and smug the next day.

What has been challenging though has been eating dinner without a delicious beverage. And that glass of wine by the fire? Well, tea doesn’t come close to replacing it.

By happy coincidence I had a fermentation masterclass with ferment guru Gillian Kozicki (aka Cultured Artisans) through Milkwood Permaculture booked for last Sunday, which has inspired me to make some tasty tonics to get me through the rest of the month.

Gillian taught us how to make milk kefir, water kefir, beet kvass (a great blood purifier), kombucha, rejuvelac, and her famous Master Tonic that’s an amazing immune booster. If you’re like me and get a big gross and phlegmy if you drink a big glass of milk every day, then you probably won’t want to know about the milk kefir, and the kombucha I want to work with for a bit longer before I share anything.

What I can share now is the water kefir. It’s really easy to make and has loads of health benefits like controlling sugar cravings, boosting energy, and improving digestion and immune function. It also doesn’t contain caffeine like kombucha does, so you can drink it at any time of day. And pretend it’s alcoholic when you’re desperate.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 litre glass jar with a lid
  • Water kefir grains. These are made up of a culture of various strains of healthy bacteria and yeast that feed on sugar to make your drink fermented and carbonated. You can buy them online at Nourish Me Organics. Add at a ratio of 1 tablespoon to 250ml sweetened water
  • 1 litre of filtered or spring water (tap water will kill your grains, it has that many chemicals in it). I recently bought a great filter from The Beauty Chef
  • ¼ cup of Rapadura (unrefined), white or raw organic sugar
  • To keep the grains happy and well nourished, add ½ raw washed egg shell for the minerals, or a sulphur free dried apricot or fig as an alternate sugar source
  • Small amount of mature water kefir from a previous batch

 

This is how you make the magic happen:

  1. Dissolve the sugar in the water; you can use a bit of hot water to do that, then add the rest cold. The sugared water needs to be at room temperature when the grains are added.
  2. Add the egg shell or dried fruit, then the grains and mature solution. Leave a couple of centimetres free at the top of the jar.
  3. Put the lid on and leave it at room temperature for 24-48 hours. You can leave for up to 72 hours depending on how warm or cold your climate is. But basically it’s ready when it’s fizzy and not very sweet; it’s been fermenting for too long if it’s bitter.
  4. Strain to remove the grains, pouring most of the liquid into a new bottle for drankin’. Keep the grains aside to start another batch with the reserved liquid.
  5. Do a ‘second ferment’ and add flavours to the bottle without the grains. I’ve been loving adding lemon and mint, ginger and turmeric, and nettle, mint and honey. But you can add whatever herbs or fruits you like.
  6. Once you’ve added your flavouring, leave that new bottle on the bench for another 12-24 hours til it’s as fizzy and flavoured as you like. You can refrigerate it to slow the ferment if you won’t be drinking it right away, otherwise…
  7. BOTTOMS UP. I mean this as a figure of speech. But watch out that you don’t drink too much if you’re not used to fermented things, otherwise it really will be bottoms up for you. Oh and you need to ‘burp’ (aka open) the jar carefully once a day, otherwise the kefir can literally explore when you open it up.

 

Then all that’s left to do is to pretend kefir is cool and force it on your friends. I’ll certainly be doing that in the Apothebar once it’s up and running. By then I’ll probably be able to add a splash of vodka to it, too.