At the age of 90, my grandmother emigrated to Hawaii. She lived out the rest of her days on the beautiful island of Maui. It seems an extraordinary move to make at such a ripe old age but if you knew her you would know that it was not out of character. She had a spontaneous and adventurous spirit and hated the idea of being tied down. Nothing pleased her more than to pack a bag and head off at the last minute on an adventure. She was the centre of our world, like the sun, we orbited her. It didn’t matter where she lived, we would have happily gone to the ends of the earth to get one of her hugs. Which is exactly what we did for the final 10 years of her life.
The last time I made it out to see her I went with my family, we stayed in a little house on the beach just up the road. It became part of our daily routine to drive to the health food store and pick up some lunch to take back to eat with her. It was on one these trips that we became obsessed with the locally made fresh coconut water kefir they stocked. Straight out of the fridge this probiotic and refreshing drink completely hit the spot, we could not go a day without drinking it. My daily lament became ‘how will I be able to make coconut water kefir when we don’t live in Hawaii!!!!!?’ Coconuts don’t grow on trees in East Devon!
Back in England I started experimenting and found that it’s perfectly possible to make this incredible drink using store bought coconut water, which gives a really good result and is delicious! On a hot sunny day (which I admit is rare) I can almost be transported back!
This is a simple drink to make but you will need real kefir grains and not a starter from a packet or powder. You will also need to make sure they are genuine water kefir grains as dairy kefir grains won’t work. There are two types of kefir grains, those that live on milk sugar lactose and those that live on sugary water. The water kefir grains are a great dairy free alternative as instead of feeding on milk they feed on a sugar solution.
In my experience it is better to add a bit of sugar, the kefir grains need this to live on which enables them to do their thing of making a probiotic rich drink. It helps to give a good flavour as otherwise it can taste very yeasty, it will also make your drink very bubbly. You can experiment and omit the sugar especially if you are on a candida diet but you will need to taste it earlier and more often to get the tanginess you like. Its important to remember that the sugar is feeding the kefir grains, not feeding you! In between making another batch of coconut water kefir you will need to refresh the grains in sugar water as after a while coconut water will not provide the optimum environment to keep them happy and strong. It works well to have two batches on the go, one for making your drink and the other resting in a jar ready to use the next time. Adding brown sugar, molasses or rapidura sugar and possibly a dried fig will feed the grains extra minerals while they are resting. The resting solution is 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 litre of water, however this is not prescriptive and I often put resting grains in a jar with sugary water and a dried fig and they do very well.
One thing I must make clear is that you will need to burp your bottle regularly and not leave it unattended for any length of time. Use a flip-top bottle as this drink will create a lot of carbon dioxide as it ferments and the pressure will build up which can lead to bottles exploding if you are not careful. If at all in doubt put your bottle wrapped in a tea towel in a cardboard box. I usually put my freshly decanted bottle straight in the fridge to slow the fermentation down and ensure a good flavour. This is especially wise if you live in a warm climate, during the summer or if your house is very warm. If it is not bubbling up fast enough take your bottle out of the fridge for an hour or two to ferment further but keep an eye it.
How to make coconut water kefir
Makes a one litre bottle of coconut water kefir
Large glass jar which will hold a litre of liquid
1 litre flip-top bottle
A piece of tightly woven cloth or paper towel
1/4 cup hydrated water kefir grains
1/4 cup sugar
1 litre coconut water
- In a large jar add 1/4 cup of sugar.
- Pour coconut water into the jar and stir thoroughly to dissolve the sugar.
- Add 1/4 cup kefir grains to the jar of sweetened coconut water cover the jar with a piece of muslin or paper towel secured with an elastic band.
- leave it to sit on your counter at room temperature for about 24-48 hours. Taste it often using a plastic straw. I find that the little kefir grains will start floating up and down in the liquid, this is a good indicator that it is almost ready. Get to know how you like it, everyone is different.
- Strain the coconut water kefir through a plastic sieve into a bowl preferably with a spout.
- Decant the liquid into a flip-top bottle using a funnel. You can leave this out now for a few hours to ferment a bit longer but I have found it gives a better result if I refrigerate straight away. At this point you can also experiment with flavouring your drink with lemon, ginger or vanilla if you want.
- Even when it is in the fridge it is IMPORTANT to remember to burp your bottle regularly by opening the lid a bit so that pressure doesn’t build up too much.
- Your grains are now ready to either start the process at the beginning or to be put into a resting solution.
DO NOT LEAVE BOTTLES OF FERMENTING COCONUT WATER KEFIR UNATTENDED
You can obtain Kefir grains from me by contacting me via email firstname.lastname@example.org I will be happy to send you some depending on availability otherwise try gumtree or your local health food store.