How to make Coconut water kefir

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

Equipment:

Large glass jar which will hold a litre of liquid

1 litre flip-top bottle

A piece of tightly woven cloth or paper towel

rubber band

wooden spoon

plastic sieve

Large bowl

 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup hydrated water kefir grains

1/4 cup sugar

1 litre coconut water

  1. In a large jar add 1/4 cup of sugar.
  2. Pour coconut water into the jar and stir thoroughly to dissolve the sugar.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Strain the coconut water kefir through a plastic sieve into a bowl preferably with a spout.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 themirabelletree@gmail.com I will be happy to send you some depending on availability otherwise try gumtree or your local health food store.

 


Small Batch Ruby Sauerkraut

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I have just finished the last of a delicious jar of sauerkraut which I made at a fermenting workshop. It was run by Christine McFadden who has a very sucessfull cookery school in her 17th century home in  Dorset. Christine, who is also known as the Dorset Foodie, is a very experienced cook and teacher and has written several cookery books over the years. Her teaching is very clear, precise and reliable and she imparts a lot of practical information on a wide variety of cooking techniques. She lives in Littlebredy, one of the most beautiful villages in England. It is situated between Bridport and Dorchester and lies at the head of the Bride valley. As I made my way to her class I found myself driving through a maze of tiny winding roads and was very thankful to have a sat nav, it felt like I was driving back through time. This is pure Thomas Hardy countryside, an unspoilt green and golden landscape of emerald pastures dotted with yellow buttercups and ancient hedges. Read More


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After our last swim we walk back to the house sandy and salty, foraging as we go for a few leaves of wild cabbage which we have been adding to our daily green juice. We pack up the house and empty the fridge and veg box to make one last meal. It’s is almost the best one! Boiled eggs, steamed asparagus, rye bread, Cornish Yarg cheese and a Wild Sea Cabbage salad. Read More


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Spring Green Kimchi


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Kimchi  is  a traditional Korean dish made from whatever vegetables are in season with the addition of salt and spices and then fermented. It is so popular in Korea that it is eaten with almost every meal and is very much a part of their cultural and national identity.

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It took me a while to convince my husband that kimchi was going to be the new and healthy  addition to our meals. His meal in particular, because unlike me, he has a passion for chilli jam and Jamaican hot sauce. He was quite skeptical at the thought of something new taking the place of these much loved condiments. He has since become a kimchi convert, which makes me happy, knowing that he is eating something not only extremely tasty but with enormous healing potential to boot.

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IMG_5277Now that my two elder daughters have left home I still meet in this beautiful and mysterious place, with my friend Cathy, her two children, and my son and niece every summer. We spend our time, making memories, and building on customs and traditions that grow as every summer passes. Even at the height of summer it is a demanding and challenging holiday and not one for sissies. A storm can whip up out of nowhere and tear your tent away and even when the sea looks calm, the strong undercurrents in the sea can snatch you out to sea when least expected. The weather can feel quite extreme and dramatic at times, but when the sun is shining and you watch your children gaining confidence as they jump higher off the rocks at each passing year, it is heaven on earth. Read More


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This a very simple and easy sauerkraut to make which doesn’t need any fancy equipment, it can be made in a large kilner type jar and with just a sharp knife and a cutting board. There are also only 3 ingredients, cabbage, salt and dill. Even if you omit the dill it will still be delicious. The addition of dill though gives the finished result a wonderfully clean and fresh taste which I love.

First of all do not be afraid! When I first got interested in the idea of fermenting I was quite nervous, making sauerkraut went against everything that that we are taught about health and safety. The thought of food being left on our kitchen counters for days on end at room temperature was very scary. As long as certain procedures are followed there is nothing to be afraid of. Make sure everything you use is clean. Wash hands, utensils and your jar. Straight out of the dishwasher is good. The salt to cabbage ratio is also important, 3tbs of salt to 5lbs of cabbage. You can halve this amount if you want less. Also the most important thing of all is that your cabbage stays submerged beneath the brine. Use the freshest cabbages, preferably organic. Also remember that preserving vegetables in this way has been practiced for thousands of years. Read More


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I was shown how to make it by my friend Flos. she also gave me my first batch of kefir grains, but thats another story. I remember Flos making it for her children’s birthday parties, a simple one for the kids and a more grown up one for the adults. I always thought that was so clever, just two bowls and everyone happy. Somehow in my household everyone has always wanted something different and sometimes it feels like I run a mini restaurant. One bowl meals are always a challenge here. Read More