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Creating a happy home for your gut microbes with probiotics

Felicity Evans has written a book about the life-giving properties of fermentation that turned her health around. Think kombucha, ginger beer, kefir, honey mead. All made in your own kitchen, and creating a happy home for your gut microbes . . .

BASIC WATER KEFIR

Although this is called “basic water kefir”, in my mind there is nothing basic about it. Think about the complex arrangement and symbiosis between the water kefir grains, transforming a plain sugar water mixture into a bubbling, living probiotic drink.

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Fermentation time: 1½-5 days. Difficulty: medium. Shelf life: refrigerate for up to 4 months. Makes: about 1 litre.

INGREDIENTS

3 tbsp raw sugar

3 tbsp hot water

1 litre filtered water or springwater

Pinch of sea salt

1 dried fig

1 dried date

10 sultanas

¼ tsp molasses

3 tbsp water kefir grains

Primary fermentation

Put the sugar in a 1.5-litre wide-mouth glass jar. Add the hot water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the filtered water, sea salt, dried fruit and molasses and stir well to combine.

Add the water kefir grains to the jar. Cover the jar with a piece of muslin and secure with an elastic band.

Place the jar out of direct sunlight at room temperature and leave the liquid to ferment for 1-3 days, depending on the temperature.

Bottling

Scoop out and discard the dried fruit from the liquid.

Put a funnel in the opening of a 1-litre glass bottle with a tight fitting lid and put a strainer on top of the funel. Pour the water kefir liquid into the bottle through the strainer. Set aside the water kefir grains in the strainer to re-use or rest.

Secondary fermentation

Tightly seal the bottle lid and leave the bottle in a warm place to build carbonation. This could take anywhere from 12-72 hours, depending on the temperature. Burp the water kefir daily to release some pressure by opening the lid slightly and tightening it again.

Drink up

When the water kefir is as fizzy as you would like it to be (this could range from a small spritz to a ferocious fizz), store it in the fridge to slow the fermentation process, and enjoy it cold.

Berry water kefir

Witness the beautiful berries imbuing the water kefir with their stunning colour while they also infuse the liquid with their scent and antioxidants. You can either chop them or blitz them in a blender or food processor before you add them to the bottle. If you're chopping the berries, make sure you eat them after their probiotic bath — they are full of goodness!

Preparation time: 15 minutes Fermentation time: 1½–5 days Difficulty: medium Shelf life: refrigerate for up to 4 months Makes: about 1 litre.

INGREDIENTS

1 x basic water kefir ingredients

1 handful fresh mulberries, raspberries or other berries in season

Primary fermentation

Follow the instructions for basic water kefir.

Bottling

Scoop out and discard the dried fruit from the liquid. Put a funnel in the opening of a 1-litre glass bottle with a tight-fitting lid and put a strainer on top of the funnel. Pour the water kefir liquid into the bottle through the strainer. Set aside the water kefir grains in the strainer to re-use or rest. Purée or roughly chop the berries and add them to the bottle.

Secondary fermentation

Tightly seal the bottle lid and leave the bottle in a warm place to build carbonation. This could take anywhere from 12–72 hours, depending on the temperature. ‘Burp' the water kefir daily to release some pressure by opening the lid slightly and then tightening it again.

Drink up

When the water kefir is as fizzy as you would like it to be (this could range from a small spritz to a ferocious fizz), store it in the fridge to slow the fermentation process, and enjoy it cold.

Images and text from Kombucha & Co by Felicity Evans, photography by Rob Palmer. Murdoch Books RRP $32.99. Out now.
NOT JUST WATER: Lemon and ginger water kefir (left) and berry water kefir.