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How to Brew Water-Kefir Ginger Beer

How to Brew Water-Kefir Ginger Beer

There are as many ways to make water kefir as there are people making it. People who are already familiar with the benefits of making and drinking kefir drinks can tell you all you need to know to get started trying it yourself.

Molasses-Clementine, Brown-Sugar-Lemon, and Crystallized Ginger Kefir

Some purists can be as passionate as contestants at a chili cook-off or Neopolitan grandmas defending their ‘famous’ spaghetti sauce.

(Frankly, it’s just not that compelling a topic to the uninitiated.)
I’ve been hearing about it for years, but was finally converted when I got a big basket of Mason jars, strainers, and live kefir grains for Christmas last year.

Nestled inside the card was a short leaflet with the absolute simplest and clearest directions I’ve seen (and in researching this tutorial, believe me, I’ve seen plenty).

The author was Dom of Dom’s Water Kefir Site. Thanks to the invitingly I dare-you inscructions, I was enjoying my first batch of ginger kefir in days.

After the first liter, I was also a convert.

Live water-kefir grains. (SKG)

In that spirit, I’m going to reproduce the recipe, summarized, here. I have added my own tips n’ shortcuts for those who don’t mind half-assing it. It’s pretty hard to do it wrong.

I won’t make any great claims for its purported health benefits, but I can attest that it damn near eliminated my workplace-fart problem.

Have fun, and let us know how it goes for you. The first time you see those little grains bubbling up to the top of your Mason jars, you’ll feel like a proud mama.

How to brew kefir ginger beer

First, you’re going to need some water kefir grains.

This is quite possibly the original Ginger Beer Recipe. It is suggested that water kefir-grains were referred to as the Ginger Beer Plant when the culture was first introduced to the west, by British soldiers on their return back from the Crimean War.

You’ll need:

  • 8-cup glass Mason jar or similar with a good strong sealing lid. Preserving jars with swing away lids are also ideal.
  • 6 cups spring water. Filtered water doesn’t work. Use either well-water, or regular tap water left out overnight to de-chlorinate.
  • 1/2 cup sugar, ideally raw/unrefined.
  • 1 tsp blackstrap molasses. If you don’t have any, replace the raw sugar with dark brown sugar.
  • About 50gm [2oz] fresh ginger root, ideally young and green.
  • Slice of lemon.
  • 1 dry fig or 2 Tbs Sultanas, sun muscat, raisins or a combination. Sugar-crystallized ginger is also nice.
  • 2/3 to 1-cup traditional Sugary Kefir Grains [SKG].
  • 1/8 to 1/4 Tsp baking powder.
  • OPTIONAL: 1 cm or 1/2″ square piece of eggshell from a boiled egg, either used as flakes or coarsely ground to grit. This provides best SKG growth with bio-available calcium and magnesium, which is desirable. Substitute eggshell with oceanic coral or limestone or a mixture if you wish. Use about 1/4 Tsp coarsely ground grit. (note- I have never done this. Surprised?)

Ginger-root- Sugar Mash dissolving in June morning sun

1. Finely grate fresh ginger root to a coarse consistency. Mix with 2 Tbs raw sugar in a bowl.

2. With a strong spoon, firmly press the mash against the bowl* to extract as much juice as possible from the grated ginger. The sugar draws out more ginger juice through osmotic pressure. If you have a mortar and pestle, then use it to pound the mixture for a minute or so. This should extract more ginger juice from the pulp.

3. Put mash in a 6″ square piece of clean, white cloth and squeeze by hand. Let the sweetened ginger juice drip into the 8-cup glass jar.

4. Add baking soda, the rest of the raw sugar, molasses and eggshell to a glass jar with 6 cups water. Stir well to dissolve all the sugar and molasses and then add rest of ingredients including SKG.

5. Seal jar airtight, and let stand for 24 hours at room temperature. If this is your first time brewing kefir beer, I would stop fermentation at this point. If you like the taste, next time you can let it ferment for 2 days, stirring once after 24 hours. This will increase the strength of taste and the carbonation, but not the probiotic potency.

6. Strain the liquid, and store in airtight sealable bottles. Refrigerate 1 to 2 days to increase carbonation, giving you a nice, refreshing fizzy ginger root-beer.

* Another option is to use grated ginger, and put this in a piece of cotton gauze, tied with string to make a tea bag of ginger. Simply put this in the jar with the rest of the ingredients, let it all steep together, and strain it right before you cap it in the pretty bottles.

More Resources:

Another basic starter post – Water Kefir Tutorial from Passionate Homemaking

I have had some success in treating my cat Flash’s injury-related incontinence with a few tablespoons of kefir in his milk. Some good information about kefir for pets from Dolores Sánchez-Peñalver.

You, like I, may discover that you have a knack for growing SCOBY. (I like to call it a ‘fungus-thumb’.) Get ambitious, and try this comprehensive Ginger Beer Tutorial from Instructables where you grow something called a ‘ginger bug’.

Dom’s Water Kefir Site, an encyclopedic knowledge base. Great browsing and links.

I Love Water Kefir! group on Facebook.

1 Comment

  • Lucky for me, I decided to try out that suggestion for adding eggshell. I started a new batch of SKG grains in a teeny little jelly jar .
    The bad news is, I lost all my other grains when I dropped the crate I was carrying a batch of kefir bottles in and everything broke. Goodbye, little baby SKG! Thanks for the sweet memories.
    The GOOD news is, the egg shell works! It is really worth taking the trouble to mix up some strong, healthy calcium-grit into your kefir-brew mix.

    So now I’m starting over again. Just like life.

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