If you’re looking for a healthy soda that doesn’t have the dreaded high fructose corn syrup, kefir soda makes a great alternative. However, you don’t have to go looking through every vegan or organic grocery store to find it. It can be made right from the comforts of home with only a few ingredients.
Kefir soda is a vegan, sparkling probiotic drink typically flavored with fruit. Using glass bottles that trap the fermentation, kefir solids, called grains, are rehydrated in water. Like dairy kefir, this lighter version is rich with digestive-friendly bacteria and live active yeasts that ferment naturally in organic sugar and water.
If you’re wondering how fermented kefir grains can possibly make a great-tasting soda, prepare to be amazed.
What is Kefir Soda?
Kefir soda is a beverage rich in B vitamins, minerals, and food enzymes that aid in digestion with an alcohol content under 1%. Children and adults will likely love the variety of flavors you can make at home. The soft translucent crystals pack a lot of nutritional benefits for those who relish the slightly sour taste.
Why Make Kefir Soda at Home
Making kefir soda at home has several benefits. Besides being simple to do, you will be impressed with the results.
- Choose your flavor
- You can pick your own level of sweetness
- Choose less processed or raw ingredients
So, while boosting the nutritional value missing in most common sodas, you also have the most extensive range of flavor combinations to satisfy those thirsty members of your household.
What You Need to Make Kefir Soda
The following ingredients are what you’ll need to create your own kefir soda at home:
Water kefir grains, also called Kefir starter, consist of a variety of yeasts and bacteria used to help start the fermentation process when making kefir soda and other kefir beverages.
One of the other key ingredients you’ll need to make kefir soda is a type of sweetener. There are many to choose from, such as raw, organic sugars and syrups.
Sugar substitutes are not recommended because they do not feed the kefir grains used in making kefir soda. Raw organic sugars like turbinado and natural sweeteners like maple syrup are an excellent choice for creating this sparkling beverage. Don’t let all the types of organic sugars confuse you, though; some sugars should only be used during the second fermentation phase of making kefir soda:
- Rapadura or sucanat sugars are dried sugar cane. A pinch of sucanat sugar or rapadura sugar will add a more robust flavor and desirable minerals to the first or second phase of making kefir soda.
- Coconut sugar does not have as much mineral content, but it can be used only in the second fermentation after the kefir grains have been removed; this is because coconut sugar tends to damage the kefir grains.
Optional ingredients include small amounts of molasses or maple syrup. They should be limited to ½ tsp per quart to aid in mineral content.
Of course, the kefir devours much of the sugar and leaves a pleasant tart taste to the beverage; it is generally estimated that 3 to 5 grams of sugar remain in the kefir soda once it’s finished. Honey and sugar substitutes, including agave, stevia, and Splenda are not recommended but could be added when serving the kefir soda to add a sweeter taste.*
*Note: When making kefir soda, you also have the option of using dried fruit or herbs to add your own flavor to the beverage before the second fermentation phase.
Any water for homemade kefir soda will do, but the healthiest and tastiest choice will be mineralized water. Minerals must be present in trace amounts so that better fermentation can occur.
Kefir soda may be made from bottled spring water but not distilled water since it lacks minerals. If you use tap water, make sure it is filtered, and the chlorine is removed. An alternative to filtering out chlorine would be to boil the tap water and then let the water sit overnight to remove chlorine.
In some homes, reverse osmosis systems and other complete water filters remove the minerals the kefir grain will need to flourish in the fermenting process. In the case of a home water system that has reverse osmosis, you can add drops of trace minerals back into the water. Another mineral supplement, Celtic grey sea salt, is difficult to find in stores, but it can be ordered online here.
Kitchen Utensils & Tools
Glass bottles and other proper tools you’ll need for producing kefir soda are easy to acquire if you do not have everything you need already:
When it comes to cooking utensils, try to avoid using metal. Many have had concerns that reactive metals are not safe because the metal accumulates in the body of the finished product. As an alternative, use plastic or natural wood utensils, such as cane or bamboo strainers and spoons. Since stainless steel is a non-reactive metal, it is safe for heating and straining the kefir soda in.
Cloth & Strainers
Any cotton gauze or loosely woven washcloth will be used to cover the liquid during the first fermentation phase. You can also use this cloth to strain the kefir grains from the base fluid, before filling the bottles with the finished beverage. You won’t need to use the larger netting made for milk kefir, since it is designed to allow the curd to flow and not become trapped.
Any size glass jars with lids and rubber gaskets are as good as mason jars for both phases of fermentation but should be thoroughly cleaned in-between them.
How to Make Kefir Soda at Home
You can make kefir soda at home by simply following these steps:
- Pre-heat 1 cup of water in a stainless steel pan.
- After the water has warmed up, add ¼ cup of sweetener and stir to dissolve. Allow it to cool.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the kefir grains to a separate glass jar. Once the water-sweetener mixture has cooled, add it to the jar with the grains.
- Add an additional 3 cups of water to the jar.
- Cover the jar with a washcloth and allow the mixture to sit and ferment for 24 to 48 hours* at room temperature. (This minimum time is reduced to 12 hours on a hot summer day.) During fermentation, the yeast and bacteria found in kefir will begin to eat away at the sweetener. As this process happens, carbon dioxide (bubbles) will begin to form in the liquid.
*Note: The longer the mixture ferments, the tarter the result will be. If you prefer to have a less tart kefir soda, this can be achieved by shortening the fermentation time.
For the second phase of fermentation, you can select your favorite fresh or dried fruits chopped into small pieces or herbal infusions, like peeled, sliced ginger, to add flavor and natural sweetness to your drink. Then follow these steps:
- Prepare clean glass containers or bottles that can be tightly sealed, such as a mason jar.
- Drain the grains from the fermented mixture using a cheesecloth or strainer.
- Add your chosen flavorings to the clean bottles or jars first (1/4 cup if you’re using a natural juice).
- Next, pour in the fermented water kefir, leaving ample space at the top to leave room for carbonation.
- Seal the bottles/jars and allow the drink to ferment for another 12 to 24 hours at room temperature or until it’s reached your desired level of carbonation.
(Source: Our Oily House)
You’ll know when the kefir soda is ready when you try to open the container, and a fizzing sound erupts from it. From there, you can pour the beverage over a glass of ice to chill and drink or keep it refrigerated to consume later. Enjoy!
“Mildly interesting story… Blueberry kefir soda is pink. :)” by KingTyrone is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0