Water kefir during the creation process. William Olson /Flickr
At the upcoming installment of the Kodiak Public Library’s Kitchen Gardeners series, high school teacher Angelica Brown will introduce participants to a fizzy, fruity, watery drink that might be a viable homemade substitute for soda.
It’s called “water kefir” and, to hear Brown explain it, it’s not as exotic as it sounds.
“It’s kinda like a probiotic, fizzy soda. I think a lot of people are more much more familiar with kombucha, but it’s similar to kombucha, except it takes a lot less time, which is one of the reasons I’m so fond of it.”
Brown says water kefir is created through a symbiotic relationship of bacteria and yeast “grains,” as they’re called, which grow together with the help of sugar in the drink.
“In this case, you just pretty much take sugar water, throw your grains in there, and it eats the sugar and it releases carbonation which is how it gets bubbly, but it also leaves some probiotics, vitamins, minerals. People will say it’s awesome for everything from curing ridiculous diseases to they just like it because it’s a better supplement for soda.”
She says you can flavor it during the second fermentation and add any fruit you like.
If “water kefir” is new to you, Brown will talk about an Alaska classic which may be more familiar. Sourdough bread. She says she’ll be going over a traditional method of baking sourdough.
“Most people when they make bread, they’ll go and they’ll get yeast packets and pretty much yeast is just a dehydrated way to leaven your bread, to make it rise, versus traditional sourdough bread actually gets made from a starter culture, which is literally just yeast that has found a happy home eating the sugar in flour. So again, it’s always eating that sugar.”
Brown says she started making foods like water kefir and sourdough for her family in an attempt to eat healthier.
“My husband’s had some gut issues and just trying to find a way around that, make him feel better. My daughter had some eczema when she was born, so tried to get some of the not-so-good stuff out of our diet. We didn’t ever eat bad. Like, we never drank a whole bunch of soda or ate a whole bunch of processed foods. But just by cutting little things out, like making our own bread. First off it’s cheaper, but it’s better for us.”
You can take part in this week’s Kitchen Gardeners talk by dropping by the library at 6 p.m. Wednesday.