Homemade Probiotic Drinks

Make Probiotic Drinks at Home For Pennies!

water keifer jars
Did you realize that you can make probiotic drinks at home, for pennies? Yes, Bridge to Wellness is selling the starter kit that you need to make water kefir soda and Kombucha.

When it comes to soda, most people know the store bought soda is a concoction of sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavoring in an aluminum can.

By Contrast, Homemade Probiotic Soda is:

* Naturally fermented

* Full of beneficial enzymes and probiotics to boost intestinal health

* Boosts the natural flora in your belly, so that your body becomes a lean, mean, disease-fighting machine!

Water Kefir Soda

Water Kefir consists of small grains that look like wet rice. You put them in water with organic sugar. Then add a pinch of baking soda and some Himalayan Sea Salt, and let it sit for 48 hours. Afterwards, you drain the liquid, put it aside, and then put the grains in new sugar water. With proper care, your Water Kefir grains will last a lifetime!

With the finished liquid (minus the kefir grains), you pour it into a fliptop bottle, and then flavor it. You could add some fresh squeezed juice (lemon, orange, kiwi, grapefruit, etc) OR add a few tea bags. I like to add rasberry herbal tea. You can drink it right away or let it sit. After two days capped, the liquid will become carbonated and fizzy like sprite.

How it works is that the kefir grains eat the sugar and then release probiotic flora which are good for intestinal health.

Is water kefir good for your health?

Yes! Water Kefir is loaded with valuable enzymes, easily digestible sugars, beneficial acids, vitamins and minerals.

Water kefir is also generally suitable for some diabetics (although personal discretion is advised).

Water kefir supplies your body with billions of healthy bacteria and yeast strains. Some store-bought probiotic foods or supplements can help, but they are not as potent, and do not contain the beneficial yeasts that you need for wellness.

Within your body there are already billions of bacteria and yeast. Your internal micro flora support proper digestion, synthesis of vitamins and minerals, and your immune system by warding off foreign and harmful bacteria, yeast and viruses.

Water kefir soda has long been known to promote and aid in digestion and overall health. Some studies show it may be anti-mutagenic and help manage free radicals in the body. Folic acid (and B vitamins) increases as the length of the ferment increases. Some people let the strained kefir sit on the counter or the fridge another day to increase the folic acid and B vitamin content before drinking.

Kefir may also help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Of course, food and health is too difficult to reduce to facts and statistics. While kefir is not a magic bullet for health, kefir has a myriad of possible health benefits, and those will be individual for everyone. Some feel it helps them digest better, others get colds and viruses less often, some get more energy, and some people feel nothing much in particular, but enjoy the taste and value of it over store-bought yogurt, Kombucha or kefir.

Benefits of Water Kefir

* Regulates the body’s immune system and improves resistance to diseases.
* Regulates the blood pressure, blood sugar and cures diabetes.
* Heals the lungs, bronchitis, tuberculosis, asthma, allergies and migraine.
* Has a positive influence on the heart and blood, heals circulatory conditions.
* Heals various eczema, all skin disorders and leads to cure of acne.
* Heals the kidneys, the urinary tract and protects prostate.
* Has a positive influence on cholesterol, osteoporosis and rheumatism.
* Supports enzymes production and heals the pancreas.
* Improves the liver and gallbladder, regulates bile production, and influences positively hepatitis.
* Regulates metabolism, digestion and heals diseases of the colon.
* Heals colitis, diarrhea, catarrh, reflux, leaky gut syndrome, candidiasis and more.
* Rebalance the intestinal flora and stomach acid, heals duodenum and cures ulcers.
* Produces its own antibiotics, eliminates unfriendly bacteria, cures internal and external inflammations.
* Heals lactose intolerance and provides full digestibility of milk based products.
* Produces own anti-cancer compounds, prevents metastasis, and leads to cure.
* Slows the aging process, smoothes and improves skin, hair and muscle tonus.
* Reduces anxiety, depression, increases energy and feeling of wellbeing.
* Produces all necessary vitamins and beneficial bacteria needed for our healthy daily life.

Source: scientific and medical research from Dairy Research Institute in former USSR. http://www.kefir.org/kefir_manual.htm

How to make Water Kefir

What you’ll need:
Water kefir grains (at least 1/4 cup)
Organic Sugar
Organic raisins
Himalayan Sea Salt (pink crystals)
Baking soda
Plastic funnel
Filtered water
Plastic colander (fine mesh or small holes so the WK won’t fall through)
Glass container (4 cups, 1/2 gallon, or 1 gallon)
Empty glass bottles, flip top glass bottles, or glass mason jars

Put the water kefir (WK) grains in a glass jar. Measure your water kefir grains. You will need to add as much sugar as you have grains. For instance, 1/4 cup WK grains needs 1/4 cup sugar. Then add a pinch of baking soda and some Himalayan Sea Salt. Now add filtered water. Add enough water so that your container is filled to the rim. Cover with a lid or fabric cover.

Let your water kefir sit for 48 hours. Now you are ready to prepare your water kefir soda. Get your glass bottle, colander and plastic funnel. Put the funnel on top of the bottle. Now put the colander on top of the funnel. Carefully pour your water kefir liquid into the funnel and catch the WK grains with the colander.

Keep the drained liquid, and set it aside. Do you see your water kefir grains in the colander– put the grains in new sugar water. With proper care, your Water Kefir grains will last a lifetime!

With the finished, drained liquid (minus the kefir grains), you pour it into a flip top bottle, and then flavor it. You could add some fresh squeezed juice (lemon, orange, kiwi, grapefruit, etc) OR add a few tea bags. I like to add raspberry herbal tea. You can drink it right away or let it sit. After two days capped, the liquid will become carbonated and fizzy like sprite.

Kombucha

Kombucha is a mix of black tea, sugar and a “scoby” mushroom. It has been consumed for over 2000 years the world over. It has been extensively studied and applied for several medical uses in Russia, Germany, China and many other places. It is naturally carbonated and is purported to have a host of healing properties that may include:

*Probiotics – healthy bacteria
*Alkalize the body – balances internal pH
*Detoxify the liver – happy liver = happy mood
*Increase metabolism – rev your internal engine
*Improve digestion – keep your system moving
*Rebuild connective tissue – helps with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism
*Cancer prevention
*Alleviate constipation
*Boost energy – helps with chronic fatigue
*Reduce blood pressure
*Relieve headaches & migraines
*Reduce kidney stones
*High in antioxidants – destroy free-radicals that cause cancer
*High in polyphenols
*Improve eyesight
*Heal eczema – can be applied topically to soften the skin
*Prevent atherosclerosis
*Speed healing of ulcers – kills h.pylori on contact
*Help clear up candida & yeast infections
*Aid healthy cell regeneration
*Reduce gray hair
*Lower glucose levels – prevents spiking from eating

Simply put, Kombucha is an all natural health beverage chockfull of probiotics and other healthy amino acids. Probiotic literally means “for life”. Unlike antibiotics, which kill ALL of the bacteria in your body, even the good stuff, probiotics re-establish the natural ecology of the intestinal flora. Probiotics are said to boost immunity, enhance mood, fight allergies, detoxify the body and rid the body of disease. The Kombucha benefits you experience may vary. However, Kombucha is NOT a panacea – it doesn’t cure ANYTHING! It brings the body back into balance so that it may heal itself naturally. That is how it is able to do so much – because it works with your body’s natural immune system.

water kefir

How to make Kombucha

Prepare the Equipment and Ingredients
To make kombucha tea, first gather your equipment and ingredients. Then prepare the kombucha mixture for fermentation.

Equipment:

  • One glass jar (quart, half-gallon, or gallon)
  • A plastic or wood stirring utensil (never use metal in contact with a kombucha scoby!)
  • A breathable cover for the jar such as a tight-weave dish towel or paper coffee filter
  • A rubber band to secure the cover

Ingredients:

  • One kombucha scoby
  • Tea
  • Sugar
  • ” Starter tea” from a previous batch of kombucha, or distilled white vinegar (use vinegar for the first batch after rehydration of a dehydrated scoby)
  • Filtered water

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A note about hygiene: When working with kombucha, it is important not to introduce competing bacteria to the brew. Be sure to wash and rinse your hands well prior to working with the tea mixture or the scoby. Also be sure to thoroughly clean and rinse the container and all utensils that will come in contact with the scoby. Beware soap and food residue the dishwasher may have missed. When in doubt, give everything an extra rinse. The brewing vessel can be cleaned with regular soap and hot water (rinse very well) or with vinegar. Never use bleach on any item that will come in contact with your brew.

The Basic Process for Making Kombucha

  • Place hot water and sugar together in a jar. Mix until the sugar dissolves. The water should be hot enough to steep the tea but does not have to be boiling.
  • Place the tea in the sugar water and allow the tea to steep. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. (This will likely take most of the day if you are making a gallon-size jar.) You can remove the tea bags after 10 minutes or leave them longer for a stronger tea, but be sure to remove them before adding the scoby. If you are using loose tea, make sure no flakes remain in the brewing solution.
  • Place the kombucha scoby and starter tea or vinegar in the jar of cooled sugared tea.
  • Cover the jar tightly (keep the fruit flies out!) but allow the mixture to breathe. A towel or paper coffee filter along with a thick rubber band work best for this. Do not use an airtight lid!

Fermenting the Kombucha

Choose a safe spot.  An ideal culturing spot should be relatively warm but not excessively so. Temperatures between 70° and 80°F are ideal (see below). The best fermenting spot for kombucha is out of direct sunlight. Indirect light or darkness is neither favorable nor problematic. Be sure the spot has reasonably good airflow as access to oxygen benefits the fermentation process. In addition, be sure the kombucha is not fermenting near any other cultured foods such as kefir, yogurt, sourdough, sauerkraut, etc. Cross-contamination by stray yeasts and bacteria can be problematic for the kombucha scoby and any other fermented foods you are working with.

Do not disturb.  It is important to allow the kombucha to ferment undisturbed. Moving the jar or otherwise disturbing the contents will not ruin the batch but does make it more difficult to observe the most common signs the process is proceeding normally.

Allow the kombucha to ferment.  Now comes the hard part: waiting for your brew to ferment.

Ambient temperature.  Ambient temperatures that are too hot or too cold can disrupt the process: too cold and the process slows down, too hot and fermentation proceeds too quickly resulting in a less desirable flavor pattern. We recommend choosing a culturing spot with an ambient temperature between 70° and 80°F for ideal results.

Access to oxygen.  Air flow assists the fermentation process so culturing in a container with a breathable cover will speed the fermentation process, while using a solid lid will slow it down and may harm the scoby.

Liquid surface area.  The size of the surface area of liquid will influence the rate at which your kombucha brews. Kombucha brewed in a bowl with a 9-inch diameter opening will brew significantly faster than kombucha brewed in a jar with a 3-inch diameter opening.
Remember:   Faster fermentation isn’t necessarily better. Kombucha can develop a strong vinegar taste in a relatively short period of time if the temperature is too warm or the liquid surface area is too large. Slow and steady fermentation results in a more desirable taste profile.

Assuming ideal temperature, access to sufficient oxygen, reasonable liquid surface area, etc., your brew can officially be considered kombucha after it has been fermenting for 5 to 7 days. For the first few batches, we recommend using a straw to start tasting the kombucha every other day or so starting on day 7. This allows you to determine at what point to halt the fermentation process based on your own personal taste preferences. Some people like their kombucha best after it has been fermenting only a week. Others prefer 2, 3, or even 4 weeks or more of fermentation.

Keep in mind that shorter fermentation periods will result in a sweeter brew. Longer periods will result in a more vinegar-like taste. Very long fermentation periods (over 30 days) tend to result in a strong vinegar-like taste. The longer the brew ferments, the less sugar will remain, so if sugar consumption is a concern, we recommend brewing for 3 to 4 weeks prior to consumption. Please note: at some point your scoby will run out of sugar and tea to consume and will start to suffer nutritionally. For that reason, we do not recommend over-brewing your kombucha. Assuming ideal conditions, over-brewing generally starts to occur sometime between 4 and 6 weeks.

How Do I Know If I’ve Made Kombucha?

Assuming ideal fermenting conditions, it is common to see signs of fermentation within a few days. These signs include:

Formation of a new “baby” scoby.  This process begins as a layer of film developing on the surface of the liquid. Generally the layer will start off clear (and is often missed) but over the period of a few days or a week will become hazy and then less and less translucent, more white, and slowly thicker until it resembles the scoby you used to culture the batch. Please note: if the container is disturbed or vibrates during the early stages of the process, the newly developing scoby will often detach from the surface of the liquid and fall resulting in a roaming gel-like mass in the liquid. This mass is not harmful and is simply an immature scoby. This will also not harm the batch in any way: the brew will still continue to ferment on schedule and within a few days the process of a new scoby forming on the surface of the liquid will begin again. Keep in mind that if the new scoby falls at this early stage of development, it could delay the number of days it takes to observe a new scoby forming (often considered the best sign a batch is culturing normally). Every once in awhile, a new scoby does not form. This in and of itself does not indicate a failed batch. In a case where that happens, refer to the taste and pH level of the brew for further indication of whether the process proceeded normally.

An increasingly acidic (vinegar-like) flavor.  As the kombucha ferments, the scoby will consume the sugar and tea and produce acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and carbon dioxide. As this process proceeds, the brew will taste less sweet and increasingly acidic (a more vinegar-like taste).

Lower pH.  The increasing level of acidity can also be seen by a lowering of the pH. While not required, a pH meter or pH testing strips can be used to determine the pH of your kombucha.

The best signs your kombucha is ready include that at least 7 days have passed (assuming ideal fermenting conditions), that it has become more acidic than the mixture you originally began with, and that the taste is one that you find pleasing. While not required, it is also possible to test the pH level of your brew using a pH meter or testing strips. Kombucha should reach a pH level of between 2.6 and 4.0 prior to consumption.

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