Kefir Soda Pop

by Ann Marie Michaels on June 5, 2009

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Homemade kefir soda pop is easy to make in your own kitchen — and it’s good for you!

Why Kefir Soda?


Store-bought soda pop is really, really bad for you. First of all, you’re drinking a ton of sugar which sets you up for obesity and diabetes. But it’s not just sugar you have to worry about anymore. These days, soda pop is made with high fructose corn syrup or, just as bad, aspartame. These are not things you want to be putting in your body.

High fructose corn syrup is made by soaking corn in battery acid. Aspartame is an excitotoxin. Multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s anyone? Oh, and check out these horrifying photos of rats with giant tumors: My Aspartame Experiment.

It’s also important to note that both HFCS and aspartame are genetically modified. Read the health risks of GMOs.

For these reasons, you couldn’t pay me to drink a Coke these days.

Kefir soda pop is easy to make with water kefir grains. Not only is this homemade soda pop delicious and refreshing, it’s so easy to make.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s healthy? Healthy soda pop? Could there be such a thing? Yes! This is a probiotic drink. The kefir bacteria eat the sugar, which makes the soda pop less sweet and it is filled with good bacteria (like the kind you get from yogurt or other probiotic foods). Kefir soda pop is a great option for kids instead of giving them juice. My two-year-old loves it.

Homemade soda pop made with kefir grains is also super cheap to make. It’s just made from water and a little sugar, plus some fruit flavoring. You’ll save a ton not buying sodas or juice. Not only that, but as you use your kefir grains over time, they will grow and multiply. When you have more grains, you can make larger batches at a time. This recipe will get you started with your first batch.

How to Make Homemade Soda Pop with Kefir Grains

You can also convert milk kefir grains for this recipe. Just don’t use all your kefir grains — set aside 1-2 tablespoons just for this purpose. Also, be aware that the first few ferments will take longer with dairy kefir grains (4-5 days instead of 1-3). After that, they should perform like water kefir grains. (While I have not tried it, I have read that converted dairy kefir grains will poop out over time so I prefer to stick with water kefir grains for making soda pop.)

Don’t wait until it gets hot and you’re tempted to pop open a bottle of HFCS-sweetened root beer. Start making your soda pop now so you’ll have lots on hand for those summer barbecues.

Kefir Soda Pop

Equipment:

Mesh strainer
Quart mason jar — where to buy mason jars
Glass bottles (you can get these at a homebrew store, or reuse old wine or beer bottles, or you can simply store your soda pop in a mason jar in the fridge)
Funnel

Ingredients:

Water kefir grains (1-2 TBS) — where to buy starters
Filtered water (NOT tap water — you’ll kill your kefir grains) — where to buy filtered water
Sugar (1/4 cup ) — I use plain white organic sugar but you can use other forms of sugar such as Sucanat or palm sugar — where to buy sucanat
Molasses (1 tsp) — if you are using refined sugar; you can omit this if you are using Sucanat or palm sugar
Piece of an egg shell (half of the egg shell will do)

Directions:

1. Fill the mason jar 3/4 of the way full with filtered water.

2. Add the sugar, optional molasses, and rinsed egg shell and stir or put a lid on and shake until the sugar is dissolved.

3. Add the kefir grains.

4. Leave on the counter or in a cupboard at room temperature for 1-3 days (depends on the temperature in your home — the warmer it is, the faster the soda will ferment).

5. You’ll know when it’s ready when it’s nice and bubbly and the taste is only mildly sweet — not like sugar.

6. Strain the kefir grains using the strainer, pouring the liquid into another quart mason jar (or, if you only have one, pour into a bowl and then pour it back into the mason jar).

7. Set the grains aside (or start a new batch of soda in a mason jar — following the instructions above). Discard the egg shell.

8. Add to your soda batch whatever fruit flavorings you like. Use about 1/4 a cup frozen or fresh fruit. I have tried lemon, blueberry, raspberry, pineapple, figs, and raisins. You could also use grapes, cherries, watermelon, ginger, mint, lime, grapefruit — or combinations of any of the above. If you are using lemon, you might also want to add another tablespoon or two of sugar. This is not an exact science — be creative and see what appeals to you.

9. Let ferment a few more days on the counter until it tastes just right and is nice and fizzy.

10. Transfer to bottles using the funnel. Store in the fridge. If you want extra-fizzy pop, cap the bottles and leave them at room temperature for another day, then transfer to fridge.

Note: If using bottles like the kind shown above in the picture, be careful when opening. It can be explosive!

Postscript: This recipe calls for two ferments, one with sugar and the grains and one with the strained fermented water and fruit. To save time, you can do just one ferment — adding the fruit and the sugar on the first go-round. You can also just ferment your kefir grains in fruit juice with a little added sugar. Coconut water is especially wonderful and refreshing. Unless I am using coconut water, which seems to have no ill effects, I prefer to do two ferments because I like to keep my kefir grains pure. (I used pineapple juice once and ended up with these funny little pulpy things in my kefir grains that are still there. I have also heard of people using fruit juices and ending up with purple water kefir grains.)

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays on Food Renegade. Check out Fight Back Fridays for more recipes and stories about sustainable, healthy food.

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