Healthy Strawberry Lemonade (Stevia-Sweetened)

KimiHarris

I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Healthy Strawberry Lemonade

Tart lemons and sweet strawberries, are gently sweetened with stevia in this simple, but lovely strawberry lemonade for a delicious beverage. Lemonade is a very fun and delicious way to get some vitamin C. Strawberries increases the vitamin C content, and adds other antioxidants as well. I like to get my vitamins from food as much as possible, instead of depending on supplements, so this is a great way to give myself a boost of vitamin C. Dr. Price also considered vitamin C content important for a healthy diet!

Lemonade is one of my favorite drinks, but I don’t do well with the usual high sugar content of lemonade, even the more natural ones. Stevia does well with lemon, and doesn’t raise your blood sugar,  so is perfect for my needs (read my back-in-the-ancient-days blog post about my first ventures with stevia-sweetened lemonade as well). This version with strawberries makes it beautiful in color and taste. Another favorite recipe is this Orange Lemonade Sports Drink. It uses just a small amount of raw honey (or you could use organic cane sugar), and is delicious as well. A great option for a stevia-free version. :-)

Disclaimer: Post contains some affiliate links

What stevia brand you use will definitely make a difference.

My current preference is to buy a stevia that is not heavily processed. I used Now Stevia #amazonaffiliate in this recipe. It doesn’t have a bitter taste, and it is specifically made to contain the whole leaf extract, and then is enzymatically treated to remove the any bitterness. It does have a very sweet, but slightly herbal taste, which some may not like as well (though note that in a recipe like this, the lemons and strawberries hide the stevia taste a great deal). A brand that I’ve used with a lot of success that is more processed, but not herbal tasting is NuNaturals. I use stevia so little that I’ve had the same bottle for a couple of years, and I’ve heard they changed the formula around a little recently, but it’s still good, I believe. On the under end of the spectrum is this stevia liquid concentrate that is not processed at all. This will have the strongest taste (I haven’t tried it yet, but will try order a bottle soon to taste-test!). The whole stevia debate is a little beyond the scope of this article, but I will be writing the arguments surrounding stevia soon. So stay tuned for that!

If you don’t want to use stevia in your strawberry lemonade, I recommend making simple syrup with organic cane sugar, or a honey simple syrup, and using that to sweeten to taste. It will be delicious that way as well.

Strawberry Lemonade (Stevia-Sweetened)
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Prep time:
Total time:

 
How sweet your strawberries are will make a difference in how much stevia you need to use. Start low, and creep up until it’s just right (it’s easy to overdo stevia, as it’s so concentrated!). I used my Blendtec to blend this, if you find it too pulpy, or seed-y when using a regular blender, you can always pour through a fine sieve before adding the 5 cups of water.
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces strawberries (if frozen, defrosted), about 15 large strawberries, stemmed if fresh
  • 2 cups of water
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 cups of water
  • 30-50 drops liquid stevia
Instructions
  1. Combine the strawberries, 2 cups of water, and lemon juice in a blender. Blend until very smooth.
  2. Add the five cups of water, and then sweeten to taste with the liquid stevia, starting low and working up, stirring well before taste-testing. Serve chilled or over ice.

 Other Beverage Recipes on The Nourishing Gourmet: 

Beet Kvass: A Cleansing, Medicinal Tonic

April Swiger

Hi, I’m April Swiger, wife to my best friend, and worship-pastor, Adam. We are hopeful adoptive parents waiting to bring home children from foster care. We live in Connecticut, less than an hour from where I grew up. As a native New Englander, I was brought up on delicious meals by my mother who values the art of cooking. Her guidance instilled in me foundational skills, and confidence in the kitchen from a very young age.

After graduating from James Madison University I spent six years in campus ministry, including a year in East Asia. As a result, my cooking has been greatly influenced by Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. You can bet that I fully indulged in many traditional, and unique, Asian dishes that year!/div>

I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with simple, nourishing recipes, while strategically keeping to our tight ministry budget. On any given day you’ll find my crockpot bubbling with rich bone broth, mason jars full of coconut oil in the cabinet, and beans or grains soaking on the radiator. When I’m not caring for my husband and our home, you can find me reading, writing, blogging at Redemptive Homemaking, making my own beauty products, and researching new skills like gardening and lacto-fermentation. Whether it’s marriage, homemaking, or serving in our local church, I am first and foremost a follower of King Jesus, and my aim is to glorify Him with all that I do. 

beet kvass

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

Some of the most beautiful stains on my cutting board are from beets. Tangy, earthy, salty, and a little bit of fizz perfectly describe this deeply nourishing, and richly medicinal, fermented beet kvass tonic. It’s an acquired taste, which I have slowly become accustomed to, and I have fallen head over heels for this blood red drink. Traditionally, tonics like this supplemented the daily diet, instead of supplement pills. 

(Disclaimer: Some links may be affiliate links, and this site has an affiliate association with Amazon)

Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions says (page 610): “This drink is valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are just loaded with nutrients. One 4-ounce glass, morning and night, is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.”

According to this article by the Weston A. Price Foundation, kvass originated in Russia and was traditionally made with stale sourdough rye bread. It boasted of great immune boosting qualities, and although it wasn’t an alcoholic drink, it was similar to beer in taste. Kvass can also be made with beets, and traditional homes in the Ukraine always had a bottle on hand. It was often used as a tangy addition in soups, vinaigrettes, and borscht.

The health benefits of lacto-fermented food are undeniable. As chopped beets mix with sea salt, the sugar and starch convert to lactic-acid perfectly preserving the kvass. The finished drink is full of beneficial enzymes, friendly probiotic bacteria, and increased vitamin levels. Regularly eating lacto-fermented vegetables, or incorporating beet kvass into your diet, will promote healthy gut flora, and greater absorption of nutrients from your food.

The first time I made beet kvass, I used Sally Fallon’s recipe in Nourishing Traditions which calls for the addition of whey to inoculate the mixture. We don’t eat much dairy in our home, so I opted to double the salt, and ferment my kvass for longer than the recommended two days. The end result was way too salty! However, after it sat in the refrigerator for a few more days, the saltiness diminished quite a bit, and I was able to drink it and enjoy it.

Wild fermentation is truly an art, and takes a little trial and error. In recent months I experimented with decreasing the amount of salt in my kvass while still using enough to allow proper fermentation to take place. My most recent batch was the fizziest yet and absolutely delicious! Depending on the time of year, and the temperature inside your home, your kvass may need anywhere from 2-7 days to ferment. This winter I’ve been allowing mine to sit at room temperature for a full week before putting it in the refrigerator.

Fermentation Vessel Choice

There has been some debate about what the best vessel is for lacto-fermentation. Wardee at GNOWFGLINS breaks down some great options. I personally have always used a mason jar with a metal band and lid. None of my ferments have ever gotten moldy (mold isn’t necessarily a bad thing), and I typically burp them once a day to release the pressure that builds up. This works for me, but it’s good to explore other options that may better suit your personal preferences.

Foam/Scum on Top

A few times my kvass has developed a thin layer of white or brown foam at the top. It’s harmless, and I typically scoop it out with a spoon before putting my jar in the refrigerator.

Filtered Water

It’s very important to use filtered water, free from chemicals like chlorine and fluoride. These chemicals are typically present in tap water and can prevent your kvass from fermenting properly. I have been using a Berkey filter  for two years now, and love it.

Sea Salt

Celtic sea salt is my salt of choice. It’s unrefined and packed full of nutrients and trace minerals. Standard table salt has iodine added to it, which could inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria. Table salt is not a good choice for fermenting beet kvass, so it’s best to go with an unrefined sea salt.

How will I know when my beet kvass is ready?

When the kvass is a deep red color, and you see fizzy bubbles moving upwards in the jar, it’s good for drinking! It should smell earthy and salty, like beets. If it smells rancid, throw it out. Your nose will know, so don’t drink anything that smells off. If your home is fairly warm (over 72 F), your kvass is likely ferment quickly, so keep an eye on it. I let mine go for a week during the winter, and only a few days during the warmer months.

You can also use your beets for a second, weaker batch. Save about half a cup of the kvass in your jar as a “starter”, fill it with filtered water again, and set it out on your counter for a few days. Your kvass will last for many months in the refrigerator.

Other Uses

You can use your kvass in place of vinegar for salad dressings, or as a tangy addition to soups. Be sure to reduce any additional salt in your recipe! A recent favorite of mine is adding beet kvass to Kimi’s everyday salad dressing recipe in place of apple cider vinegar. The color is beautiful!

Beet Kvass Vinaigrette

Other Lacto-fermented Recipes:

Beet Kvass
 
Author:
Recipe type: Medicinal Tonic

 
Beet Kvass is a medicinal tonic that cleanses the blood, liver, and promotes healthy digestion. Enjoy 4 ounces of this drink in the morning and evening. This recipe makes one half gallon jar, or two quart sized jars.
Ingredients
  • 2 large, or 3-4 medium beets (preferably organic)
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt
  • Filtered water
Instructions
  1. Peel your beets, and chop them up coarsely (1-2 inch chunks). Do not grate your beets! This will cause your kvass to ferment too rapidly, producing alcohol rather than lactic-acid (Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, page 610)
  2. Put your chopped beets in your jar, or divide them equally between two quart sized jars
  3. Sprinkle the sea salt on top of your beets
  4. Fill your jar with filtered water, leaving about an inch at the top for headspace, and stir the contents well
  5. Secure the lid, and leave it on your counter for 2-7 days before moving it to the refrigerator

 

Energizing Nettle and Peppermint Tea (& the benefits of herbs)

KimiHarris

I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

 

Energizing Peppermint and Nettle Tea For a gentle pick-me-up that is caffeine-free, this Peppermint-Nettle Tea has been a favorite. The peppermint flavors the nettles wonderfully, making the nutritious nettles quite enjoyable in my book. If you really want to go hardcore, try out the super strength nettle infusion! But even the lighter tea version has given this busy mom a great natural boost of energy many a tiring day.

I talked about whether or not we should take supplements here, but beyond that question, there is a wealth of foods and herbs that have been traditionally used to boost health and nutrition. Maybe like me, you still take some supplements, or maybe you feel that research doesn’t warrant including them in your routine.  Regardless, I think most people will find the wonderful and amazing world of herbs a helpful addition for your arsenal for health.

I have been thankful to work with an herbalist years ago, and then more recently a N.D. who used herbs to treat certain health issues I was having. I found it really helpful. In those cases I was taking them in strong supplement form. Today, I want to share a gentler version, not for treating anything, but simply getting some of the nutritious benefit of one super-herb, nettles. Infusions (in the form of herbal teas, or overnight infusions) is not only one of the simplest ways to enjoy herbs, but it’s also effective and gentle. Plus, I love knowing that this method of using herbs has been used for centuries. And nettles are a great place to start for those wanting to get their feet wet in the herbal world. Another traditional herbal  tea is this one using Rosehips and Hibiscus, which have their own benefits!

Nettles (that is, stinging nettles, or common nettles) have been used for centuries. According to WebMD, it is used for anything from nosebleeds, internal bleeding, to treat anemia, poor circulation, enlarged spleen, diabetes, stomach acid, asthma, lung congestion, and more. I’m not sure how valid all of those uses are considering studies are rarely done on herbs, but we do know this is a very nutritious plant.

Disclaimer: Post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for supporting this blog! 

It’s a favorite of the well-respected herbalist, Susan Weed. She shares,
“Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a common weed throughout much of the world. The dried herb makes a nourishing herbal infusion that packs more energy per cup than any stimulant, and without the downside of caffeine or stimulating herbs like cayenne and ginger. Tired teenagers, sleep-deprived new moms, stressed executives, wakeful menopausal gals, and wise women of all ages depend on stinging nettle to restore mood, replenish energy, and guarantee sound sleep.

Nettle is amazingly rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, especially the critical trace minerals: anti-cancer selenium, immune-enhancing sulphur, memory-enhancing zinc, diabetes-chasing chromium, and bone-building boron. A quart of nettle infusion contains more than 1000 milligrams of calcium, 15000 IU of vitamin A, 760 milligrams of vitamin K, 10% protein, and lavish amounts of most B vitamins.” (Source) 

I’ve been doing a really simple “tea” using nettles and peppermint for a while now – and it really does seem to refresh and energize me, despite being a very gentle infusion. I’m not sure if it’s because of the iron content, or the B vitamin, or all of nutrients in them combined, but I will often choose it instead of caffeinated tea for an afternoon pick-me-up. I will share both how to make a gentle infusion, and the hardcore super-strength infusion that Susan Weed recommends (and she drinks 2-3 quarts a week). I will be ordering nettles in bulk so I can try out the stronger version soon myself!

By the way, I also share a nettle broth in my cookbook, Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons that uses fresh nettles too.

Supplies:

  • I like to make my tea in this press (which we use for coffee too). It makes it all very simple! If you are using a jar, using heat-safe ones are a must.
  • I have been really happy with the quality herbs I’ve gotten from Mountain Rose Herbs. I still have some of the herbs (like peppermint) bought over three years ago, and they remain flavorful still! Make sure, when ordering from them, that you buy nettle leaf, not nettle leaf powder, or nettle root.

Cautions (Source: WebMD): As always talking to your health care provider is always a good idea. Nettles may cause uterine contractions, so isn’t advised  for pregnant women. It can lower blood sugar; so if you already have low blood sugar, or have diabetes, you may need to monitor your levels and talk to your doctor. Likewise, it may lower blood pressure, so if you have any issues there, talk to your doctor because consuming on a regular basis. It’s also a diuretic, so kidney issues are a concern. If you are on any medications, please check this interaction list. For the peppermint, it can decrease milk supply in nursing mothers. However, nettles were traditionally used to support and increase milk supply.

Energizing Nettle and Peppermint Tea (& the benefits of herbs)
 
Author:

 
This flavorful infusion is nutritious and energizing! I love how the peppermint flavors the otherwise “green” taste of the nettles.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons of dried nettles
  • 2 tablespoons of dried peppermint leaves
Instructions
  1. Pour 4 cups of hot water over the nettles and peppermint. Steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain and enjoy. I find it best plain.
Energizing Nettle and Peppermint Tea (& the benefits of herbs)
 
Author:

 
This is a stronger infusion, without the peppermint. Susan Weed recommends it iced instead of hot.
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce of dried nettles
Instructions
  1. Place nettles in a quart sized jar. Pour over hot water and lid. Let steep for 4 hours, to overnight. Strain well, squeezing nettles to remove the extra liquid. Refrigerate. Will keep for a couple of days.

 Other beverages on TheNourishingGourmet:

Water Kefir – A Simple & Refreshing Probiotic Soda (With a Step-by-Step Guide)

Natalia Gill

Hello! My name is Natalia and I live in the “City in a Forest” (Atlanta, GA) with my husband and two children. I’ve been drawn to nutrition and natural healing since I was a young child, growing up in a Russian and Dutch home. I fondly remember my dad theatrically convincing me to love head cheese (with horseradish and lemon!) and learning to make herbal tinctures from my mom.

During my teens and early twenties, I strayed to more faddish health trends, but the color returned to my cheeks only when I came back to a time-honored way of eating. There is no greater joy than passing the gift of nourishment to my family and although we haven’t yet made full circle to the head cheese, the roots have been planted. ;) A former health columnist and project engineer, I now teach Pilates & yoga and offer practical inspiration to others as they carve a path of good health... AnAppetiteForJoy.com

Water Kefir - A Refreshing, Simple-to-Make Probiotic Soda (With Step-by-Step Photos!) at The Nourishing Gourmet

Water kefir is a lightly sweet and refreshing tonic, bubbling over with healthy bacteria (You can read about the health benefits of fermented foods here) .  The taste is pleasant on its own or it can be elevated with an endless combination of flavors.  Spicy lemon ginger and cultured grape soda are pictured here (our current favorites!)

As part of the 21 Steps to a Nourishing Diet Series, water kefir can be a nice segue into home fermentation.  This cultured drink is very inexpensive to make, virtually fail-proof and packs a healthy wallop of probiotics.  I can’t think of an easier, more instantly rewarding way to start fermenting.

Basic water kefir is made by dropping water kefir “grains” (which are not really grains at all but a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast or SCOBY) into sugar water and allowing it to ferment on the counter for a few days.  The grains (which look like small, clear jellies) can be used over and over indefinitely, and usually multiply, allowing them to be passed on to others.

Our experience with water kefir

My family started drinking water kefir about a year ago.  At the time, I was getting into home fermentation in an effort to get a wider range of probiotics into our diet.  Probiotic-rich foods not only create a more favorable balance of gut flora, but amazingly, the bacteria work to physically repair the gut lining.

After purchasing a crock, I successfully (and to my surprise, quite easily) made this No-Pound Old Fashioned Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut.  I was preparing to embark on Continuous Kombucha Brewing when some water kefir grains dropped into my lap at the playground of my son’s school.  Not literally, although wouldn’t that be something!  They came freshly prepared by a friend in a wide-mouth quart-sized mason jar (as pictured in “step 1″ below).

Several days later, I nervously strained the finished water kefir and reused the grains to make my first new batch.  Within hours it started coming to life.  I relaxed as the mixture bubbled away happily in a dark and formerly stagnant corner of my kitchen counter.  It was fun to check in now and then, giving the mason jar a little twist to encourage bubbles to surface (I read later that this is a good thing to do if you think of it.)  Plus, the taste was quite pleasant!

My children and I benefited right away.  My 2-yr old daughter had recently snubbed her nourishing diet for a phase of picky eating that was starting to affect her digestion.  Her digestion normalized after the first round of water kefir.  I was also thrilled to be getting probiotics into my son again, who at the time did not like soured milk products or sauerkraut.

My husband obliged but never really noticed any benefit.  If anything, he felt better without it, so he gave it up after a while.  Lately though as I’ve been experimenting with new flavors, he’s been giving it another try.  I’m wondering if the added complexity of flavored water kefir (the tang of cultured grape or the sour-spicy combo of lemon-ginger) will allow his body to receive it better.  Taste does impact digestion.

Follow these step-by-step photos to brew your own water kefir 
(see recipe for exact measurements and variations)

  • If you receive grains from a friend, they will likely come mid-ferment as shown in Step 1.
  • If you purchase dehydrated grains from a place like Cultures for Health, you will receive detailed instructions on how to rehydrate them, which will probably be very similar to the diagram below, but it may take a few rounds for the grains to recalibrate before your water kefir is enjoyable.

Water Kefir - A Refreshing, Simple-to-Make Probiotic Soda (With Step-by-Step Photos!) at The Nourishing Gourmet

Questions and Answers about Water Kefir 

What types of sugars can I use?  What about coconut palm sugar, honey and maple syrup?

  • Unrefined cane sugar is recommended with molasses (added and/or still intact) to provide minerals that the grains need.  Lately I have been use sucanat (#affiliatelink) and my grains are thriving.  However, I started with organic cane sugar (fine granulated) and that also worked well and is more cost effective.  *With sucanat, I use a generous 1/4 cup + 1t molasses and ferment for 48 hours.  With organic cane sugar I use a level 1/4 cup + 1t molasses and ferment for 72 hours. 
  • It is possible to use coconut palm sugar, honey and maple syrup as well (substituting equally) but over time the grains will weaken as the sugar makeup isn’t optimal.  This should only be done when you your grains have multiplied and you have extra to experiment with.  I recently experimented with honey and it made a nice drink, though the grains did not multiply as they usually do.  Maple syrup may work better because it is typically not as antimicrobial as is honey.

How much should I drink?

As you might imagine, there are no hard and fast rules.  We started out drinking an ounce or two after each meal.  This was a good way to see how our bodies responded to it.  You may want to start with even less if your diet doesn’t include a lot of fermented foods.  Now we are a little more erratic, but I’d say we have about 2-6 ounces on most days.  We sometimes take breaks by putting it into hibernation.  It’s always wise to listen to your body and practice moderation, even with the good stuff.

Can I take a break from making it?

Yes!  Grains can be put into hibernation mode or dehydrated.  To hibernate, just mix up a new batch (as pictured in “step 6″) and stick it in the fridge instead of leaving it out to ferment.  I’ve left mine there for almost a month with no problems but I’d suggest checking on them after 1-2 weeks as all grains are different.

I have yet to dehydrate our grains, but here is how to do it from what I understand.  Rinse the grains with filtered water and spread them out between two sheets of parchment and leave in a safe, but ventilated place to dry out at room temperature for 1-4 days.  You want them to be very dry.  You can also use a dehydrator.  They should keep for several months.

What is the alcohol content and is it safe for kids?  

The alcohol content is very low – well below 1% which is less than overripe fruit.  It climbs a little if using straight juice or when doing a second fermentation (as described in the recipe notes) but it would be a challenge to get even mildly intoxicated by drinking water kefir.

My children might drink it once or twice a day, in small 2-3 ounce glasses (less if it’s a second fermentation).  It is an individual judgement call as there are no strong warnings against giving it to children.  I did read once, in a book by Maria Montessori, that she did not recommend giving fermented drinks to children.  I assume she was referring to alcohol, but it did make me take pause.

How much sugar remains after fermentation?

This is taken from the Q & A section about water kefir grains from Cultures of Health. “The sucrose is converted to glucose+fructose. The glucose is used by the kefir grains for grain-building and reproduction, and the fructose remains in the drink at about 20% of the original level. The longer the finished kefir sits, the less sweet it will be, so some fructose is apparently converted in that process as well.”

Where did kefir grains originate? 

Water kefir is truly cosmopolitan.  From Italy to the Far East to Mexico, various names and twists exist.   It’s origins are unclear, but it is speculated to have originated in Mexico, where, according to research, “tibicos” culture forms on the pads of the Opuntia cactus (read more here).  Milk kefir grains, which have a different composition, likely originated in the Caucasus Mountains region.

Do you have any questions or an experience to share?  We would love to hear!

 

Basic Water Kefir Instructions (see notes for variations)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Beverage

 
Light and bubbly, water kefir is a simple and delicious way to balance and strengthen digestion.
Ingredients
  • ¼ – ⅓ cup unrefined sugar
  • 1t unsulphured blackstrap molasses (or your chosen source of minerals)
  • 2.5 – 3 cups spring water (leave enough room for your grains and extra space at the top for fermentation gas)
  • ¼ – 1 cup of water kefir grains
Instructions
  1. Shake up the sugar, molasses, and spring water in a wide-mouth quart-sized mason jar until dissolved. (You don’t want your grains getting stuck in a bottleneck on their way out!) Leave an inch or two at the top to allow for the build-up of carbon dioxide.
  2. Add in rinsed grains and close the lid. Some people use cheesecloth with the mason jar band in lieu of the lid, but I’ve always sealed it. (If you purchased dehydrated grains, follow instructions for rehydration. The directions are similar, but it will take a few rounds to get them going before the water kefir is palatable.)
  3. Leave the grains to ferment at room temperature for 48-72 hours (2-3 days). It’s good to taste a spoonful of the drink at 48 hours. If it is too sweet for your liking, let it go another day. It isn’t recommended to go beyond 72-96 hours because the grains will weaken.
  4. Strain your finished water kefir and store it in the fridge. I use old juice jars or swing top bottles for this.
  5. Rinse your grains (filtered water is best, but tap is ok) and repeat. Again. And again…
Notes
Once you are comfortable with your grains and if they are multiplying well, split some off for experimentation and let the fun begin! There is no limit to what you can create.

Cultured juice sodas: take your finished water kefir (pictured in step 3) and add about ¾-1 cup of juice. I love using a quality, not-from-concentrate grape juice for this. Cherry would be wonderful as well. It is critical to leave even MORE room at the top because it is going to get VERY fizzy! Do not add the grains back in. Leave it to ferment on the counter for another 12-24 hours. (Sometimes I let it sit for only a few hours.) The longer it goes, the less sweet it will be. Refrigerate when you’re happy with how it tastes. This is called a second fermentation.

You can also add juice straight to your finished water kefir (after straining the grains) without a second ferment. Pop it into the fridge, and enjoy as is. Try the juice of one lemon and a tablespoon of finely grated ginger for a beautiful probiotic lemonade! I’ve even heard of making cultured mojitos this way, by adding the juice of a lime and muddling some fresh mint.

Dried and/or fresh fruit: It’s common to add dried and/or fresh fruit into the batch either before it ferments, or into the finished, strained water kefir. Pineapple, lemon slices and dried unsulphured figs are popular choices. Tepache is a traditional drink of Mexico made with pineapple, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Coconut Water Kefir: follow the instructions using coconut water instead of spring water. You will not need any sugar or molasses. Add the grains right in. The fermentation is MUCH faster. Check it in 6 hours and don’t let it go for much longer than 12-15. Some may like the taste, but many will not. It is dry (unsweet) and quite yeasty. But this could be a great option for those avoiding sweeteners.

Cultured Herbal Teas: Steep herbs and/or spices in your spring water and let cool before following the basic recipe. Rosehip and/or hibiscus is delightful!

Dairy Kefir: Water kefir grains will weaken when used in milk (milk grains are best), but if you have extra grains and want to experiment just add the grains to milk with no sugar or molasses. Alternatively, you can add an ounce of finished, strained water kefir directly to milk. Check it after 24 hours or so.

Coconut Milk: This is also a fun thing to experiment with although it will weaken the grains over time. Transfer half a can of coconut milk into a glass container and add 2 tablespoons of grains. Taste it after 24 hours and keep it going if it’s not tangy enough for you. The coconut milk can thicken during the process, especially after it is refrigerated and could be used to make cultured coconut whipped cream.