"To ferment your own food is to lodge a small but eloquent protest—on behalf of the senses and the microbes—against the homogenization of flavors and food experiences now rolling like a great, undifferentiated lawn across the globe. It is also a declaration of independence from an economy that would much prefer we remain passive consumers of its standardized commodities, rather than creators of idiosyncratic products expressive of ourselves and of the places where we live, because your pale ale or sourdough bread or kimchi is going to taste nothing like mine or anyone else’s".
- Michael Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
Fermentation is one of the oldest and most beautiful forms of food production and preservation. Many of our most common delicacies come from the fermentation and aging process—wine, cheese, sauerkraut, miso, chocolate, coffee beans, and yogurt are all examples of fermented foods that we consume regularly or are familiar with.
Not only is fermented food delicious - it is also one of the most potently healing and beautifying superfoods we can consume - and true ferments, are something that we are sorely lacking in the standard American diet.
And for your skin?
Fermented foods increase the beneficial bacteria in our systems by providing a healthy dose of probiotics and digestive enzymes. Fermented foods can improve skin conditions and digestion and increase immunity against bacterial and viral infections. Acne, eczema, yeast overgrowth, and digestive distress can all be a result of an imbalance in your body’s microflora. They can also indicate a need to increase the amount of ferments in your diet. Eating more fermented food can literally help heal any number of common ailments - and help you feel and look more vibrant.
In the spirit of fermentation, and the commitment to add more ferments to our diet this year - we wanted to make one of our most favorite bubbly delights...
Coconut Water Kefir
Coconut water kefir is the only true non-dairy form of kefir (because water grains are used instead of dairy-based grains), but the health benefits are similar to milk kefirs. Water kefir is lighter, and more refreshing than your typical milk kefir.
If you drink kombucha, beer, or wine, you’ll notice similarities in the flavor profiles.
Water kefir grains feed off of the sugars in coconut water; they can also be used in any kind of juice or sugar water. Once the grains are alive, you must continue to tend to them or they will die. As with all kefir, it is important not to contaminate the grains and to make sure none of the ingredients involved come in contact with any metal.
Don't be intimidated. This recipe is so easy to make once you get going!
4 cups coconut water (raw is best, but pasteurized coconut water will work as well) 1/4 cup activated water kefir grains*
*To activate grains: Dissolve 1/4 cup coconut crystals in 3–4 cups hot water. Let water cool before adding the grains. Allow to sit at room temperature for 3–4 days until the grains become translucent and plump and look lively. Strain out of sugar water using a non-metal strainer. The grains are now ready to be used immediately. Between fermentations, feed the grains with the strained sugar water mixture; this keeps them alive and thriving. The grains will multiply over time, so there will always be a fresh batch to brew.
Pour coconut water into a glass jar. Add activated grains and stir with a non-metal spatula. Cover jar to prevent contamination and allow mixture to brew at room temperature for 24–48 hours.
Once kefir is fermented, pour through a plastic sieve to strain. Store kefir in a glass jar at room temperature or in the refrigerator to keep chilled. It is now ready to be flavored (if you wish) and served. Makes 4 cups.
Water kefir can last up to two to three weeks in the refrigerator. To make a more effervescent kefir, ferment it in a sealed jar or container to trap the CO2 produced during the fermentation process. Or add to a soda stream or other CO2 kitchen device.
Bubbly kefir is delicious. We like to call it “kefir champagne” or “kefir soda".