VEGAN COCONUT MILK KEFIR RECIPE adapted from Cultures for Health makes 1 quart kefir TO GET STARTED, YOU'LL NEED: water kefir grains (from Cultures for Health) spring water natural cane sugar plastic mesh strainer canning jars coffee filter or cloth rubber band wooden spoon saucepan full or low fat coconut milk agave nectar or maple syrup ACTIVATE THE WATER KEFIR GRAINS: 1. Heat 4 cups water in saucepan 2. Stir in 1/4 cup cane sugar to dissolve 3. Cool to 68 to 85 degrees F 4. Pour into glass jar with dehydrated water kefir grains 5. Cover with coffee filter or cloth and secure with a rubber band 6. Set in a warm spot (68 to 85F) for 3 to 5 days 7. After 5 days, grains will be translucent and fluffy and ready to make water kefir 8. Strain the sugar water and dispose of it MAKE THE WATER KEFIR 1. Heat 4 cups water 2. Stir in 1/4 cup cane sugar to dissolve 3. Cool to 68 to 85 degrees F 4. Pour into glass jar 5. Add water kefir grains 6. Set in a warm spot (68 to 85F) for 24 to 48 hours 7. Once culturing is complete, make a new batch of sugar water (follow steps 1-3 above) 8. Strain kefir grains from the finished kefir water 9. Reserve the kefir grains for the new batch of sugar water 10. Drink the finished kefir water (although it's a bit flat and nondescript at this point) or add flavor (like coconut milk, fruit juice, fresh or dried fruit pieces, vanilla, or herbal tea) and give the kefir water a second fermentation for another 24 to 48 hours (without the grains so there's no risk of contamination) MAKE THE COCONUT MILK KEFIR 1. Pour 2 (15-ounce) cans full fat or light coconut milk in a quart-sized jar 2. Add 1/2 cup unflavored water kefir to the jar 3. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine 4. Cover with a coffee filter or cloth secured with a rubber band 5. Set in a warm spot (68 to 85F) for 24 hours (use a wooden spoon and give it a good stir once during the second fermentation to release air bubbles) 6. For a sweet drink, add a spoonful or two of agave nectar or maple syrup, to taste 7. The coconut milk kefir is ready to drink (use in smoothies, popsicles, ice cream...) or store covered in the refrigerator
Snap, just like that, we're in autumn. Gray film lines the sky as soup and bread becomes the dinner norm. We venture out to art and craft festivals, first to Ashfield, Massachusetts then to High Falls, New York. I capture a few photos but for the most part, I leave my cameras in their respective pockets and bags, happy to experience the changes of scenery unrecorded. The highlights: cups of apple cider sloshing in the stroller; the yellow wooded trail where Luke and I ran, him racing ahead of me breathless, determined, joyful; holding Cody while Luke played matchbox cars outside Kitchenette where we left because the wait was too long; damp leaves mixed with city weekender cigarettes and coffee and wine; svelte rock 'n' roll guy in blue velvet who ended up at the same twilight show: The Bones of J.R. Jones (raw bluesy American folk, so good!); unraveling blue night dotted by streaks of car and street lights. Other highlights include my recent kitchen experiments: homemade kombucha, brown rice starter, and coconut milk kefir. Awhile back, I talked about experimenting with making a kombucha scoby (starter) and yes, it's still going strong and I'll share the kombucha and brown rice sourdough trials soon. Recently, I've acquired a hankering for cultured fizzy drinks, especially this coconut milk kefir. Slightly sour with a touch of carbonation, coconut milk kefir is creamy and thick, kind of like a jumpy buttermilk. Made from milk or water grains, kefir is a cultured drink rich in natural probiotics. Kefir is simple to make though it does demand regular feedings to keep it active and alive. Every few days you'll finish and start a new batch. Water kefir is dairy free and like kombucha, it requires a starter culture (water kefir grains in this case), sugar water, optional flavorings, and fermentation time. It's best to use spring or filtered water, cane sugar, clean culturing containers, and non-metal (other than stainless steel) utensils, such as wooden or plastic spoons, when making water kefir. To get started, you need 1 box of water kefir grains (or score some grains from a friend). First, the water kefir grains are activated in sugar water. Second, the water kefir grains culture in sugar water. Third, the water kefir grains are removed so the cultured or finished water kefir can be flavored with coconut milk (or other flavor options listed in the recipe below) during a second fermentation. If you're traveling or going to be away, you can take a break from making kefir: mix a new batch of sugar water with the kefir grains in a jar then refrigerate for 2 to 3 weeks. For longer term storage, you can dehydrate the grains: spread grains on a sheet of parchment paper, cover with another sheet of parchment (to keep out insects), and dry completely at 85F. Once dry, store grains in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. To make this coconut milk kefir recipe, you need a 1/2 cup of cultured water kefir and two (15-ounce) cans of coconut milk. Both full and low-fat coconut milk work in this recipe. For the richest texture and flavor, use a full fat coconut milk. I like to add a touch of agave nectar and vanilla to the finished coconut milk kefir to drink or use as a base for smoothies, popsicles, or ice cream (yes, I'm testing a batch of pumpkin coconut milk kefir ice cream as I type (!) and will share it soon). What are you into making doing these days?