How to Make Milk Kefir
By Monica Ford - realfooddevotee.com
First, if you have tasted kefir before did not love it, just know that the duration of fermentation will dictate the taste. The longer you opt to ferment your kefir, the more sour your kefir will taste. Read on! We’re going to find the best fit for kefir + you!

Traditional wisdom consistently honors kefir as a medicinal food. There is good reason for this. Elements of kefir have been found to not only help to balance the gut bacteria but, to protect the many probiotic strains in kefir on their journey through the acidic stomach environment to the intestines. If you want to read more about the health benefits of kefir check out why I drink kefir here

Milk Kefir Ingredients:
• 2 tsp kefir grains like these
• 1 ¾ cup whole milk

Milk Kefir Method:
1. add kefir grains and milk to clean jar
2. cover with lose fitting lid
3. allow to ferment in a room temperature environment for 12 hours. See my note below on fermentation time*
4. strain the kefir grains from your kefir mixture
5. store kefir in the fridge
6. place kefir grains in a small container and just cover with milk. Refrigerate until next use**
Active Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 pint***
Chef’s Note:

*Try kefir with a 12 hour fermentation and if you would like your kefir to taste more sour (meaning more of the lactose or milk sugar will be metabolized by probiotics – try fermenting for a longer duration next time. You can ferment kefir up to 48 hours. Find the right taste marker for you.
**When storing your kefir grains, change out milk every 2 weeks. You can even give your grains a gentle wash in cool, filtered water before putting into fresh milk and back into the fridge.
***This recipe makes 1 pint. I suggest you start by making a pint to find the perfect taste and fermentation duration for you. Once you find it, you can easily double this recipe to a quart.
Did you know Monica teaches classes in fermentation and much more? Check out the services page for more info.

Do you make your own kefir? How do you use your kefir? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to Make Probiotic Grape Soda
By Monica Ford - realfooddevotee.com
Do you want your kids to eat more fermented foods? Sauerkraut not enticing them? Want the life-hack for kid-centric fermented foods your little ones will love? Cultured grape soda seems work on the most stubborn of kiddos. And who can blame them? Grape soda tastes like summer to me! It makes me want to wear tube socks, short shorts and roller skates. This is such a delicious, crisp drink; many who’ve enjoyed it cannot believe it’s organic and full of beneficial bacteria and hydrating electrolytes.

Cultured grape soda also makes a fun mixer for grown-up drinks, like this one. The beneficial bacteria in fermented beverages are said to help to protect the liver during alcohol consumption. AND the hydrating qualities of electrolytes & B vitamins produced during fermentation decrease the likelihood of a hangover – or at least make a hangover less intense.

Any way you choose to enjoy it, this cultured grape soda is so darn good.
Probiotic Grape Soda Ingredients:

• 3 ½ cups organic concord grape juice – I like this one
• ½ cup ginger bug – learn how to make a ginger bug here

Probiotic Grape Soda Method:

1. Brace yourself for how easy this is…
2. If you are juicing grapes for fresh juice, make certain strain any pulp or grit from your juice
3. Strain ½ cup of ginger bug and add to a bowl or container for mixing
4. Add grape juice to strained ginger bug liquid - Mix well
5. Pour mixture into bottles with tightly fitting lids. You’ll need one 32 oz. bottle or a few smaller bottles for fermenting this soda. I like reusing 12 oz. or 16 oz. kombucha bottles or 32 oz. apple cider vinegar bottles.
6. Place a tight lid on the bottles and allow them to ferment out of direct sunlight in a warm or room temperature spot in your home for approximately 12-24 hours.

NOTE: If your home tends to be cool at night, consider getting a seedling heating mat – like this one . I always use a seedling mat because I so enjoy having consistently perfect results.

How to Know When Your Soda is Ready

• Watch for tiny bubbles rising to the top of the bottle and if you are unsure your soda is ready, give the bottle a gentle shake and look for ascension of tiny champagne-like bubbles. That means your soda is ready
• Still unsure? Give the lid a slight twist and listen for a gas release. If there is a hiss, it is ready.

What if I fermented my soda a little too long?

• If there are foaming bubbles visible in the neck of your bottle, your soda is ready and may have been fermented slightly longer than needed. It also means that your soda is likely VERY active. You can give it a little burp over the sink (slight twist of the bottle lid without fully opening). Do NOT open the bottle completely and DO listen for the sound of gas escaping the bottle. If you hear this, your soda is ready to be placed in the fridge.
• Store your soda in the fridge for approximately 4 hours before enjoying.

Active Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 32 ounces
Did you know Monica teaches classes in probiotic soda making and much more? Check out the services page for more info.
Do you make your own grape soda, or another kind? What’s your family’s favorite? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to Make a Ginger Bug

I love introducing skeptics to the wonderful world of fermented food with naturally fermented sodas. They are probiotically rich, effervescent, delicious and beautiful to behold. I recently taught a class of skeptical teens how to make fun fermented foods like traditional sodas. We made Real Root Beer Floats and they were blown away by the taste and sweet effervescence. Food should be fun, health promoting and a time-slowing joy. That’s what naturally fermented sodas are…joy in a bottle! 

So, what makes a naturally fermented soda bubble in the bottle? That would be the starter of your choice. Should you choose whey, water kefir, kombucha, ginger bug or something else, it’s all about creating a tingle on the tongue and a strong bio-diverse gut ecology!

Start maturing your own ginger bug today. Post about your experience and any questions in the comments section. We’ll all help each other. Sometimes it takes a cyber village, y’all! Meet me back here in a few when your ginger bug will be ready to work for you. 

Then, I’ll teach you how to make a lovely light soda. 

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