What to do when the weather is just too wet to go outside and garden?
It’s always a bit of a dilemma finding things to do in the house as you might start to notice the cobwebs that are slowly covering the wall edges in the kitchen that need clearing away. Even worse you might realise that the walls need painting and there’s a host of other DIY jobs that need doing, not to mention the bowl full of dishes or piles of laundry that need doing.
You could always try and finish off the bottles of booze that have been left over from Christmas and New Year, which will at least take your mind off things that need doing for a few hours. But if you are like me and have nothing left over from the festive period apart from bits of sellotape stuck to the walls and a pair of socks, then how about having a play with some Water Kefir grains?
“What are Water Kefir Grains “?
This is what I asked my mother in law only this time last week and now it seems, I am now the kefir master of the house. It’s not hard as this stuff grows on its own and as yet is only asking for sugar to help it ferment. It’s very similar the Kombucha sweetened fermented tea that’s doing the rounds now and like Kombucha, there are a multitude of health benefits claims.
You can get Irish Moss plants which are not Irish and also not a moss. Kefir grains likewise are not ‘grains’ as such, they are a mixture of bacteria and yeast living together in symbiosis to produce loads of probiotics, probably something similar to a fungi.
The mixture is called a culture and there are different types, some of them are happy to be fed by goat, sheep or cows milk. I have now got a bowl of the type that like just water and sugar.
The grains resemble the water absorbing granules that you can add to soil (or get from nappies) and multiply quickly when added to a linen covered bowl of sugar water. These are left for a couple of days to ferment and then the grains are sieved off leaving the liquid to be flavoured with anything you fancy. I am choosing ginger and lemon simply because I have these ingredients in the house. If it’s anything like wine you could flavour it with a mint like I did once, or even an old boot (did anyone really do that?) The resulting mix can be drunk a couple of days later after it’s been decanted into airtight glass bottles.
The resulting drink is slightly fizzy after the yeast has been to work and also it turns out, slightly alcoholic. I don’t think its cause for concern with non-drinkers though as the amount of alcohol present is slightly less than eating over ripe fruit.
I remember something called a ‘Friendship Cake’ culture that did the round years ago (It’s probably still out there somewhere and its name is Herman – that’s true) It contained yeast and lactic acid and the idea was/is to make your cake and then as it multiplies, pass half of it on to a friend (or son in law) I got so fed up of the stuff I think I ended up putting it in the compost bin.
If the amount being produced gets too much of a good thing kefir liquid can be used for cooking apparently but I’m not really sure what you would add it too, maybe it’d make the buns rise.
The good thing about the Kefir culture though is you can ‘switch it off’ so to speak. Just like the water absorbing granules, you can lay these grains out and dry them off over a few days. They will then keep for six months which is more than enough time to rekindle your enthusiasm for drinking sugar filled fermented drinks.
If you are interested in setting yourself up with a bowl you could buy the culture off ebay for €1.30 a spoonful (yes you heard me, this probiotic lark is a huge money earner!) Or you can pop around to my house and I’ll fill up a jar for you for nothing. Be quick though, when it stops raining I’m heading for the compost heap.