Probiotics are super essential for your digestive system and they really make a difference in supporting your immune system! So let me introduce you to a delicious way of getting more probitiotics into your diet.
Taking you back to my trip to London in August, I spotted a bottle of coconut kefir in the dairy section of Wholefoods. I knew that kefir was a milk fermented drink but I had never heard of a vegan version neither had I heard about one using coconut! So I invested the 6 pounds and treated myself to a very pricy drink. And guess what? I absolutely loved it. It’s pretty difficult to describe it but I would describe as a tangy coconut buttermilk only a bit thicker in consistency. Not only did I really love the taste and the tought of getting more fermented foods into my body but also was I determined to make my own coconut kefir at home. The list of ingredients was a pretty straight forward good and a good indication that it couldn’t be too hard to make. But still I knew nothing about the art of kefir making. So I turned to the ultimate experts for fermentation in my hometown: the Centre of Fermentation. These guys really know their fermentation business and luckily enough they had experimented with plantbased kefirs before. In essence they were only 2 things I needed: coconut milk and kefir grains. Jackpot, that’s easy!! So if you have never seen kefir grains before, they look like a wobbly miniture cauliflower. So thanks to the centre of fermentation for helping me out with a small glass of kefir grains (you can also buy them on Amazon but don’t go for the water kefir grains, they will produce a rather a lemonade type kefir). But check out some more tipps around kefir making below! BTW, the amazing people of the Centre of Fermentation are currently running a start next campaign to fund a veggie cutter to make more of their health boosting kimchi’s and sauerkrauts – so go and check them out if you would like to support them!
So what do I do with my Coconut Milk Kefir? I usually drink my kefir pure or with a dash of cinnamon or turmeric but it also makes a great mango lassie or salad sauce with fresh herbs or as a replacement for buttermilk in vegan cake recipes. It’s also perfect to add to your smoothies and granola. I have heard that you can also create kefir sour cream by using coconut cream instead of coconut milk but I still have to give this a try.
Ingredients for 400ml coconut kefir:
- 1 can of organic coconut milk without any additives (400ml)
- 1 tsp of kefir grains
- plastic sieve
- large weck glass with a loose lid (alternatively: canning jar with cheese cloth)
Add 1 can coconut milk to your sterilized jar (rinse it with boiling hot water). Make also sure all your utensils, spoons etc. are clean. Add approx. 1tsp kefir grains to the coconut milk using a wooden/plastic spoon. Don’t use metal spoons – see comments below. You could also add more than a teaspoon but it will ferment much faster. Now close the jar with a cheesecloth (fix it with rubber band) or use a loose lid. Let the kefir rest for at least 2-3 days at room temperature (no direct sunlight). Stir the kefir from time to time with a clean wooden spoon so the kefir ferments evenly. I got best results when letting it ferment for 3 days. Fermentation speeds up with warmer temperatures (not more than 40°C) and the amount of grains you add. And the opposite is true as well. So if you would like to slow down your fermentation process let it ferment in the fridge rather than at room temperature. Once your kefir has the right tanginess for your tastebuds sieve out the grains and store in the fridge in a clean glass with 1/2 cup of coconut milk or taken from your newly made coconut kefir. The coconut kefir keeps fresh up to 30 days in the fridge.
Some notes to consider when making coconut kefir:
- The longer the kefir ferments the more tangy it gets. I found after 3 days the tanginess is quite right for me but might be very different for you. just give it a taste along the way. Allowing your coconut kefir to ferment for up to 8 days it gets quite pungy and sour.
- Never use any metal when handling your kefir meaning use wooden spoons and glass jars.
- The kefir grains will propagate so after a while you will be able to give some grains to friends.
- When storing your kefir grains, it is important to once in a while let them rest in dairy milk for at least 24 hours. Reason being is that kefir grains have evolved with dairy milks, while their fermentation technology can be applied to plantbased milks, the grains will atrophy and die over time. This is because they require lactose or milk sugar, in order to thrive. The grains will continue to work and ferment for many batches but they will lose its powder to ferment. If you are suffering from lactose intolerance make sure you carefully rinse your kefir grains before adding to your new batch of coconut milk.
- Using homemade coconut milk: I have not experimented making kefir from homemade coconut milk (let me know in the comments of you have) but from my research it seems you get the best results with organic canned coconut milk.
- If you would like to pause your fermentation process, place the kefir grains in a jar of milk in the refrigerator. The longer the grains starve or sleep, the longer it may take to revive them. The revived grains will also not have the same bacteria diversity but it will regain diversity as they are woken up and used again.