Kefir Ginger Ale

I am always on the lookout for good ideas. When an article in a recent Grass Roots magazine (GR211) mentioned making ginger ale with kefir powder or whey, my curiosity was peaked. Off to the local health food store I trotted and came away with a kefir culture along with a packet of kefir powder.

The process of making ginger ale has evolved over time. I started out mixing a sachet of kefir powder along with two tablespoons of chopped ginger, a tablespoon of honey and enough water to almost fill the 950 ml jar. Stir the honey in, loosely cap the jar, let the mix sit for a few days and then strain out the now fermented chopped ginger which can be used in my cooking. The lovely light taste of the ginger ale was delicious

To start off the next batch, add a quarter cup of the ginger ale to a clean 950 ml jar with again two tablespoons of chopped ginger, a tablespoon of honey and fill with water. I continued to follow the instructions on the kefir powder packet which mentioned that inoculating a new batch with a quarter cup of the ginger ale could be done three more times, resulting in close to 5 litres of ginger ale.

I felt okay about this process, except that there was a lot of residue at the bottom of the bottle, so I searched the web for alternative processes and then remembered that kefir whey could be used instead of the powder. Fortunately, at times I have generated a significant amount of kefir whey while making my kefir, some of which I have been able to use to start a ginger ale batch

The process is similar. Mix a quarter cup of kefir whey along with two tablespoons of chopped ginger, one tablespoon of honey and enough water to almost fill the 950 ml jar. I let the mix sit for a few days and soon noticed that it didn’t look quite right with large bubbles appearing on the surface. Once again, Google was my friend by suggesting that ginger ale made with kefir whey only needed to sit on the bench for 24 hours before storing in the fridge.

At the same time I was experimenting with kefir ginger ale, I was also making kefir yoghurt. I saw how easy it was to make more kefir, just by placing the last half cup of kefir into a jar and pouring a litre of milk into the jar. After 24 hours, the kefir was ready and could be placed in the fridge.

One day when I had run out of kefir whey and powder, I decided to try this method with the ginger ale. I used the same process as before but this time added the last quarter cup of the current ginger ale batch instead of using kefir whey, and it worked. Now I can wait until I have almost finished the current batch of ginger ale before starting off the next batch as I only need to wait 24 hours for it to be ready for consumption.

I always make sure to use the dregs from the bottom rather than a quarter cup of what I would normally drink as using the dregs produces a better batch. An added benefit is that from the second and subsequent batches there are no longer milk particles floating in the mix as whey has not been added to these batches. If for some reason I cannot use the last of a ginger ale batch to start off the next, then I can just extract some whey from my kefir.

I think this is brilliant. With both the kefir and the ginger ale, I now just wait until either is getting low and use a small amount of what is left to start off the next batch. It’s too easy!

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