Probiotics have started to creep into our national consciousness over the years, with loads of us taking more interest in our gut health. It’s no longer just about chugging a little plastic bottle from the supermarket, as the trend for probiotics means more people are getting more adventurous.
Two particularly popular forms of biotics are kefir and kombucha and many people are even venturing into making them at home. So, here’s what we know.
Drinking kefir has been commonplace in Eastern Europe for centuries and is traditionally made from kefir grains and cow’s milk. These two ingredients are fermented at room temperature for at least a day, giving that sour and slightly fizzy taste that is key to kefir’s health benefits.
Once you’ve got your tangy drink, which is a bit like yoghurt but wetter, the kefir grains are strained out and used in the next batch. This liquid is said to be good for digestive problems like IBS and bloating.
Like kefir, kombucha is a slightly fizzy, sour drink with probiotic properties, but unlike kefir it is made from sweetened tea. This is mixed with a culture called ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts’, or scoby to its friends.
The process of making kombucha is a bit longer than its cousin too, as the sweetened tea and scoby must be left at room temperature for around a week. Then it’s put into an airtight container, like Masterseal Glass, and left for a few more days.
You can make both kefir and kombucha at home and as soon as you’ve done it once, you’ve got the starter (kefir grains or scoby) ready to use time and again. It’s just important to follow the instructions for making probiotics very carefully.
If you get it wrong you could kill off your starter or even make yourself sick, but there are a number of kits out there that make the process pretty straightforward.
Kefir top tips
- You can swap cow’s milk out for your favourite alternatives.
- Kefir grains that have been kept in the fridge for a while may take a couple of batches before they wake up again.
- Trust your instincts – use your eyes and nose to see if it looks and smells ready.
Kombucha top tips
- Get all your kombucha equipment together before you start. Glass containers are best for making kombucha, because metal can react with the mixture and plastic can introduce nasty bacteria you don’t want into the mix.
- Make sure everything is always impeccably clean, so there’s no way bad bacteria can grow.
- Be temperature aware. The warmer the climate you keep your scoby in, the quicker it will ferment.
To make kefir more palatable you can flavour it once the fermenting process has finished. You might want to blend it with fruit for a kefir smoothie or sprinkle on some spices or cocoa for a quick solution.
You can influence the flavour of your kombucha by mixing it up with the types of tea you use and how long you ferment it for. After it’s made, adding fruit juice or extracts of vanilla or almond will make it tastier.