Recipe: Young Coconut Kefir
Cultured or fermented drinks have been traditionally consumed for thousands of years to aid digestion, heal the gut, build immunity and help with detoxification.
By Kitsa Yanniotis
Originally though, these food staples still prized in many cultures were borne out of necessity as a way of preserving extra produce after a harvest that would spoil if not consumed at once.
The simple beauty of culturing or fermentation is that this process creates a nutrient-dense, enzyme-rich live food that is easily assimilated by the body.
By an amazing alchemical process known as lacto fermentation the friendly bacteria naturally present together with those added by a culture starter dine on the sugars and quickly lower the PH creating a more acidic environment where the bacteria are able to reproduce and replicate quite prolifically. They are able to convert the starches and sugars into lactic acid, which as a natural preservative inhibits the growth of pathogens and preserves the nutrients.
Culturing your drinks takes your nutrition to a whole other level of wellness by helping to re establish your inner ecosystem. We all now know of the gut- brain connection and how approximately 75% of the neurotransmitters found in our gut also reside in the brain. So it would make sense to find ways of increasing our good gut bacteria and therefore improving mood, cognition, vitality and wellbeing in general. Consuming cultured liquids is a great practice to introduce to children to help build immunity and aid digestion and are especially helpful for those with food intolerances – a perfect example of using food as medicine as a preventative. Using small amounts to start with they can be added to smoothies or yoghurts or as a base for ice cream or ice blocks.
A good place to start is Young Coconut Kefir where we can culture the water from a young green coconut (not the hairy brown type) and transform an already nutritious, mineral rich liquid full of electrolytes into a powerhouse of probiotic nutrition. The culturing process creates a drink where the nutrients are increased one hundred fold and the liquid becomes much more hydrating and bioavailable for the body as well creating a powerful fortress against foreign invading pathogens.
There are plenty of other healing fermented drinks you might like to investigate and slowly integrate into your family’s diet: milk kefir, kombucha, beet kvass, water kefir, rejuvalac just to name a few. Like me you might just get the ‘bug’ and wonder how you ever did without them!
3–4 fresh young Thai coconuts
1 sachet Cutting Edge starter culture
You will need a 1.5L fermenting jar with airlock for this recipe.
- Open the coconuts by using a CocoCut or by cutting a circular hole in the tops.
- Strain each coconut into a jug before adding to a saucepan ensuring that the coconut water is fresh and not pink or cloudy.
- Place over low heat and bring to 31–32°C.
- Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature or wash your hands very well and dip in your finger. At 32°C, it will feel lukewarm, just below body temperature. Be careful not to heat it above 37°C, as the microflora and many of the enzymes and vitamins will be destroyed.
- Pour the coconut water into your clean jar, then add the starter culture and stir with a clean spoon until dissolved.
- Close the lid, wrap in a tea towel to block out the light if your jar doesn’t come with a cover and put in a dark place to ferment at 21–24°C for 36–48 hours (an esky is good).
- Your kefir is ready when the water turns from relatively clear to cloudy white and with some fizz. Taste test it after 36 hours by pouring some into a glass. It should taste tart, tangy and bubbly like champagne. If it still tastes sweet, leave it for a little longer. Once ready, it will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
- For a twist on the classic kefir recipe you can do a secondary fermentation if you like by adding 8 strawberries washed and halved together with a handful of mint leaves.
- Ferment at room temperature for a further 24 hours allowing for the sugars in the fruit to be eaten up by the bacteria.
- The combinations are endless – you can add any of your favourite fruits, herbs or roots.
- Once ready, put it in the fridge and serve chilled.
Makes about 1.5 litres.