MEREDITH’S COCONUT KEFIR

Sometimes we see that when an artist sets limits for herself, amazing work can come about. This is true of chef, Meredith Baird, who uses this gift from the tropics in every one of her 60 recipes in her new cookbook, Coconut Kitchen. Many health-based chefs are using this singular superfood to create nutritionally dense, fulfilling & balanced meals, without compromising taste. In late summer, Meredith shared her Coconut Ceviche, which makes for the perfect antipasti during the warmer days. Today, she shares her refreshing Coconut Kefir. It’s so easy to make, full of digestion enhancing probiotics, and literally makes you glow from the inside out. This bubbly drink is the perfect libation for holiday festivities and merriment. Enjoy! 

M | Coconut water kefir is the only true non-dairy form of kefir (because water grains are used instead of dairy-based grains), but the health benefits are similar. Water kefir is lighter; to some, it is probably easier to drink and a little less intense than milk kefir. If you drink kombucha, beer, or wine, you’ll notice similarities in the flavor profiles.

Water kefir grains feed off of the sugars in coconut water; they can also be used in any kind of juice or sugar water. The kefir can be fermented using dried fruit or fruit juice, or it can be flavored after plain fermentation. Water kefir is very versatile and easy to make once the grains have been activated. Once the grains are alive, you must continue to tend to them or they will die. As with all kefir, it is important not to contaminate the grains and to make sure none of the ingredients involved come in contact with any metal.

 COCONUT WATER KEFIR

4 cups coconut water (raw is best, but pasteurized coconut water will work as well) 1/4 cup activated water kefir grains*

*To activate grains: Dissolve 1/4 cup coconut crystals in 3–4 cups hot water. Let water cool before adding the grains. Allow to sit at room temperature for 3–4 days until the grains become translucent and plump and look lively. Strain off sugar water using a non-metal strainer. The grains are now ready to be used immediately. Be- tween fermentations, feed the grains with the strained sugar water mixture; this keeps them alive and thriving. The grains will multiply over time, so there will always be a fresh batch to brew.

Pour coconut water into a glass jar. Add activated grains and stir with a non-metal spatula. Cover jar to prevent contamination and allow mixture to brew at room temperature for 24–48 hours. Once kefir is fermented, pour through a plastic sieve to strain. Store kefir in a glass jar at room temperature or in the refrigerator to keep chilled. It is now ready to be flavored and served.

Makes 4 cups. Water kefir can last up to two to three weeks in the refrigerator.

To make a more effervescent kefir, ferment it in a sealed jar or container to trap the CO2 produced during the fermentation process. Bubbly kefir is delicious. This could be called “kefir champagne”