I enjoy a daily dose of healthy kefir, created by my wife. Constantly experimenting with new flavours, she manages to produce an ever-changing array of interesting alcohol-free drinks. The health bit comes from the gut-friendly yeasts and bacteria.
The difficulty with commercial kefirs is getting them to stop fermenting. A batch of sweetish kefir changes to a lightly effervescent dry drink and then to a vinegar in a matter of days, depending on the weather. You can’t really filter or pasteurise without taking out all the goodness.
“Buying kombucha and kefir in a shop can be a bit of a minefield, as many consumers don’t know what producers are doing. You need two statements – unfiltered and unpasteurised – mentioned together. If they are missing, then that’s what they are doing to the drink,” says Gerry Scullion of King of Kefir.
King of Kefir add a carefully judged amount of apple juice as food for the kefir grains and it is bottled without filtration or pasteurisation. A small amount of stevia leaf infusion is added (with the exception of the hopped culture) to balance the acidity.
The four flavours are lemongrass and ginger, cucumber mint and thyme, chilli and ginger, and hopped culture, the last made using amarillo, citra and mosaic hops, names familiar to craft brewers. “We have been developing hopped culture for a few years. I am a bit of a hop head when it comes to beer, so I really wanted to do it. Anna Walsh at the (alcohol-free) Virgin Mary bar helped me out on this.”
“We are in the process of going organic. The first three kefirs are fully organic and we are in the process of applying for certification. We can’t get organic hops for the hopped culture, but everything else is organic.” They source organic apple juice from Clashganny apple farm in Waterford. “This year has been very good so far; we are up and running with new more colourful labels, and a twist crown cap.” See kingofkefir.ie for stockists.