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Right around the same time we added Kitty to the homestead, a new friend came to live. I never thought I’d utter these words but we got a cat and I’m okay with it.

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If you know me in real life, you know my distaste for the feline species runs deep. But I like vegetables more than I loathe cats and when our garden was getting nibbled to the brink of death by rats and mice and bunnies, it was time to take action. I also just really don’t like rats and mice.

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So when our neighbor asked if we were interested in a cat, we said yes. Abram chose the name of Rover and it was settled… until we thought maybe Rover was actually Rose. So for a few days the cat was Rose… until our neighbor confirmed he may, indeed, be Rover after all. So Rover it is.

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The children are pretty smitten with this new addition and I am pretty impressed with how quickly the rodent population has decreased – and just in time for the fall garden.

So welcome, Rover. I may never dote on you like Annie does, but I sure do appreciate your efforts in the garden.

One of my absolute favorite fermented beverages is water kefir. It’s delicious, but more than that it makes me feel really good. I’ve been known to kick an afternoon caffeine inhabit by imbibing this beverage rich in beneficial bacteria and yeasts.

There are two main ingredients in water kefir – water and sugar. For optimal performance of your water kefir grains it is important to focus on the two top needs of this mother culture. The first is warmth. Water kefir almost always performs better for me in the warmer months than the cooler ones. The other big preference of water kefir is plenty of minerals.

If you are using a mineral-rich water then you are halfway there. Add in a higher-mineral sweetener and it seems to do even better. We have rainwater, however, as our drinking water source so I need to add extra minerals to the process.

In addition to using a mineral-rich sweetener, I like to add one or several of the following to the first fermentation:

  • Eggshells – These guys are a freebie with our homegrown eggs. Not only that, they are rich in minerals. To use them I simply rinse them well with water after cracking. I find that one whole shell is sufficient for one half-gallon of water kefir. After the first fermentation, the eggshell is often broken down or even completely disintegrated. This is a good sign that the minerals have been transferred to the water kefir.
  • Molasses – This is the liquid portion of cane sugar which is full of minerals. I add just about 1 teaspoon to a half-gallon of water kefir.
  • Mineral Supplements – I just happened to have this mineral supplement on hand and tried it out one day. Just 1/4 of one of these tablets works well in tandem with the molasses for making one half-gallon jar of water kefir.

You certainly don’t want to overdo it; more is not necessarily better. We are simply trying to mimic the minerals found in natural spring or well water. The above photo is what we are after – vibrant, bubbling water kefir filled with living organisms for our guts. Plus, it’s just downright tasty.

p.s. Get your water kefir grains, sourdough starters, milk kefir grains, yogurt starters, fermentation equipment and more at a great discount here:

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