I love a lot of things in life and have many passions. Yet out of everything I hold to my heart, my deepest passion is to heal myself and others with the power of good nutrition. I had always wanted to heal myself because of nagging health issues growing up. Living in “poorer” conditions and eating very poor-quality foods, I would always get unknown skin rashes. At a young age I knew something wasn’t right. When I got my first pimple I intuitively knew my body needed some love.
Fast forward, I found myself experimenting with the world of fitness only to find exercise as a small sector to whole picture of healing the body. Soon enough, I took my nutrition studies to a whole new level by experimenting with every popular “diet” I could find. Each new study took me deeper into a fully understanding of health. I know study, practice and teach holistic health; a mind, body, spirit approach to healing the whole being.
Bacteria Changed It All
What does this all have to do with coconut kefir? In my quest to health, this magical elixir seemed to find me. After many many dietary dogmas I found the Book “The Body Ecology Diet“. The information in this book stirred something in me; I knew it was speaking the truth. Contrary to every other diet, The Body Ecology Diet spoke of healing the gut with probiotic (healthy bacteria) foods like coconut kefir. This alchemical potion was; to me, health in a bottle. The drink itself was a holistic masterpiece, working to heal the body on all levels. Kefir works to aid digestion, which is the foundation of our immunity. The breakthrough that I gained was this knowledge of gut health and how it’s so strongly connected to everything else; emotions, behaviors, deficiencies, infections and nearly every other imbalance. Kefir is the closest thing to a “cure-all” that I know exists because it works to balance the whole being and not treat a symptom.
What exactly is Kefir?
Hailing from Turkey, kefir translates to the words “feel good”. Traditionally made with raw cow’s or goat’s milk, kefir is referred to as “nature’s tranquilizer” or “nature’s Prozac” because it’s incredible relaxing effect on the body and mind. The reason is due to its high tryptophan content, an essential amino acid that when combined with calcium and magnesium actually helps calm the nervous system by converting into serotonin. This neurotransmitter creates communication between nerve cells and is known to:
- Modulate emotions
- Improve behavior
- Improve sleep
- Support muscle contraction
- Nourish endocrine regulation
- Balance appetite
- Enhance learning and memory
Because kefir not only nourishes the cells but greatly improves the balance of mood and emotions it is a great holistic food for people who are depressed, anxious and nervous. Anyone suffering from mood disorders likely has a damaged gut. Kefir will help heal these mood disorders immediately by providing the necessary nutrients and then healing the root cause by providing beneficial bacteria for the gut wall. (The Guide to Growing Younger; By Donna Gates)
Coconut Kefir- a new aged miracle
This food was coined by Donna Gates, a true innovation and hero in the natural health movement. The story goes; Donna was working to heal her own digestion when she stumbled upon Don Kidson who introduced her to Thai Coconuts. Though too sugary for people with Candida; a common yeast infection, its powerful cleansing properties impressed her. It suddenly it her to ferment it with her starter culture she had created. Because the water from these young coconuts had a similar mineral make up to milk (rich in magnesium and calcium) with the addition of natural sugars, she knew it’d be a great food to ferment. In conclusion, the idea had worked magically. Coconut Kefir was born and has been saving lives of the autistic, depressed, and others suffering from skin disorders, digestive problems and yeast infections. The benefits of Coconut Kefir are similar to that of traditional milk kefir with a few exceptions. If you are not familiar with this food it’s important to know before you make it that the coconuts used are a younger green coconut, not the brown hairy ones you are most likely used to seeing. These young coconuts or Thai coconuts are the same as the brown just younger. They contain a much sweeter and more nourishing liquid containing B vitamins and minerals. Though the plain water can be too sugary for most, by fermenting it with a starter culture or water kefir grains you can get the same benefits plus some. Fermenting anything causes the nutrients to increase three –fold as well as making them easier to digest. Here are some of the many benefits of Coconut Kefir:
- Adrenal and heart health
- Cleansing for liver, kidney and heart
- Strong probiotic- making it intestinal healer/cleanser
- Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitical
- Rejuvenates hair and skin
- Balances mood
- Reduces/removes sugar cravings
- Controls carb in-take
- Incredibly hydrating
- Immune boost and support
In all my experience, if there was one dietary change you were going to make this year I would advise adding this fermented food to your life. There are many facets to health and healing, some can be challenging to start. However, this drink is so delicious and easy to make that it’s a no-brainer to start here. The immediate and long-term benefits are so powerful that it almost seems like a cheat code. In just a few days of adding this magical food to your diet it will start you on a roll to making other healthy modifications with ease.
Making Coconut Kefir at Home
Like I said, making Coconut Kefir is a breeze! Because fermentation is a living process and you are dealing with live bacteria and yeast it involves delicate care. Other than being present in the process and having healing intentions, the actual physical work is simple. I will walk you through the step-by-step process of making your own kefir at home and provide some tips, words of caution and two alternative ways to make it!
Using a starter culture:
This is a preferred route for many because you do not have to deal with maintaining the health of the grains. Also, using grains is actually what is called a “wild ferment” meaning there are wild yeast and bacteria present in the process. Though totally safe and health for a person with a healthier immune system, anyone with a compromised immune system (yeast and bacterial imbalances, auto-immune disorders, digestive disease or parasite infections) these wild yeast can be found challenging. Therefore, it’s better to use a starter culture which ensures only the proliferation of healthy bacteria and yeast that will not compromise the gut.
- Begin by cracking your Thai Coconuts. I like to gather an entire case of 9 and ferment them all in one go. You can crack them using a strong knife, clever or using a Coco-Jack. If using a knife or clever, just make four incisions on the top of the coconut and peel it back. (Check out the photo)
- Boil about 3-4 32oz mason jars to sterilize them.
- Once cleaned, pour the liquid into the jars. Each jar should take about 2 coconuts to fill depending on the amount of liquid in each coconut, they tend to vary.
- Next, add an entire package of starter culture to each jar and whisk to combine liquid and powder. The ratio is one package to a quart of liquid. I find it best to use quart sized jars because larger jars can take too long to ferment and manipulate the bacteria if not fermented at the right speed. (about 18-24 hours)
- Lastly, let the jars sit on a counter or cooler, somewhere out of direct sunlight and temperature changes. You want the room to be about 72 degrees to ferment at the correct speed.
- You can seal the jar lid but it will expand because of the natural gases created during fermentation. I instead, like to save the exterior of the mason lid and put a nut-milk bag over top and screw the lid around that so it has room to “breathe”. You can also just use a paper towel and rubber band.
- The kefir should be bubbly and have a distinct sour aroma. You can test taste it to see. If it is still sweet then it needs to ferment longer.
- Store in fridge once finished where it will continue to ferment but much slower.
- The downside to starter cultures is sometimes the powder won’t come back to life or takes a second batch to “wake up”. This potentially increase the cost of purchasing additional coconut water.
- Save ¼ or about 6 tablespoons of the kefir to make a new batch (one quart).
Using left-over kefir or store-bought kefir:
If you’ve successfully made kefir before and have run out of starter culture or to save on cost, I highly recommend saving ¼ of each quart sized jar you make to make a new batch. You can only do this once, as each time you make a “transfer” batch it will not be as strong as the previous. However, it will still ferment and have trillions of healthy probiotic cells! To do this:
- Crack your coconuts or use store-bought RAW coconut water like Harmless Harvest.
- You won’t have to sterilize any jars because you can just use the jar that has the already made kefir in it. Making sure the coconut water is left out to become room-temp, then pour it into the ¼ filled kefir jar, give a quick stir (always using wood utensils).
- Another option is to purchase raw coconut kefir from a health food store such as Inner-Eco. Use 6 tablespoons of this in replace of a starter culture or a left-over batch.
- Just as you would with using a starter culture, let the jar sit in a room ideally 72 degrees for 18-24 hours.
- Using the store-bought kefir always turns out great for me. Because they’re sold in stores they tend to always be fermented well and are bubbly and strong. Making it at home you always run the risk of over-fermenting and potentially making a weak or bad batch. Though this doesn’t happen often, using a store-bought bottle as a starter can save you that trouble.
- The down side is because it is technically a “transfer” you won’t be able to make a second batch from the batch you make from it.
Using water kefir grains:
I personally find that when using grains to make my kefir it always produces a very strong kefir, loaded with bubbles and packs a punch. However, there are downsides to the kefir grains too I will discuss. To make using kefir grains you will have to purchase them off Etsy or Amazon. The good news is they can be found very cheap!
- Like the first two ways; you will need raw Thai coconut water stored at room temp. If using an entire case of coconuts you will again need about 3-4 32oz mason jars. If just making one batch you will need only 1 32 oz. jar and either two 16 oz. bottles of Harmless Harvest or roughly 2 Thai coconuts. Get crackin’!
- Sterilize your jars and utensils in boiling water
- One packaged of water kefir grains will fit in one 32 oz. jar. Put the grains into a jar with just under 32 oz. of coconut water.
- No stirring necessary; once the water is in the clean jar with the grains, simply let them sit for about 12-18 hours. I find kefir grains ferment a little faster. Keep an eye on them after the 12 hour mark to see. Because grains are usually still “alive” and not in hibernation like starter cultures, they tend to render faster.
- Once the kefir is ready, use a nylon strainer to pour the kefir into a new clean jar and retrieve your grains.
- Because coconut water is so rich in minerals and sugar it can take a toll on the grains. To keep the grains alive you will want to alternate between kefir water and coconut kefir. So after your batch of coconut kefir you will want to make a batch of kefir water. This is a similar process to coconut kefir you just use organic sugar and purified water. Click here to learn how to make kefir water.
- The benefits of kefir grains is I find them to make stronger batches that are more “alive”. This isn’t always the case, sometimes starter cultures produce a very good kefir!
- Always use wood, nylon and sterile glass with kefir grains. They are living and any type of metal can potentially damage them.
- The downside to kefir grains is increased labor. You will have to make a batch of kefir water after each batch of coconut water to maintain the grain health.
- Another downside is that this is a wild ferment, which can be immune suppressing for those with any dis-ease or weak adrenals.
There you have it! All you could need to know about the benefits and magic of coconut kefir with three easy-to-make recipes. I hope you find your way to some coconut kefir so you too can experience the transformational healing that I and many friends, family and clients have.
If you’re a veteran kefir maker let me know any tips you have in the comments. If you’re new to kefir and have any concerns also let me know below and I will be glad to answer!
Love and health,