My son is obsessed with 'Fizzy Juice' and 'Soda' (read 'fanta' and 'lemonade').
Initially I would only allow him to drink one or two of the more expensive brands such as fruitizer, because they are literally fruit juices watered down and carbonated, with no e-numbers. It seemed fine, but the quantity he wanted to drink was going to kill us financially. So slowly we started buying cheaper drinks and I was horrified to realise the we had deteriorated so far as allowing him to drink a supermarket brand of cherryade (8p a litre) as a special treat for his birthday.
Where did it happen? There has to be some middle ground between letting him drink rubbish and spending a fortune on buying drinks, when realistically I would prefer he was just drinking tap water (a tall order for a three year old who see's his daddy drinking pepsi)!
That's when I came across Water Kefir.
These blobby little jelly like crystals are actually a bacteria which are going to turn my ordinary tap water into something infinitely more delicious and healthful, but the most important part - it will be fizzy!
So I ordered my little bacteria colony from ebay. All they needed was a jar of tap water a few spoons of sugar and off they go! I read online that you can add fruit to help the process along and flavour the kefir, so we sliced up some easy peeler tangerines and added a few raisins. I also added a little honey. I'm told they like it, and as they are new to me I thought it might help them settle in.
Interestingly, after 24 hours you could see the fizzing and all the fruit had floated to the top of the jar. You strain the water off and put it in a jug in the fridge and add more water to the kefir 'grains' to start the process again.
I wasn't sure how it would taste, but was willing to give it a go. I was totally surprised to find it actually tastes a lot like shloer. It was delicious! A total non-alcoholic champagne substitute. I could definitely serve this up on a date night and Matt would not be able to tell the difference.
But the real test was to find out if Will would drink it, with no added sugars/flavourings. The result: YES! He had two glasses with breakfast this morning and was over joyed to be allowed soda with his cereal. He thanked me over and over again like I was the kindest mummy in the world!
It's not as fizzy as something like 7up, but it could easily pass for something like a fizzy grape juice from Marky Sparkys. I'm really looking forward to trying out different flavours.
Now most importantly, the Kefir grains have already doubled in size. This means they are reproducing and they are happy. If your kefir is happy it will reproduce and you will never have to buy it again. In fact you should get enough to start giving it away. If it is unhappy, it will die and you will have to buy a starter again. By keeping them alive I will only ever have to pay for sugar to make 'fizzy juice' which I can buy in bulk really cheaply. We can flavour it with fruit from our garden. A luxury drink, for virtually free!
Now that I'm trying to cultivate bacteria in my kitchen I have come to think of them as pets. I would actually be quite sad if I lost the colony. So we are now a family who keeps ants and bateria as pets. I know it's wierd, but I don't care. They are saving us loads of money and will make a great science lesson for the kids as they get older.
There are loads of health benefits to Kefir too. But I'll save that for another post.