This isn't a new innovative recipe but it is a very tasty success. :) Often in the food lab, the end result isn't tasty or successful. As always, recipe first, more info later if you want to keep reading...
1 lime (optional)
2" of ginger root (peeled and thinly sliced)
1-2 cups raw sugar or other less processed sugar
Dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup water in a saucepan. Pour into a gallon sized glass jar. Add filtered water and fill to about 3-4 inches from the top of the jar. Add water kefir grains and ginger. Squeeze the lemons and lime and add the rinds. Set aside for 36 hours. Strain the liquid. After 36 hours, the sugar was almost all gone. I made another syrup of 3/4 cup sugar to 3/4 cup water and added it back to the liquid then bottled it in Grolsch style bottles. After another 12 hours, I placed it in the fridge for drinking.
I bought mine online and let them sit in my fridge for 2 weeks until I found some time to brew. I was intimidated. The first brew wasn't particularly tasty or bubbly nor the second. I gave up and stored them in a sugary solution in the fridge. This time, they did really well. I think it only takes a few brews to get it going. Plan on throwing out the first few batches until it starts to bubble at the top after a day of fermentation. Then you know it's working. The reduced sweetness is also a good indicator of grain health. Think of it like a sourdough start - it builds up strength with maintenance and use.
Filtering the grains:
I bought some muslin bags, like tea bags to put the grains in while brewing so I wouldn't have to scrounge them from off the bottom. The bags seemed a little tightly woven and I was afraid that could have been part of the problem. The next brew, I let them float but then spent 1/2 hour cleaning lemon pulp off the grains. Annoying. Finally, I just wrapped them loosely in cheesecloth and tied it off with cotton kitchen twine. That worked well.
One brewed for 24 hours. It ended up not bubbly enough. The next one brewed 48 hours and it had a slight alcoholic bite. After all, I want to replace my kids' juice or soda with this. Thirty six hours for my 70 degreeish kitchen is perfect.
My dad said, "If pioneers had this, maybe it wasn't so bad." Food Snob liked it fine with the lime but felt like it left a bitter aftertaste. She preferred it without the lime. Husband didn't completely criticize it and said it actually looked o.k. when it was brewing. Everything else (fermenting, sprouting, jars of things sitting out processing) seems to utterly disgust him. That was a huge compliment. Daughter with a milk allergy (having difficulty finding non dairy probiotics) took it in her sippy cup and walked away happily.