Wednesday, August 14, 2013

For the love of Fennel! Inspired water kefir recipes

It’s August. Fennel isn’t really in season yet. But that doesn’t stop those of us who have grown addicted to the lovely, light aromatic scent from purchasing in bulk and coming up with new ways to use it-not only because it’s delicious, but because of the numerous health benefits. 

Fennel is full of anitioxidants and aids in digestion. Pair this with probiotics and what to you have? A wonderful immune boosting water kefir. If you are seeking a somewhat savory water kefir that is grounded, earthy, and rich, try fennel! 

Choose fresh fennel

Fresh fennel is important. The bulb (root) should not be diseased, damaged, or bruised. The stalk should be firm, and the leaves hydrated (not wilted.) Fresh fennel will have:

*White and/or light green bulbs
*No flowers on the leaves (flower indicate that the plant has come to maturity)
*A fragrant scent, similar to anise or licorice 

Fennel Prep 

Trim off stems and use the bulb. Clean it thoroughly, and chop around 1/8 of a cup or so. Raw fennel is strong, especially if you prefer fizzy water kefir and allow it to sit for over 24 hours. It really doesn’t take much! 

Flavor Boosters 

Look for additions that will compliment the licorice type flavor. Ginger is a wonderful choice. Again, a little goes a long way. Fresh ginger should have smooth skin, and not appear wilted or dried out. Once it’s clean, ginger can be sliced and added to the kefir. A few others “earthy” ingredients include: 
  • Raisins (use if you want slightly sweeter water kefir)

  • Nutmeg (Not just for baked goods! Use a tsp. per quart) 

  • Lemon (Just a small slice. Gentle citrus flavors compliment fennel well.)

  • Vanilla extract (Subtle hints of vanilla are tasteful in any water kefir recipe.)

  • Cloves (Use around 4-5 whole cloves per quart.)