Ferment This: Wild Blackberry Water Kefir

Just as the black raspberries are done for the season, big, bold blackberries appear. They may not be quite as sweet, but they still make delicious probiotic beverages, like water kefir!

Around here, summer means water kefir production ramps up. With the hot, humid weather, any strenuous activity results in rapid overheating and the risk of dehydration. To help keep us hydrated, we double the daily water kefir output: instead of the usual half-gallon a day, our hardworking grains produce a gallon of fizzy and slightly sweet elixir a day.

So with blackberries ripening daily and a gallon of water kefir waiting for a second ferment with something tasty, it naturally makes sense to combine the two. And the blackberries don’t just add juicy flavor, they also have health benefits, containing antioxidants like vitamin C.

To make fresh blackberry water kefir, I collect about two cups of fresh berries and mash them.

I then split the mashed berries in half between the two half-gallon glass jars I use for the kefir and let them work their magic for about 24 hours. If your berries are on the tart side, add a bit of sweetener – I like to stir in a pinch of stevia powder. Once the infusing time has elapsed, I strain the berries out (the pigs love them) and bottle the punch-colored kefir.

While black raspberries do have thorns on their rather delicate canes, they’re almost pleasant, compared to blackberry thorns. Blackberry thorns have thick, strong canes that love to grab and hold on, accompanied by large thorns that are exceptionally well-suited to piercing skin.

Beware the thorns!

I like to joke that the blackberries require a blood sacrifice in order to provide their bounty, but there’s some truth to it: each and every time I forage for blackberries, I return with scratches and welts all over my hands. Picking wild blackberries isn’t easy, and I think that makes me appreciate the harvest even more.

With each glass, I’m reminded that while I could have just purchased a clamshell of berries from the grocery store, by picking my own (which involves some sweat, scratches, and bug bites), I’m not generating plastic waste (packaging), and I know that these berries haven’t been sprayed with any chemicals.

Wild blackberry kefir is truly a seasonal delight – I’ll be picking them (racing the birds, who get their fair share) until they’re gone. Cheers!

Learn more about the health risks of heat exposure and ways to mitigate them here.