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Get Started Fermenting Water Kefir
The following information applies to water kefir fermentation with live active grains.
Remember, kefir grains have existed for millenium. Yes, you want to “get it right” but don't drive yourself crazy with every little thing. If you do these basics, you will not kill your grains. Learn the basics first then get fancy and start learning what works best for your environment, ingredients, and goals.
There are some helpful pictures at the bottom of the page for your reference.
Basics Needed To Ferment Water Kefir
A wide mouth glass quart jar (like a canning jar) is the best choice for your fermentation vessel.
Choose your sugar.
This is a choice based on availability, personal philosophy, and end goals.
From time to time and depending on the type of sugar your feed and the mineral content of your water, you may need to provide a pinch of baking soda. Additionally, a raisin or two or a fig will also be added to provide nutrients.
You will also use a strainer. The eternal debate among kefir fermenters is plastic/nylon vs. stainless steel. Most studies indicate that for the time it takes to strain your kefir, stainless steel will do no harm to you or your grains.
Water and water quality Most municipal water systems chlorinate water. Chlorinated water is not advisable for fermentation as the point of chlorine is to kill bacteria. The point of making kefir is to encourage benefical bacteria to grow. It is preferable to filter out chlorine from your water, purchase unchlorinated water or, use quality filtered well water. Additionally, well water typically has a higher mineral content which may be beneficial to your grains.
Making Sugar Water (what your grains feed on)
In a separate measuring cup:
4 cups water, room temperature
¼ cup of sugar
dissolve sugar completely in water
Quantity of Grains
The ratio of grains to sugar water is, to a point, a matter of preference. More grains will ferment faster by consuming all the the nutrients it needs from the sugar water however, you'll be feeding your grains more often. You may prefer a slower ferment to suit your taste preference as well as your supply of sugar.
Most people start with a heaping tablespoon of water kefir grains to a quart (4 cups) of sugar water. Place the grains on the bottom of the jar, add the sugar water, cover with a breatheable covering such as a loose lid or cover with a coffee filter or linen cloth. The lid must vent so that the gasses that result from fermentation can escape.
Place your jar on counter. Sunlight is fine but avoid direct sunlite as it may overheat the jar and provide too much UV light. Fermentation has been shown to be most active in water kefir in the mid 70's farenheit. Fermentation will occur at cooler temperatures but may be slower. Better to err on the side of too cool than too hot. Let your jar sit for 48 hours.
Is it working?
Depending on temperature and a few other things, your grains may appear to just sit at the bottom of the jar or, they may occasionally float up and down. Either is fine. Floating grains are simply a by product of the gas produced during fermentation. The bacteria and yeasts are eating the sugar in the water. The result will be a more tangy beverage, not overly sweet. If in doubt, give the jar a little "nudge". If small bubbles rise from grains then they are fermenting. Be patient.
Removing Grains From Fermented Kefir
Once your water has fermented to a taste you like, you will need to remove the grains from the kefir so that you can make a new batch. Place a pourable bowl under a strainer and pour your kefir water into it. The kefir will fall into the bowl underneath and the grains will remain in the strainer.
Return the grains to their fermenting jar. Do not “wash them” there is no need. Any residual kefir on the surface will serve to get your next batch started. Follow the instructions from your previous batch.
Your fermented kefir is ready to be consumed as it is or fermented a second time to add carbonation and/or flavor.
Add kefir water to the shoulder height of a swing top bottle. Flavor with something containing a natural sugar such as fruit juice, pulvarized berries, etc. You can also add a pinch of sugar. Seal the bottle and leave out for 24 hours. Refrigerate until you are ready to consume. The kefir water will “absorb” the fermentation gasses creating carbonation.
SHOP Water Kefir Grains