Frequently asked questions
Have questions about your Water Kefir Grains? Find answers to some of the most asked questions about this culture product:
Water kefir grains are made up of healthy bacteria and yeast that exist in a symbiotic relationship. The name “kefir grains” describes what the culture looks like only. Water kefir grains do not contain actual “grains” such as rye, wheat, etc. Water kefir grains are gluten free.
Water kefir usually takes anywhere from 24-48 hours to culture. However, the exact time will vary depending on environmental factors, of which the most important is temperature. If you allow the water kefir grains to culture for longer than 72 hours you risk starving the grains and potentially damaging them.
Water kefir grains are grown in filtered water and organic sugar. It’s best to avoid water that don’t have minerals, such as distilled water or water from RO filters etc.. Water kefir grains require minerals in order to grow and ferment. Both the water and sugar used can affect the flavour and the amount of carbonation in your finished water kefir.
To put it simply, the first fermentation is done when your water kefir grains are added to water and cultured for approx 24 hours. Now, once you strain out your kefir grains with a plastic strainer and pour the drained kefir into a jar the resulting water kefir is then ready to consume OR…
You can store the water kefir (with the grains removed) on your countertop in a sealed jar, and it will continue to ferment. This is what is known as the second fermentation.
- You you can and we are not saying this is wrong BUT we much prefer adding flavours during the second fermentation because this will stop your water kefir grains from absorbing the flavourings (and colour) which is important as you can then go ahead and add a different flavour to the next batch you make.
- We believe adding flavours during the second fermentation will keep your water kefir grains healthier as fermenting in some flavourings such as juices can be really hard on the grains.
- The second fermentation keeps your grains clean. Fruits usually break down whilst fermenting and the result is small bits of fruit that get mixed into your grains making it difficult to remove them.
So, we recommend you do the first ferment with no fruit, flavourings etc.. then use one of the flavouring methods with the second ferment.
There are a number of things you can do to increase the carbonation of your water kefir during both the first and second fermentation.
- Firstly, let the first fermentation ferment for longer. We find allowing the initial fermentation to go for at least 48 hours will increase all of the activity and at the end of the first fermentation, there should be at the very least a small amount of natural carbonation that has built up.
- If you prefer to only do the first brew for 24 hours but you still want a good level of carbonation, then bottling the water kefir after the first ferment and moving on for a second fermentation is a must!
You can try these second fermentation tips to get your water kefir extra fizzy:
- Always ensure you fill your water kefir bottle as close to the top as possible. Leave no more than a half an inch of space. Simply by reducing the amount of oxygen present in the bottle, more CO2 is dissolved into the water kefir.
- Increase the sugar content by adding either fruit or fruit juice to the bottle during the second fermentation.
- Allowing the second fermentation to brew for longer will also help. Please note, you will need to start opening the bottle once a day after approx 3 days of fermenting in order to slowly release the CO2 as this can build up. Then recap the bottle.
- Just remember as soon as you put your bottle in the refrigerator, fermentation, and also CO2 creation will stop. If you like it really fizzy, do not place it in the refrigerator until it has reached the carbonation level you prefer.
- You must consider that your water kefir may never be the same as the highly carbonated store-bought soda because they add artificial CO2 during bottling.
Remember if you leave your water kefir in a bottle on the counter top or similar, it will continue to ferment and have less and less sugar in it which in turn will affect the taste. As soon as it is placed in the fridge, the fermentation stops and the flavor will be more consistent. Water kefir can last up to a month in your refrigerator. Obviously, the fresher your water kefir is, the tastier it will be so we usually drink it within a few days.
Yes, water kefir grains are reusable. Once your kefir is finished culturing, simply remove the water kefir grains and place them in fresh sugar water, juice, or coconut water and restart the process all over again.
It is safe to drink after the first ferment. It will taste flat and if you really want to drink it like that then maybe add it to your smoothy or add it to other drinks.. again, the fizz only happens during the second day of fermentation when you pour the drink into a bottle and leave it on your countertop or similar for an additional 24 hours.
With proper care, water kefir grains should last indefinitely.
The easiest way to check whether or not you have successfully made water kefir is that the finished kefir tastes less sweet than the sugar water or juice you’ve started with.
Water kefir grains are known to multiply, but at times they are reluctant to do so and there is not a guarantee kefir grains will multiply. Even if they do not multiply, with proper care, water kefir grains can be used repeatedly to brew water kefir.
To take a break from making water kefir, prepare a sugar-water solution, place the grains in the sugar water, place a tight lid on the container, and place it in the refrigerator. This will keep for a couple of weeks in your fridge. After that, you need to replace the solution with fresh water and sugar. For each one-quarter cup of water kefir grains, you will need to use one-quarter cup of sugar and one quart of water for the sugar-water solution.
Your newly purchased water kefir grains need time to adjust to your specific water. It’s not unusual for the grains to take 3-5 brews to adjust to the minerals in your water. There is absolutely nothing wrong with drinking the water kefir if it is flat after the first ferment. It’s usually a good idea to do a second fermentation as a second fermentation is a great way to produce more flavour and more fizz in your water kefir. Remember that having a warm temperature is always key for fermentation to work at it’s very best.
- During the winter months, you can move your jars to a high area in a warm room, maybe on top of a cupboard or even on top of a refrigerator.
- You can try placing a towel or book underneath your jar for insulation as countertops etc.. can be really cold. You can even try wrapping the jar in a towel for additional insulation.
- If the above do not help, we recommend using a heating pad or heat belt. Just be sure to set it on its lowest setting, we prefer the heat straps as you can completely wrap them around the jar. These can be really effective at maintaining a consistent temperature in the mid 20’s.
- During the second fermentation, it’s really less necessary to keep the temperature up in the 20’s. Just store your water kefir somewhere where it will stay approx 20 degrees.
It can vary on the sugar used but on average it’s equal to 1 green apple, approx 3 grams. If you add fruit etc. then the sugar content will increase to approx 5 grams. Still a lot less than the regular store bought option.
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Limerick City, Ireland