All about Water Kefir

 

How to convert milk kefir grains to water kefir grains

Water kefir has been on the back burner for me as I’ve been working on milk kefir to use in recipes like sourdough starter, fermented porridge, lentils and rice plus in smoothies, cheese and ice cream.  Milk kefir contains the most beneficial range of probiotics.  However I know reluctant family members find the tartness of milk kefir confronting.

 

Water kefir is an ideal way to introduce probiotics to your family in a fizzy, sweet way. In addition, if you are dairy intolerant, water kefir is an ideal way to boost your probiotic consumption as well as nutrition. My sister and I have been working on converting milk kefir grains to water kefir grains and then experimenting with flavours.

 

As with most fermenting, we’ve found there’s a formula to follow, step-by-step, & an art to produce this fermented beverage. Water kefir contains beneficial bacteria plus enzymes and nutrients the body craves.

 

First — a procedure to convert milk kefir grains to water kefir grains.

Day(s)
Action
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Ingredients:

¼ cup sugar [ white, refined or raw organic ]
1 litre filtered water
1/8   teaspoon salt
¼ cup active milk kefir grains

Method:

Use a container that has a lid or seal to prevent anything getting into the mixture.   I’ve used a glass jar with a lid and a casserole dish and lid. Dissolve the sugar in the water. When cool, add the grains. Set aside on the bench and cover with a tea towel. Ferment for 5 days.

6, 7, 8, 9 Strain the mixture to separate the grains. Discard the liquid. Add the grains to another batch of sugary liquid. Cover again and ferment for a further 4 days.
10, 11, 12 Strain the mixture to separate the grains. Discard the liquid. Add the grains to another batch of sugary liquid. Cover again and ferment for a further 3 days.
13, 14 Strain the mixture to separate the grains. Discard the liquid. Add the grains to another batch of sugary liquid. Cover again and ferment for a further 2 days.
15 At the end of this period you now have water kefir grains. You can now culture them in a first ferment of water kefir.

Here’s how to make a first ferment of water kefir.

You’ll need a container that has at least a 2 litre capacity. The lemon provides another source of sugar while the dash of liquid minerals supports healthy grains. 

Just as people need their daily intake of minerals, so do kefir grains!

To source liquid minerals, there are two Modere products we recommend – Natural Mineral Drink and Mineral Essentials. Both of these mineral drinks supply the daily requirements of over 60 essential minerals and trace elements for you, your family and water kefir grains!

Water kefir grains
Water kefir grains

First ferment water kefir

Ingredients Method
¼ cup water kefir grains
 
¼ cup organic sugar or white sugar
 
1 lemon, washed and cut in half
 
1½ litres of filtered water
dash of liquid mineral drink [optional]

 

Dissolve the sugar into the water. Cool to room temperature. Combine all ingredients in a jar.

When at room temperature, place the water kefir grains, liquid minerals and lemon into the sugary water.

Place a muslin cloth over the container so the mixture can breathe. This is an aerobic ferment.

Allow to ferment for 48 hours.

Taste test the mixture to see if it is to your taste. It can be fermented for up to 3 days before the sugar is exhausted and the microorganisms in the water kefir begin to die.

When to your taste, strain out the lemon and discard.

Strain out the water kefir grains. You have a choice of ways to keep the grains. The first way is to immediately restart the first ferment in water, sugar, lemon and liquid minerals. The second choice is put them in a ‘hotel’ by placing the grains in sugary water in a closed jar in the fridge for up to one week. Refresh every week with sugary water and return to fridge.

You also have a choice with what you do with the strained water kefir liquid. The first choice is to bottle it and consume within days. The second choice is do a second ferment with it which allows you to flavour the kefir so it produces a fizzy ferment.

 

Second ferment water kefir

Ingredients Method
1½ litres of first ferment water kefir
 
½ cup fruit juice
OR
2 tablespoons organic raw sugar
OR
½ cup fresh fruit
OR
tablespoon grated ginger

 

Combine the water kefir and flavour.

Seal in a bottle allowing at least 3 finger spaces between the liquid and the top of the bottle.

Ferment in a dark space for 18 to 24 hours. Taste test to see if a further fermenting period is required. Temperature will play its part here. The higher the temperature, the quicker the ferment. Taste testing also reminds you to burp the bottles so an excess of gas is released safely, daily, rather than waiting for a few days and finding the contents of the bottle on your ceiling.

When to your taste, refrigerate the bottles.

As a precaution, ppen the bottle over a sink, as it can be very fizzy and foamy!

 

Flavoured second ferment – ready in 2 days
Flavoured second ferment – ready in 2 days

Experiment with flavour combinations. Strawberries colour the kefir pinky red and give a reliable strawberry fizz and flavour.  Apple slices and strawberries produce a softer flavour.

Caution: As we are adding sugar in the form of fruit or sugar to the second ferment we need to be aware of alcohol production.  The longer the second ferment is allowed to brew means there is a higher likelihood of producing alcohol.  The alcohol content is around what would be in a piece of rotten fruit, just less than 1%.  So be aware, keep a record of times and do taste tests.