To have beautifully handcrafted Water Kefir readily available can be life-changing. This is an incredibly refreshing, sparkling and lively drink and you can flavour it so easily with whatever you have at hand, combinations that come to mind or what you've foraged with really satisfying results. Capturing a season in a bottle - drinking summer in early winter is pure joy. Yes, it helps with all kinds of ailments including thirst!
Once you've woken your grains up or received water kefir grains, follow these instructions.
Makes about 2 litres
Fermentation time: approx. 3 days
- 2 litre jar with lid or cheesecloth
- 2 x 700ml bottles
- approx. 1/2 cup living water kefir grains
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup organic sugar
- 2-3 slices of lemon, peel on (preferably unwaxed and organic)
- One generous slice of ginger
- Organic dried fruit such as 1 date, fig or small bunch raisins
- 1/4 teaspoon Organic molasses
- Pinch of Salt or Bicarbonate
FIRST FERMENTATION (1f)
Keep in mind that this is the first ferment, so we are really just feeding the grains - the flavour can come in the second ferment, so keeping it simple won't reflect on your end flavour necessarily. The grains want the minerals and sugars from the dried fruits and prefer not to compete with other bacterias or enzymes found in fresh fruit. Leave those for the second ferment when you've strained out the grains. Note on sugar - other sweeteners can be used but let's start off safe and simple with your new grains... after a while, your water kefir grains will grow and repopulate and you'll have plenty to spare so you'll be safe with experimenting then.
- Pour water into jar and stir to dissolve the sugar somewhat
- Add water kefir grains, lemon, ginger and a piece of dried fruit.
- The grains need minerals too. Add a quarter of a teaspoon of organic blackstrap molasses and a pinch of bicarb or salt. You don't necessarily need to do this every time - just now and then perhaps every 3rd or 4th rotation. Sometimes if your water is very low in calcium - a little piece of boiled clean eggshell or oyster shell works well. If your grains start to become slimy then stop all of this pronto. Also - sometimes if the grains look a bit dull it's good to put them out into the sunshine for a bit of a sun bath. They love it.
- Lid your jar, and leave it on out on your kitchen bench - not necessarily in the dark or anything - for about 48 hours. Try and use good quality, thick round jars for brewing rather than a square or cornered jars as they tend to get pretty weak in the corners. Your water kefir can become very powerful - enough to break jars - explode them even. You don't want to leave a closed jar or bottle at room temperature for longer than 2 days. If you can't be back after 48 hours, cover with a cloth and rubber band rather than a lid; you may not get the carbonation you are after but you will probably get it in the 2nd ferment anyway. If you leave it too long it will become too sour.
SECOND FERMENTATION (2f)
After the first fermentation, strain your liquid into a bowl, keeping your grains for your next batch - just pop them back into your jar and make step one all over again, check out your dried fruit and if it looks pretty good you can use it again for the next batch. Otherwise you can freeze and use the fruit for other things like jams and hot sauces.
- Bottle your water kefir.
- Now you can flavour it - add your own combination of fruits or spices. I like a fruit with a herb usually. A handful of berries, a slice of lemon, mint, basil, chillies! Anything you think might be nice.
- After you've added your flavours, lid tightly to carbonate by leaving the bottles in room temp. for another 24 hours. Again, use a good quality round bottle. This is when your kefir will get fizzy, the last of the sugar eaten and the new sugars too. The simper the sugar the fizzier it will get and also the more alcoholic. In general you'll reach an ABV of around 1%, but if you add something like a cordial or juice it may get to 2.5% so keep this in mind if you are avoiding alcohol. After 12-24 hours, refrigerate. If you don't think you'll be home - or are worried about explosions, pop into the fridge for the 2F, it may take a few days longer to get nice and fizzy but it will happen. If you don't get fizz after 24 hours, wait a bit longer.
NOTE: When you open a water kefir - you need to learn to gently tip to mix the sediment, roll it slowly, and then open and be ready to close straight away. Look at the bubbles and if they aren't too powerful - open and drink. Sometimes they are too much and you need to spend 30 seconds or a minute opening. This makes it more precious, and therefore - more delicious.
There is more detail in my book, but this should get you on your way nicely.
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