A month and one day ago I started making water kefir. A vegan probiotic drink that is vitamin and mineral rich. Even moreso when you add healthy ingredients for flavor during the second fermentation. I started based off of package instructions and the kefir was good but the tang needed to be watered down slightly with cold tea, lemon water or juice. You can find my original blog about making WK soda with instructions here: Strawberry Kefir Soda | The Heathen Homesteaderhttps://theheathenhomesteader.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/strawberry-kefir-soda/
Since then I have done more research. The water kefir became better and better with each experiment! Here are some tips from my experiences:
*Add a few raisins during the first fermentation. Not only do they add minerals but will rise to the top of your WK after about 24 hours. This lets you know your grains are working! They might discolor your grains but do not harm them in any way.
*Use raw organic sugar. This isn’t a “hippy dippy” thing. I noticed a huge difference from processed white sugar and the raw. The grains started multiplying faster after their “recovery” and produced a better kefir. There are different types of unprocessed sugars you can use such as sucanat, rapadura and panella. If you’re buying from a company instead of a fellow WK-er they also will stress the use of raw. Don’t ignore this!
*What you add to it enhances the flavor and vitamin/mineral content. There are things I am not fond of such as prunes that actually created an amazing WK. I’m an extremely picky person but the way the fruits, roots, teas and spices you can use work with the WK makes for drinks comes out a bit differently. I actually love a lot of the ingredients I have been using even if I didn’t love them when eating them before fermentation.
*After 12 hours during the second fermentation take your fruit (or whatever) out and bottle your WK. air tight is key. I did not know this before and basically had flat flavored tangy water. I leave mine sealed for about 12 hours before drinking. Some sources say 18 while “burping” the brew every four hours or so. A pop top helps in case of too much pressure but I use a bottle like this and keep an eye on it. This brew has been opened a ton today for drinking so it’s not nearly as fizzy as it was early this morning.
*Dont be afraid to refrigerate! I was worried it would effect the work of the grains but it actually lasts longer in the fridge. 2-3 weeks max compared to 3-4 days at room temperature. Though ours never lasts more than a day because we can’t get enough!
*Do NOT put honey in as your feed for the grains. It is anti-microbial and might kill them. I luckily revived mine well. I’m speaking from experience here! Other food items that have similar properties should also be kept away.
*I wouldn’t bottle your WK to take anywhere unless you have time to burp it. I put some in a small jar for my husband’s lunch at work and it leaked from the pressure.
*Some ingredients tend to up the alcohol content of your WK. Such as strawberries. Most WK has less than 1% naturally occurring alcohol content if that. Some sources suggest .05% so it’s hard to know unless you have something to test it. Most fermented foods have some amount of alcohol in them that is created during the fermentation process. I leave ingredients such as strawberries in the second fermentation for half the time as most ingredients.
*Never leave your WK for more than 4 days max. 48 hours is the suggested maximum amount of time for low alcohol content and more importantly so your grains don’t starve. If you can’t get to your kefir grains for a while you can freeze them.
*Leave room in your bottle after the second fermentation so there is room for fizz and some of the pressure that may build up.