Water Kefir Instructions
How to Make Water Kefir from Grains Plus Water Kefir Recipes
Water kefir grains are sometimes called tibicos, tibi, or Japanese water crystals. Kefir grain cultures may vary in numbers and types of microbes. Typically Water Kefir grains have a mixture of healthy (friendly) strains such as : Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus , Lactobacillus alactosus, Lactobacillus casei casei, Lactobacillus pseudoplantarum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Streptococcus lactis, Streptococcus cremeris, Leuconostoc mesenteroide, Saccharomyces florentinus, Saccharomyces pretoriensis, Kloeckera apiculata, Candida lambica, Candida valida and possibly others. Lactobacillus brevis has been identified as the species responsible for the production of the polysaccharide matrix that forms the grains.
There is a probiotic benefit from the many varied microbes. Water kefir provides this benefit without the use of dairy products. It can be a healthy and valuable substitute for sugar soda products. Sugar is added to the kefir recipes because that is what the kefir eats; however, there is far less sugar in the finished kefir beverage. Which yeasts and bacteria dominate will contribute to supple as well as dramatic differences. The influence of wild bacteria and yeasts as well as personal brewing preferences play an active ongoing role. For most home brewers what is important is simply taste, pleasure and a hint of health.
For these recipes, use one packet of dry grains or 1/4 to 1/2 cup of wet water kefir grains. Remove some as necessary when they grow, maintaining about 1/2 cup of grains to 3 cups of liquid. If desired, you may double the recipes as your kefir grows. Of course, you will also need to use a larger glass jar.
Water kefir is very versatile to prepare. You can experiment with many different variations!
Kefir grains require high-mineral water to sustain them, so if you do not have well water, spring water, or mineral water available, you can try boiling tap water to remove the chlorine. Allow it to cool to room temperature before adding the grains. Or you can leave the water out overnight in a bowl uncovered, for the chlorine to evaporate. It it best not to use filtered or distilled water as they do not have the minerals that kefir needs.
For each 2t. dried OR 1/4 cup fresh grains, add about 3 cups of water to a glass mason jar, leaving at least two inches of space at the top. DO NOT ADD GRAINS YET. Please do not fill any jar more than 3/4 full. This is very important because the CO2 gas naturally produced during fermentation will produce high pressure, which has the potential to cause an explosion, especially in warmer weather.
Add 2-4 tablespoons of sugar (again PER 2t. dried grains OR 1/4 fresh grains, depending on how much you ordered) and mix to dissolve. It is good to add some brown sugar or molasses as part of this sugar mixture, about 1t total. The grains thrive in the minerals from these sweeteners.
NOW ADD THE GRAINS. It is best to add them after sugar is dissolved as direct contact with sugar grains may harm them.
Optional: Add a handful of one of the following: raisins, figs, plums, prunes, sliced ginger, strawberries, apricots or bananas. Slice the larger fruits.
Add a slice or half of lemon.
Screw the lid on. A tight fitting cap to increase alcohol content and carbonation. Loose fitting for safety and less alcohol.
You can brew on the counter out of direct light, but for safety, we cover our jars with a thick towel. We would highly suggest this. You can also just leave it on the counter but “burp” it every now and then to avoid too much CO2 buildup.
FOR DRIED GRAINS - For your first batch in order to hydrate the grains, you will need to ferment up to 5 days, so be patient with this first brew.
For successive brews, after this initial batch if you had dried grains, brew about 24-48 hours at room temperature. FOR FRESH GRAINS ORDERED, you will start out with just 24-48 hour brews. Use your taste to judge a satisfactory ferment. With high temperatures flavors will be harsher with more fizz and more alcohol. Longer ferments will produce more alcohol and an inferior taste, to a point where the ferment turns to vinegar with less alcohol and better taste. After 1 day you may taste it. If it is too sweet, you may ferment longer. Spoon out the fruit and squeeze the lemon into the water kefir. Strain out the kefir grains using a fine mesh non-metal strainer.
**We sell the perfect set of hard to find Strainers if you are interested – they will be gentle on your grains, and make sure you do not lose any grains while straining, as they are made with very fine plastic mesh. People love these fine mesh strainers.
After straining, rinse the grains with water. Repeat each day or two as kefir grains like to be fed regularly.
Pour the beverage into bottles. At room temperature the beverage will continue to ferment. Leave out for a day or two if desired, as secondary ferment to increase carbonation/fizz and then refrigerate.
PLEASE NOTE: This optional secondary fermentation does increase alcohol and fizz, producing pressure on a sealed bottle, much more than kombucha does. We HIGHLY recommend placing the bottles in paper grocery bags or with towels wrapped around them, and then in a thick cardboard box, and then maybe in a closet, in case there is an explosion. We have heard of horror stories, so please be safe (and don’t forget they are there J). A good idea also is to cover the bottles with a thick towel while you are opening them to release the pressure. You can also “burp” it every now and then if you choose to leave it out on the counter, just be sure and keep an eye on when the CO2 buildup appears to need the “burping” (just unscrew the lid and then tighten it back on).
OTHER VARIATIONS from the BASIC RECIPE:
*Alternately – you can use 1/3 or ½ juice as part of the liquid portion - apple juice, pomegranite, grapefruit, grape, etc. You may wish to decrease the sugar amount to 1-2 Tablespoons, or use none at all.
*For coconut water kefir, use straight coconut water, and add sugar only if desired. Experiment to your taste!
*Another tip is to add a lime or orange slice.
*Make Ginger Ale by adding 3-5 slices of peeled fresh ginger while it is brewing.
*If going away for long periods, start a fresh larger batch and leave tightly capped in the refrigerator. That way it will brew very slowly, and have enough to feed on for a while.
*Another option is drying your grains, for storage, or to provide backup. Just lay the grains on a plate in a single layer under a cool fan. Stir them up every day to turn them over. It takes a few days for them to completely dry. Wait till they are not soft at all, and completely crunchy, before you store them.
*Increase the mineral content of your brew by adding a washed egg shell. This as well as pinch of baking soda and sea salt helps grain growth.
Some more specific recipe variations for secondary brewing:
After using the Basic Recipe above using JUST sugar, lemon, and dried fruit, strain the grains and do a secondary fermentation to create the following flavors:
*Blueberry Coconut: To your strained water kefir, add ¼ cup coconut water per quart, as well as a handful of blueberries. Ferment another 24 hours.
*Cranberry Apple: To your strained water kefir, add ¼ cranberry juice per quart and throw in a couple slices of apple. Let ferment another 24 hours.
*Grape Soda: To your strained water kefir, add ¼ c. grape juice per quart. Let ferment another 24 hours. Tighten the lid for more fizz!
*Creamy Ginger Spice – Make water kefir with ginger slices and sugar. Then strain and to your water kefir, add ½ Tablespoons vanilla extract and 1 cinnamon stick, per quart. Ferment another 24 hours. Serve cold with whipped cream on top!
*Lime Pineapple – Make water kefir with a slice of lime. Strain, and to your water kefir add ½ c. pineapple chunks per quart. Squeeze in the lime juice and discard. Ferment another 24 hours.
*Raspberry Mango – To your strained water kefir, add ¼ c. mango per quart. Add in ½ c raspberries. Ferment another 24 hours. Tighten lid for more fizz.
*Orange Vanilla Soda – To your strained water kefir, add ½ Tablespoons vanilla extract per quart. Add a couple of orange slices. Ferment another 24 hours. Tighten lid for more fizz.
*Cream Soda – To your strained water kefir, add ½ Tablespoons vanilla extract per quart. Ferment another 24 hours.
*Cherry Cola – To your strained kefir, add ¼ c. cherry juice per quart. Add a couple of whole cherries too if desired. Let ferment another 24 hours.
Water kefir also makes great smoothies and slushies! For a slushies, mix water kefir, juice of your choice, and LOTs of ice. Whirl in a blender and enjoy! Add honey also if desired.
For smoothies, use fruit, water kefir, and ice cream or yogurt in a blender. Adjust proportions to your taste.
Replacement Policy: We will replace any culture that has not proved viable upon receipt to make a successful first culturing per our instructions. If a first batch is successful, this is indication of a viable culture. We are here to help troubleshoot during your culturing if you have any concerns so please email us BEFORE discarding any cultures, as we cannot replace a culture that we have not been able to determine viability through troubleshooting with you. Again, email WHILE you are culturing, as 99% of the time we are able to help with a successful batch, if the cultures are still on hand. Discarding the culture before contacting us for help will nullify the exchange/refund policy. Thanks so much.
Feel free to contact us with any questions along the way.