My water kefir finally arrived and after a few false starts, I now have the hang of it.
I am happy to report that this beverage is going down well with A and Willow loves it. She asks for juice all the time. The hard part is limiting her intake! I have had the chance to experiment a little bit and we now have a few flavours that we prefer to others.
I won’t lie. The dehydrated grains threw me a little bit. I wasn’t sure about the whole process of rehydration and I was just not getting the result I was hoping for. I turned to Google (as you do) to answer my questions and learned a few things: the type of sugar you use is important, the type of water you use in important and sugar is needed for second fermentation.
To address the water issue I looked at how I could change my water. In Johannesburg our tap water has chemicals in it (fluoride and chlorine) and it was just not working for the kefir. So I have started buying bottled water for the kefir and I am using it for my other ferments as well. I buy one 5 litre a month and everything is working now. The brand I like is Bené , which has minerals in it, just no fluoride or chlorine. If you want to try water kefir just bare in mine that the grains need minerals and filtered water may need a mineral supplement.
To address the sugar issue I went on the hunt for unrefined sugar. I found what I was looking for in Woolworths – organic unrefined brown sugar. This has worked out perfectly and I am getting delicious kefir on a consistent basis. The grains consume the sugar and produce the good bacteria. The final drink is not sweet at all and it is even less sweet when I use this sugar.
Second fermentation took me a while to get the hang of. The one thing I was not getting right was the need for sugar in the second fermentation process. To provide that sugar I add a 1/4cup fruit juice to the liter of kefir. This provides the sugar needed to ferment the kefir and produce the carbonation I am after. I have had great success with apple juice – the result was like a lightly fizzy, tangy, sweet drink with a hint of apple about it. My family also enjoys a ginger lemonade. I added two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a few centimeters of fresh ginger cut into sticks. The latest batch is strawberry flavoured. I used fresh strawberries, made a puree and added it to the kefir. It tastes lovely, but next time I’ll also add a touch of lemon juice.
The final thing I had to work out was fermentation time. I have learned that three days of first fermentation is the ideal. That gives the grains enough time to consume the sugar and produce the probiotics. When it comes to second fermentation, three days produces a light fizz and its gets progressively fizzier from there. So far four days seems to be the sweet spot.
It has been really fun to play around with this and I am looking to try fresh fruit ferments soon. I also saw a recipe for a chia seed drink which I am keen to try.