Special note: Grolsch bottles work just fine for this healthy “soda”, as do these bottles. But beware of cheap bottles (from Target & such); a friend’s cheaper bottle exploded on her. Yipes!
Get some grains from a friend, or buy some water kefir grains from Amazon
Get grains from a friend, or find ‘em on Amazon. No, they are not the same as milk kefir grains, so don’t use those!
Spring water is best—chlorine will slow down (or kill) your grains. Also, don’t use honey. It is anti-bacterial, and since this is a culture, the honey might slow the culture (or stop it dead in its tracks).
I tried palm sugar, but I thought it turned out weird.
I tried raw sugar, but killed the grains (after using the raw sugar for a month). I had to get some grains back from a friend I’d gave some too. Luckily, she hadn’t killed hers!
I tried using a friend’s old grains, after mine died. She had put her jar in the fridge months ago, and the grains had multiplied to practically fill the whole jar with grains. Apparently, in that time, they ate through every last bit o’ sugar/molasses that the water contained. But then… they died. They looked all right, but they had essentially gotten preserved in that jar like pickled brains or something. Looking prolific, but… dead!
Oh, and never add fresh pineapple to the first ferment; one woman posted that her grains got irreparably altered, in a bad way. Maybe it’s the extra enzymes in the pineapple? I’m not going to use pineapple.
But what can you do? This is a fairly easy process, though it will take a little maintenance every few days. The kefir grains will “eat through” their food supply, depending on how much sugar/molasses is dissolved into the water. Within one or two days, you’ll want to rinse them and add them to a fresh jar of sugar/molasses water. You can tell by tasting it after the first 24 hours–if the brew still tastes sweet, you can let it ferment for another day or two.
Kefir Management: When I’m getting bogged down with extra kefir, I throw all but few tablespoons of the grains away. It takes longer for fewer grains to eat through the sugar water.
Vacation time? I can also slow the kefir process down by refrigerating the jar of grains, sugar, molasses and water. That buys me some time! When I want it to get active again, I just put the jar on the counter again, and it gets back to work.
The grains multiply; put the extras in tbhe compost pile, or give to a friend (or even eat them), or just throw ’em out. More will be created!
- 1/3 c. sugar (regular white sugar’s been best for me- not raw)
- 1-2 tsp. molasses (I recommend organic for this- doesn’t affect kefir, but will have less potential pesticide residue)
- 1 slice lemon (if available)
- Spring water (non-chlorinated)
- Kefir grains (a half cup or so)
1. Fill a quart jar with: > 1/3 c. white sugar > 1-2 tsp. molasses > (Optional) 1 slice lemon > spring water (leaving a few inches’ space at the top)
2. Add lid and shake jar vigorously until sugar and molasses are mixed in.
3. Add rinsed kefir grains, cover with plastic wrap or lid.
4. Let mixture brew for 1-3 days, until not-so-sweet, but fermented.
5. Strain brew into jars (or bottles with ceramic stoppers); refrigerate, or do a second ferment if desired.
6. Rinse grains under tap water (best with non-metal strainer), then add to fresh jar of sugar water, repeat steps. (As grains multiply, discard some as necessary, or give to friends.)
INGREDIENTS FOR 2ND FERMENT
- Handful of dried fruit (raisins or other), or fresh fruits or juices
- Other spices if desired (fresh sliced ginger, organic orange peel, vanilla, tamarind, etc.)
- Optional: Favorite fruit juice concentrates
PREPARATION FOR 2ND FERMENT
1. Into a clean bottle (or jar), decant the brewed kefir water, leaving space for other ingredients.
2. Add a small handful of favorite dried fruits (or experiment with fresh fruits), or use a cup or so of juice.
3. Optional: Add other flavorings if desired ( fresh ginger, organic orange peel, etc.),
4. Optional: If you add non-sweet flavorings like ginger, vanilla, or orange peel, you can actually add honey (or sugar) to this mix to give the kefir something to feed on, to make the brew extra tasty and extra fizzy. Although I don’t add honey to the kefir grains (in the first ferment), it seems to work in the second ferment. Use organic honey if possible!
4. Let ferment another day or two, with lid or cap on. Check the bottle after a day or so (if you have the Grolsch-type bottle with resealable cap), to see if it’s fizzy enough. Refrigerate, for a week or so. Remove lid with care, as it may become quite bubbly!
5. Certain glass bottles can be reused (if they’re the kind you use a bottle-opener on); just get this bottle capper to hold in the fizz. Or buy something like Grolsch beer, with its ceramic/rubber seal stopper, and reuse that. My fave are these Cobalt Blue 32 oz. Bottles; they’re sturdy, and are “family-size”, which is nice! (Some note that the blue glass protects against fluorescent rays also, which may/may not be an issue…)
I’ve linked this post to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s “Real Food Wednesdays”; check out the other great links she’s listed, HERE!
I’ve also linked this post to My Humble Kitchen. Check out Diana’s page, “Simple Lives Thursday“, for more great ideas.
PS You might want to print up this simplified copy of the directions, below.