DO IT YOURSELF
What is water kefir?
One culture with many names. Tibicos, Japanese crystals or water kefir. Waterkefir is a culture out of translucent, crystal-like grains made from yeast and bacteria, which can very quickly and easily turn water and sugar into a tangy drink. The process is very simple and actually only requires water, sugar and dried fruit.
What is the difference between water kefir & milk kefir?
The difference is basically in the bacterias eating habits. While milk kefir thrives in lactose, water kefir multiplies rapidly when fed on fructose. Caster sugar contains fructose and is therefore suitable. Water kefir also needs calcium and nitrogen in the fermentation process. Therefore, hard water and the addition of dried fruit are necessary for its development.
How do I use water kefir crystals?
Take a clean jar with a screw cap. Add sugar, caster sugar, fructose as well as cane sugar are possible. Use between 40-60g sugar/ liter.
Let the crystals slide into the glass, add a small handful of dried fruit and lemon juice. Put the lid on and off you go.
Try after 24 hours. The drink can be a little sweeter than you ultimately want it to be. If it's still too sweet for you, leave it for another day.
The duration of fermentation depends mainly on the following factors:
- how warm is it in the room (a degree minus or plus has a definite impact)
- how active is your culture (i.e. crystals that have already successfully fermented on a regular basis)
Bottle you kefir and leave it out for a one days at room temperature for the second fermentation. Then store in the fridge. Cooling your water kefir makes it taste better and will extend its shelf live.
BUY WATER KEFIR
CULTURES / FERMENTS & BOOKS
Recipe for water kefir
3 liter screw jar
3 liters of water (not filtered, but not chlorinated)
30g dried fruit (dates, apricots, figs)
Organic pink grapefruit juice
1 small handful of water kefir crystals
1 dried hibiscus flowers (optional)
Mix water with sugar. Add dried fruit, crystals, juice. Add the squeezed grapefruit peel to the glass. The pods add extra flavor.
The hibiscus leaves give the kefir, which is otherwise more of a milky color, a beautiful pink color.
As soon as it meets your expectations in terms of taste, strain into a plastic sieve. Remove grapefruit peel, dried fruit and flowers from the crystals. Rinse briefly under cold running water and your water kefir is ready for the next batch.
Tips & tricks for making water kefir.
How do I care for water kefir?
Your water kefir loves fructose. This is abundant in all types of sugar. Caster sugar, cane sugar or even dextrose ensure a miraculous increase in the number of crystals. After a few runs, your kefir will be in top shape. It produces lots of crystals and is getting faster and faster.
This is when you should start setting some crystal aside in your fridge. Take a small jar with 2 tablespoons of sugar and fresh water and place the excess crystals there. Put the jar in the refrigerator. You now have a backup for your kefir production or a wonderful gift for friends. Once a month, give your kefir a new culture medium and repeat the process described above so that it gets new water and sugar.
How many crystals do I need for how much water?
The amount or size of the crystals is actually not what primarily counts. It is rather their activity and vividness that will determine the end product.
As a guide, one tablespoon of crystals per liter of water. Once your kefir has settled in, it will multiply its crystals very quickly. Therefore, proceed as described above and remove crystals regularly.
Can my water kefir crystals come into contact with metal?
Yes - if it is stainless steel.
Which dried fruit is suitable? Can I also use fresh fruit?
While with kombucha the addition of fruit serves the taste, with kefir it has a nutritional function. The crystals need nitrogen, which they find in dried fruit. In principle, any dried fruit is suitable, but it should be organic & unsulphurized, as sulfur inhibits fermentation.
My crystals aren't really multiplying?
This can have various reasons and sometimes they just need a break. If they are still producing good kefir water - so what. It might help to feed them on some calcium and nitrogen, so make sure to add some dried fruits and maybe some washed eggshells in case you are using water that is too soft.
My crystals multiply like wildly?
Congratulations. Your kefir feels good! We cover the issue of overpopulation here .
My water kefir crystals are slimy. What can I do?
Alas! Not good. Slime is a result of a "faulty" fermentation. Other bacteria is present. Try to add more lime, lemon or grapefruit juice with the next batch. This will instantly lower the PH level and will allow you fermentation to start out save. If you keep producing slimy kefir water - you might have to get rid of you crystals and get some new ones.
Can I ferment with less sugar?
Yes. Your kefir may become less tangy and taste boring after a while because the yeast has used up the sugar. In the end, however, the amount of sugar added is something that you can experiment with. Try & Error.
Can I ferment without sugar or with sugar substitutes?
No. You need to feed your bacteria. The process only works if your kefir is getting fructose.
My kefir is not carbonising?
2 potential sources of error:
You have not used enough sugar or you have filled it into a container that is not airtight and the carbonic acid has escaped.
My kefir is too fizzy?
Unfortunately, a very common topic with water kefir and not really 100% avoidable - but the following things help:
- refrigerate the kefir as soon as it is carbonated (in summer sometimes after a few hours)
- use good glass bottles
- Open the kefir in the sink and hold a cloth over it and the glass ready for immediate pouring
- control the amount of sugar - do not use too much of it
I'm getting gas from kefir!
Start slowly. Even if it tastes good, if you are not used to it, only drink 1-2 glasses a day. You can increase that over time. Your body has to get used to the supply of bacteria first.
Also, make sure that your kefir isn't too fizzy, if that's the case, pour it into a glass and wait till some of the carbonation is basically reduced.
Does kefir contain alcohol?
Well-ripened kefir can contain up to 1% alcohol.