Your water kefir grains need to acclimatize to your specific water. It may take about 3 full rounds of making the water kefir for your grains to get used to the minerals in your local water. Don’t give up. There is nothing wrong with drinking the water kefir if it is flat after the first ferment. You still get the probiotic health benefits. It won’t help the fizz factor if you leave the day 1 ferment for a day or 2 longer. The only thing that will happen if you leave it longer is that your water kefir will be less sweet. The best way to know if your fermentation is working is to taste the mixture when you make it and then taste the mixture after 24 hours. If it is less sweet, then it is working. Many people assume that something is wrong with their grains. Grains don’t go no good. They will change color based on the color of sugar that you are using. If the grains plump up after 24 hours, it is an indicator that they are being fed by the sugar and fermenting. Remember that having a warm temperature is always key for fermentation to work at it’s best.
Water kefir grains consist of healthy bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship. The term “kefir grains” describes the look of the culture only. Water kefir grains contain no actual “grains” such as wheat, rye, etc. They are gluten free.
Water kefir generally takes 24-48 hours to culture. The exact time will vary depending on environmental factors, the most important of which is temperature. Allowing the water kefir grains to culture for longer than 72 hours puts you at risk of starving the grains and potentially damaging them.
We do not recommend adding fruit or other flavoring to the water kefir with the grains during the first ferment. Some fruits and other flavouring may be damaging to the water kefir grains. Flavors can be added to the second ferment.
Use a bottle brush or a clean dish rag to wipe down your growing jar and bottle but refrain from using soap. Also try using baking soda and vinegar. Let the jar and bottle soak in warm water and vinegar, add baking soda and use a bottle brush or clean dish rag to scrub off any stubborn residue.
Share them with a friend! Water kefir grains have been passed down from person to person for centuries. Buy your friend a Happy Gut water kefir kit, share your grains and teach them how they can #smileontheinside.
Add them to smoothies. They are totally edible and will super boost your gut bacteria and immune system.
Put them into dormancy by placing them into a container of water and putting them into your fridge. Without sugar or warmth, they will go dormant and can stay in your fridge for up to 2 months.
Carbonation is created when yeast converts sugar into CO2 and alcohol. If you want to increase the CO2 (fizz), there are several things you can do to increase the carbonation during both the first and second fermentation.
First, let the first fermentation ferment for longer. Allowing your initial fermentation to go for at least 48 hours will strengthen all of the activity. At the end of your first fermentation, there should be at least a small amount of natural carbonation that has built up.
If you’d rather only do the initial brew for 24 hours but still want some good carbonation, then bottling for a second fermentation is a must!
Try these second fermentation steps to get your water kefir bubbly:
Fill your water kefir bottle closer to the top. Leaving no more than a half an inch of space. By reducing the amount of oxygen present in the bottle, more CO2 is dissolved into the water kefir.
Increase the sugar content in your second fermentation. Either add fruit or fruit juice to each of your bottle.
Allow the second fermentation to go longer. Do note, you will need to start burping the bottle once a day after about 3 days of fermenting to keep it from exploding (it’s rare, but it happens). Simply open the bottle slowly to release the CO2 and recap.
Your second fermentation should be at room temperature. As soon as you place a bottle in the refrigerator, fermentation, and therefore CO2 creation, will cease. If you like it bubbly, don’t place it in the refrigerator until it has reached the carbonation level you enjoy.
Lastly, realize that your brew may never reach the highly carbonated levels of store-bought soda because they both add artificial CO2 during bottling.
We are located in Canada, so we’re experts at fermenting in cold temperatures! Here are some of our top tips for keeping your ferment warm:
In the winter, we prefer to move our jars up to a high shelf in a warm room, like on top of cupboards or a tall bookshelf.
If your fermentation jar is resting on a cold countertop, place a book or cutting board underneath it for insulation and wrap some mini Christmas lights around it. This will help keep the temperature consistent.
If taking those steps doesn’t get the temperature above 20 degrees, we do recommend using a heating pad or a seed starter mat* — setting it on its lowest setting, and wrapping it around the jar. This can be very effective at maintaining a consistent temperature in the mid 20’s.
The trick with using a heating pad is checking on it so that it doesn’t get too warm. If the heating pad starts overheating your fermentation (in the mid to upper 30’s is too warm) then only use the heating pad for a few hours a day. Once you flip off the heating pad, you can keep a towel wrapped around the jar to retain some of that heat for a few hours.
As for the second fermentation, it is less necessary to keep the temperature in the 20’s. Simply store your water kefir bottle somewhere where it will stay above 20 degrees. If you want to move the second fermentation along quicker, then store it somewhere warmer.
If you leave it on the counter in the swivel top bottle, it will continue to ferment and have less sugar content. Once it is placed in the fridge, the fermentation stops and the flavor will be consistent. Water kefir will last up to a month in your refrigerator. Like vinegar, water kefir has a very long shelf life due to the low pH. However, the fresher your water kefir is, the tastier it will be! At Happy Gut, we always leave our swivel top bottle on the counter as a reminder to drink our daily quota of 2 cups and we don’t mind drinking it at room temperature.
2 cups per day is the recommended amount but the more good bacteria in your digestive system the better! Your goal is to build a strong immune system. Happy Gut is proud to have developed the perfect fermentation kit that provides a person 2 cups each day until the next batch fermenting is ready to be transferred into the swivel top bottle. The 33.75 oz Swivel Top bottle provides 4 cups of Water Kefir when filled to the top.
Water kefir is a probiotic, just like, although more powerful than, commercially made yogurt, kombucha, etc. It is best to start slowly – it is powerful. Whenever you change the makeup of your internal ecosystem, there can be “die-off”. (If the new good bacteria are replacing some bad bacteria, Candida, etc.) Temporary symptoms of die-off include headache, general aches, nausea, diarrhea, etc., (basically flu-like symptoms) as your body tries to rid itself of toxins as quickly as possible, just like when you are ill. If your body does not contain many toxins, you may not experience this.
Yes. Traditional Water Kefir Grains have evolved to feed on granulated white sugar and cannot properly ferment without it. Thick sugars like turbinado, sugar in the raw, and brown sugar are too difficult for the Water Kefir grains to break down and process. Also, always avoid alternative sugars like honey, stevia, etc. as the culture will struggle to thrive.
For more information on sugars and their effect on your fermentation, read our handy sugar guide.
No! As we like to say at Happy Gut, the sugar isn’t for you, it’s for the culture. Water Kefir grains feed on sugar – it is a necessary piece of the fermentation puzzle (the yeast in the culture processes the sugar for energy, in turn creating Co2 and alcohol). Lowering the amount of sugar in your brew will only throw off the fermentation process. Remember, most of the sugar has been processed out by the time it is ready to drink.
While we cannot guarantee the safety of your home-fermented water kefir, it is actually safer to make than fermenting or canning most things at home due to the very low pH level. The low pH level of water kefir makes it difficult for unfriendly organisms to survive in it. At Happy Gut, we feel raw Water Kefir is best because its raw state is what makes it so healthy to drink, the living bacteria and healthy acids and enzymes that would be destroyed upon pasteurization. Very few commercial breweries pasteurize their water kefir. So your home fermentation setup is no different!
Water kefir is made from kefir grains, also known as tibicos. The grains are various strains of healthy bacteria and yeast, held together in a polysaccharide matrix created by the bacteria. The symbiotic relationship of the microbes produces a stable growing culture. The microbes feed on sugar and produce lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol), and carbon dioxide, yielding a fermented carbonated beverage.
They’re both sweet-sour slightly bubbly drinks. They’re both full of probiotics and they’re both made by yeast and bacteria to ferment sugary liquid. The kombucha SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) is used to make the drink.
Water kefir grains are also colonies of bacteria and yeast in cellulose, but they tend to grow like grains, not in one large mass. They float in liquid rather than always rising to the top
One big difference between water kefir and kombucha is the length of time it takes to brew a batch. The SCOBY will take between 7 and 30 days to finish fermenting the liquid, or an average of about two weeks. The water kefir grains, on the other hand, only take about two days to ferment their sugary liquid.
One way that these two types of colonies are the same, though, is that once you’re done brewing your kombucha tea or your water kefir, you’ll have even more microorganisms than when you started. The kombucha SCOBY will create a “baby” SCOBY with every batch, and eventually, it will be big enough that you can separate the baby SCOBY from the mother and you’ll have two SCOBYs for brewing. Water kefir grains also keep reproducing and multiplying, forming individual grains. You’ll notice that each time you strain out the water kefir grains from the liquid, you’ll have slightly more. You can eat the extra grains, use them to ferment more batches of water kefir or give extra kefir grains to your friends.
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