Can you see them?
They are ALIVE!
Time and time again I get emails telling me that people have killed their grains or that they are no good, based on their own assumptions, and then they proceed to throw them away!
If you can see the grains then they are JUST FINE.
The problem is YOU and not the grains but I’m glad you stopped in for some assistance! 😉
Water kefir grains have been around for centuries and they can be frozen, dehydrated and very warm and they still continue to work.
Kefir grains can grow to be quite large, however that does not mean that they are better. In fact, when the grains are smaller, there is more surface area involved which produces a better kefir (they also tend to grow more easily at a smaller, more manageable size as well).
Temperature is the #1 problem for getting the grains to ferment.
They need to be kept consistently warm and there are numerous tips in my BLOG post about HOW TO EASILY KEEP YOUR FERMENTS WARM.
Something that you need to know as well, is that if you live in a cooler climate, water kefir grains struggle in the winter and don’t multiply as profusely and aren’t as plump as they are in the summer.
Don’t worry, it isn’t a YOU problem, the babies are little barometers and they hate the cold. You will see that your kefir grains will be continuously morphing themselves from season to season and year to year.
They may not multiply as much but they will still make wonderful, probiotic rich water kefir.
I strongly suggest that you leave your first ferment for 48 hours instead of 24 in the winter.
That way more sugar gets eaten up.
The second mistake that people make is that they don’t give the grains a chance to acclimatize to their specific water.
You need to do the exact same process and use the exact same ingredients, two to three rounds before the grains will begin to fully produce.
People start adding things that they read about on the internet like egg shells and minerals and lemons etc. and the grains get super confused!!!
Changing the variables like the types of sugar or the amount of sugar also confuses the grains, so be prepared for almost no action the first couple of times, when you change things.
The bottom line is that whatever you do, keep it consistent.
I clearly remember when I was gifted my grains and I was so excited to open the second ferment after my first round … and nothing happened.
NO FIZZ! 🙁
I definitely deemed myself a loser but I had nothing to go on.
I had no instructions and no definitive help on Google. (that’s why I started Happy Gut)
I proceeded to start again and low and behold I began to get a bit of fizz after my second round and a full explosion on the third round.
Don’t give up!
Always do the second ferment, even if you are questioning if the fermentation is working or not.
The first ferment doesn’t produce fizz ever because you need to seal up the water kefir in order to build the CO2.
As well, the second ferment eats up more of the sugar as it builds the CO2.
Use pineapple juice for your second ferment on your first few rounds.
Water kefir loves the sugars in pineapple juice and makes for a very fizzy drink.
I strongly suggest that once your grains are acclimatized, you don’t use pineapple juice in your second ferment because it makes the drink too fizzy and opening the green bottle after the second ferment is too unpredictable. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you! 😉
So there you have it.
If you can see your grains, they are alive and well.
Here’s a recap:
Keep the first and second ferment consistently warm, don’t change your variables and ALWAYS do a second ferment.
As well, the beauty of water kefir is that you can stop and start at any time.
The best way to put your grains into dormancy is to put them into plain water in your first ferment jar in the fridge.
That way they will get good and hungry and will be raring to produce when you are ready to start again.
They can sit in the fridge for up to three months.
Want to learn about some of the other things you can do with water kefir?
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This post is written in Canada with Love and good intentions,
Leeza Zurwick is the Founder of Happy Gut and has a deep passion for living off the earth and using fermented food as medicine. After being gifted some water kefir grains, she found it difficult to find consistent information on how to brew water kefir and she found it challenging to source the right brewing supplies. Through extensive research, trial and error, Leeza developed simple recipes and systems to ensure success and delicious results. After drinking water kefir daily, she noticed a significant reduction in bloating, clearer skin and her immune system was strengthened enough to not get sick, despite working in classrooms full of germy kids! Leeza launched Happy Gut in 2017 and made it her mission to share the age old wisdom, simplicity and incredible health benefits of live, probiotic rich, fermented Water Kefir.