Water Kefir Guide: Overview
Water kefir is a fantastic alternative to milk kefir for those looking for a dairy-free probiotic drink. It's the perfect beverage to cool down to in our hot Singapore weather! We're here to show you step-by-step how easy and simple it is to brew your own water kefir at home. Before we get started with the guide, it will be helpful to learn about what exactly goes on during the fermentation.
Authentic water kefir can only be made by using live water kefir grains. These grains are a symbiotic relationship between various beneficial bacteria and yeast. Together, they consume the sugar in the water, releasing a wide spectrum of probiotics and carbonation. Speaking of sugar, there are only three main ingredients needed: sugar, water, and water kefir grains—that's it! After fermenting, the kefir grains will have consumed most of the sugar in the water, making it even well-tolerated by many diabetics. It's much easier to make than most other fermented foods, and packs a lot more live probiotics too.
Important Note: If this is your first time consuming kefir, please remember to start out with small amounts until your body gets used to it. Give your body a chance to adapt to the live probiotics by consuming a couple spoonfuls a day and slowly increase over time. Consuming too much in the beginning can give you a stomach ache. We are not medical professionals and ask that you consult with your GP regarding any matters of health.
Water kefir grains can tolerate many different kinds of sugar, and the type of sugar you use will ultimately affect the final flavour of the drink. Feel free to experiment with different types of sugar until you find one that you like the most!
- Organic pure cane sugar
- Refined white sugar
- Brown sugar
- Artificial sweeteners such as Stevia and Agave
We are lucky to be able to drink fresh water straight from the tap here in Singapore, but unfortunately, the small amount of chlorine in our water can harm the water kefir grains. There are a few ways you can remove chlorine from the water: boil it and wait for the water to cool, or let a jug of water stand over the course of a day. Both methods remove chlorine via evaporation, and boiling it makes the process faster. If you wan't something quicker, the best alternative is to buy fresh bottled water from the store.
How to make Water Kefir
Gather your supplies (Makes ~1L of kefir)
Boil 100ml of water and pour into the jar.
Add 4 tablespoons of your choice of sugar. At Sour Culture, we prefer to use organic pure cane sugar. Feel free to experiment with different types of sugar, but please keep mind of which types to avoid as mentioned earlier in this guide.
Stir the sugar water to help the sugar granules dissolve and then wait 20-30 minutes for the water to cool. Put it in the freezer for 5 minutes to speed up the cooling.
Once cooled, add 700ml of room temperature water into the jar.
Add 3 tablespoons of Live Water Kefir Grains into the sugar water.
Note: Please make sure the water has come to room temperature before adding the grains.
Cover the jar with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. If you don't have cheesecloth, you can also use paper towels or anything that is breathable.
Once covered, put the jar in an area away from direct sunlight and somewhere it won't be disturbed. Leave to ferment for 48 hours.
Note: We want to use a breathable cover because the grains will continuously release gas as it ferments. If you use an airtight seal, the pressure buildup can cause the glass jar to explode! The cheesecloth will allow the gas to escape freely.
After 48 hours, the water kefir will have fully fermented and the grains will have consumed most of the sugar in the water. Use a plastic strainer to strain the water kefir and put the grains back into the jar and repeat steps 1-5.
Refrigerate the water kefir liquid and drink it cold! Optionally, you can continue on to the next step for a second fermentation.
Step 7 (Optional Second Fermentation)
A second fermentation is when we remove the grains and allow the liquid to ferment with fresh fruit for an additional day. The live probiotics in the water kefir will feed on the natural sugars in the fruit. This second fermentation will flavour the water kefir and increase the nutrient content.
We have fresh organic figs growing in our garden so let's harvest some and put them into our water kefir!
Slice up a handful or two of fresh fruit (half a cup per 1L). Here we are using fresh figs, but you can use any fruit you like, such as strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, or even a combination of these. Don't be afraid to experiment! Make sure to cut them small enough to fit into the mouth of the jar.
Allow the water kefir to ferment for an additional 24 hours with the fruit.
Important note: Some people use an airtight seal for the second fermentation so that they can achieve some carbonation in the drink. This can only be done with strong, good quality glass bottles and jars that are designed with carbonation in mind. Most of the glass bottles you find in store here in Singapore cannot withstand the pressure buildup and can explode if you use an airtight seal. This is both messy and very dangerous. To be on the safe side, please use a cheesecloth to cover the jar or bottle during the second fermentation, just as you would with the first fermentation. Only use an airtight seal if you can confirm 100% that the glass bottle can withstand strong carbonation.
After 24 hours, your water kefir will have completed its second fermentation. Refrigerate or drink with some ice cubes!
How do I take a break from making water kefir?
Easy! Put the grains in a jar with sugar water as you normally would and put them straight into the fridge. This will put the grains into "sleep mode" and drastically slow down its fermentation. They will be perfectly fine for at least 2 weeks, after which you must strain them and replenish with new sugar water. Although you won't get sick from drinking the liquid after fermenting in the fridge, we recommend you discard the liquid as it won't taste very good.
Will the water kefir grains grow and multiply?
Depending on the type of sugar and the room temperature, the water kefir grains can almost double in volume after 3 batches (6 days). As the grains grow, you will have to either increase the amount of water and sugar, or decrease the amount of grains. The correct ratio of water kefir grains to sugar is always 1:1 tablespoon. For every litre of water, try to keep a maximum of 4-6 tablespoons of water kefir grains. Here are some things you can do with your extra grains: freeze them in sugar water, give it to your dog, or toss it into your garden as an organic fertilizer.
Why are my water kefir grains yellow?
The water kefir grains will absorb the colour of the sugar that you use in the fermentation. We happen to use organic pure cane sugar which has a yellow colour, this is why the water kefir in our pictures appear yellow. Don't worry if your water kefir ends up a different colour!
Can I put fresh fruits in during the first fermentation?
You most definitely can, but it's best to add the fruits in during the second fermentation when the grains have been removed. We do it this way so that we eliminate any chance of the water kefir grains getting harmed by the fruits.
How long can I keep the water kefir in the fridge?
Water kefir can be kept in the fridge for at least a week. It will not go bad over time, but it may become more and more sour as it continues to slowly ferment in the fridge. If you are using an airtight bottle for storage in the fridge, please "burp" the bottle by opening it once a day. This will release the gas and prevent your glass bottles from possibly exploding! If you want to be safe, just keep it covered with cheese cloth.
Have any questions?
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