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  Home > Raw Vegan Food > All Raw Food Products >

  Water Kefir Grains - DRIED. Approximately 5-7 grams. Makes about 4-6 cups of kefir each batch to start.
KEF-10


 
Our Price: CAD $10.00

Stock Status:In Stock

Product Code: KEF-10
Qty:

Description
 
Dried Water Kefir Grains


Please check out our Q & A section (click on tab above) for detailed information.

You will receive approximately 5-7 grams of dried Kefir Grains. This amount of kefir grains will produce about 4-6 cups of delicious kefir each batch (24-48 hours) to start with and much more as the kefir grains grow.


Genuine water kefir can only be made by real kefir grains, not from any kind of packet or powder. The unique live and self-propagating grains make this a beverage you cannot find in the stores.

All genuine water kefir grains have similar strains. However there can be minor differences from one persons water kefir grains to the next. In keeping with this, our grains originate from multiple sources and have been combined to create a more diverse, balanced and strong strain. We do this to ensure
they have the best chance of thriving under multiple diets and locations!

We enjoy drinking this daily ourselves, and are very meticulous in making sure we nurture, feed and gently handle our kefir to promote vibrant healthy grains. They come from a clean, smoke-free home and never come in contact with any metal or chemicals of any sort.


Water Kefir (also known as: Tibicos, Blgaros, Japanese Water Crystals, California Bees) is a wonderful mildly zesty fermented sugar-water beverage. It can be likened to a natural, light and refreshing soda - perfect for a healthy drink alternative. It can also be used to make Tepache. It has a low glycemic load and no caffeine either. Most speculate it originated in Mexico where it thrived in the sugary water of the Ountia (prickly pear) cactus.

Authentic kefir can only be made by real kefir grains, not from any kind of packet or powder. The unique live and self-propagating grains make this a beverage you cannot find in the stores. The grains range in color from clear to brown depending on the sugar used when fermenting!

Water Kefir, is simple to make. It is fermented at room temperature with kefir grains, water, sugar and dried fruit for about 24-48 hours. It has many health benefits, a great flavor and is also well-tolerated by many diabetics (unlike regular soda pop). It's much easier to make than yogurt, beer or wine, has a larger spectrum of probiotics and the sustainable grains make it very economical.

_______________________________________________________________


Water Kefir Step-by-Step Guide

*When your package arrives, we recommend putting it directly in your fridge temporarily, until you're ready to feed the grains (preferably the same day, or within 24 hours). Thank you for your purchase and welcome to the kefir family! You are now part of a world-wide community that has sustained this delicious health-promoting drink for over many centuries.

Most fermentations, including water kefir, do not do particularly well with metal utensils or metal containers which may harm or kill them. It is recommended to stick with glass, wood and plastic when handling and fermenting. Stainless steel is considered safe for short term contact such as straining or stirring.

Utensils:
Quart or larger jar
Wood or plastic spoon/spatula
Plastic/nylon or stainless steel strainer
Another quart-size or larger non-metal container to
store the finished kefir in (clean pop, juice, vinegar or oil bottles work great).

Ingredients:

Water: One quart (4 cups) of water. Non or low-chlorinated, high mineral water is preferable. Minerals help your grains to function and properly metabolize the sugars. Filtered and distilled water
are low in minerals and usually don't work well; if this is your only source of water, additional minerals may be necessary (more on this below in the guide). Letting it sit out (open, no lid) 24 hours allows chlorine to evaporate. Chloramine (another form of chlorine sometimes used to treat water) does not evaporate though. *We recommend starting out with spring or mineral water and then testing on back-up grains with your tap or filtered water before using one type exclusively. Hold off on experimenting with other liquids such as juice or coconut water until the grains have balanced in their new home.

Sugar: Whole Cane sugar, brown (or a combination of these) - about cup (4-6 tablespoons). Water kefir grains
function best on a combination of white sugar and dried fruits, or a combination of white sugar and less processed sugar (brown, whole cane, molasses, coconut sugar etc). There are truly a variety of combinations you can try. Experiment and see which one tastes best to you!

Optional items:
Nut Mylk bag / Muslin bag: to hold your grains or dried fruit in during the ferment. This is convenient for keeping the grains seperate from the fruit, but isn't necessary. Keep in mind it can sometimes hinder the grains access to nutrients a bit, too. This functions best for holding small fruits, or fruits that shred as they hydrate (like dates) herbs or loose leaf teas that you may eventually experiment with in your water kefir.

Lemon: organic is best, washed well. Some people like the flavor this lends, some don't. Sometimes it can help
with the ph of the ferment as well, depending on your water and other ingredients you're using.

Optional:
Dried unsulphured fruit: Fruit adds to the flavor and nutritional dimension of the beverage. They are
especially helpful if you're using only white sugar, as the dried fruit supplies minerals that processed sugar
lacks. Avoid sulphured fruit (a preservative added to many dried fruit that can suppress or even harm the
grains). A handful of dried fruit per quart is sufficient.

Amount of fruit: You can visually get an idea here of about how much a 'handful' is. You can get by with less than this, too. The fruits pictured work well with water kefir, either by helping nourish the grains, lending a great flavor, and in many cases, both.

NOTE: We have found some fruits like dried strawberries just don't do much for the flavor or the grains. Raspberries on the other hand, work very well for flavor. Keep in mind some of these fruit will dye
your grains a bit! Banana can be ok, but is sometimes a bit 'oily' and doesn't lend as much flavor as you'd think.

STEPS:
1. When you are ready to start making water kefir, place the dried kefir grains into a clean jar that holds at least 4 cups (a quart). For this first batch, add 4 cups of spring water or mineral water to start out with. Let them hydrate for about 5-15 minutes before adding sugar. Be sure to allow some space at the top (don't fill to the brim). Never use water hotter than room temperature. It doesnt really matter whether its a skinny or a wide jar, but we have found that the kefir grains do a little bit better in a wide jar simply because they
can breathe better.

2. For this first batch, add 4-6 tablespoons ( - 1/3 cup) sugar of your choice (white, brown, raw or a mix of them). Here are some good sugar combinations:
all white sugar + a handful of dried fruit
40-80% white sugar + remaining % unrefined sugar
80% white sugar + 20% molasses
a blend of white sugar, unrefined sugar, and dried fruit

HONEY: You can try honey but it is cautioned that due to its antibacterial properties (especially raw), and different ratios of sugars (higher amounts of fructose than sugar) it may weaken the grains. We highly recommend experimenting, there are SO many sugar and dried fruit options. But, we stress waiting to do so until you have enough extra grains to experiment in a separate jar.

SUGAR: White cane sugar is the most affordable, and does not overwhelm other flavors that you may wish to add later when bottling. We recommend using white cane sugar for at least approx. half of the sugar and, if desired, supplement the rest with a form of less refined sugar such as whole cane sugar or blackstrap molasses for additional mineral support. We have found that the grains do best with access to dense sugar (white) supplemented with a smaller portion of high mineral (less refined) sugars and/or dried unsulphured fruits.

3. Stir with a wooden or plastic utensil until the sugar is mostly dissolved. If you are adding a lemon wedge, its easier to do so after stirring.

CHLORINE: Chlorine can damage the kefir grains, which is sometimes found in high amounts in tap. Please refer to the section above on water under 'Ingredients'.

METAL: If using a metal strainer, stainless steel is considered safe for brief contact. Acids from cultures can interact with and leach metals (though mostly through prolonged contact), which could disrupt or harm the grains.

4. At this point, you can add a lemon wedge (anywhere from 1/8 of a lemon to a half lemon). If you're unsure what may be on the lemon (wax, chemicals, etc), simply peel the skin off. It's not necessary to squeeze the lemon, but you can do this at the end when you are ready to drink, if you prefer a stronger lemon flavor.

5. Cover the top of the jar with a cloth, paper towel or parchment paper held by elastic. This is so your kefir grains can breathe while at the same time protecting it from contamination.

LID: Putting a tight lid can cause the jar to explode due to the natural carbonation process taking place. Believe us, this does happen!

6. Time to let them rest and do their thing! Find a place for your grains out of direct sunlight. A cupboard is just fine. You can shake/stir them once in awhile as they ferment (helps redistribute nutrients). Dont worry if you forget although helpful, its not completely necessary. Check back on them in about 48 hours!

TEMPERATURE: Temperature can greatly affect the speed of fermentation (it can take half as much time during the summer). Experiment and see what tastes right (and digests right) for you. They will not die if they're ready at 24 hours, but you strain at 48, so don't worry too much!

7. When the kefir is ready, you need to separate the water kefir from the kefir grains. Set a plastic or stainless steel strainer over a jar or bowl and pour everything in. Pick out any fruit or lemon. You can eat these, discard, or even keep in your bottled water kefir. You can also re-use fruit for one more ferment if desired. If you used lemon, you can squeeze it into your strained kefir for a stronger lemon flavor if desired.

SURFACE: It's normal to see some grains, the dried fruit, foam and occasionally some 'scum' floating near the top (especially when using less refined sugars and/or dried fruits). It's also normal to see a perfectly clear surface, too. Sometimes this can indicate inactivity though - taste to see if it still tastes like flat, sweet sugar water - this indicates the grains did not convert much of the sugar.

FLAVOR: Water kefir is milder than kombucha, but should still have a noticeable flavor change - like a weak apple cider. Carbonation is very subtle but will increase when bottled (more on this below).

INACTIVITY: If your grains are not doing well, they most likely need more mineral support. We recommend adding at least 1 tablespoon of whole cane sugar or using a nutrient dense dried fruit like apricots or dates. You can also try adding about 1/8 teaspoon (per quart) of baking soda, sea salt, or calcium carbonate to see if that helps.

ACTIVITY: Good signs of activity include floating grains (carbon dioxide bubbles trapped within the matrix of the grain) and tiny bubbles that raise to the surface when you tap the bottom of the jar.

8. Now its time to bottle your strained water kefir and put the grains back into their jar. Measure out 1/4 cup of grains and place them back in your jar (does not need to be washed each time), or a clean jar. In the 'Extra Grains & Storage' section below you'll find ideas for what to do with extra grain growth. Now pour your strained water kefir into another jar to store. Clean pop, juice, vinegar or oil bottles work great. Glass is the preferred storage material. Plastic and metal tend to leach when in contact with acidic liquids. You can drink it
right away or chill it. Water kefir tastes best (in our opinion) within 48 hours of being chilled, and begins to diminish in flavor past a week (continues to convert to a more acidic, higher alcohol beverage).



EXPLOSIONS: When storing, try to keep the lid on a tad loose, to prevent explosion. If you're aiming for more carbonation, fill the bottle within 1/4" of the top, and put the lid on tight, but 'burp' it each day (open the lid, then close back up) - this prevents explosions but still allows carbonation to build up.


FIRST FERMENTS: Occasionally, the first batch or two will have an off odor. Although generally safe, you may want to discard the first few batches. Although usually fine upon arrival, its good to let your grains acclimate to your home, water source and sugars and become fully balanced before regular consumption. If it has a strong 'nail polish' odor, wait until they balance. If it persists, rest your grains in clean water in the fridge for a couple of days, changing out the water daily.

Important Note Before Drinking Kefir:

Kefir contains very large amounts of good bacteria and yeast as well as being acidic (from the high amounts of healthful lactic acid)- for a few people's bodies it can be a little bit of a shock. Everybody reacts to it differently, so we always recommend starting out slow to see how your body takes to it. The majority of people do not have any adverse reaction, but if you do, usually it's just a matter of starting out slow and slowing increasing over time. Start with a tablespoon and go from there. If you are sensitive to sugar and tiny amounts of alcohol, it is generally tolerated better on a full, rather than empty stomach.


NOTE: When people say they are drinking kefir, they are referring to the liquid created. However, it is fine to eat small amounts of the grains themselves, too, which are of course an excellent source of probiotics.

FLAVORING: Half the fun of water kefir is flavoring. When you've got it strained and bottled, you can experiment with many different flavors and techniques. Add in some of your favorite fruit juice, veggie juice, or squeeze in some fresh lemon, lime or orange. You can even add fresh or dried fruit. Raspberries are delicious. A teaspoon of vanilla extract (per 1-2 cups), a stick of cinnamon, or some fresh slices of ginger are excellent as well. Grape juice is outstanding and gets it quite fizzy, too. Let the flavors meld, we like to let ours chill
up to 2 days for maximum impact! Sometimes this process is called the '2nd Ferment' because it is without the grains, where you are adding in more sugar and/or fruit and flavors, and letting it further ferment a day or two. You can let it rest at room temperature or in the fridge for this process (just make sure to 'burp' the bottles, especially if left out of the fridge.


9. Now simply repeat! Thats it! Congratulations on your first home-made water kefir! It really is a fool-proof process and the grains are quite resilient, so dont worry too much, people have been making this for centuries!
Have fun, experiment and enjoy!


Extra Grains and Storage

After your first few batches:

As you continue to make kefir, your grains will grow. At that point, you can either add more sugar-water if you want more kefir, eat them or store them (its always a good idea to have some back-up grains on hand!). They also are a good addition to a compost pile! :)

Eating the grains is another way to get a mega dose of probiotics. Start with a very small amount of balanced, healthy grains and see how your body responds. Unlike milk kefir grains, these are rather bland and flavorless. We still like eating them ourselves once in awhile (as does one of our dogs!). You can also blend them in with your kefir or kefir smoothies (throw in some bananas and strawberries for fun!). Everyone is different and some people may be sensitive or not quite use to the sheer number of good bacteria and yeast contained in the grains. As with all things, listen first to your body.

How to store your extra grains:

Freezing - best for medium to long term storage

Freezing is probably not the best option for water kefir, but if you prefer, here is what to do! To freeze, rinse your grains if you wish with water (no chlorine, no heat) and then gently pat them dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. You can take them directly out of a finished batch of kefir and just pat them dry of kefir (they will be more sticky, but rinsing is not absolutely necessary).They will still be damp, now take them and roll them in a bowl of sugar until well coated. Then fill a freezer bag or jar with a generous amount of sugar and bury them in it (to protect them from air, moisture and freezer burn). You can also try freezing them directly in their water kefir jar, but it is more damaging, since the water expands as it freezes. If you want to freeze multiple batches of kefir grains in water kefir, simply place a few grains in each cube of an ice cube tray, fill with kefir and let freeze on a flat surface. Then pop them out into a freezer bag within a day or two and store for about 3 months. Dom, a kefir-guru recommends grains spend no longer than six months in the freezer. However, some have had success reconstituting frozen grains after more than 2 years (though we can't say what the quality or health
of the grains were at this point!).

If you have a self-defrosting freezer, you can try freeze-drying your grains at home. Try to start with small grains of uniform size (gently separate larger grains with your fingers to make smaller if necessary). Place your grains on a porous, non-metal surface, such as some nylon suspended above a cookie sheet. Allow them to freeze openly in your freezer for about 3-5 days. This will only work in a self-defrosting freezer that is able to wick away moisture as they freeze, allowing them to dry. When they are dry, store them buried in sugar in the freezer (in a jar or bag) or in a vacuum-sealed bag.

Dehydrating - best for long term, convenient and/or transportable storage
1. Pat your kefir grains dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. You may rinse them ahead of time if you wish In chlorine-free water.
2 Lay out on a clean surface. A cloth or paper towel works well for non-fan drying, a plate, wax paper or any clean surface (non-metal) works fine for forced air drying. Skip to step 5 if you have a fan or dehydrator.
3. If you don't have a fan, cover loosely with paper towel to protect them as they dry, this will take about 2-5 days, depending on room temperature and humidity.
4. Check them as they are drying, flipping them around half-way to expose the damp parts near the bottom.
5. If you have a fan, lay them out as mentioned in step 1 and angle a low or medium force of air towards them (just be careful not to blow them away!). If you have a dehydrator that can do 75F or less, than this is an acceptable method as well. They will dry in about 12- 48 hours, depending on room temperature and humidity.
6. You can stop the drying when they appear almost dry but are still barely squishy if you are storing them for a short period of time (such as a week or two). They are slightly more active and fresh in this state. Otherwise proceed to step 7.
7. When the grains are completely dry (hard, small, yellowish) put them into a plastic bag or jar with cotton balls (to absorb excess moisture) and store them at room temperature or in the refrigerator. You can also store them in a paper envelope, inside a jar OR coated in sugar in a bag or jar. Dehydrated grains can successfully be reconstituted after a year or more.

Refrigerating - best for temporary storage

If you need to store them temporarily, you can always put them either in their own kefir or in a little plain water in the fridge. The colder temperature will greatly slow the fermentation process. This is the best method of storage if you're planning to take a break of about a month or less. It may take a batch or two to fully reactive them. If you're taking a longer break, dehydrating is recommended.
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Recipes -


Fruit: Fresh or dried fruit can be added either during the fermentation process
or after the grains have been removed. Or simply add in anything in a blender with
the kefir water and some ice for a refreshing slushy!

Fruit Juice: Fruit juice should only be added once the grains have been removed
(It can cause them to cease growing, disintegrate and also dye them the color of
the juice).
Approximately 1/4 cup juice per 1 quart kefir water is a good amount to
start with.
Adjust to taste. Lemon juice added at the end of a basic sugar-water
kefir with white sugar makes a fantastic lemonade. Orange juice makes a great
tangy orange soda. Grape juice is yet another favorite often referred to as Kefir
d'uva.

Flavor Extracts: The most commonly used flavor is vanilla which makes a
smooth cream soda when added ( TBS pure vanilla extract to 1 quart finished
water kefir). Be sure to remove the grains before adding a flavor extract. Whole
vanilla beans or cinnamon sticks can be used as well.

Orange Vanilla Soda
After 24 hours of fermentation, strain the kefir, take the liquid and add TBS
vanilla extract per quart. Add a couple orange slices (outer rind peeled if
non-organic). Let sit for another 24 hours on the counter, or 24-48 in the fridge.
Tighten the lid for more fizz!

Blueberry Coconut
After 24 hours of fermentation, strain the kefir, take the liquid and add cup
coconut water per quart. Put in a big handful of blueberries. Let sit for another 24
hours on the counter, or 24-48 in the fridge.

Cranberry Apple
After 24 hours of fermentation, strain the kefir, take the liquid and add cup
cranberry juice per quart. Throw in a couple slices of apple. Let sit for another 24
hours on the counter, or 24-48 in the fridge.

Grape
After 24 hours of fermentation, strain the kefir, take the liquid and add cup
grape juice per quart. Add a couple grapes if desired as well. Let sit for another
24 hours on the counter, or 24-48 in the fridge. Tighten the lid for more fizz!

Creamy Ginger spice
After 24 hours of fermentation with just ginger and sugar, strain the kefir, take
the liquid and add TBS vanilla extract and 1 cinnamon stick per quart. Let sit for
another 24 hours on the counter, or 24-48 in the fridge. Tighten the lid for more
fizz! Serve cold with whip cream on top. Or add some scoops of caramel vanilla ice
cream for a delicious float!

Lime Pineapple
After 24 hours of fermentation with a slice of lime (instead of lemon), strain the
kefir, take the liquid and add a half cup pineapple chunks per quart, squeeze in the
lime juice and discard the lime slice. Let sit for another 24 hours on the counter,
or 24-48 in the fridge.

Raspberry mango
After 24 hours of fermentation, strain the kefir, take the liquid and add cup
mango (or similar tropical fruit juice) per quart. Add in cup raspberries. Let sit
for another 24 hours on the counter, or 24-48 in the fridge. Tighten the lid for
more fizz!

Strawberry lemon
After 24 hours of fermentation, strain the kefir, take the liquid and add 1/2 cup
pureed strawberries and squeeze out the juice from the lemon into it. Add a
couple whole strawberries if desired as well. Let sit for another 24 hours on the
counter, or 24-48 in the fridge. If this is too tart, add in some sugar or honey at
the end to taste.

Cola Cherry
After 24 hours of fermentation of just sugar and grains, strain the kefir, take
the liquid and add cup cherry juice per quart. Add a couple whole cherries if
desired as well. Let sit for another 24 hours on the counter, or 24-48 in the
fridge. Mix in sugar to taste if desired.

Banana Berry Blend (Slushy or Smoothie)
Take a cup frozen berries, cup kefir water, cup shredded coconut, 1/2 large
banana, a couple spoons of applesauce and blend in ice until desired consistency is
reached. Add honey or sugar if you would like it sweeter. You can also make a
smoothie with a couple scoops vanilla or coconut ice cream instead of ice. This is a
very delicious flavor combination.

To make Slushies, Smoothies and Italian Sodas with Water Kefir:

Since water kefir does have some flavor of its own, we recommend starting out
with flavors that compliment it one or two at a time, just in case you are not crazy
about the final flavor. Most people love many different combinations though, and
even fruits like blueberries and bananas can go well with water kefir. Below are
some recipes and recommendations!

Water Kefir Slushies:

Put in a blender your finished, ready-to-drink water kefir liquid (a cup or two),
fruit of choice and any other add-ins. Blend. THEN add in crushed ice until the
consistency is good. Often times people underestimate the amount of ice needed-
make sure you have a lot on hand!

Taste, add more fruit or fruit juice if needed (not too much or it will turn runny
quickly), and tiny bit of sweetener of your choice or applesauce (xylitol,coconut sugar,stevia) if it
needs some more sweetness.

A few great blends to try: lemonade-strawberry, grape, grape-lime, mango-banana,
kiwi-raspberry, acai berry, banana-pineapple, cherry, ginger-lemon-orange,
blackberry, pomegranate, cranberry-lime, lemon-lime, grape-cherry-strawberry,
blueberry-tangerine-banana, banana-apple-raspberry, coconut-blueberry,
papaya-banana, strawberry-banana-orange, lychee-coconut-banana,
pineapple-banana-guava, orange-banana-grapefruit, watermelon-lime.

Fruit and flavorings can be fresh, frozen, jams or juices. Mix it up and see what
new delicious twists you can create! You can also add in carrot juice, aloe, yogurt,
soy, cream (make it an Italian soda!) ginger, vanilla or chocolate if you're feeling
adventurous or looking to boost the nutrition even more!

Water Kefir Smoothies (similar to slushies, but with frozen yogurt or
icecream!):

Put in a blender your finished, ready-to-drink water kefir liquid (a cup or two),
fruit of choice and any other add-ins. Blend. THEN add in icecream or frozen
yogurt of your choice until you reach your desired consistency. Vanilla is always a
good base to start with.

Taste, add more fruit or fruit juice if needed (not too much or it will turn runny
quickly), and tiny bit of honey or applesauce (or any kind of sugar or stevia) if it
needs some more sweetness.

A few great blends to try (same as slushy recommendations):
lemonade-strawberry, grape, grape-lime, mango-banana, kiwi-raspberry, acai
berry, banana-pineapple, cherry, ginger-lemon-orange, blackberry, pomegranate,
cranberry-lime, lemon-lime, grape-cherry-strawberry,
blueberry-tangerine-banana, banana-apple-raspberry, coconut-blueberry,
papaya-banana, strawberry-banana-orange, lychee-coconut-banana,
pineapple-banana-guava, orange-banana-grapefruit, watermelon-lime.

Fruit and flavorings can be fresh, frozen, jams or juices (or extracts such as
almond). Mix it up and see what new delicious twists you can create! You can also
add in carrot juice, aloe, yogurt, cream (to make a very rich smoothie) ginger,
vanilla or chocolate if you're feeling adventurous or looking to boost the nutrition
even more! You can also of course add in some delicious bites of cookies, cake,
candy, nuts, graham cracker, whatever your heart desires! We recommend
sticking to a more basic flavor like vanilla and mixing these in at the end for a
chunky effect (and possibly using LOTS of ice cream for a Cold Stone type mix-in
effect, instead of a drinkable smoothie).

Water Kefir Italian Soda:

These are dynamite!

1. Fill a tall glass cup with ice
2. (Optional - we recommend trying these after you know what the plain version
tastes like) add in some flavoring blended fruit of your choice (grape, cherry, kiwi,
cranberry etc). add sweetener of your choice if needed).
3. Pour in your fizzy water kefir to about an inch from the top. To get fizzy water
kefir, bottle it in a specially designed air-tight bottle, such as a swing-top bottle
(used for beer, etc) for a couple days until desired fizziness is reached (then add
it to this recipe).
4. Add in nut mylk or mylk of choice to the top.
5. Stick in your straw and drink!



About Our Dried Kefir Grains


Encouraging Balance
We are constantly seeking out and adding varieties of strains from across the country to our culture
colonies to ensure strength, balance and adaptability. For example, while all water kefir grains are
water kefir grains, some have fast metabolisms, some slow, some more yeast, some more
bacteria. So we are always combining and mixing cultures we observe to have good and desirable
traits together with each other. We want to ensure that the cultures we are sharing are robust and
flexible to adapt to new homes and nutrients. And we also want to ensure that the cultures we
share are reliable to ferment balanced and delicious kefir, kombucha and sourdough.

Home Environment
We also do not use any harsh or dangerous chemicals to clean our house, and we only use
culture-safe materials such as stainless steel, plastic, wood, food-grade rubber (spatulas) and
glass when handling our cultures.

Providing Nutrients
When we notice that our cultures are not at their optimal balance, that is our cue to supply it with a
new variety of nutrients. Much like humans, these cultures need access to variety and the proper
nutrients to thrive. Sometimes the balance hangs in feeding them one way for a certain amount of
time, and then switching. It's fascinating to note that trying to provide them every best nutrient daily,
is not as well-received as giving them variety over the months. They seem to balance themselves
over time, instead of within each day. Much like humans would not like to eat the same breakfast,
lunch and dinner, no matter how balanced those meals were - the same goes for the cultures!
Sometimes it is not even about the food, but needing a rest from eating all-together. Occasionally
our cultures are put on a special fast to help them rest, reclaim their strength, and balance their
bacteria and yeast. For example, when we do this with our milk kefir grains they are rinsed in
spring water, bathed in a special yogurt bath, and left to incubate at a cooler, controlled
temperature for 48 hours. They are then slowly brought back up to speed over a 3 day period out of
their fast.

In the Lab
We are constantly learning from our cultures. They are such complex entities, and just when you
think you understand them, they will surprise you! We are always conducting experiments and
testing new methods so we can better understand our cultures, learn and then be able to pass on
that information here with you.

Please check out our Q & A section (click on tab at top) for detailed information.

Information provided by Yemoos Nourishing Cultures
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ'S)
FAQ's Frequently Asked Questions

Water Kefir Intro

Questions in this Section:
What is water kefir?
How do water kefir grains convert the sugar-water they're in to kefir?
What other names does kefir go by?
What is the purpose of the lemon and the dried fruit?
How are kefir grains different to powder starter (such as Body Ecology's products) or store-bought kefir?
What is the advantage of taking kefir instead of a probiotic supplement?
Why is kefir good for your health?
Why is water kefir sometimes ok for diabetics to consume?
Is kefir a good option for those with Candida?
Is water kefir as beneficial as milk kefir?
What strains of bacteria and yeast are found in kefir grains (and kefir itself)?
Can you make your own kefir grains or get kefir from just water?
What other liquids can you ferment with kefir grains?
What kinds of sugars can you use?
Does it have a sugar preference?
Does is matter what water you use?
What about well water?
What about reverse-osmosis water?
Does kefir contain alcohol?
What does water kefir taste like?
What's the difference between milk kefir and water kefir?
What should kefir grains look like?
What kinds of dried fruit can you use and which are best?
Are all kefir grains the same?
How long do active kefir grains last?
Do kefir grains need to be fed every day?
What other uses does water kefir have?


What is Water Kefir?

Water Kefir (pronounced keh-FEER). The word Kefir is derived from the Turkish word Keif
describing a state of 'feeling good'. Water Kefir is a wonderful mildly zesty fermented sugar-water
beverage. It can be likened to a natural, light and refreshing soda - perfect for a healthy drink
alternative. It can also be used to make Tepache. It has a low glycemic load and no caffeine either. It
is fermented at room temperatures in a sugary water with lemon and dried fruit for about 24-48
hours. It has many wonderful health benefits and is also a great option for those sensitive to milk.
Most speculate it originated in Mexico where it thrived in the sugary water of the Ountia (prickly pear)
cactus. There is also a similar story of water kefir originating in Tibet much further back, when
monks gave Mother Teresa of Calcutta the grains as a gift. They were later introduced to Europe (the
Ionian Islands) and the west by the British Soldiers after the Crimean War in the 1800's. This story
however most likely refers to the Ginger Beer Plant which is extremely similar to water kefir, but it is
still a separate culture. Some suggest that one might have evolved from the other.

How do water kefir grains convert the sugar-water they're in to kefir?

Kefir grains are an amazing symbiotic matrix of bacteria and yeast that work together to feed off the
natural sugars (and sometimes proteins and fats too, especially in the case of milk kefir) found
present in the sugar-water and dried fruits. The yeast and bacteria co-operate, making the nutrients
that are inaccessible to one digested into accessible nutrients for the other. Yeasts break down the
simple sugars like glucose and fructose, turning them into ethanol and acetic acid. Lactic and acid-
producing bacteria (such as lactobacilli) convert sugars (such as sucrose) and complex
carbohydrates (starches, etc) into simpler sugars and lactic acid. Lactic and acetic acids naturally
preserve as well as stave off harmful foreign bacteria. The result is a drink that has had much of the
sugar converted to simpler sugars, lactic and acetic acids, carbon dioxide and ethanol. It also
contains millions of probiotics and is more nutritious in some regards because of the more bio-
available and digestible nutrients from the sugars and dried fruits including an increase in vitamin C
and many B vitamins.

What is the difference between water kefir and ginger beer?

Ginger beer, or 'Gingerbeer Plant' is very similar to water kefir, but is a separate culture. Though they
look alike from a distance, ginger beer crystals are known to be smoother, tinier and more opaque
than water kefir crystals. They also tend to ferment more slowly. They are composed of different
bacteria and yeast strains as well, which particularly flourish on ginger juice. Some stories of water
kefir tell of it originating in much further back, when monks gave Mother Teresa of Calcutta the grains
as a gift. They were later introduced to Europe (the Ionian Islands) and the west by the British
Soldiers after the Crimean War in the 1800's. This story however most likely refers to the Ginger
Beer Plant. Some suggest that one might have evolved from the other, but it's not known for sure.
Ginger beer is widely known in many areas and is still made by the locals in the rural village of Corfu
as a local specialty. Today in Eastern Africa (especially in Kenya and Tanzania), ginger beer is a very
popular drink. It is called Tangawizi, which is the Swahili word for 'ginger'. Water kefir grains are
known and widely popular among the Latin communities currently, and being used to make
Tepache, a beverage of fermented pineapple, brown sugar and a hint of cinnamon. Water kefir
grains are often fed Piloncillo's (dried syrup from whole sugar cane juice shaped into cones). These
are quite easy to find in any Latin or Mexican Market.

What other names does kefir and its grains go by?



Tibicos (Tibi)

Blgaros

Bees

Japanese Water Crystals

Japanese Beer seeds

Graines Vivantes (French)

Wasserkefir

Sugar Kefir Grains

Piltz, (German)

Kefir di Frutta (Italian)

Kefīrs/Keefir/Kephir

Aqua Gems

Sea Rice

Sugary Fungus, Graines Vivantes

Kefir d'acqua/aqua

Kefir d'uva (grape juice is used)

Bbes

African bees

California Bees

Australian bees

Vinegar bees

Ginger bees

Ale nuts

Balm of Gilead

Beer seeds

Beer plant

Ginger Beer plant (though not to be confused with actual GBP, which is a different strain).


Bakers yeast in sugar water is also referred to as Ginger Beer Plant. Overtime the name has
come to represent the process and drink more so than the culture that creates it, which
causes some confusion.

It can also be referred to as the Tibetan Mushroom, which is also interchangeably used to


refer to milk kefir and kombucha.

As you can see, it has adapted many nicknames from being around for so long, and shared by so
many cultures around the world. Some of the names are similar to milk kefir because of the lack of
distinguishing between the two through history (just as we call both 'kefir' but only distinguish by
saying milk or water).

What is the purpose of the lemon and the dried fruit?

The lemon and dried fruit have traditionally been used in the recipe for ages. As with many things
from the past, people used what they found worked, and we are now able to scientifically define why.
The lemon serves as a natural ph buffer, lowering the ph to protect the water kefir from foreign and
competing contaminants. Lemon peel also is high in calcium, a main mineral for the grains. The
dried fruit serve as an added source of sugar and the various minerals found within them (including
a good dosage of potassium and magnesium). It is interesting that just as with us, it is also
important for kefir grains to receive a large amount of calcium, potassium and magnesium (and
other trace minerals). Some dried fruits seem to work better than others. Raisins are the traditional
fruit of the recipe, but dates, figs, apples, apricots and coconut among others also work very well.

How are Kefir Grains different to powder starter (such as Body Ecology's products) or store-
bought kefir?

Genuine kefir is different than the pricey kefir you can buy in the stores. Manufactured kefir is a
simulated drink, mimicking the flavor of genuine kefir. It is not produced by the traditional method. It
is produced instead by a variety of bacteria and yeast (that they purchase individually) and combine.
These are typically freeze-dried powder forms of bacteria and yeast, and like the Body Ecology
products, are not reproducible. Traditional Kefir Grains are a formed symbiotic mass colony of
various bacteria and yeast that are living, and will thrive and grow on their own in the sugar water
sometimes out-living its owner!


What is the advantage of taking Kefir instead of a probiotic supplement?

Fermented products such as kefir are considered functional foods because they offer enzymes, pre-
digested nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, calories/energy and billions of probiotics.
Probiotic pill supplements contain just one or a select variety of bacteria, and usually that's it. It's
always better to eat something in its whole form when possible, because each part makes the other
more digestible. This is why companies are now adding fiber back into cereals and fruit juices, and
citric acid into calcium - you often need all the parts to assimilate nutrients correctly.

Why is kefir good for your health?

It is loaded with valuable enzymes, easily digestible sugars, beneficial acids, vitamins and minerals.
Water kefir is also generally suitable for some diabetics (though personal discretion is advised). It
also is a nice option if you are trying to avoid the caffeine present in kombucha, but still seeking a
probiotic drink. Water kefir supplies your body with billions of healthy bacteria and yeast strains.
Some store-bought probiotic foods or supplements can help, but they are not as potent, and do not
contain the beneficial yeasts usually (just bacteria). Within your body there are already billions of
bacteria and yeast. Your internal microflora support proper digestion, synthesis of vitamins and
minerals, and your immune system by warding off foreign and harmful bacteria, yeast and viruses. It
has thus long been known to promote and aid in digestion and overall health. Some studies show it
may be anti-mutagenic and help manage free radicals in the body. Folic acid (and B vitamins)
increases as the length of the ferment increases. Some people let the strained kefir sit on the
counter or the fridge another day to increase the folic acid and B vitamin content before drinking (this
will increase the acidity too). Kefir may also help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. As with
most things we've personally found, food and health is too difficult to reduce to facts and statistics.
While kefir is not a magic bullet for health (what is) we believe kefir has a myriad of possible health
benefits, and those will be individual for everyone. Some feel it helps them digest better, others get
colds and viruses less often, some get more energy, and some people feel nothing much in
particular, but enjoy the taste and value of it over store-bought yogurt, kombucha or kefir.

Why is water kefir sometimes ok for diabetics to consume?

The bacteria and yeast produce enzymes that break down the sucrose (the double sugar that sugar
is composed of) into fructose and glucose. Fructose is digested by the liver and does not spike the
blood sugar of diabetics like sucrose or glucose. Because of the fructose, it makes this drink a lower
GL. Also the added acetic acids and carbonation from the fermentation lower the GL as well. We've
noticed and had people share that the best way for diabetics to consume water kefir is to do a
secondary ferment with pure fruit juice (high in fructose) and a portion of the finished water kefir
which results in a low-sugar (and low GL) beverage.
It is not safe for all diabetics, and is ultimately up to you to determine how your blood sugar levels respond after consuming water kefir. 'Ripening' kefir can even further reduce the sugar content (but raise the alcohol and acids) if desired.

Is Kefir a good option for those with Candida?

Many people experiencing Candida issues have reported that Kefir has been beneficial for them.
Kefir is a balanced symbiotic relationship of both bacteria and yeast, which is also what we strive to
achieve within our bodies for optimum health. Kefir grains and kefir itself does not contain Candida
Albicans and has no reason to aggravate the symptoms of Candida. Some sources say that the kefir
yeast can even help to decrease the candida yeast. But as with all things, the best advice we can
give is to listen to your own body's response to kefir over time and determine if your health seems to
improve, remain stable or if your symptoms are aggravated by Kefir (in which case you should take a
break and try again at a later time).

Is water kefir as beneficial as animal milk kefir?
The short answer here is yes. This is because what works for someone may or may not work for
you. Water kefir is simply another probiotic beverage option which has its own strengths and weaknesses
(too much sugar for some). You can ferment minerals, herbs, fruits, grains etc with the help of
water kefir grains, thus really opening the doors to a custom blend of nutrients that you can create.
For example if you think coconut boosts your overall well-being, then perhaps you can derive a lot
of benefit from water kefir with coconut in it. Or perhaps you are into the anti-inflammatory property
of cranberries or cherries, and would like to add that to your water kefir. This is where water kefir shines!
You can also eat the grains of water kefir (just as you can milk kefir) and get a mega dose of probiotics!
Some people decide neither beverage works for them, but the grains themselves do!


What strains of bacteria and yeast are found in kefir grains (and kefir itself)?

Strains of bacteria and yeast found in Kefir Grains (and kefir itself):

Water kefir is typically composed of Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus and Leuconostoc
bacteria with yeasts from Saccharomyces, Candida (
*does not contain C. albicans - the yeast
associated with human yeast infections and 'candida' in general
), Kloeckera and possibly other minor yeasts.

Bacteria

Species Lactobacillus
L. acidophilus
L. alactosus
L. brevis
L. bulgaricus
L. casei subsp. casei
L. casei subsp. pseudoplantarum
L. casei subsp. rhamnosus
L. casei subsp. tolerans
L. coryneformis subsp. torquens
L. fructosus
L. hilgardii
L. homohiochi
L. plantarum
L. psuedoplantarum
L. reuterietc
L. yamanashiensis


Species Streptococcus
S. agalactiae
Sr. bovis
S. cremeris
S. faecalis
S. lactis
S. mutans
S. pneumoniae
S. pyogenes
S. salivarius
S. sanguinis
S. suis
S. viridans

Species Pediococcus
P. damnosus

Species Leuconostoc
L. mesenteroides

Species Bacillus
B. subtilis
B. graveolus

Yeast

Species Saccharomyces
S. bayanus
S. boullardii
S. cerevisiae
S. florentinus
S. pretoriensis
S. uvarum

Species Kloeckera
K. apiculata

Species Hansenula
H. yalbensis

Species Candida
C. gueretana
C. lamica
C. valida
*does not contain C. albicans - the yeast associated with human yeast infections and 'candida' in
general

Species Torulopsis
T. insconspicna
*does not contain T. glabrata, also associated with yeast infections and 'candida'



The above research is largely from the work of Dolores Sanchez-Penalver, Aidoo, Dominic
Anfiteatro, and Ronald S. Brown, with additional resources from Abosluteastronomy Encyclopedia

_____________________________________________________________________


Can you make your own kefir grains or get kefir from just water?

No, kefir grains must be obtained. Kefir grains reproduce, but one cannot create the grains or have
them spontaneously occur in sugar water. Some sugar water recipes like mead involve letting the
mixture sit out until it transforms and ferments, but you cannot create the grains from this method.
Kefir simply cannot be created and is not reproducable without obtaining real kefir grains to start
with.

What other liquids can you ferment with kefir grains?

Its possible to ferment some fruit juices, sugar-based vegetable juices (like beet, carrot or ginger)
coconut juice, and possibly other sugar based juices you may find at the store (like orange juice or
fruit punch) and sometimes milk (including all forms of mammalian milk: mare, goat, sheep, cow,
buffalo, camel etc) or milk alternatives like soy, almond or rice. Since water kefir grains are sensitive,
its always best to feed your main grains with the normal recipe, and use your extra grains to
experiment with in new liquids. Milk grains tend to ferment other liquids better, but you may be
surprised and find your water kefir grains adapting to a new liquid - its all about experimentation!
Kefir d'uva is water kefir grains in pure grape juice - it makes an amazingly delicious drink, but often
times the grains don't live past 4-5 times of fermenting in it. You could also try a sugar and tea
mixture (like kombucha), but be aware that using any other liquid and sugar mix besides the original
recipe may not be the best option for continued grain health (and may kill the grains).

What kinds of sugars can you use?

Palm (coconut), Sucanat, Rapadura, Muscavado, Demarara, Panela, Jaggery, Turbinado, brown
sugar (both light and dark), molasses (both light and dark), maple syrup (pure maple), white sugar,
sugar cane juice, whole cane sugar, raw sugar, powdered sugar, basic white sugar, swizzle sticks
(sugar cane stalks), and Piloncillo (evaporated sugar cane juice in a cone-shape found in Mexican
markets).



Does it have a sugar preference?

Water kefir grains are unique from batch to batch and season to season. We have found ours to
prefer whole cane sugar (Rapadura) or Palm Sugar mixed with white sugar in the summer and a
blend of white sugar and blackstrap molasses in winter. They can also readily adapt and be happy
with brown sugar or Piloncillos. We've noticed this has also been the case for many others as well.
While the other sugars mentioned haven't given as good of results for us, they may for your grains. It
is always worth trying a variety, and when the grains start to under-perform, try switching things up. In
our time watching water kefir behavoir, we've noticed it can 'get tired' of what it is in, needing a switch-
up of sugars - we think this is likely due to the fact that no one food (or sugar) contains all of the
vitamins and minerals, and the grains simply are needing to be exposed to variety to obtain what
they need. Some sugars are more difficult for them to process and some process very rapidly -
making raw cane sugar better in the summer when they are fermenting more rapidly, but too difficult
sometimes in the winter (when molasses seems to supply the minerals that whole cane sugar
does, but in an easier form). Again, this is what we've noticed so far with our grains, but water kefir
grains are quite finicky and always changing - its best to test a wide variety of options for your grains,
and being flexible to change when your grains tell you they need something new.

Does it matter what water you use?

Water is one of the crucial ingredients for water kefir. What water you use will make a difference.
Since most of us don't have the equipment to test what is in our water, let alone on a day-to-day
basis, this usually requires some experimenting. Water kefir generally prefers a nutritious highly
mineralized water (also called hard water, or mineral water / spring water if its from a bottle). Soft
water, filtered water, carbon-activated, ionized or otherwise altered water does not seem to
encourage the same amount of growth or vitality in our observations. Reverse osmosis water has in
most of our observations led to eventual kefir grain death even. It just doesn't contain enough of the
various and vital minerals found in normal tap, spring or mineral water. Also, chlorine can be an
issue and should be avoided if possible. To remove some of the chlorine you can let your water set
out (without a lid) and it will evaporate in about 24 hours. Some forms of chlorine such as
chloramine won't dissipate as easily. If you are unsure what your tap water contains, contact your
local water facility for details.

What about well water?

Well water can have some interesting things in it sometimes, but generally will provide good water
for your water kefir grains. If it seems to be stilting their growth, try comparing it to a store-bought
spring or mineral water for a few weeks to verify it is indeed the water. If you are concerned what
might be harming them, have your well water tested for contaminants.

What about reverse-osmosis water?

Reverse osmosis water has in most of our observations led to eventual kefir grain death even. It just
doesn't contain enough of the various and vital minerals found in normal tap, spring or mineral
water. It is what we like to call 'processed' or 'refined' water, basically an empty water devoid of its
normal nutrients and properties, much like white sugar is compared to whole cane sugar. It's an
unbalanced and empty nutrient.

Does kefir contain alcohol?

Yes, its been found in a couple studies now to contain about 0.038% - 2% alcohol, or 16-38 g/L
(grams per litre). With the normal amount being around .08 or less (for a 48-hour ferment). Kefir that
is stored and ripened for a few of days will continue to increase in alcohol, up to 2-3% (when it is
sealed tightly). For reference, beer contains about 4-7% and wine 8-14%. Because kefir contains
bacteria (and not just yeast like beer or wine) the amount of alcohol kefir can produce is limited by
the acetic bacterium which convert the alcohol (produced by the yeasts) to beneficial acids.

What does water kefir taste like?

It has a wonderful mildly zesty flavor, like a lemonade or mild cola. It is more mild than milk kefir or
kombucha, having just a light tang (and can build more carbonation if bottled a couple days). It can
be likened to a natural, light and refreshing soda. The dried fruit, lemon, type of sugar and other
ingredients will largely determine its flavor as well. This is not something you have to 'tolerate', it is
actually very delicious and is great in the summer on its own with a little squeeze lemon or lime,
mixed with iced tea or blended in slushies for a great probiotic boost.

What's the difference between milk kefir and water kefir?

Milk kefir grains and water kefir grains behave similarly by both fermenting a sugary liquid into a
probiotic beverage (similar to yogurt for the milk kefir, or kombucha for the water kefir). However, they
are seperate cultures, and are not 'made' from one another. Although you may try to ferment juice
with milk grains, or attempt to ferment milk with water kefir grains, they will not switch to be the other
culture or look like the other culture. Milk grains look like soft opaque curds of cauliflower heads
while water kefir looks like tiny sem-transparent crystal gems.

What should Kefir Grains look like?

Kefir grains look a lot like semi-transparent crystal gems. They can go through many phases
through the seasons from being small and more uniform looking, or large and full of strange
shapes, angles and bumps. They can even become lumpy like cauliflower, or very smooth like
glass. They are always semi-transparent, but will be much darker if used with less refined sugar.
Their color will also be clear unless used with less refined sugar, in which case they will be light to
dark brown in color. They should be slightly bouncy and slippery (but not slimy or gooey like milk kefir
grains) and can range from the size of a grain of rice to as big as 2 inches. Dried kefir grains color is
also dependant on the sugar it was feeding on - ranging from a dusty clear color to a dark rootbeer
brown. They are more fragile than milk kefir grains, and will crumble easily when squeezed (however
it is not a problem to worry about, it will survive if squished - it is just that their structure has many
clean breaks and soft bonds, unlike milk which is more rubbery, bonded and stretchy)

What kinds of dried fruit can you use and which are best?

Water kefir grains love the help of dried fruit. Just like we are recommended to have variety in our
diet, the same applies for these grains. They do prefer nutrient dense fruits, such as dates, figs,
apricots, bananas, raisins, mango, apples, cherries or coconut. They don't seem get quite as much
of a growth spurt on citrus or berries. It's best to use dried fruit, which no longer contain enzymes that
may harm or slow the metabolism of the kefir grains too much. It's also best to avoid dried fruits that
have any kinds of preservatives, added sugars or even added oils, as those too can interfere with the
grains health and/or metabolism.

Are all kefir grains the same?

All kefir grains are alike, but they are not the same. Just as all people are humans, but none are
exactly alike, kefir also varies from one to the next. Some kefir grains ferment more quickly than
others, some more tangy, some more sweet, and some more fizzy. You will see that your kefir grains
will be continuously morphing themselves from season to season and year to year. Part of the kefir
process is learning to let go of the desire to keep them exactly the same (no matter what you do, they
will be in a constant state of growth and change) and learning to look forward to its many suprises,
just like raising a pet or child.

How long do active Kefir Grains last?

Indefinitely with good care - they are a living, consuming organism that are in a constant state of
reproduction. Some may get weaker over time for one reason or another (neglected, frozen, etc), but
they will nonetheless do all they can to keep marching on! They have already lived over a thousand
years as it is.

Do kefir grains need to be fed every day?

Water kefir needs to be fed at least every 48 hours (every other day). Kefir grains need to be strained
every 24-48 hours (24 hours being hot summer weather, most of the time they can go to 48 or even
another day in the cold winter months) and put in a fresh mix of water and sugar. If you or your grains
would like to take a break, stick them in the fridge, refreshing them weekly with fresh water and
sugar or simply put them in their finished kefir juice for up to a week or two. This can be done for a
couple weeks, then they should be brought back out to room temperature. If you need a longer
break, view our section on storage.

What other uses does water kefir have?

Kefir and its grains are valuable for far more than just a beverage! It can be used to fertilize and
nurture house plants, flowers, your lawn, or your garden. The bacteria and acidic nature can be very
beneficial for plants. Did you know its essential to have bacteria in your dirt to convert nitrogen to an
edible source for your plants? Kefir can also easily serve as a great starter for breads and pizzas!
Use it in place of a sourdough starter or yeast packet. Kefir can also be used in your hair as a
clarifying conditioner and ph stabilizer (soap is very alkaline and can dry the skin and scalp, while
kefir is acidic). It can also serve as a nice ingredient in exfoliants and lotions. Kefir can also be made
into delicious popsicles. use in place of some of the salt in making fermented vegetables
such as sauerkraut.



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FAQ: Preparation and Supplies



Questions in this Section:
How do you make authentic water kefir?
Do I have to start using my fresh kefir grains right away?
What do you need to make water kefir?
What is the purpose of the lemon and the dried fruit?
What kinds of sugars can you use?
Does it have a sugar preference?
How do you stir in the sugar?
Does it matter what order you put the ingredients in?
Can you substitute an orange, lime or grapefruit for a lemon?
Should you squeeze the piece of lemon or put it in whole?
How much lemon and/or dried fruit should I be using?
Is it ok to use waxed/conventional or bottled lemons vs organic?
Can you substitute the previous batch kefir or vinegar for the lemon?
Should sulfates and other preservatives on dried fruits be avoided?
Do the ingredients have to be organic?
How do I de-chlorinate my water?
What kinds of dried fruit can you use and which are best?
Can you use fresh fruits, vegetables or grains (such as rice) in the ferment?
Can you make your own kefir grains or get kefir from just water?
Can you use artificial sweetener or vitamin-infused water with kefir?
Does it matter what water you use?
Do kefir grains have a water preference?
What about reverse-osmosis water?
What about well water?
What is the optimal water to sugar ratio?
Is metal a safe material to use?
What type of container can I ferment and store my kefir in?
Do utensils need to be sterilized for kefir similar to making yogurt?
How much or how little water (and grains) can be used?
How much or little kefir can I make?
Do you always have to use the grains to make kefir?
Does the water have to be warmed before adding it to the grains?
How full can I fill my kefir jar?
What temperature does water kefir prefer?
Should I put a lid on kefir?
Does kefir need a breathable lid?
Can you use kefir liquid as a starter (instead of the grains)?
Can kefir be in direct sunlight?

How do you make authentic water kefir?

Water Kefir is very simple to make, and its fun to watch the process. It requires a few more
ingredients than milk kefir (which just requires milk). People have been using kefir grains for
thousands of years, before refrigeration, hand-sanitizers and antibacterial soap, measuring cups
and filtered water - it is a wonderful simple, safe traditional method to preserve and convert sugar
water to a delicious drink! Water Kefir can be made from almost all water (except reverse-osmosis
or heavily chlorinated). All you need to add is some sugar, a couple pieces of dried fruit
(sometimes) and a little lemon (sometimes). In short, the grains simply need to be placed in a jar
of water with about a 3-10% sugar solution (1/4 cup sugar per quart water is about right - see
below in this section for best kinds of sugar) at room temperature, filled about 60-75% to the top,
toss in some dried fruit (see below in this section for best kinds), a quarter to half a lemon, stir it
and cover it with a loose lid or cloth. In 24-48 hours (we usually do 48 hours, even in the
summer)you will have a delicious kefir! Simply strain to retrieve the grains, put them back in the jar
with the same combination and repeat! This can go on indefinitely as kefir grains often outlive their
owners! With the strained kefir you can bottle it and let it 'ripen' out on the counter for another day or
two, store it in the fridge, or drink it right then and there! Our guide goes into more detail
step-by-step for this process.

Do I have to start using my fresh kefir grains right away?

Fresh kefir grains are active and trying to eat. They will most likely have exhausted the nutrients in
the liquid they were shipped in, so its important to get them started as soon as possible. If that's
not an option, place the package directly into the fridge, where it will keep for about a week or two
(though this is not recommended, as they will degrade in strength and quality and may end up
pickling themselves).

What do you need to make water kefir?

All you need is basically what the little kefir grain image is holding on the top of this page - a blend
of white cane sugar, less refined sugar (like rapadura or molasses), some dried fruit, a lemon,
and some water (and the grains of course!). You will want a small handful of raisins, or 2-3
apricots for each ferment, about 1 tablespoon sugar per 1 tablespoon grains for each ferment and
about 1 cup of water for each tablespoon grains (for each ferment). Since most ferments are about
48 hours, a gallon jug will suffice for 1 week if you need to buy your water, and you will want to pick
up about 3 lemons, at least 1 lb sugar and a big bag of dried fruit. You will also want some jars,
paper towels and a strainer (plastic, wood or stainless steel) and bowl on hand.

What is the purpose of the lemon and the dried fruit?

The purpose of the lemon is to aid in lowering the ph of the medium so as to deter foreign
contaminants. Lemon has a low ph (very acidic) and naturally hinders germs and weed bacteria
and yeasts from getting an upperhand. This is more crucial when your grains are just starting out
and need the additional help and support. The lemon peel also is high in calcium, an important
nutrient for the grains. Once your grains are strong and growing and fermenting successfully and
consistently, it is not necessary to use the lemon. In fact at this point you can even use about
1/8-1/4 cup of the kefir from the last batch as your 'acidic' ph lowering tool. Since in the past this
was most likely done as a continual ferment (a ferment that you drink out of and then replace that
amount with fresh water and sugar, never straining the grains out) this would have been the case
that enough of the liquid was already low in ph to protect the ferment. The dried fruit serves as
additional minerals and other micro nutrients that are either not supplied by the sugar or water, or
are an additional source of minerals with the water and sugar. Again, this is something that needs
to be tinkered with, as water varies location to location, and while one fruit high in calcium is good
in one area, may be too much in another that already has water with high calcium. You will know
what works best by whether the grains respond favorably (grow more rapidly and produce a more
tart or bubbly kefir). Our grains with our water right now prefer turkish apricots the best. The fruit
may not be necessary if you are able to get some good blackstrap molasses or rapadura sugar to
replace some of your white sugar. But if you are using all white sugar, it is definitely recommended
to include the dried fruit for the minerals that your grains will need.

What kinds of sugars can you use?

Palm (coconut), Sucanat, Rapadura, Muscavado, Demarara, Panela, Jaggery, Turbinado, brown
sugar (both light and dark), molasses (both light and dark), maple syrup (pure maple), white
sugar, sugar cane juice, whole cane sugar, raw sugar, powdered sugar, basic white sugar,
swizzle sticks (sugar cane stalks), and Piloncillo (evaporated sugar cane juice in a cone-shape
found in Mexican markets).

Does it have a sugar preference?

Water kefir grains are unique from batch to batch and season to season. We have found ours to
prefer whole cane sugar (Rapadura) or Palm Sugar mixed with white sugar in the summer and a
blend of white sugar and blackstrap molasses in winter. They can also readily adapt and be happy
with brown sugar or Piloncillos. We've noticed this has also been the case for many others as well.
While the other sugars mentioned haven't given as good of results for us, they may for your grains.
It is always worth trying a variety, and when the grains start to under-perform, try switching things
up. In our time watching water kefir behavoir, we've noticed it can 'get tired' of what it is in, needing
a switch-up of sugars - we think this is likely due to the fact that no one food (or sugar) contains all
of the vitamins and minerals, and the grains simply are needing to be exposed to variety to obtain
what they need. Some sugars are more difficult for them to process and some process very rapidly
- making raw cane sugar better in the summer when they are fermenting more rapidly, but too
difficult sometimes in the winter (when molasses seems to supply the minerals that whole cane
sugar does, but in an easier form). Again, this is what we've noticed so far with our grains, but
water kefir grains are quite finicky and always changing - its best to test a wide variety of options for
your grains, and being flexible to change when your grains tell you they need something new.

How do you stir in the sugar?
Simply add the sugar to the grains (doesn't matter, before or after you put the water in the jar), then
stir for about a minute until the sugar is atleast somewhat dissolved and evenly distributed. It
doesn't have to be perfect. You don't need to do any special process to dissolve the sugar into the
water.

Does it matter what order you put the ingredients in?

There is no real necessary order, we only recommend leaving large fruit and the lemon wedge out
until just before putting the lid on (they can get in the way of any stirring needed). Simply put your
strained grains into your fermenting jar, add the sugar, and top off with water. Stir to dissolve the
sugar for a minute and then drop in any dried fruits and lemon wedges that you wish to use. If you
wish to add additional minerals such as baking soda, just put that in with the sugar so it gets
stirred in evenly.

Can you substitute an orange, lime or grapefruit for a lemon?

You can try replacing the lemon with a wedge of orange, lime or grapefruit but it's best to test first
on your extra grains and keep a separate batch going in the traditional recipe. If they respond
favorably, or show no difference, then these can be a satisfactory (and tasty) replacement.

Should you squeeze the piece of lemon or put it in whole?

You shouldn't squeeze the lemon, it may actually lower the ph too much, without being gradual.
Simply put a quart or a half of a lemon in, and when you have finished fermenting and bottling the
kefir, you can squeeze the lemon into your kefir beverage if you desire.

How much lemon and/or dried fruit should I be using?

You will want a small handful of raisins, or 2-3 apricots for each ferment, using a quart of water as
the base measurement here. Basically whatever can just cover the palm of your hand is a good
indicator of quantity to put in. You can do a quarter of a lemon or up to a half of a lemon in each
ferment. Some people re-use their dried fruit and lemon for another ferment, before finally tossing
them and starting fresh.

Is it ok to use waxed/conventional or bottled lemons vs organic?

It is ok but not recommended. If you only have access or a budget for conventional lemons though,
simply peel it - this gets rid of the bulk of wax and any other preservatives or pesticides that may be
coating the lemon. Be sure to wash the lemon with hot water and scrub off any dirt etc if you are not
peeling it (organic doesn't always mean clean or safe either).

Can you substitute the previous batch kefir or vinegar for the lemon?

Yes, the previous batch of kefir will act as a ph lowering aid, just as the lemon would have.
Sometimes this can cause an increase in yeastiness and foam at the top because you are
carrying over more bacteria and yeast (live and dead). The other thing you may be missing out on
is the added nutrients from the lemon, such as the calcium in the rind. However there are most
likely other beneficial nutrients in the 'starter' liquid too - the best of both worlds is to switch
between the two. Water kefir has shown us time and again that it does actually get tired of one way,
perks up from a change, and then is ready to return to something else. When your water kefir is
showing a strong healthy growth rate and kefiring ability, it may even benefit from a break from
either - there are many, many people who opt out on even putting the lemon or starter liquid in, and
have no problems whatsoever.

Should sulfates and other preservatives on dried fruits be avoided?

Yes, it should be avoided, but it is not detrimental. Green/golden raisins tend to have more
preservatives in them - so be aware when buying to check for that. In our observations it seems to
only slightly impair the ferment - around 0-10% difference is noted when comparing a conventional
raisin with an organic preservative free raisin. Sometimes we cannot tell the full range of effects (or
no effects) that something may have, so we always suggest to try to stay away from sulfates and
sulfites if possible - fresher and more natural is always better however you look at it.

Do the ingredients have to be organic?

No, they do not - the lemon can be peeled to avoid the conventional waxes and sprays on the rind,
and the raisins can be conventional or organic (preferably preservative free either way). The grains
respond to conventional and organic sugars only by quality and not necessarily by whether its
organic or not. Sometimes organic products have less additives in them (like molasses), and the
kefir grains do respond more favorably to that, but it is not absolutely crucial that your ingredients
be organic.

How do I de-chlorinate my water?

You can let your tap water sit out in an open container for a minimum of 6 hours (chlorine will fully
evaporate in an open container within 6 hours according to the city works department site) with
most recommendations set a little longer at 12-24 hours (according to some aquarium and
tropical fish experts). Chloramine is another form of chlorine that will not evaporate - if you're
concerned about this you can find out from your local water department whether they treat your
water with this. If you're worried about the cleanliness of your water or other contaminants besides
chlorine, boiling kills off most types of organisms and is the most recommended purification
technique in this case. Boil the water at full rolling boil for 1 full minute, then let it cool (if you are
more than one mile above sea level boil 3 minutes longer).

What kinds of dried fruit can you use and which are best?

This is a tough question because part of the process of finding what works for your own water kefir
is finding a compatible combination of fruits to go with the water and sugars you're using too. For
example some parts of the country (or world) have hard water (highly mineralized) and some have
soft water. If you are using all white sugar and soft water, your kefir will most likely prefer lots of
fruits with dense minerals and nutrient value. On the other hand if you are using a mix of molasses
with your white sugar, and mineral water - you may need no help at all from fruit except
occasionally for taste, a nutrient boost if your grains get 'stuck in a rut' or variety. The best fruits do
tend to be the ones we know as nutrionally dense - such as figs, dates, bananas, coconut,
apricots, apples, raisins, mangos and sometimes dark cherries too. These fruits start out dense
and dry to still be large pieces of fruit. If you dried a large slice of watermelon, you would be left with
a flake of paper (unlike an apricot which remains pretty hefty for a dried fruit) - basically if fruits are
extremely high in fiber or water, the kefir grains do not seem to respond as well. Because of this,
berries, citrus fruits and melons make for poor nutrition for the kefir grains. It's always best to get
dried fruits that have no added preservatives (like sulfates or sulfites) and no added oils or sugars.
You may be suprised that a lot of dried fruits have added oil and sugar (and even sometimes salt)
especially ones that come pre-packaged as snacks.

Can you use fresh fruits, vegetables or grains (such as rice) in the ferment?

Yes, we have actually found our kefir to take to carrots a bit at times. Root vegetables have a high
sugar and mineral content (like ginger, which is a root) and kefir sometimes will benefit from a
couple fresh slices of carrots or ginger. Brown rice also seems to be compatible with kefir grains,
and we would imagine many other grains to be as well (in their whole form - not white rice for
example). Try experimenting with your extra kefir grains and see what they like! We don't
recommend nuts because of their high oil content. Vegetables like garlic and onion have irritating
compounds for the grains as well, and most likely will not be beneficial.

Can you make your own kefir grains or get kefir from just water?

No, kefir grains must be obtained. Kefir grains reproduce, but one cannot create the grains or have
them spontaneously occur in sugar-water. Honey and water can be left out to eventually produce
mead (a type of beer) from wild yeasts and bacteria in the air; you can also use that mead mix as a
bread leavener, however those bacteria and yeast do not form into the unique mass symbiotic
matrix of kefir grains. Either way, kefir cannot be created and is not reproducable without obtaining
real kefir grains to start with.

Can you use artificial sweetener or vitamin-infused water with kefir?

Artificial sweetener does not work with water kefir. This is because it contains no calories or
nutrients. The kefir grains simply have nothing to eat and live off. Vitamin-infused water or water
brands like 'Smart Water' may or may not work with your grains. Water kefir thrives primarily on
sugars and minerals and may even react negatively to vitamin-infused waters. Save some extra
grains and test before trying something like this on your whole batch.

Does it matter what water you use?

Water is one of the crucial ingredients for water kefir. What water you use will make a difference.
Since most of us don't have the equipment to test what is in our water, let alone on a day-to-day
basis, this usually requires some experimenting. Water kefir generally prefers a nutritious highly
mineralized water (also called hard water, or mineral water / spring water if its from a bottle). Soft
water, filtered water, carbon-activated, ionized or otherwise altered water does not seem to
encourage the same amount of growth or vitality in our observations. Reverse osmosis water has
in most of our observations led to eventual kefir grain death even. It just doesn't contain enough of
the various and vital minerals found in normal tap, spring or mineral water. Also, chlorine can be
an issue and should be avoided if possible. To remove some of the chlorine you can let your water
set out (without a lid) and it will evaporate in about 24 hours. Some forms of chlorine such as
chloramine won't dissipate as easily. If you are unsure what your tap water contains, contact your
local water facility for details.

Do kefir grains have a water preference?

Because there are many other variables like the fruits and sugars you use, it's difficult to suggest
one water over another. However, kefir grains do usually fair better in mineral-rich water (mineral,
spring, well, or hard water). Reverse-osmosis seems to damage them over time and is not
recommended. They also do not like heavily chlorinated or otherwise chemically enhanced or
treated waters. Water kefir grains will use what they can get, within the combination of the sugar
source, fruit source and water source. If you want to rely more heavily on your water, then
mineral-rich is preferred - in this case your grains will most likely require less help from unrefined
sugars (like molasses, brown or rapadura for example) and less help from dried fruits (like
coconut or apricots).

What about reverse-osmosis water?

Reverse osmosis water has in most of our observations led to eventual kefir grain death even. It
just doesn't contain enough of the various and vital minerals found in normal tap, spring or mineral
water. It is what we like to call 'processed' or 'refined' water, basically an empty water devoid of its
normal nutrients and properties, much like white sugar is compared to whole cane sugar. It's an
unbalanced and empty nutrient.

What about well water?

Well water can have some interesting things in it sometimes, but generally will provide good water
for your water kefir grains. If it seems to be stilting their growth, try comparing it to a store-bought
spring or mineral water for a few weeks to verify it is indeed the water. If you are concerned what
might be harming them, have your well water tested for contaminants.

What is the optimal water to sugar ratio?

The optimal ratio is about 3-10% sugar-water solution, which is roughly 1 tablespoon sugar per 1
cup water (6.25%). In the summer you may find that a little more works best, such as 6
tablespoons per quart (9.37%). This is in reference to using about 1 tablespoon's worth of grains
for every cup of water.

Is metal a safe material to use?

This is a much debated topic without a firm diagnosis. There have even been some studies that
show that fermenting milk grains (which are similar to water grains) in aluminum didn't seem to
inhibit their growth. But it is advised not to use such metals as iron, tin, copper or aluminum.
Stainless steel is considered safe by most people. The real concern here is whether the grains
have a prolonged contact with the metal. It is never advisable to ferment your kefir or store your kefir
in a metal container. Acidic foods and liquids (such as kefir) can have a leaching effect on metal
when maintaining prolonged contact. If you are simply using a metal spoon to occasionally stir or
retrieve your grains, or a metal sieve to separate your grains from the kefir, this has never shown to
be a problem at all. Many people use either a nylon, plastic, wood or stainless steel strainer - all
materials proven to work equally well. If you are using a product that recommends not cooking or
using acidic ingredients such as tomatoes, then it is also not advised to ferment or store kefir in it
either.

What type of container can I ferment and store my kefir in?

Glass, ceramic or a food-grade plastic is recommended. Metal can leach when in constant contact
with acidic liquids (such as kefir). A thick glass (such as anchor hocking, ball or kerr) with a rubber
seal is recommended to lessen the hazard of stored kefir exploding.

Do utensils need to be sterilized for kefir similar to making yogurt?

No, unlike canning or making yogurt, kefir does not require utensils to be thoroughly sterilized. Just
use clean hands and utensils, preferably ones that are designated to just kefir related tasks.
Expecially if you are culturing viili, make sure the utensils to do mingle - cross-contamination is
very easy between these two cultures. There is no need to boil, use bleach, vinegar etc - a simple
hand wash or dishwasher cycle will suffice. Kefir, by its nature, keeps itself sterilized and clean
(inhibits foreign microorganisms quite well)- you will notice that even when leaving a utensil out
with kefir on it, it will not mold for quite some time. This is why rinsing your grains is not needed
(and actually can upset them a bit) and constantly changing to new jars is not necessary either (a
jar change once a week or every 2 weeks is just as effective). Make sure lids and cloths are clean
as well, and getting washed (if you use cloth lids or bags to hold the grains, wash and then iron it
to clean - the iron adds a nice, sterilizing heat that the washer cannot match).

How much or how little water (and grains) can be used?

Kefir starting out (after being stressed during mailing or from being dried) will usually ferment
between a 1:16 - 1:18 ratio. This means 1 tablespoon grains will ferment about 1 cup sugar-water,
and in time it may increase to about 1:24 (1 tablespoon grains in 1 1/2 cup water) to even 1:32 or
more (1 tablespoon grains in 2 cups sugar-water) in the summertime perhaps. Try using a ratio of
grains to sugar-water of about 1:16 - 1:18 to begin. This ratio seems to always work well, and may
need no adjustments at all. Not all kefir is the same; some kefir grains will ferment much quicker
than others. We have seen some grains so sluggish it took 1/2 cup of grains to ferment 4 cups of
sugar-water in 48 hours (especially in the winter). Both have benefits - if you have fast grains, you
will need less and it could possibly ferment in about 12-24 hours (especially in the summer). On
the other hand, if you have slow grains, you can use more, and have kefir every 24-48 hours
(easier to keep up with). As long as they are growing and producing kefir, the speed and strength
is more of just the character of the particular grain you have, and not something to worry about
either way. If your kefir is too sour before your usual straining time, simply adjust to less grains, or
more sugar-water, or strain it every day instead of every other day. If you use too much sugar-water
and not enough grains, the solution may go off before the kefir grains have a chance to ferment it
though, so be sure to understand how much it can do, and gradually increase from there. To get
lots of kefir quickly with just a few grains simply keep sugar-water without straining. The finished
kefir will act as somewhat of a starter along with the grains, quickly turning each addition to kefir.
For example, with 1 tablespoon of kefir, you may pour in 2 cups of sugar water, wait 24 hours, add
in another 4-5 cups then in about 12 hours you can top it off with another 9 cups and you will have
a gallon of kefir in just about 2-3 days.

How much or little kefir can I make?

This is entirely dependant on the amount of grains to water that you are using. There is no specific
amount, nor any kind of limit. If you would like only a cup of kefir a day, simply use just 1
tablespoon of grains. If you want a gallon a day, you will need to use around 16 tablespoons (or 1
cup) grains.

Do you always have to use the grains to make kefir?

Kefir liquid actually also contains billions of microscopic organisms that are effective at making a
fermented drink out of sugar-water as well when you stir in atleast 1/4 cup per cup and let sit out or
in the fridge for 24 hours. It will dilute and get weaker each time, so its best to start with freshly
made kefir (from kefir grains) each time for the freshest and safest ferment. But this is a great
option for fermenting other liquids or making a quick batch in a pinch.

Does the water have to be warmed before adding it to the grains?

No, cold water is just fine. Especially in the summer, it will help keep the grains from
over-fermenting. Warm water is not harmful (and sometimes helpful in the cold winter months) as
long as its not high in chlorine - to get around this problem, you can either fill large jars with cold
water (and let them sit for 6-24 hours to let the chlorine gas dissipate) and then heat them in the
sink with hot water around them (or a heating pad), or you can boil water and let it cool (boil the
water for a few minutes, then let cool, and you can even shake the water in a seal container to
incorporate oxygen for the kefir grains back into it, as boiling drives out most gas from the water,
including oxygen. Either way will reduce the chlorine. Kefir grains can be harmed by hot water
(which has the potential to kill the bacteria and yeast), so keep your water below 80F/26C when
adding it to the grains.

How full can I fill my kefir jar?

Its best to do no more than 2/3 to 3/4 full. Kefir needs air space, and it will slightly grow in volume
as carbon dioxide gets trapped amongst it while fermenting and expands it. It does not grow as
much as milk kefir, since the liquid remains thin though. This is more important if you are putting
the lid on tightly, as it can explode if there is not enough available space as it expands.

What temperature does water kefir prefer?

In our observations water kefir successfully kefirs at a wide range of temperatures, with its favorite
range being between 65 - 82F (18 - 28C). 71 F (22C) is the most ideal usually. Anything above
86F (30C) can be damaging. Kefir can actually still ferment anywhere from 39F to 86F
(4C-30C). This is why it will continue to ferment in your fridge, just at a much slower pace. If you
live in a tropical or very hot climate, you may need to make some adjustments so that your kefir
isn't constantly exposed to excessive heat (82F/28C or more). You can try fermenting in the fridge
during the day, and letting it sit out on the counter during the night. Or you can immediately place
the kefir in a thick cooler after pouring cold water into it (or add cool water or a little ice pack in the
cooler to help keep it cool).

Should I put a lid on Kefir?

Putting a lid on kefir while its fermenting will increase the carbonation (fizziness) of the final kefir
quite a bit. Kefir grains thrive when exposed to oxygen and seem to do slightly better when the lid is
breathable (a cloth, paper towel, etc). Also, it is safer to cover it with a breathable lid because of the
risk of built up carbonation exploding the glass. This can and does happen, usually when a bottle
is forgotten, or filled too close to the top. Make sure that if you're putting a tight lid on your kefir while
its fermenting that you don't fill the jar more than 2/3 full. Just like soda, kefir will expand if enough
carbonation has built up and not enough space was left; it will burst and climb right out of the jar
when you open the lid. You can also achieve a happy medium by loosely placing the lid on the top
to make it a tighter fit than a cloth would be, but still loose enough that air can escape. To avoid fruit
flies, be sure that whatever lid or cover your are using, that it is secure and there are no large holes
that a small fly (or other floating things like dust or pet hair) could easily get through. Keep in mind
that when you bottle and store your strained kefir the carbonation will increase at that point too, so
it isn't necessary to try to achieve carbonation during the actual fermentation when the grains are in
it. We like to use a cloth and once our kefir is in the fridge for a couple days the carbonation kicks
right in!

Does Kefir need a breathable lid?

Kefir functions best when it has oxygen. When you try to go anaerobic (no oxygen), you will be
getting basically a carbonated kefir wine. Some people prefer to ferment with a tight lid to increase
the carbonation (though this can be done at a later process). It also increases the risk of
explosions when the lid is tight. We always ferment ours with a cloth of some kind as the lid.

Can you use kefir liquid as a starter (instead of the grains)?

Kefir liquid actually also contains billions of bacteria and yeast that are effective at making more
fermenting liquid if you add some fresh sugar or fruit juice and let sit out or in the fridge for atleast
24 hours. It will dilute and get weaker each time, so its best to start with freshly made kefir (from
kefir grains) each time for the freshest and safest ferment. But this is a great option for fermenting
other liquids or making a quick batch in a pinch (and to protect the grains themselves from harmful
fruit juices that could hinder their growth).

Can kefir be in direct sunlight?

This is not really recommended, as it can more easily encourage other bacteria to grow if it heats
up the jar too much (just like a fish tank in direct sunlight is more difficult to keep clean). Although if
there is not an option, it shouldn't usually cause a problem. In our observations, water kefir placed
on the window sill didn't prove to be any different or run any increased risk of contamination than
our others placed in our darker kefir cabinet. But for now we still recommend kefir grains be placed
in indirect light or dim light (such as in a cupboard) or a cool corner of the kitchen counter.


______________________________________________________________________________

FAQ: During the Ferment

Questions in this Section:
How do water kefir grains convert the sugar-water they're in to kefir?
Can kefir be in direct sunlight?
What temperature does water kefir prefer?
Can you add other things in with kefir while its fermenting?
Should kefir grains float?
Should you stir kefir?
Should I put a lid on kefir?
Does kefir need a breathable lid?
What type of container can I ferment and store my kefir in?
How short or long can you ferment kefir?
How long does it take for dried or live shipped kefir grains to balance?
How long does it take for stored, frozen or dried kefir grains to reactivate?
How do you know when the kefir is ready?
What if I forgot to strain my kefir when it was ready?


How do water kefir grains convert the sugar-water they're in to kefir?

Kefir grains are an amazing symbiotic matrix of bacteria and yeast that work together to feed off the
natural sugars (and sometimes proteins and fats too, especially in the case of milk kefir) found
present in the sugar-water and dried fruits. The yeast and bacteria co-operate, making the
nutrients that are inaccessible to one digested into accessible nutrients for the other. Yeasts break
down the simple sugars like glucose and fructose, turning them into ethanol and acetic acid.
Lactic and acid-producing bacteria (such as lactobacilli) convert sugars (such as sucrose) and
complex carbohydrates (starches, etc) into simpler sugars and lactic acid. Lactic and acetic acids
naturally preserve as well as stave off harmful foreign bacteria. The result is a drink that has had
much of the sugar converted to simpler sugars, lactic and acetic acids, carbon dioxide and
ethanol. It also contains millions of probiotics and is more nutritious in some regards because of
the more bio-available and digestible nutrients from the sugars and dried fruits including an
increase in vitamin C and many B vitamins.

Can kefir be in direct sunlight?

This is not really recommended, as it can more easily encourage other bacteria to grow if it heats
up the jar too much (just like a fish tank in direct sunlight is more difficult to keep clean). Although if
there is not an option, it shouldn't usually cause a problem. In our observations, water kefir placed
on the window sill didn't prove to be any different or run any increased risk of contamination than
our others placed in our darker kefir cabinet. But for now we still recommend kefir grains be placed
in indirect light or dim light (such as in a cupboard) or a cool corner of the kitchen counter.

What temperature does water kefir prefer?

In our observations water kefir successfully kefirs at a wide range of temperatures, with its favorite
range being between 65 - 82F (18 - 28C). 71 F (22C) is the most ideal usually. Anything above
86F (30C) can be damaging. Kefir can actually still ferment anywhere from 39F to 86F
(4C-30C). This is why it will continue to ferment in your fridge, just at a much slower pace. If you
live in a tropical or very hot climate, you may need to make some adjustments so that your kefir
isn't constantly exposed to excessive heat (82F/28C or more). You can try fermenting in the fridge
during the day, and letting it sit out on the counter during the night. Or you can immediately place
the kefir in a thick cooler after pouring cold water into it (or add cool water or a little ice pack in the
cooler to help keep it cool).

Can you add other things in with kefir while its fermenting?

Yes, (besides the usual dried fruit and lemon) but experiment carefully as some things may hinder
or even harm the grains (some foods contain natural antibacterial properties, such as grapefruit
and raw honey). Dried fruits are better tolerated than fresh fruits. You may be able to do fresh
bananas, fresh carrots or fresh ginger though. And possibly fresh figs, coconut meat or dates if you
have access. Some fruits, like raspberries, will dye your grains and may irritate them as well
(especially fresh fruits because of the active enzymes and acids in them). Juice is also best to use
as a flavor enhancer after you have strained the grains out for the same reason. You can just as
easily add the desired ingredients or flavors after you have strained the grains out, and then let the
kefir sit for 12-48 hours before consuming. Adding mangos, vanilla beans or raspberries are
some of our favorite secondary ferment flavors (for milk and water kefir)!

Should kefir grains float?

Yes, sometimes. Most kefir grains encapsulate some of the carbon dioxide gas that the yeasts
give off while fermenting. Also, some grains have less density than the liquid, and simply float.
Some will be dense enough though (and manage to avoid capturing bubbles) that they remain on
the bottom. Sometimes grains that have been subjected to severe freezer burn, high heat or their
outer layer is too encrusted and hard from being dried (or old), also float (and they may not be able
to be revived). It is best to see if these are able to propagate new grains (though they themselves
may not recover) or toss them if no growth or kefiring is achievable with them. If they reproduce
new grains, then you are good to go!

Should you stir kefir?

This is not as necessary as it is with milk kefir. But it still is helpful. Jostling the jar or stirring the
kefir a couple times before its done fermenting helps redistribute the grains and sugar. However, it
is not necessary, and there is no need to worry if you cannot get around to it.

Should I put a lid on Kefir?

Putting a lid on kefir while its fermenting will increase the carbonation (fizziness) of the final kefir
quite a bit. Kefir grains thrive when exposed to oxygen and seem to do slightly better when the lid is
breathable (a cloth, paper towel, etc). Also, it is safer to cover it with a breathable lid because of the
risk of built up carbonation exploding the glass. This can and does happen, usually when a bottle
is forgotten, or filled too close to the top. Make sure that if you're putting a tight lid on your kefir while
its fermenting that you don't fill the jar more than 2/3 full. Just like soda, kefir will expand if enough
carbonation has built up and not enough space was left; it will burst and climb right out of the jar
when you open the lid. You can also achieve a happy medium by loosely placing the lid on the top
to make it a tighter fit than a cloth would be, but still loose enough that air can escape. To avoid fruit
flies, be sure that whatever lid or cover your are using, that it is secure and there are no large holes
that a small fly (or other floating things like dust or pet hair) could easily get through. Keep in mind
that when you bottle and store your strained kefir the carbonation will increase at that point too, so
it isn't necessary to try to achieve carbonation during the actual fermentation when the grains are in
it. We like to use a cloth and once our kefir is in the fridge for a couple days the carbonation kicks
right in!

Does Kefir need a breathable lid?

Kefir functions best when it has oxygen. When you try to go anaerobic (no oxygen), you will be
getting basically a carbonated kefir wine. Some people prefer to ferment with a tight lid to increase
the carbonation (though this can be done at a later process). It also increases the risk of
explosions when the lid is tight. We always ferment ours with a cloth of some kind as the lid.

What type of container can I ferment and store my kefir in?

Glass, ceramic or a food-grade plastic is recommended. Metal can leach when in constant contact
with acidic liquids (such as kefir). A thick glass (such as anchor hocking, ball or kerr) with a rubber
seal is recommended to lessen the hazard of stored kefir exploding.

How short or long can you ferment kefir?

This is completely dependant on the temperature as well as the volume of grains per cups
sugar-water that you are using. For example, if you have a cup of grains in a cup of sugar-water
(not recommended), it will ferment very quickly. If you have a teaspoon of grains in 4 cups of
sugar-water (not recommended either), it will ferment very slowly. If you place the kefir and grains
in the fridge, the same ferment that will usually take 24-48 hours may take 5-7 days or more.
Likewise, this same scenario in a very hot room may take a half day (12 hours). The traditional way
to make kefir is to find the balanced ratio of grains to sugar-water (+ temperature of the room) that
will create a ferment that is just ready at 24-48 hours. The traditional amount of time is usually 48
hours for water kefir. This produces the optimal flavor and consistency, and the grains seem to
thrive off this schedule. You can also do a secondary ferment-hybrid by straining your kefir at 12
hours, and then letting it ripen for another 12-48 hours (without the grains) before drinking. It
produces a mild full flavor and is especially good when done in a bottle with an airlock lid.

How long does it take for dried or live shipped kefir grains to balance?

This can take anywhere from a couple days to a week. Water differs region to region (and brand to
brand), so the grains will also be adjusting to new water (and sugar, fruit and lemons) most likely
as well. Dried grains can take a little longer- a week to 2 weeks is common. Kefir grains may not
start growing right away, but they should be properly kefiring the sugar-water they are in by this
time. Growth can start happening right away, or it may take up to 3-5 weeks before you start
noticing growth (usually the case with dried, not live).

How long does it take for stored, frozen or dried kefir grains to reactivate?

Stored grains from the fridge, freezer, or dried in the cupboard are very similar to re-balancing live
or dried grains from the mail. It can take anywhere from a couple days to a week. Dried or frozen
grains can take a week to 2 at the most. Kefir grains may not start growing right away, but they
should be properly kefiring the sugar-water they are in by 5-14 days. Growth can start happening
right away, or it may take up to 3-5 weeks before you start noticing growth (usually the case with
dried, not live).

How do you know when the kefir is ready?

When you nudge the jar and bubbles fly up from the bottom, and if it has a sour bite (not just a flat
extremely sweet water) it is most likely ready. To test just stick a straw or spoon in to try. 'Double
dipping' is ok but not really recommended. Technically speaking this is at a ph of about 4.5, if you
have a ph meter to test. Some people like to drink it at 24 hours while others like a tart and more
bubbly kefir and will wait the full 48 hours. A lot of people expect a very sour and very bubbly drink -
this is not the case until after you store it. Water kefir is mildly sweet-sour with just a tiny bit of
bubbles when first strained. If you bottle it for a day or more, it will greatly increase in carbonation
and reduce the sugar more (and increase the alcohol a bit). It truly is drinkable at any point so
there is nothing to really worry over. Once you get into the swing of things you will naturally know
when your kefir is done to your preference and how to tweak it or bottle it to improve flavor and fizz if
desired. A mild kefir tends to have a laxative effect and an over-fermented kefir a constipating one,
thus most people try to achieve a kefir somewhere in between.

What if I forgot to strain my kefir when it was ready?

Kefir is very forgiving. Strain when you remember, and feed them normally. They may be extra
happy and eat through the new sugar-water quickly, so keep an eye on them and strain when it
tastes ready (whether its before or after the 24-48 hour mark). If its been more than a week they
may need some time to re-balance, and you may want to wait to consume the kefir until after a
couple of cycles/batches.


___________________________________________________________________________

FAQ: Straining and Finishing

Questions in this Section:
How do you know when the kefir is ready?
How do I remove my kefir grains from the kefir once its ready?
What size strainer is appropriate for straining kefir grains?
Do you have to be gentle with kefir grains?
Do you have to wash or rinse your grains?
Should you include some of the last batch in the new batch?
How can I reduce the amount of alcohol in kefir?
What is 'ripening' kefir and how do you do it?
How do I get my kefir to be more fizzy and carbonated?
Do kefir grains need to be fed every day?
How long do active kefir grains last?
How long does it take for dried or live shipped kefir grains to balance?
How long does it take for stored, frozen or dried kefir grains to reactivate?
What if I forgot to strain my kefir when it was ready?
Where can you store kefir?
How long can you store kefir/when should you drink it by?


How do you know when the kefir is ready?

When you nudge the jar and bubbles fly up from the bottom, and if it has a sour bite (not just a flat
extremely sweet water) it is most likely ready. To test just stick a straw or spoon in to try. 'Double
dipping' is ok but not really recommended. Technically speaking this is at a ph of about 4.5, if you
have a ph meter to test. Some people like to drink it at 24 hours while others like a tart and more
bubbly kefir and will wait the full 48 hours. A lot of people expect a very sour and very bubbly drink -
this is not the case until after you store it. Water kefir is mildly sweet-sour with just a tiny bit of
bubbles when first strained. If you bottle it for a day or more, it will greatly increase in carbonation
and reduce the sugar more (and increase the alcohol a bit). It truly is drinkable at any point so
there is nothing to really worry over. Once you get into the swing of things you will naturally know
when your kefir is done to your preference and how to tweak it or bottle it to improve flavor and fizz if
desired. A mild kefir tends to have a laxative effect and an over-fermented kefir a constipating one,
thus most people try to achieve a kefir somewhere in between.

How do I remove my kefir grains from the kefir once its ready?

You can use a strainer (wood, plastic, nylon, or stainless steel). The kefir will pour right through,
leaving just the grains in the strainer. You can also keep your grains in a clean, non-bleached
muslin bag or unbleached tea bag, and simply pull the bag out when done. This is a nice option to
make the process more simple and quick, but the grains sometimes do not ferment as well. You
can also use your clean hands, kefir grains don't mind being touched! It's ok that they sit in the
strainer 'naked' and dry for a bit while waiting for the new batch of sugar-water to be prepared.

What size strainer is appropriate for straining kefir grains?

Kefir grains are pretty tangible in size, so you do not need a microscopic, super dense strainer. Any
strainer around 1/8" in hole size (or 2mm) is a good starting point. This is basically any strainer
that is not a pasta strainer with large or fancy shaped cut-outs for the holes. Most strainers now a
days are made from stainless steel or plastic (and its many forms, such as nylon, rubber etc) -
both of which are acceptable to use with your grains. We also carry some as well that are
kefir-friendly. Bamboo/wood is also a safe material - just make sure to clean it well between
strainings. If you prefer to use a finer mesh, it will take longer to strain. Anything bigger, and some
tiny curds can slip through and although quite safe to consume, will most likely ferment your
bottled kefir too much.

Do you have to be gentle with kefir grains?

Kefir grains are pretty hardy little guys. Just like grass, it can take a good beating but it will wear
down over time if exposed to excessive stress. To give you an idea, kefir grains will survive a
blender, a hammer, freezing, some heat (but not cooking), and of course, drying. This does not
mean they should be handled this way - care for them like you would any pet, and they will be
extremely happy and productive for it!

Do you have to wash or rinse your grains?

Some people like to do this, but it was never done traditionally and is not necessary at all. By
nature, they are a symbiotic mass of microflora that has self-inoculating properties, protecting itself
from foreign bacteria or yeast. The lactic acid it excretes also protects it from becoming
contaminated. Many have observed that when they stopped rinsing their grains, they grew better
and produced better kefir. This pertains to the jar as well - which does not need to be washed each
and every time. Sometimes they can get a filmy coating on their surface that may indicate they need
a gentle scrub and rinse (along with less minerals, fruit, or unrefined sugars too) though. If you
wish to rinse them, make sure it is clean, non-chlorinated water. Simply run them under flowing
water or swish them around in a bowl of clean water and drain off.

Should you include some of the last batch in the new batch?

Once your grains are strong and growing and fermenting successfully and consistently, it is not
necessary to always use a lemon. Instead, you can use about 1/8-1/4 cup of the kefir from the last
batch as your 'acidic' ph lowering tool (per quart water). Since in the past this was most likely done
as a continual ferment (a ferment that you drink out of and then replace that amount with fresh
water and sugar, never straining the grains out) this would have been the case that enough of the
liquid was already low in ph to protect the ferment. But it is in fact not necessary to do this either if
your grains are proving to be healthy and productive. In some cases this can add too much yeast
and cause a foamy ferment. If you notice your grains not growing as well, or too much foam on the
top of the water, then cut back or skip this procedure for awhile.

How can I reduce the amount of alcohol in kefir?

There isn't really a way to reduce alcohol save boiling the kefir (which then negates all the healthful
properties of the living probiotics). To discourage increases in alcohol simply keep your lid on
loose while fermenting and during storage as well. This oxidation encourages acetic acids (which
turn wine into vinegar) to balance the process. Alcohol is formed by yeast in a mostly anaerobic/no
air environment. Lactic acid is formed by the bacteria in a low-oxygen environment. Store with
ample room between the kefir and the lid to provide more oxygen. This will encourage the various
bacteria to be as balance out the yeast, and diminish the amount of alcohol it is able to form. The
alcohol produced will also depend on the type and amount of sugar, grains and fermentation time.
More sugar will create a higher alcohol content (especially if bottled in an air-tight container). A
shorter ferment will also be too high in sugar and not high enough in the acids that help to counter
balance the alcohol activity.

What is 'ripening' kefir and how do you do it?

This simply means letting your finished, strained kefir sit out a bit before consuming. This is done
to increase the folic acid and B vitamin content (particularly B1, B6 and B9), improve the flavor,
decrease the sugar content, and increase the carbonation and alcohol content of your kefir. To
ripen your kefir simply strain the grains out, bottle your finished kefir, and then let it sit out on the
counter or in the fridge for another day or two. Remember this will make it more acidic by nature of
the increasing folic acid. Be careful to store it in a thick safe bottle that won't explode (dangerous
and messy!), since the bottle will build up pressure. If in doubt, 'burp' the bottle once or twice a day
by opening the lid to let the pressure out and then closing it up again. This won't interfere with the
ripening or carbonation process.

How do I get my kefir to be more fizzy and carbonated?

Kefir is only slightly effervescent straight from its ferment - to add more fizz, try bottling it for a few
days. Seal your freshly strained kefir in an airtight bottle in the fridge or on the counter for a few
days. You can even add a little fresh sugar to encourage the process a bit more. Leave about an
inch between the liquid and the cap (this is how champagne is made, too). To avoid bursting
bottles (dangerous and messy!), 'burp' your kefir bottle once a day. Just un-screw the lid, let the
pressured air escape, and re-seal it. This will not diminish the amount of fizz, and is actually quite
helpful in building up more carbonation without having your bottle explode in the process. It's best
to use thick jars with rubber seals to avoid bursting. Sluggish kefir and winter kefir tend to be more
mild and flat, whereas summer kefir can be more fizzy and tangy. If you think your kefir is sluggish,
try giving it a rest (explained below) and then fermenting it in a warmer spot in your home.

Do kefir grains need to be fed every day?

Water kefir needs to be fed at least every 48 hours (every other day). Kefir grains need to be
strained every 24-48 hours (24 hours being hot summer weather, most of the time they can go to
48 or even another day in the cold winter months) and put in a fresh mix of water and sugar. If you
or your grains would like to take a break, stick them in the fridge, refreshing them weekly with fresh
water and sugar or simply put them in their finished kefir juice for up to a week or two. This can be
done for a couple weeks, then they should be brought back out to room temperature. If you need a
longer break, view our section on storage.

How long do active Kefir Grains last?

Indefinitely with good care - they are a living, consuming organism that are in a constant state of
reproduction. Some may get weaker over time for one reason or another (neglected, frozen, etc),
but they will nonetheless do all they can to keep marching on! They have already lived over a
thousand years as it is.

How long does it take for dried or live shipped kefir grains to balance?

This can take anywhere from a couple days to a week. Water differs region to region (and brand to
brand), so the grains will also be adjusting to new water (and sugar, fruit and lemons) most likely
as well. Dried grains can take a little longer- a week to 2 weeks is common. Kefir grains may not
start growing right away, but they should be properly kefiring the sugar-water they are in by this
time. Growth can start happening right away, or it may take up to 3-5 weeks before you start
noticing growth (usually the case with dried, not live).

How long does it take for stored, frozen or dried kefir grains to reactivate?

Stored grains from the fridge, freezer, or dried in the cupboard are very similar to re-balancing live
or dried grains from the mail. It can take anywhere from a couple days to a week. Dried or frozen
grains can take a week to 2 at the most. Kefir grains may not start growing right away, but they
should be properly kefiring the sugar-water they are in by 5-14 days. Growth can start happening
right away, or it may take up to 3-5 weeks before you start noticing growth (usually the case with
dried, not live).

What if I forgot to strain my kefir when it was ready?

Kefir is very forgiving. Strain when you remember, and feed them normally. They may be extra
happy and eat through the new sugar-water quickly, so keep an eye on them and strain when it
tastes ready (whether its before or after the 24-48 hour mark). If its been more than a week they
may need some time to re-balance, and you may want to wait to consume the kefir until after a
couple of cycles/batches.

Where can you store kefir?

Strained water kefir can be stored either on the counter or the fridge. It will continue to ferment both
ways, the fridge of course being the much slower of the two. If on the counter, it will quickly morph
into a rather fizzy and tart concotion (with more acid and alcohol) - its best to only do this for 12-24
hours, and then stick in the fridge to slow it down some. You can also store your kefir in the freezer.
It will kill off some of the cultures but quite a few will remain viable, and will make excellent healthy
and delicious popsicles!

How long can you store kefir/when should you drink it by?

It is best to drink kefir within 2 weeks. Our opinion is that kefir is best about a day or two after you
have strained it, and bottled it in the fridge - this allows for more B Vitamins to develop, without
risking too much of an increase in acid or alcohol. This gives you time for any secondary flavors to
set and meld with the kefir as well. It tends to be more fizzy and have a more developed and
dimensional flavor, too. You can continuously add your freshly strained kefir to your existing kefir,
giving it a shake to distribute, or you can start fresh each time, dumping what you haven't
consumed. Kefir can be stored for quite a long time, since the bacteria and yeast actively and
continuously preserve it. However, the alcohol and/or acetic content will increase and it will get
increasingly sour and fizzy over time. Bottles left and forgotten in the fridge for a couple months
might smell like pickled juice, or just like wine upon opening them (though not at all rotten!).


_________________________________________________________________________

FAQ: Look, Aroma, Taste and Texture

What should water kefir taste like?
What is kefir supposed to smell like?
What should the consistency of kefir be?
What kinds of dried fruit can you use and which are best?
Can you substitute an orange, lime or grapefruit for a lemon?
What is the optimal water to sugar ratio?
What if I used dried or fresh coconut and it tastes very sour?
Why is my kefir slimy, scummy, foamy, filmy, or thick?
Why is my kefir extremely sweet or flat?
Why does my kefir smell like nail polish remover or vomit?
Does kefir contain alcohol?
What are the seasonal differences in kefir (summer vs winter, etc)?
How fast do kefir grains grow?
What if my grains are not multiplying at all?
What if my grains aren't turning my water into kefir?


What does water kefir taste like?

It has a semi-tart effervescent mild and sweet flavor. Some people expect it to have more of a kick
or bit but It is not extremely tangy or bubbly until after it has been strained and bottled tightly for a
day or two. This is not something you have to 'tolerate', it is actually very delicious and most days
we prefer it over soda -especially after it's been bottled for a day or two and flavored! It's also very
good blended fruit or vanilla or put on ice with some cream like an Italian Soda. It also can work
as a sourdough starter in a pinch!

What is kefir supposed to smell like?

In our opinion kefir usually smells like a sweet lemon with maybe just a tiny bit of a 'burnt' or sour
vinegar smell at times. We've noticed in the spring and summer it has more of a sweet vinegar
twist, in the winter a more mild almost bbq-like backnote in the aroma. Of course, the scent will
always vary with the sugars and dried fruits used at the time. If you are re-using your jars without
washing them out, this can also contribute to the aroma, usually amplifying whatever the kefir
smells like at the moment. Once you wash the jar you will notice the smell to be much milder in
the next ferment.

What should the consistency of Kefir be?

Just the way it was to begin with - water. If it is anything else, toss it. It should not be gooey, slimy
or in any way thick. It's ok if there is some 'goo' around the dried fruits or when you squeeze the
dried fruits - this is a reaction between the bacteria, yeast and fruit sugars. The water should
always be the consistency of water though. Sometimes an overload of minerals such as way too
much baking soda or calcium, can react to make a thick water - we don't advise drinking this
either.

What kinds of dried fruit can you use and which are best?

This is a tough question because part of the process of finding what works for your own water
kefir is finding a compatible combination of fruits to go with the water and sugars you're using too.
For example some parts of the country (or world) have hard water (highly mineralized) and some
have soft water. If you are using all white sugar and soft water, your kefir will most likely prefer lots
of fruits with dense minerals and nutrient value. On the other hand if you are using a mix of
molasses with your white sugar, and mineral water - you may need no help at all from fruit except
occasionally for taste, a nutrient boost if your grains get 'stuck in a rut' or variety. The best fruits do
tend to be the ones we know as nutrionally dense - such as figs, dates, bananas, coconut,
apricots, apples, raisins, mangos and sometimes dark cherries too. These fruits start out dense
and dry to still be large pieces of fruit. If you dried a large slice of watermelon, you would be left
with a flake of paper (unlike an apricot which remains pretty hefty for a dried fruit) - basically if
fruits are extremely high in fiber or water, the kefir grains do not seem to respond as well.
Because of this, berries, citrus fruits and melons make for poor nutrition for the kefir grains. It's
always best to get dried fruits that have no added preservatives (like sulfates or sulfites) and no
added oils or sugars. You may be suprised that a lot of dried fruits have added oil and sugar (and
even sometimes salt) especially ones that come pre-packaged as snacks.

Can you substitute an orange, lime or grapefruit for a lemon?

You can try replacing the lemon with a wedge of orange, lime or grapefruit but it's best to test first
on your extra grains and keep a separate batch going in the traditional recipe. If they respond
favorably, or show no difference, then these can be a satisfactory (and tasty) replacement.

What is the optimal water to sugar ratio?

The optimal ratio is about 3-10% sugar-water solution, which is roughly 1 tablespoon sugar per 1
cup water (6.25%). In the summer you may find that a little more works best, such as 6
tablespoons per quart (9.37%). This is in reference to using about 1 tablespoon's worth of grains
for every cup of water.

What if I used dried or fresh coconut and it tastes very sour?

This is a very interesting backwards way of finding out if the coconut you used was rancid!
Sometimes it can be almost impossible to tell, especially if you are using dried coconut flakes,
which all look the same and smell pretty much the same. Fresh coconut and coconut water is
usually grey or pink if its rancid or gone bad. But if your ferment turns out to taste like sour gummy
bears (more sour than even what a lemon would usually impart in the kefir), then your coconut
was rancid. Try to secure a source of fresh dried coconut - if its from a bin at your local store it
may be more likely to go rancid then if its freshly packaged in individual bags.

Why is my kefir slimy, scummy, foamy, filmy, or thick?

Kefir should not be gooey, slimy or in any way thick. It's ok if there is some 'goo' around the dried
fruits or when you squeeze the dried fruits - this is a reaction between the bacteria, yeast and fruit
sugars. The water should always be the consistency of water though. Sometimes an overload of
minerals such as way too much baking soda or calcium, can react to make a thick water - we
don't advise drinking this either. Foamy is much more typical and not something to worry about.
This is just the by-product of yeast activity and usually non-digestible materials in the sugar. This
happens most often with rapadura. We do not see this nearly as much with brown sugar or
molasses - which are both low to zero in residue. The rapadura most likely contains some
fibrous residue particles within the sugar since it is very unrefined. Even if the foam is a bit
scummy (brown 'goo' threads attached) just scoop it off the top and proceed to straining as
normal.

Why is my kefir extremely sweet or flat?

If it tastes like sugar water without any hint of vinegar and its very sweet and flat, this indicates that
a fermentation didn't take place, or was so minor that it's not noticeable. Check the other
information here for what might be wrong.

Why does my kefir smell like nail polish remover or vomit?

Acetone which gives off the 'nail polish remover smell' is a normal process of fermentation and is
present in very small amounts (and is not dangerous). But once your brew smells strongly of this,
it is best to continue to ferment as usual, but not drink the kefir. Most times it will go away on its
own (as it is usually a temporary imbalance in the yeast and bacteria). If not, it is best to discard
the grains and start anew. This can happen when over-active yeast uses the dissolved oxygen too
rapidly and are not completely fermenting all the sugar (which can allow it to be too available to
other invading bacteria and yeast). Most of the invading bacteria that can cause problems do not
tolerate too low of an acid environment (ph 2-4) High Butyric acid levels (also present in small
amounts naturally) smell like vomit. These can found quite often on dirt or tea leaves (generally a
quite common bacteria) and will most likely pass once you get your ferment in a safe ph level for
a couple ferments.

Does kefir contain alcohol?

Yes, its been found in a couple studies now to contain about 0.038% - 2% alcohol, or 16-38 g/L
(grams per litre). With the normal amount being around .08 or less (for a 48-hour ferment). Kefir
that is stored and ripened for a few of days will continue to increase in alcohol, up to 2-3% (when
it is sealed tightly). For reference, beer contains about 4-7% and wine 8-14%. Because kefir
contains bacteria (and not just yeast like beer or wine) the amount of alcohol kefir can produce is
limited by the acetic bacterium which convert the alcohol (produced by the yeasts) to beneficial
acids.

What are the seasonal differences in Kefir (summer vs winter, etc)?

Kefir, like all living organisms, goes through intricate and subtle changes with the seasons,
climate, temperatures and environment it is in. Just like you can mark the seasons with a tree
budding, growing, turning colors and discarding its leaves, kefir also will constantly be in flux and
going through seasonal patterns. Kefir will ferment much more quickly in the summer and
warmer temperatures. It may especially be inconsistent during spring and fall, or whenever there
is a large disparity of temperatures (such as a cold night and hot day). Kefir will tend to be more
mild in the winter and cooler temperatures (and more zesty and sour in the summer). Part of the
beauty of the symbiotic nature of kefir is that each strain has a certain strength and weakness.
Together, they are able to ferment at a wide range of temperatures. Keeping this in mind, you will
realize that because of this, a certain temperature will allow some strains to perform much better,
while others may be temporarily suppressed. This contributes to the differing tastes of kefir
throughout the year. Water kefir tends to be in flux even more than milk kefir - changing shape and
taste quite often - even when you are not sure what to blame it on. Give it a couple weeks and it
will come around again usually to something you're more familiar with. For one reason or another
water kefir tends to have 'down times'. It may just seem to lag and falter for a few weeks, and then
pick right up again, suddenly reproducing 100-400% growth. We've found that kefir grains will still
reproduce and ferment in very cold temperatures of 40-60 degrees. And we've found that trying to
heat them does not seem to encourage them a whole lot in some cases. You will have to
experiment for yourself come winter time in your home! We've noticed that our grains prefer easier
sugars in the winter that will dissolve and digest more quickly (like white sugar with molasses)
and more slower digesting sugars in the summer (like rapadura with white sugar).

How fast do kefir grains grow?

Water kefir can reproduce rapidly under the right conditions and some luck. They will grow
anywhere from 5%-400% within 48 hours. We've seen 5% in the winter and 400% in the summer,
with other %'s everywhere in between (and not always with an answer as to why). Sometimes
water kefir has 'lag times' where they will just slow down for one reason or another. In the winter
they may have diminished growth because of the season. It is also interesting that smaller
grains will reproduce much more rapidly than larger grains (this is because there is a greater
surface area that can grab nutrients from the water).

What if my grains are not multiplying at all?

Sometimes grains for one reason or another are stubborn and will simply not grow. They will
usually still properly ferment the liquid into kefir though, and is not something to be concerned
about. If they are floating, not soft, or disintegrating at the bottom and not producing kefir, they are
not viable any longer. Browse through the grains 101 section here to see if there may be some
factor involved that you can improve to help encourage growth. Check your temperature, your
sugar, fruit and mineral choices, and make sure there are no harsh residues of soap or any
antibacterial agents on any of your jars or other kefir supplies. In some cases, grains that have
been dried for years or have been subjected to freezer burn or extreme heat may not revitalize. It is
best at this point to start anew.

What if my grains aren't turning my water into kefir?

If your sugar-water is not converting to kefir, or is souring into a putrid or slimy water then it is
most likely that your grains are not viable. They have either been damaged from exposure to
extreme heat, prolonged frost or harmful chemicals (about the only things that can really kill
them). At this point it is best to discard of the grains and secure a new batch to start anew.


__________________________________________________________________________


FAQ: Fermenting Other Liquids

Questions in this Section:
Can you use artificial sweetener or vitamin-infused water with kefir?
Can you use kefir liquid as a starter (instead of the grains)?
Does it matter what water you use?
What about reverse-osmosis water?
What about well water?
What liquids can you ferment with kefir grains?
How can you convert water grains to kefir other liquids such as coconut or soy?
What can you do to encourage growth and proper fermenting in other liquids?
Can you add other things in with kefir while its fermenting?


Can you use artificial sweetener or vitamin-infused water with kefir?

Artificial sweetener does not work with water kefir. This is because it contains no calories or
nutrients. The kefir grains simply have nothing to eat and live off. Vitamin-infused water or water
brands like 'Smart Water' may or may not work with your grains. Water kefir thrives primarily on
sugars and minerals and may even react negatively to vitamin-infused waters. Save some extra
grains and test before trying something like this on your whole batch.

Can you use kefir liquid as a starter (instead of the grains)?

Kefir liquid actually also contains billions of bacteria and yeast that are effective at making more
fermenting liquid if you add some fresh sugar or fruit juice and let sit out or in the fridge for atleast
24 hours. It will dilute and get weaker each time, so its best to start with freshly made kefir (from
kefir grains) each time for the freshest and safest ferment. But this is a great option for fermenting
other liquids or making a quick batch in a pinch (and to protect the grains themselves from harmful
fruit juices that could hinder their growth).

Does it matter what water you use?

Water is one of the crucial ingredients for water kefir. What water you use will make a difference.
Since most of us don't have the equipment to test what is in our water, let alone on a day-to-day
basis, this usually requires some experimenting. Water kefir generally prefers a nutritious highly
mineralized water (also called hard water, or mineral water / spring water if its from a bottle). Soft
water, filtered water, carbon-activated, ionized or otherwise altered water does not seem to
encourage the same amount of growth or vitality in our observations. Reverse osmosis water has
in most of our observations led to eventual kefir grain death even. It just doesn't contain enough of
the various and vital minerals found in normal tap, spring or mineral water. Also, chlorine can be
an issue and should be avoided if possible. To remove some of the chlorine you can let your water
set out (without a lid) and it will evaporate in about 24 hours. Some forms of chlorine such as
chloramine won't dissipate as easily. If you are unsure what your tap water contains, contact your
local water facility for details.

What about reverse-osmosis water?

Reverse osmosis water has in most of our observations led to eventual kefir grain death even. It
just doesn't contain enough of the various and vital minerals found in normal tap, spring or mineral
water. It is what we like to call 'processed' or 'refined' water, basically an empty water devoid of its
normal nutrients and properties, much like white sugar is compared to whole cane sugar. It's an
unbalanced and empty nutrient.

What about well water?

Well water can have some interesting things in it sometimes, but generally will provide good water
for your water kefir grains. If it seems to be stilting their growth, try comparing it to a store-bought
spring or mineral water for a few weeks to verify it is indeed the water. If you are concerned what
might be harming them, have your well water tested for contaminants.

What other liquids can you ferment with kefir grains?

Fruit juices are the usual medium for experimentation with excess kefir grains. After a couple times
of fermenting, they will typically become discoloured, get 'white specks' or a filmy coating, and may
start to disintegrate or stop performing. Kefir d'uva is simply kefir grains in grape juice - which
make for a delicious drink, but it usually is not sustainable. You will want to keep a separate
traditional batch going in case these die. You can also try fermenting canned fruit (which has its
own sugars and juice in the can - simply add water and use a can of lychees, pineapple or
peaches for example). It may be possible to ferment all forms of mammalian milk (mare, goat,
sheep, cow, buffalo, camel etc), however milk kefir grains are obviously more adept to do this.
Some people with cancer have even experimented fermenting human milk as a medicinal therapy.
You can also try to ferment other mediums such as coconut milk, coconut water (also called juice),
soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk. You may try tea (along with your regular ratio of sugar and
water) too. To convert your grains to handle a new liquid you will have to convert the grains
gradually and keep some on back-up in case they fail to thrive.

How can you convert water grains to kefir other liquids such as coconut or soy?

Converting grains is a patient process of trial and error. It is best to mix the two mediums for
awhile if possible, letting the grains get acquainted with the new liquid, while still having access to
some of its familiar liquid (for example, if you usually ferment with sugar-water and want to switch
to soy, mix in half sugar-water, half soy milk for a week or two). You can gradually taper the grains
off of their previous medium and see if they continue to ferment and grow in their new one. Some
grains will just refuse to grow, but will still produce a kefired product. This is ok, just make sure
that you have some backup grains or even some that you are maintaining in a liquid that they do
grow in. It is actually quite common for kefir grains to be able to produce a kefir, but are not able to
grow and reproduce in it. It is also a good idea to sometimes 'refresh' your grains by giving them
some of their original sugar-water mix every month or so just to increase the likelihood that they
will maintain their strength and health in their other liquid (though this is not always necessary -
some people have had great success doing just purely soy etc - just watch your grains and adjust
to their needs). If you need to have the other liquid (rather than sugar-water) and your grains seem
to struggle, you will mostly likely have to keep a 'mother source' in the traditional sugar-water,
creating new healthy grains that you can continuously use in the new liquid and dispose of. This
requires more work, but is an option if all else fails. You can also use kefir liquid (from kefir
fermented in sugar-water) instead of grains to ferment other liquids. Simply put in about 25-50%
kefir into the liquid of choice and let sit out for 12-24 hours at room temperature. There are enough
bacteria and yeast within kefir itself to properly ferment. We do not recommend trying this with
store-bought kefir, since it may not contain enough cultures to safely ferment at room temperature.

What can you do to encourage growth and proper fermenting in liquid-alternatives?

Sometimes water grains will take to another liquid, and sometimes they won't. If it looks like your
grains need a little encouragement, there are a few options. You can include a couple more
ingredients to help boost its health and growth, such as barley or rice malt extract (available from
brewing stores and sites), or a sweetener such as raw cane sugar (Rapunzel makes a nice one)
or some fresh fruit juice from an acidic fruit (such as grape juice, apple juice, lemon orange or lime
juice, tropical juices such as pineapple, kiwi, mango or papaya). You can also go with just adding
a little bit of sugar-water 10%-50%) if that is not an issue. If the grains refuse to ferment in your
liquid-alternative, then it may be best to continue to ferment your grains in their native sugar-water,
and then simply take a cup or two of the finished kefir and add it to your liquid-alternative. This
finished kefir, even without the grains, is powerful enough to properly ferment. This way your grains
themselves are never in contact with your other liquid, and continue to grow and thrive in their
traditional medium, while at the same time producing a starter you can use in the other liquid. This
means there would be a minor amount of sugar-water liquid-alternative kefir, but it is another
option if the sugar-water is not a concern.

Can you add other things in with kefir while its fermenting?

Yes, (besides the usual dried fruit and lemon) but experiment carefully as some things may hinder
or even harm the grains (some foods contain natural antibacterial properties, such as grapefruit
and raw honey). Dried fruits are better tolerated than fresh fruits. You may be able to do fresh
bananas, fresh carrots or fresh ginger though. And possibly fresh figs, coconut meat or dates if you
have access. Some fruits, like raspberries, will dye your grains and may irritate them as well
(especially fresh fruits because of the active enzymes and acids in them). Juice is also best to use
as a flavor enhancer after you have strained the grains out for the same reason. You can just as
easily add the desired ingredients or flavors after you have strained the grains out, and then let the
kefir sit for 12-48 hours before consuming. Adding mangos, vanilla beans or raspberries are
some of our favorite secondary ferment flavors (for milk and water kefir)!


______________________________________________________________________________

FAQ: Reviving, Sharing and Storing Grains

Questions in this Section:
What if I forget about my kefir and its really old?
What should dried kefir grains look like?
How do you reactivate stored, dried or frozen water kefir grains?
How long does it take for dried shipped kefir grains to balance?
How do you share water kefir grains with others through the mail?
Should I give my kefir grains a rest?
How long does it take for kefir grains to balance after fasting/resting?
How do you dry water kefir grains for storage?
How long does it take for stored, frozen or dried kefir grains to reactivate?
Should kefir grains float?
Does ginger help your kefir grains?
Should I add minerals such as baking soda or calcium to the ferment?


What if I forget about my kefir and its really old?

Kefir keeps a LONG time, like wine. It may even smell just like wine (or pickles). Sometimes you
can revive neglected or forgotten grains. Simply seperate them sugar-water in a strainer, give them
a rinse with some clean cold, preferably non-chlorinated water, and put them in a new batch of
sugar-water. They most likely won't be that active, so a little batch is enough, you don't want to
waste a ton of sugar and other ingredients until you see signs of activity. If they seem to process
the water into kefir, then they may be viable to use - keep feeding and wait at least a few days if not
longer (water kefir can take longer than milk kefir grains to revive) before consuming, to ensure the
drink is balanced. As with all things, use your best judgement and common sense, if it smells
badly or looks off, toss it and secure some fresh new grains from your back-up storage or a friend.


What should Dried Kefir Grains look like?

Dried kefir grains color is dependant on the color of the sugars and sometimes the dried fruits it
was fermented with. They can range from a murky clear color to a dark amber crystal brown (like a
rootbeer candy). They are smaller in size, about the size of candy nerds, than their fresh, active
counterparts. They are rubbery or completely hard, depending on how dried they are. If you are
going to store them for awhile you will want them completely dry and hard.

How do you reactivate stored, dried or frozen water kefir grains?

Grains that have been stored in sugar-water for a short time (2 months or less), can simply be
placed in a small amount of sugar-water at room temperature for 24 hours. Start out with less than
what you would normally use for the amount of grains at hand. Watch to see if it kefirs in that time
period. If it over-ferments, give it more, if not, continue with small amounts every 24-48 hours until
the grains' metabolism speeds up and starts to produce a balanced kefir that is ready in 24-48
hours each time (should take anywhere from 2-10 days). If the grains were stored in the fridge for
longer than 2 months, it can be helpful to rinse them and gently rub them under cold, clean water.
This is to help rub off a 'pickled' outer layer. You can also take some scissors, or a meat pounder
to open up the grains and expose fresher surface areas (or toss them in the blender). If your
grains were frozen, allow them to thaw in the fridge, and then strain, giving them a very small
amount of fresh sugar-water and let ferment at room temperature for 24-48 hours. Watch to see if it
kefirs in that time period. If it over-ferments, give it more sugar-water, if not, continue with small
amounts every 24-48 hours until the grains' metabolism speeds up and starts to produce a
balanced kefir that is ready in 24-48 hours each time (should take anywhere from 3-14 days). If the
grains were dried, first, rehydrate them in some fresh, cold, clean water for a couple hours. This
helps them to regain their shape and ability to ferment before plunking them straight into the
sugar-water (and having them sitting there doing nothing for a few hours). Then place them in a
their typical amount of sugar-water. Allow it to ferment at room temperature for 24-48 hours. Watch
to see if it kefirs in that time period. If it over-ferments, give it more, if not, continue the cycles until
the grains' metabolism speeds up and starts to produce a balanced kefir that is ready to drink in
24-48 hours each time (should take anywhere from 2-10 days). It may take anywhere from 3 to 12
weeks (12 being extreme) to notice any kind of actual grain growth and improved appearance in
any one of these situations of reviving the grains. They will eventually appear more normal and
grow more vigorously given time and patience! Toss any crumbly or hard grains that don't seem to
revive after 12 weeks.

How long does it take for dried shipped kefir grains to balance?

This can take up to 3-5 weeks for dried kefir grains, although
a week to 2 weeks is common.
Water differs region to region (and brand to brand), so the grains will also be adjusting to
new water (and sugar, fruit and lemons) most likely as well. Kefir grains may not start growing
right away, but they should be properly kefiring the sugar-water they are in by this time. Growth
can start happening right away, or it may take up to 3-5 weeks before you start noticing growth
(usually the case with dried, not live).

How do you share water kefir grains with others through the mail?

Our dried Kefir grains can be shipped as slow as desired, since these last at least 6+ months.

Should I give my kefir grains a rest?

It's always helpful for everything under the sun to have a break once in awhile. A couple times a
year is quite sufficient, they will keep going regardless of getting a rest or not, but it seems they do
appreciate a vacation once in awhile.

How long does it take for kefir grains to balance after fasting/resting?

Since fasting or resting is only done for a week or less, it usually takes around 4-6 days (2 cycles
of 48 hours approximately) to balance and be back up to speed in no time!

How do you dry water kefir grains for storage?

Simply rinse them in cold, clean water (either under running water in a sieve, or stirring gently in a
bowl of fresh water, changing the water a couple times). Then pat dry with a clean, ironed towel or
clean papertowel. Wrap these grains in a dry clean, ironed towel (or papertowel), sealing the
edges to prevent fruit flies. You can place them on a clean plate or other clean flat surface that has
a breathable but fly-proof top. Let them sit in a well-ventilated area that is not too cold or hot. You
can even set up a fan to speed up the process. They should take 3-5 days to dry. They will be fully
dry when they are completely hard (and half their original size). You can also try dehydrating them
in a food dehydrator at about 78F (25C) for approximately 2 hours, but this is not as
recommended because they are sensitive to heat.

How long does it take for stored, frozen or dried kefir grains to reactivate?

Stored grains from the fridge, freezer, or dried in the cupboard are very similar to re-balancing live
or dried grains from the mail. It can take anywhere from a couple days to a week. Dried or frozen
grains can take a week to 2 at the most. Kefir grains may not start growing right away, but they
should be properly kefiring the sugar-water they are in by 5-14 days. Growth can start happening
right away, or it may take up to 3-5 weeks before you start noticing growth (usually the case with
dried, not live).

Should kefir grains float?

Yes, sometimes. Most kefir grains encapsulate some of the carbon dioxide gas that the yeasts
give off while fermenting. Also, some grains have less density than the liquid, and simply float.
Some will be dense enough though (and manage to avoid capturing bubbles) that they remain on
the bottom. Sometimes grains that have been subjected to severe freezer burn, high heat or their
outer layer is too encrusted and hard from being dried (or old), also float (and they may not be able
to be revived). It is best to see if these are able to propagate new grains (though they themselves
may not recover) or toss them if no growth or kefiring is achievable with them. If they reproduce
new grains, then you are good to go!

Does ginger help your kefir grains?

Some people have noticed good growth with freshly peeled ginger slices, candied ginger, or
ginger juice. In some cases this may be because the grains are actually ginger beer grains and
not water kefir (they look extremely similar). Since even within the water kefir grain species, grain
'families' can differ, you will have to experiment for yourself to see if your water kefir likes it. And just
because it doesn't show any indication of liking it at one point, you may notice it take off and grow
rapidly at another time (water kefir is always in flux and changing). We have found it fascinating that
water kefir tends to also have cycles of preferences - for example, just as someone might really
have a banana craving for a couple weeks, and then tire of it and move on to another snack, water
kefir also likes variety. It seems that they are most healthy when exposed to a wide range of
nutrients, and are also resting from other nutrients (and then returning to them). For example, you
may give them apricots for a couple weeks, then dates, then figs, then ginger slices, then repeat.

Should I add minerals such as baking soda or calcium to the ferment?

Yes, sometimes the grains needs call for added minerals. This is most usually the case when
they seem to be lagging a bit and could use a boost. If you are giving them mineralized or hard
water, lots of unrefined sugar (like rapadura, Rapunzel, etc) then the issue may not be minerals. It
is always worth a shot to see if your grains will benefit from a pinch of baking soda (about 1/8
teaspoon per quart). Don't use baking powder. Sometimes they can also benefit from a likewise
pinch of calcium carbonate from sources like dolomite (shell), boiled and sanitary egg shells, or
supplemental powders you can find in your local grocery or health food store or online. If the water
becomes murky, thick, slimy or the grains do worse, then it's an indication that there are already
plenty of minerals and no more are necessary at the moment.

___________________________________________________________________________

FAQ: Secondary Ferments and Flavoring

Questions in this Section:
What is the difference between a secondary and continuous ferment?
How do you do a continuous ferment?
What is 'ripening' kefir and how do you do it?
How do I get my kefir to be more fizzy and carbonated?
How can I flavor my strained water kefir?
Can you add other things in with kefir while its fermenting?
Can you use fresh fruits, vegetables or grains (such as rice) in the ferment?


What is the difference between a secondary and continuous ferment?

These are two types of ferments used to make or improve water kefir. A continuous ferment
includes the grains, and is considered an on-going ferment and storage vessel in one. Fresh
sugar-water is added and kefir is scooped out (or poured out of a spigot) as it is ready, no
straining takes place. A a secondary ferment is often used as a means to further ripen the kefir so
that it is more fermented and has a further range of folic acid and B-vitamins, but this is done first
by taking the grains out and then letting the finished kefir sit for a day or so before consuming.

How do you do a continuous ferment?

This was how kefir was most likely traditionally made (as it was with milk kefir, too, where the
grains were kept in a bag where fresh milk was added continuously). To do this method, you will
need a large container, ideally with a spout (but it's not necessary). Simply dip in and take what you
want to drink and replace that amount (or more) with fresh sugar-water. This method will make
your grains grow rapidly
if you are not letting the grains go too long without fresh sugar-water. This
method works well if you need a lot of kefir to go around but don't have many grains (yet!).
To get
lots of kefir quickly with just a few grains simply keep adding sugar-water without straining. The
'kefired' sugar-water will act as somewhat of a starter along with the grains, more quickly turning
each addition of sugar-water to kefir. For example, with 1 tablespoon of kefir, you may pour in 2
cups of sugar-water, wait 24 hours, add in another 4-5 cups sugar-water, then in about 12 hours
you can top it off with another 9 cups and you will have a gallon of kefir in just about 2 days.

What is 'ripening' kefir and how do you do it?

This simply means letting your finished, strained kefir sit out a bit before consuming. This is done
to increase the folic acid and B vitamin content (particularly B1, B6 and B9), improve the flavor,
decrease the lactose content, and increase the carbonation and alcohol content of your kefir. To
ripen your kefir simply strain the grains out, bottle your finished kefir, and then let it sit out on the
counter or in the fridge for another day or two. Remember this will make it more acidic by nature of
the increasing folic acid. Be careful to store it in a thick safe bottle that won't explode (dangerous
and messy!), since the bottle will build up pressure. If in doubt, 'burp' the bottle once or twice a day
by opening the lid to let the pressure out and then closing it up again. This won't interfere with the
ripening or carbonation process.

How do I get my kefir to be more fizzy and carbonated?

Kefir is only slightly effervescent straight from its ferment - to add more fizz, try bottling it for a few
days.Seal your freshly strained kefir in an airtight bottle in the fridge or on the counter for a few
days. Leave about an inch between the liquid and the cap (this is how champagne is made, too).
To avoid bursting bottles (dangerous and messy!), 'burp' your kefir bottle once a day. Just un-screw
the lid, let the pressured air escape, and re-seal it. This will not diminish the amount of fizz, and is
actually quite helpful in building up more carbonation without having your bottle explode in the
process. It's best to use thick jars with rubber seals to avoid bursting. Sluggish kefir and winter
kefir tend to be more mild and yogurt-like, whereas summer kefir can be more fizzy and yeasty. If
you think your kefir is sluggish, try giving it a rest (explained below) and then fermenting it in a
warmer spot in your home.

How can I flavor my strained water kefir?

Once the kefir is strained, simply add in your desired ingredients or flavors and then let the kefir sit
for 12-48 hours before consuming. This can be done by letting it sit out the counter for 12-24 hours
and the sticking it in the fridge for another 12-24 hours, or sticking it straight in the fridge for 12-48
hours. We've noticed the flavor to be more developed between the 24-48 hour mark. Adding
strawberries, mangoes, cherries, vanilla, berries, and ginger are some of our favorite secondary
ferment flavors! A couple drops of extract also makes for a quick and delicious flavor in your kefir.
Kefir truly has endless possibilities for flavoring. As you experiment you'll notice some flavors will
work much better than others. To add dried fruit, simply put in a big handful in about 2 cups of kefir
(a good ratio to start with). It will taste good whenever, but the kefir seems to fully absorb the flavors
by about 48 hours. If you want to flavor it but don't like chunks of fruit in your kefir, simply put them in
a muslin or tea bag, or explore our flavors we put together in our Kefir Flavor Bags and Powders.
You can also easily flavor with extracts, just 2-4 drops is enough for 1-2 cups kefir (vanilla, almond,
coconut, lemon etc!). Juice is also an easy option - simply pour in about 1/4 cup per 1-2 cups kefir.
If its too mild, add more juice and less kefir the next time around. Try juice concentrates like the
frozen cans at the store for a more strong and compact flavor. Orange, tropical, cranberry and
blueberry are some good ones to try! Fresh fruit is just the same as the dried - just plunk it in (or
put in a muslin or tea bag). Cutting up the fruit first can help get the flavor out of the fruit and into the
kefir better. Or if you have a blender, blend in the fresh fruit, then consume or let sit 24-48 hours
(counter or fridge) which will further increase the flavor. Check out our recipes and flavor bags and
powders for more ideas!

Can you add other things in with kefir while its fermenting?

Yes, (besides the usual dried fruit and lemon) but experiment carefully as some things may hinder
or even harm the grains (some foods contain natural antibacterial properties, such as grapefruit
and raw honey). Dried fruits are better tolerated than fresh fruits. You may be able to do fresh
bananas, fresh carrots or fresh ginger though. And possibly fresh figs, coconut meat or dates if you
have access. Some fruits, like raspberries, will dye your grains and may irritate them as well
(especially fresh fruits because of the active enzymes and acids in them). Juice is also best to use
as a flavor enhancer after you have strained the grains out for the same reason. You can just as
easily add the desired ingredients or flavors after you have strained the grains out, and then let the
kefir sit for 12-48 hours before consuming. Adding mangos, vanilla beans or raspberries are
some of our favorite secondary ferment flavors (for milk and water kefir)!

Can you use fresh fruits, vegetables or grains (such as rice) in the ferment?

Yes, we have actually found our kefir to take to carrots a bit at times. Root vegetables have a high
sugar and mineral content (like ginger, which is a root) and kefir sometimes will benefit from a
couple fresh slices of carrots or ginger. Brown rice also seems to be compatible with kefir grains,
and we would imagine many other grains to be as well (in their whole form - not white rice for
example). Try experimenting with your extra kefir grains and see what they like! We don't
recommend nuts because of their high oil content. Vegetables like garlic and onion have irritating
compounds for the grains as well, and most likely will not be beneficial.

______________________________________________________________________________

FAQ: Health and Consumption of Water Kefir

Questions in this Section:
How is kefir consumed in other cultures?
Why is water kefir sometimes ok for diabetics to consume?
How can I reduce the amount of alcohol in kefir?
What is the advantage of taking Kefir instead of a probiotic supplement?
Why is kefir good for your health?
Is kefir a good option for those with Candida?
Is kefir a good option for those with digestive problems?
Is kefir appropriate for everyone?
Has kefir ever made anyone sick?
How are kefir grains different to powder starter (such as Body Ecology's products) or store-bought kefir?
What are kefir grains composed of?
Does Kefir contain alcohol?
What part of the kefir is considered the drinkable kefir?
How much kefir should I drink?
What kinds of sugars can you use?
Do the ingredients have to be organic?
How do I de-chlorinate my water?
What about reverse-osmosis water?
What about well water?
Does ginger help your kefir grains?
Is it ok to consume kefir that is still in the process of balancing or re-activating?
How long can you store kefir/when should you drink it by?
Can you eat the kefir grains too?
What if a grain drops onto the counter or floor?
What if I'm having adverse reactions to drinking kefir?
Do you have to wash or rinse your grains?
How do you know if its contaminated?
Does is matter what water you use?
Do kefir grains have a water preference?


How is kefir consumed in other cultures?

Water kefir is primarily used in the Latin culture to make a popular drink known as Tepache (which
has grown in popularity recently) and also as the traditional water kefir recipe. Water kefir grains
are usually known as Tibicos within the Latin community. It is also popular amongst those who are
familiar with the Ginger Beer Plant, a very similar culture that has possible origins from Tibet.
Water kefir is less well-known internationally than milk kefir currently, but is gaining popularity
amongst the fermenting-savvy!

Why is water kefir sometimes ok for diabetics to consume?

The bacteria and yeast produce enzymes that break down the sucrose (the double sugar that
sugar is composed of) into fructose and glucose. Fructose is digested by the liver and does not
spike the blood sugar of diabetics like sucrose or glucose. Because of the fructose, it makes this
drink a lower GL. Also the added acetic acids and carbonation from the fermentation lower the GL
as well. We've noticed and had people share that the best way for diabetics to consume water kefir
is to do a secondary ferment with pure fruit juice (high in fructose) and a portion of the finished
water kefir which results in a low-sugar (and low GL) beverage.
It is not safe for all diabetics,
and is ultimately up to you to determine how your blood sugar levels respond after consuming
water kefir. 'Ripening' kefir can even further reduce the sugar content (but raise the alcohol and acids) if desired.

How can I reduce the amount of alcohol in kefir?

There isn't really a way to reduce alcohol save boiling the kefir (which then negates all the healthful
properties of the living probiotics). To discourage increases in alcohol simply keep your lid on
loose while fermenting and during storage as well. This oxidation encourages acetic acids (which
turn wine into vinegar) to balance the process. Alcohol is formed by yeast in a mostly anaerobic/no
air environment. Lactic acid is formed by the bacteria in a low-oxygen environment. Store with
ample room between the kefir and the lid to provide more oxygen. This will encourage the various
bacteria to be as balance out the yeast, and diminish the amount of alcohol it is able to form. The
alcohol produced will also depend on the type and amount of sugar, grains and fermentation time.
More sugar will create a higher alcohol content (especially if bottled in an air-tight container). A
shorter ferment will also be too high in sugar and not high enough in the acids that help to counter
balance the alcohol activity.

What is the advantage of taking Kefir instead of a probiotic supplement?

Fermented products such as kefir are considered functional foods because they offer enzymes,
pre-digested nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, calories/energy and billions of probiotics.
Probiotic pill supplements contain just one or a select variety of bacteria, and usually that's it. It's
always better to eat something in its whole form when possible, because each part makes the
other more digestible. This is why companies are now adding fiber back into cereals and fruit
juices, and citric acid into calcium - you often need all the parts to assimilate nutrients correctly.

Why is kefir good for your health?

It is loaded with valuable enzymes, easily digestible sugars, beneficial acids, vitamins and
minerals. Water kefir is also generally suitable for some diabetics (though personal discretion is
advised). It also is a nice option if you are trying to avoid the caffeine present in kombucha, but still
seeking a probiotic drink. Water kefir supplies your body with billions of healthy bacteria and yeast
strains. Some store-bought probiotic foods or supplements can help, but they are not as potent,
and do not contain the beneficial yeasts usually (just bacteria). Within your body there are already
billions of bacteria and yeast. Your internal microflora support proper digestion, synthesis of
vitamins and minerals, and your immune system by warding off foreign and harmful bacteria, yeast
and viruses. It has thus long been known to promote and aid in digestion and overall health. Some
studies show it may be anti-mutagenic and help manage free radicals in the body. Folic acid (and
B vitamins) increases as the length of the ferment increases. Some people let the strained kefir sit
on the counter or the fridge another day to increase the folic acid and B vitamin content before
drinking (this will increase the acidity too). Kefir may also help reduce blood pressure and
cholesterol. As with most things we've personally found, food and health is too difficult to reduce to
facts and statistics. While kefir is not a magic bullet for health (what is) we believe kefir has a
myriad of possible health benefits, and those will be individual for everyone. Some feel it helps
them digest better, others get colds and viruses less often, some get more energy, and some
people feel nothing much in particular, but enjoy the taste and value of it over store-bought yogurt,
kombucha or kefir.


Is Kefir a good option for those with Candida?

Many people experiencing Candida issues have reported that Kefir has been beneficial for them.
Kefir is a balanced symbiotic relationship of both bacteria and yeast, which is also what we strive
to achieve within our bodies for optimum health. Kefir grains and kefir itself does not contain
Candida Albicans and has no reason to aggravate the symptoms of Candida. Some sources say
that the kefir yeast can even help to decrease the candida yeast. But as with all things, the best
advice we can give is to listen to your own body's response to kefir over time and determine if your
health seems to improve, remain stable or if your symptoms are aggravated by Kefir (in which
case you should take a break and try again at a later time).

Is Kefir a good option for those with digestive problems?

Many people have shared that it has helped a wide range of problems from acid reflux to GERD to
bloating to intestinal issues. If you have an ulcer, it may not be advisable to drink this until the ulcer
has healed (due to the acidic nature of kefir). All of the microflora and easily digestible nutrients in
general make kefir a very good option for those with digestive problems. Some people have
reported better digestion when they have a small glass before a meal. The carbonation and
properties of kefir can even act as a digestive aid and/or stimulant. If you are experiencing pain or
gas this could possibly be because your system is sluggish and the stimulating nature of kefir can
be too harsh for some (in this case, start with drinking just a spoonful and work your way up slowly
so your body can adapt). Again, the best advice we can give is to listen to your own body's
response to kefir over time and determine if your health seems to improve, remain stable or if your
symptoms are aggravated by Kefir (in which case you should take a break and try again at a later
time).

Is kefir appropriate for everyone?

The best advice we can give is to listen to your own body's response to kefir over time and
determine if your health seems to improve, remain stable or if your symptoms are aggravated by
Kefir (in which case you should take a break and try again at a later time). More doesn't always =
better, either. Drink what feels reasonable, sometimes a small amount can be more beneficial
than a large amount. As with most things, moderation is truly key. All of the microflora and easily
digestible nutrients in general make kefir a very good option for most. The carbonation and acidic
properties of kefir can aggravate a sluggish, tired, weakened or injured digestive system, so be
sure to slow down or temporarily stop your consumption if you feel any pain or discomfort (in this
case, start with drinking just a spoonful and work your way up slowly so your body can adapt). If you
have an ulcer and/or feel any pain, it may be best to address that first (aloe, bananas, soothing
foods) and then come back to stronger foods like kefir at a later point. Always use your own
common sense and do not ignore your gut instincts!

Has kefir ever made anyone sick?

Kefir is very safe and there isn't any need to worry when following the simple steps on how to kefir
properly. Research has shown time and again that because of the symbiotic colony of bacteria and
yeast that make up a kefir grain it naturally wards off outside invaders (such as dangerous
bacteria, mold or harmful yeast). It does so by freeing up antibiotics within its bacterial complex
that helps to ensure the resistance to foreign pathogens and ultimately ensuring its own colony for
survival. Some studies have shown kefir to ward off salmonella and E. Coli samples that have
been injected into it as well as possessing the capability to kill H. Pylori. This is not to say that
some people don't react to kefir, especially when first trying it. This is based upon other properties
including the acidic nature of the drink, your body not being acquainted with so many live probiotic
cultures, or a reaction to the kefir itself (some people are sensitive to the acidic nature of fermented
foods). It is also not recommended for those with Niemann-Pick Disease (types A and B) which is
a rare genetically-inherited disease caused by a deficiency in the enzyme Sphingomyelinase.
Contaminated kefir has only been shown to happen with commercial kefir, which was
contaminated during the manufacturing and processing of imitation kefir. Research has even
shown that kefir innoculated with E. coli was able to inhibit the growth of that microorganism. Most
people in all their years of making kefir have never had a bad batch once. As with all things, use
your best judgement and some good old reliable common sense - if your kefir smells terrible or
looks colorful like an easter egg, just toss it and start fresh.

How are Kefir Grains different to powder starter (such as Body Ecology's products) or
store-bought kefir?

Genuine kefir is different than the pricey kefir you can buy in the stores. Manufactured kefir is a
simulated drink, mimicking the flavor of genuine kefir. It is not produced by the traditional method. It
is produced instead by a variety of bacteria and yeast (that they purchase individually) and
combine. These are typically freeze-dried powder forms of bacteria and yeast, and like the Body
Ecology products, are not reproducible. Traditional Kefir Grains are a formed symbiotic mass
colony of various bacteria and yeast that are living, and will thrive and grow on their own in the
sugar water sometimes out-living its owner!

What are Kefir Grains composed of?

The grains are a symbiotic relationship of many different strains of beneficial bacteria and yeast
which produce lactic acid, carbon dioxide and ethanol when consuming the sugars. The bulk of the
grain that you see is a matrix of insoluble polysaccharides (complex sugars), mostly due to the L.
casei and L. Brevis in it. It does not produce the stringy kefiran that milk kefir's grains produce,
which is a protective mucus that is predominately soluble polysaccharides.

Does kefir contain alcohol?

Yes, its been found in a couple studies now to contain about 0.038% - 2% alcohol, or 16-38 g/L
(grams per litre). With the normal amount being around .08 or less (for a 48-hour ferment). Kefir
that is stored and ripened for a few of days will continue to increase in alcohol, up to 2-3% (when it
is sealed tightly). For reference, beer contains about 4-7% and wine 8-14%. Because kefir
contains bacteria (and not just yeast like beer or wine) the amount of alcohol kefir can produce is
limited by the acetic bacterium which convert the alcohol (produced by the yeasts) to beneficial
acids.

What part of the kefir is considered the drinkable kefir?

Although it may seem obvious, we actually wondered this ourselves back when we were first
introduced to kefir. Kefir is simply the sugar-water that has been fermented by the kefir grains. The
kefir grains live off of the sucrose, glucose and fructose and minerals found in the sugar, dried fruit
and water, producing acetic and lactic acids (and other small by-products such as carbon dioxide
and alcohol) that give the sugar-water its new tangy flavor and slight carbonation. The grains are
strained out and the remaining liquid is the kefir. Some people do not like the dried fruit and will
toss it, or prefer a more tangy and bubbly kefir and so will bottle it a day or two.

How much kefir should I drink?

It's smart to start anything new in small amounts, kefir being no exception to that rule. You may
drink as much as you wish eventually, being reasonable. Ask yourself how much juice you would
normally consume in a day, making sure not to leave out other important foods or meals. A usual
amount is around 1-4 cups daily. Balance is key to good health. Some people struggle with it at
first possibly because of its acidic nature, carbonation, alcohol, or large population of probiotics (or
any combination of those). It is a wise idea in this case to take it slowly to let your body and
digestion get acquainted with it. Start with 1/8 cup a day (you can even mix this into a full glass of
water or fruit juice at first), then gradually increase to 1/4 for a week or so (maybe skipping a few
days here and there to give your body a break). Most people find it helps to first try your kefir with
meals, such as a little with lunch. While milk kefir seems to go down well at breakfast, the slightly
higher sugar and alcohol content of water kefir may make it more suitable for you around lunch or
dinner. After a week or two, try increasing it again in this fashion until you
gradually reach amount
you wish to consume. Kefir can be used medicinally in large amounts for a short period if desired
(such as after chemo-therapy, where 4 cups a day may be helpful). Following the advice of others,
we typically give ourselves a break once a week or so, where we do not consume kefir for atleast 1
day. It's never a great idea to eat the same thing continually without a break (just like its never
recommended to exercise continually without a break - the body needs time for recovery and
variety). Even in Tibet there's a belief that it's best to drink only 2 cups a day (of milk kefir, though it
would make just as much sense with water kefir) and after 20 days take a 10 day break,
completely abstaining from kefir.

What kinds of sugars can you use?

Palm (coconut), Sucanat, Rapadura, Muscavado, Demarara, Panela, Jaggery, Turbinado, brown
sugar (both light and dark), molasses (both light and dark), maple syrup (pure maple), white
sugar, sugar cane juice, whole cane sugar, raw sugar, powdered sugar, basic white sugar,
swizzle sticks (sugar cane stalks), and Piloncillo (evaporated sugar cane juice in a cone-shape
found in Mexican markets).

Do the ingredients have to be organic?

No, they do not - the lemon can be peeled to avoid the conventional waxes and sprays on the rind,
and the raisins can be conventional or organic (preferably preservative free either way). The grains
respond to conventional and organic sugars only by quality and not necessarily by whether its
organic or not. Sometimes organic products have less additives in them (like molasses), and the
kefir grains do respond more favorably to that, but it is not absolutely crucial that your ingredients
be organic.

How do I de-chlorinate my water?

You can let your tap water sit out in an open container for a minimum of 6 hours (chlorine will fully
evaporate in an open container within 6 hours according to the city works department site) with
most recommendations set a little longer at 12-24 hours (according to some aquarium and
tropical fish experts). Chloramine is another form of chlorine that will not evaporate - if you're
concerned about this you can find out from your local water department whether they treat your
water with this. If you're worried about the cleanliness of your water or other contaminants besides
chlorine, boiling kills off most types of organisms and is the most recommended purification
technique in this case. Boil the water at full rolling boil for 1 full minute, then let it cool (if you are
more than one mile above sea level boil 3 minutes longer).

What about reverse-osmosis water?

Reverse osmosis water has in most of our observations led to eventual kefir grain death even. It
just doesn't contain enough of the various and vital minerals found in normal tap, spring or mineral
water. It is what we like to call 'processed' or 'refined' water, basically an empty water devoid of its
normal nutrients and properties, much like white sugar is compared to whole cane sugar. It's an
unbalanced and empty nutrient.

What about well water?

Well water can have some interesting things in it sometimes, but generally will provide good water
for your water kefir grains. If it seems to be stilting their growth, try comparing it to a store-bought
spring or mineral water for a few weeks to verify it is indeed the water. If you are concerned what
might be harming them, have your well water tested for contaminants.

Does ginger help your kefir grains?

Some people have noticed good growth with freshly peeled ginger slices, candied ginger, or
ginger juice. In some cases this may be because the grains are actually ginger beer grains and
not water kefir (they look extremely similar). Since even within the water kefir grain species, grain
'families' can differ, you will have to experiment for yourself to see if your water kefir likes it. And just
because it doesn't show any indication of liking it at one point, you may notice it take off and grow
rapidly at another time (water kefir is always in flux and changing). We have found it fascinating that
water kefir tends to also have cycles of preferences - for example, just as someone might really
have a banana craving for a couple weeks, and then tire of it and move on to another snack, water
kefir also likes variety. It seems that they are most healthy when exposed to a wide range of
nutrients, and are also resting from other nutrients (and then returning to them). For example, you
may give them apricots for a couple weeks, then dates, then figs, then ginger slices, then repeat.

Is it ok to consume kefir that is still in the process of balancing or re-activating?

When you are reactivating or re-balancing shipped, stored or fasted kefir grains it is not advisable to
drink the kefir until it has reached a point of relative balance, exhibiting proper kefiring of the liquid
and a balanced aroma. Although it is mostly safe to drink, it is not optimal since the strains are still
struggling to come into an orchestrated balance with one another. It simply won't be as balanced
nor as beneficial for your health. This means that yes, the sugar-water will be wasted during this
phase. This is why it's a good idea to make only what you need, and then share, eat or store the
extra grains. If you can find someone else to enjoy your kefir (and feed it) while you are away, this is
better than freezing, drying or refrigerating your grains, since you will not have to waste ingredients
to awaken them again.

How long can you store kefir/when should you drink it by?

It is best to drink kefir within a week or two. Kefir can be stored for quite a long time, since the
bacteria and yeast actively and continuously preserve it. However, the alcohol content will increase
and it will get increasingly sour and fizzy over time. Bottles left and forgotten in the fridge for a
couple months might smell like pickled juice, or wine upon opening them (though not at all rotten!).
You can continuously add your freshly strained kefir to your existing kefir, giving it a shake to
distribute, or you can start fresh each time, dumping what you haven't consumed.

Can you eat the kefir grains too?

Yes. They are rather bland - flavorless except for the lingering flavor of the kefir (or sugar-water) that
they are in. They are however very beneficial for your health because they're chalk full of probiotics.
Many people choose to eat their extra grains, or feed them to pets. What's even better is the option
to eat just the grains, if your body is not tolerating the acidic nature or the sugar content of your
kefir drink. Just blend up some grains into a normal smoothie or any drink that isn't boiling
(which will kill the microflora). You can also dry them and eat them dried as a seasoning
(crush them into powder and sprinkle on your salad or pasta) or treat as well. The dried form is not as
flavorful as dried milk kefir grains either, but can make for an excellent home-made probiotic.
Just dry your grains, throw them in a coffee bean grinder or food processor/blender and you will have
your own probiotic powder supplement! Some small studies have shown them to have anti-tumour,
anti-inflammatory and blood pressure normalizing properties. They have also helped some people
in the reduction of high blood cholesterol as well as proven for some to be a beneficial treatment
for IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and gastric ulcers. You can try taking as much as 1/8 cup a day for a
short period for medicinal purposes (or daily for overall health if consuming just a few grains).
Moderation is always key - be sure to allow your body a rest once in awhile, even from this!


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