Ok, so here's some house rules to keep your little water kefir critters happy.
1. Don't let them go hungry. You must strain them off every two days (except maybe in the winter, if you keep your house cold, then you might can go 3 days). Going longer will make them sad and they will lose their health and won't be able to work for you. You should see these little critters double in quantity every time you pour them up. And sadly, that means that you will have to discard some of them. You only need about 1/4 cup of them to each new ferment batch. If they do not double in quantity, then (at least in my case) that means something is not quite right. The biggest reason for not doubling in quantity is that they have been too long in the ferment before you changed it out, and they become weakened with time. I've heard that some people say their grains do not multiply, but that's not my case. I guess it depends on where you get your grains from, but from all indications, a doubling in quantity equals healthy thriving kefir grains, and also it means they are using up the sugar in the ferment.
2. Use only filtered room temperature chlorine free water. Chlorine will kill them, so maybe we need to think about what chlorine does to our bodies too. Check out my water filter. I love it.
3. Use a mesh strainer; no metal (see my link below for where to buy)
4. Use only sucanat or rapadura sugar (at least that's the only kind mine likes); no white sugar (not even organic), and no regular brown sugar! (see link below). Mine love sucanat, but they go crazy over rapadura, so either works.
5. Factors that effect ferment time: temperature and the amount of grains in the water.
The higher the temperature the faster the ferment and the more grains in the jar the faster the ferment. If you think about it, it makes sense. Heat speeds reactions and then the more mouths to feed the quicker the food runs out. So anyway, the general rule of thumb is that it takes 2 days to ferment.
I've taught Water Kefir classes, but realized I didn't have a blog post about it, so here it is. After reading, you will be able to make your own probiotic rich soda alternative.
Pictured to the left are 3 bottles of kefir in their 2nd ferment. There are two bottles with crystallized ginger and one bottle with a mix of grape juice and crystallized ginger. You can see the crystallized ginger in the bottom of the bottles.
So here's my instructions for making water kefir:
First, you will need to get some water kefir grains. These are different from milk kefir grains. They are small rubbery like little particles that even bounce when you drop them. They have their own little living colony of good bacteria and yeast in the grains. These bacteria and yeasts feed off sugar and they give back probiotics in return. That makes a good relationship between you and them. You feed them sugar and they feed you with probiotics.
You can get these grains from many online sources or if you live close enough to me, I'll share some with you. Just contact me.
Fill any jar with this ratio: 1 Quart Filtered Water to 1/4 cup Sucanat.
Mix and add your kefir grains. Let sit on counter for 2 days with a loose lid.
Pictured left is my just mixed sucanat water with kefir grains added. On the right is the same jar 2 days later when it's ready to pour up. Notice that the color of the water lightens up after fermenting for 2 days, and also notice that the kefir grains have multiplied.
By the way, this jar is a very tall 2 quart pickle jar.
Have questions? I'd love to hear them. Here's a great website that will tell you all you want to know about water kefir.