Water Kefir: Back To The Basics
Minerals and Nutrients for your Water Kefir Grains
My water kefir grains are really maturing. Having first come to me all the way from Hawaii, they’ve now traveled nearly 1000 miles across B.C. and experienced new waters (city water now! My WK usually gets well water.)
I suppose that makes it a cultured culture. (Sorry.)
It’s a pretty drastic change going suddenly from years of filtered well water to treated city water. A change for me as well – I have to remind myself every other evening to put a container of water on the counter to let the chlorine evaporate.
I thought the change may stress the grains (although they seem happy), so I decided to do some basic maintenance by feeding them some blackstrap molasses and ginger. I forgot to pick up a lemon or I would have added 1/4 of that (peel and all) as well.
Blackstrap molasses is the least processed, and most nutritious form of molasses and the water kefir grains love it.
When calculating for the amount of grains you have, here’s the basic formula:
Use 4 cups of dechlorinated water per 1/4 cup of water kefir grains.
Use a 1:1 ratio of grains to sugar. In other words, for 1/4 cup grains, you should also use 1/4 cup sugar.
You can safely use white sugar, brown sugar, rapadura, turbinado or evaporated cane juice to feed your water kefir grains. Molasses is used to supplement – using the above ratios, I would add 1 tbsp. of blackstrap molasses. Cooking molasses can be used this way as well, but won’t supply the same nutrients.
You could also add a few slices of ginger, a few raisins, and 1/4 of an organic lemon (peel on). This is to add prebiotics to the mixture. The prebiotics feed the probiotics and will make for happy grains.
WKGs (water kefir grains) are not terribly finicky about which order you put everything together.
I always add sugar and water to the container first and stir until dissolved, but it isn’t strictly necessary. The grains don’t require stirring at all.
Once it’s all put together, you can cover your wk with a breathable cloth (a washcloth, pillowcase, or several layers of cheesecloth) and use an elastic to keep it on tightly. Or cap tightly, remembering to open the container at least once per day to vent off gases.
Anaerobic (no air) ferments can lead to bottles exploding from the buildup of pressure.
Leave your water kefir mixture on the counter to ferment for 24 – 48 hours. I prefer a 2 day ferment so the enzymes have a good opportunity to convert all the sugar from sucrose to glucose and fructose.
When it’s fermented to your liking, strain out the grains. If you’ve used molasses or a dark sugar, the grains will have a brown tinge to them, that’s normal and nothing to worry about.
I use a nylon basket style coffee filter over a large funnel for straining out the kefir grains, very functional.:) A fine mesh plastic or stainless steel strainer works too. Make sure it’s stainless steel, other metals could damage or kill your grains.
Put the grains in a new batch of sugar water to ferment. I added blueberries and more ginger to that batch for the second ferment.
Your strained water kefir is now ready to drink, or for a secondary fermentation.
The secondary ferment is prime time to flavor and carbonate (if desired) your wk. Simply add some flavorings: lemon, ginger, fruit juice, berries, herbs, extracts, or even vegetables; whatever you want to try.
Cap the mixture tightly to create enough pressure to carbonate the kefir, or top it with a cloth or airlock. Let it ferment on countertop for another 24 – 48 hours at room temperature, remembering to vent excess pressure daily.
Strain out the fruit if you will be storing your finished water kefir for more than a day or two. This will prevent off-flavors and odors (believe me, it’s gross). Chill in fridge a few hours and serve.
Basic Water Kefir Food Recipe:
1/4 cup water kefir grains
1/4 cup sugar – white, brown, rapadura, turbinado, or evaporated cane juice
4 cups dechlorinated water
up to 1 tbsp. blackstrap molasses
1/4 of an organic lemon, peel on
4 -5 thin slices of fresh ginger
4 – 5 raisins
Dried unsulphured fruits such as raisins, dates, or apricots make great additions to your primary ferment. The yeasts love the natural fruit sugar and it can help increase activity in your water kefir.
Because I normally use well water, my grains actually can’t tolerate added minerals. An overabundance of minerals will make your water kefir gelatinous and syrupy (not something I’d want to drink – it’s not pretty).
But if your water is not as mineral rich, you can occasionally add a 1/4 of an egg shell – membrane removed, washed and from the best possible source. The piece of shell will dissolve in the water and you won’t notice a flavor.
Certain grains are prebiotic as well, such as quinoa. I have plans to try using a sprinkle in a future primary ferment – I’ll fill you in on if my grains respond noticeably.:)
To get your own water kefir grains, visit Yemoos Market.