Probiotics: Water Kefir Swan Song

No, I’m not going to stop making water kefir. I’m just saying that this is probably my last post on the subject. I haven’t learned all there is to know about making water kefir. No one has. If someone says they have, they are either deluded or they’re lying. There are lots of “experts” out there but you can rest assured I’m not one. I’ve learned enough to be satisfied with my method and the way it turns out and that’s what I want to share with you.

In my last post on brewing water kefir, I was adding raisins at the beginning as well as for the second ferment. I don’t do that any more. I was just about to bankrupt myself buying raisins. Also, I learned that just adding them after straining out the grains gave me an almost identical result. I was having to throw out a lot of raisins, too, because there was no way I could eat them all. That hurts to throw away good food when it isn’t necessary.

So…here’s what I do.

I still use raw (turbinado) sugar. I bought some Demerara but it’s expensive as all get-out and I didn’t find it did any better feeding the culture. Sugar in the Raw is reasonably priced and buying it in bulk gets you a better deal. It could be that a local store would have it for even less than Amazon. I’m not allergic to shopping around.

Something that I do differently is use blackstrap molasses. Three tablespoons raw sugar and one tablespoon molasses. When I first started using it, I thought the end product might be affected by the bitter taste but such was not the case.

Raw sugar and blackstrap molasses

The mineral content of the molasses is high enough I can get away with not adding calcium carbonate every time. I add it maybe every third or fourth time.

The process I follow is outlined in the original post so I won’t repeat that here. I always ALWAYS put a wedge of lemon in each jar. Be on the lookout for good deals on lemons! I got them for 10 cents each the other day.

Molasses, especially blackstrap, makes for a dark brew. The counter where I’ve moved it to get it out of direct sunlight is a bit on the shadowy side which doesn’t help the exposure.

Dark brew

After the 36 hours in temperatures ranging from a minimum of 62 degrees to 68 or a few higher in the winter, up to 78 in the summer, it’s time to strain. The molasses stains the grains (hey! that rhymes!) but I would rather have a healthier culture than a white one.

Grain stain

This is where I add the raisins plus I do something else that is different from what I used to. After the raisins are put in, along with the plastic lid, I use a canning lid cranked down tightly.

Strained ready for the raisins

Now for more waiting. This is 12 hours in. You can see the raisins have started floating.

12 hours of the 24

After 24 total hours (when it’s said additional B vitamins are formed) it’s ready to refrigerate.

Ready for the fridge

When I’m ready to drink it, I get a jar out and open it. The natural carbonation causes it to fizz.

Carbonated water kefir

Putting the strainer tightly over the top of the jar, I strain it out into a waiting glass. If I had more than two hands, I’d take a picture of that, too. Because I don’t, you are spared.

Let's drink!

I drink, on average, three of these half-glasses a day. The last installment is usually not long before I go to bed. That’s what works for me. Everyone has to work out their own schedule.

Now, a few weeks ago I ran out of raisins. I chucked some goji berries in for the second brew. Right off, they fizzed and spit so I thought it was wonderful. When I got ready to drink it, it was terrible. Someone had commented before that goji berries produced the same result as raisins but that wasn’t true with me. Three quarts went in the compost bin.

Some of the things I’ve read online don’t hold water (kefir) for me. One person said that, if the jars are tightly capped at the beginning, there will be more carbonation than if it’s allowed to “breathe”. I tried it and capping it tightly for the additional 24 hours makes it just as fizzy as doing it all the way through. Then another person said to never wash the jars with soap. I don’t know what kind of soap but I thoroughly wash mine with dish detergent. I wasn’t being so careful (some people don’t wash their jars at all) and the kefir ended up tasting like swamp water. The directions that came with my grains said to always rinse them. Nope. I rinse them occasionally if they’ve been in the fridge for several days but, other than that, I don’t.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. With water kefir, there are as many methods of brewing it as there are people experimenting. If you are into making your own probiotics this delicious way, leave me a comment and tell me what you do. Who knows? I might try it and like it!

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