We've put together a list of the most frequently asked questions about brewing this healthy and refreshing drink.
Water kefir is a fermented, probiotic drink that is made from sugar water crystals. These grains, which are also known as tibicos or tibis, are made from a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
A few tablespoons of these grains can be used to culture 1-2 litres of sugar water, coconut water or juice.
Surprisingly, water and milk kefir are not directly related. Although they are both made with grains (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), they contain different strands of beneficial bacteria.
The benefit of water tibicos, is that it is dairy free, making it an ideal probiotic drink for people who are vegan or lactose intolerant.
These grains are usually made of spring or rainwater and organic sugar.
Both fresh and dehydrated grains contain the same beneficial bacteria. The difference is that fresh grains are perishable and need to be used within 3-4 days, while dehydrated grains are shelf stable.
Fresh grains are ready to use immediately and require little effort to get the fermentation process started. Dehydrated grains may need to be fermented 1-2 times (which will take between 3-4 days) for them to become active. Once they have the same consistency as fresh grains, they can be used in the same way as fresh grains.
With a little bit of care and attention, your grains will grow and last indefinitely. You can use them to have a continual supply of healthy, probiotic drinks.
You will need to regularly feed your grains a small amount of sugar (otherwise, you will starve them). You will also need to rinse and drain the liquid from the grains. The liquid can be drunk straight or you can second ferment it.
Second fermentation is the process where you add 'fizz' and flavours to your brew. Pour your liquid into a high pressure rated bottle and add a small amount of fruit pieces, herbs, spices or fruit juice. Leave to ferment for 1-2 days on your kitchen bench, and then place in your fridge for 1-2 days before serving.
The sugar from the fruit pieces, or juice, combined with the closed bottle produces carbonation.
It is important to use a glass bottle that is designed for second fermentation. These bottles will have an airtight lid, e.g. a Grolsch style flip top bottle, and will be made of high quality pressure rated glass. As a warning, do not use cheap flip top bottles or glass jars as they may explode because of high levels of carbonation.
Unfortunately, glass bottles can explode during second fermentation. To prevent, or minimise, the chance of explosion, remember these tips:
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