Home made soft drinks with water kefir

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Zasso Nouka
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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by Zasso Nouka » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:55 am

Thanks Paradoxbox,

Got the milk kefir grains sitting in some whole milk right now, they seem really genki.

I only ferment the water kefir for out 15 - 18 hours anyway, sometimes it goes for as long as 24 hours if I forget. I reckon you are right about the acid in fruit juices breaking the grains down, citrus juices turn them to slush very quickly and you are left with a disgusting mess. When we want a citrus flavoured brew we add the juice after it's finished.

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by paradoxbox » Sat Mar 19, 2016 1:00 pm

I've done some experimenting with the water kefir;

It seems that the kefir grains may prefer a slightly alkaline environment than certain tapwaters provide? I have started putting in a small sprinkle of baking soda into the mix and it has increased the speed of the fermentation.

The kefir grains also seem to prefer natural sugars like raw sugar or brown sugar, rather than white cane sugar, but this is not a scientific observation - my house is still quite cool inside so it may have just been random temperature fluctuations causing the ferment to accelerate on the days I used natural sugars.

For growing the grains quickly, white sugar and a fairly cool temperature seem to be ideal. When the mixture gets too warm it seems the fermentation becomes much more vigorous at the expense of grain formation. Again not scientific but seems to be the case for my batch of grains. I left a 1.5L bottle of water mixed with 1 cup of sugar on the countertop and the temperature was a little over 9c. The grains occupied the bottom 1/4 of the bottle when I left it - 24 hours later they had multiplied to occupy more than 1/3rd. Pretty neat :)

I wonder if these can be used for bread baking in some way?

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by gonbechan » Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:39 pm

paradoxbox wrote:
I wonder if these can be used for bread baking in some way?
Your wish is my command..

Water-kefir sourdough bread

And for the milk Kefir:

HOW TO USE KEFIR AS SOURDOUGH

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by Zasso Nouka » Sun Mar 20, 2016 8:51 pm

So we can make probiotic bread from these as well, that's pretty awesome
paradoxbox wrote:I've done some experimenting with the water kefir;

It seems that the kefir grains may prefer a slightly alkaline environment than certain tapwaters provide? I have started putting in a small sprinkle of baking soda into the mix and it has increased the speed of the fermentation.
Interesting discovery man, I know our well water is acidic because all our soil is. Might try adding a bit of baking soda into each brew then.

paradoxbox wrote: The kefir grains also seem to prefer natural sugars like raw sugar or brown sugar, rather than white cane sugar, but this is not a scientific observation -
I think it because the brown sugars contain more than just glucose and provide the kefir with minerals and other nutrients as well.

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by gaijinfarmer » Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:23 pm

ZN, this is a subject very close to my heart!! I have been making milk kefir for almost 10 years. Have made a bunch of related products as well, cheeses, etc.

We went to America for a few years and returned just before the disaster in 2011. Nice timing. :( It wasn't until after the disaster that I started making kefir after our America stay, but when I restarted the grains kept dying. Now, my grains will lose their slimy coating, become smooth instead of lumpy, and shrink to about 1 cm diameter. They won't die but they are not super healthy like they used to be. The resulting kefir does not have the shelf life that my kefir or yore had as well.

Do you know anything about this?

I've just ordered a batch from your link on Rakuten, thanks for that. We'll see if these provide any different results.

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by Zasso Nouka » Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:38 pm

Paradoxbox is our milk kefir expert, hopefully he'll be able to help you.

I've only been making it for a while after he sent me some of his grains so don't really have much experience. My water kefir grains did loose their mojo at one point and I had to go back to a stock that I'd dried out and frozen, it took them a while to regain their health after thawing out but given some TLC they came back to life. Maybe just starting again from scratch will sort your issue out.

Hopefully Paradoxbox can shed some further light on the problem.

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by paradoxbox » Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:20 am

Thanks for the street cred ZN!

I think if your grains are not doing so well any more you might just try smashing a few of them until they're very fine particles. Don't wreck them all though.

The grains are just colonies of bacteria and yeast clinging to eachother, so it does not really matter if you smash them. By smashing them you're likely to expose still living or dehydrated cells to the milk, whereas if you didn't smash 'em the fermentation would probably just stall out. Put them back in a small amount of milk (Like 50ml or so), ferment for 12-24 hours and see how they look. Change the milk out regularly so the grains can feed. The smashed grains should start rebuilding again and multiply and get bigger after a few days. The bigger the grains are, the better since they'll have more surface area for fermenting - but if the grains seem "dead" smashing them should revive them.

If your grains just won't make the milk frothy anymore it is highly likely that some other kind of yeast and or bacteria have contaminated the culture.

If you don't mind a runnier product, you can drink this safely, but if you want to have the thick frothy stuff forever, you need to keep a set of grains dried out and in a sterile jar or container to use if your grains stop working the way you want them to.

I've never heard of grains actually dying except for if you heat them too much. Anything more than around 40c is pushing the limits and will probably kill them. If you wash the grains do it with tepid water. Contrary to common internet opinion, washing the grains does not stop them from fermenting milk, every cell of a kefir grain is a fermentation factory that can multiply into billions of cells in a short time if it's given food. Washing the grains will probably also help prevent infection from acetic or other bacteria that could mess with your desired ferment.

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by gaijinfarmer » Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:20 pm

Thanks for the long reply. I don't think that smashing them would bring any benefits. I used to experiment with cutting my viable grains in half and watching how they grow, so I'm familiar with that, but my grains for the last 5 years have gradually shrunk and eventually disintegrated. I feel lucky now that I have some dense, non-slimy grains that are actually sticking around instead of continuing to shrink and fall apart. Rinsing sounds interesting. I've just ordered some from Rakuten; if they start to lose their slime, I'll give everything a very thorough wash and rinse the grains as well and see what they do then.

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by paradoxbox » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:52 pm

Make sure you're using non ultra-high-temperature pasteurized milk. UHT or ESL (Extended Shelf Life) milk is the most common milk in Japan and you will have to actually search for milk that is not pasteurized in this way. Full fat or nearly full fat milk is also good, but it may be hard to find full fat non-UHT milk. I use milk that's pasteurized at 66c for 30 minutes and it works really well for kefir and cheese making.

The ultra high temperature physically destroys many important proteins and other important stuff in the milk that the kefir bacteria need as food.

I would keep 3 batches for experimentation: one batch should be kept as original stock and kept very sterile, the others two can be used for experiments and regular consumption.

I had a batch of kefir made from powder a few years ago which I kept alive for 2 or 3 years and managed to get some small grains out of that, but you're right it is a lot easier to just start off with the the big grains in the first place.

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Re: Home made soft drinks with water kefir

Post by paradoxbox » Sat Apr 02, 2016 3:23 pm

One thing I thought of last night when I was making my kefir, have you tried sealing the bottle it's fermenting in, and shaking it often? Especially just before serving. I found that this puts a lot of carbonation into the milk and makes it very frothy and more yogurt-like.

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