- What is fermentation?
- What is a “culture”?
- What is the difference between kombucha and water kefir?
- What is the standard water you use for making Imbibe?
- Can I use alkaline water?
- What is your recommended water filter?
- Do you have a bottle you would recommend for the second ferment?
Make Water Kefir
- What is Kefir?
- What is the purpose of the dried fruit?
- How are kefir grains different to powder starter?
- Can you make your own kefir grains?
- How can I tell if the water kefir grains are alive and working?
- Do I have to use muslin cloth?
- Should I warm my kefir overnight in winter months?
- Do I need to rinse the grains between batches?
- How much water kefir grains and sugar can I use per liter of water?
- Can I use my water kefir grains in coconut water?
- Can I use tap water to make the sugar water?
- How do I keep the grains alive while away on holidays?
- Is it true that kefir can explode bottles?
- How much alcohol does water kefir contain?
- How can I re-use my water kefir grains?
- How do I store my water kefir grains?
- My grains are not growing. What did I do wrong?
- What is Kombucha?
- My kombucha tastes too sweet!
- My kombucha tastes too sour!
- My kombucha SCOBY has mould on it, what should I do?
- My kombucha SCOBY is so thick, what should I do?
- After I have bottled my kombucha and left it on the bench, it’s still not fizzy, what should I do?
- Can I use honey to make kombucha?
- My SCOBY has white dots on it. It is also still at the bottom of the jar. Is this normal?
What is fermentation?
I am actually rather in awe of the process of fermentation, and I am so delighted to be at the forefront of innovating traditional slow ferments for the modern day. Fermentation naturally increases the nutrient content of foods and drinks, gives lactic acid, which helps digest and absorb your food, and changes a raw material into something mystical.
Fermentation is a gorgeous and magical process that every culture in the world has a tradition of. It’s the process of attracting wild yeast and good bacteria to a food source (vegetables/grated ginger/sugar water etc.) that they naturally start eating at, pre-digesting the food and in the process, giving you (the host) a part of them – the probiotics.
What is a “culture”?
A probiotic culture is a cluster of microorganisms that have the ability to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the human digestive tract. There will always be residual cultures living in your Imbibe, as we want you to get the most out of your elixir. This is the white powdery looking culture at the bottom of your bottle. Drink it up!
What is the difference between kombucha and water kefir?
Kombucha and water kefir are similar in that they are both fermented beverages, however, the cultures are vastly different. The kombucha SCOBY is a large brown gelatinous mushroom like looking culture that ferments tea, over the course of around 7 days. The water kefir culture is a white jelly like culture that looks like millions of tiny cauliflower florets. I make kombucha for home use, but personally find water kefir much more palatable than kombucha, of which I can only drink a little bit. Both are fantastic gut aids and it’s wonderful to see more microbreweries popping up.
What is the standard water you use for making Imbibe?
We use pure filtered water that removes around 70% of all fluoride and all chlorine. We don’t use Reverse Osmosis water, as this strips the water of too many minerals, and the water kefir does not like that. We have to use the purest filtered water for the range, as anything else will kill the water kefir culture.
Can I use alkaline water?
Don’t ferment with alkaline water – just use normal filtered water.
What is your recommended water filter?
We use an under sink but basically you just need something that will take the chlorine out of the water, as the chlorine will kill the culture.
Do you have a bottle you would recommend for the second ferment?
Use a thin neck bottle with a strong tight fitting lid, for the best fizz experience.
Make Water Kefir FAQ
What is Kefir?
Kefir is a culture of bacteria and yeasts held in a polysaccharide matrix created by the bacteria. The kefir culture feeds off sugar to produce lactic acid and carbon dioxide gas, which naturally carbonates our elixir.
Water kefir grains are also known as tibicos, tibi, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals and California bees, and in older literature as bébées, African bees, ale nuts, Australian bees, balm of Gilead, beer seeds, beer plant, bees, ginger bees, Japanese beer seeds and vinegar bees.
Typical water kefir cultures have a mixture of Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus and Leuconostoc bacteria with yeasts from Saccharomyces, Candida, Kloeckera and possibly others.
What is the purpose of the dried fruit?
The dried fruits serve as an additional source of sugar and minerals e.g. calcium, potassium and magnesium which are essential for the kefir grains. You should always use organic dried fruits like figs, sultanas, dates, dried apple etc.
How are kefir grains different to powder starter?
The kefir grains arethe real deal – its raw and living culture that can be re-used over and over, given the right care. The powder starter can only be used once and is a pre-made starter.
Can you make your own kefir grains?
No, you can’t make your own grains, they need to be sourced from somewhere.
How can I tell if the water kefir grains are alive and working?
You can tell that the grains/crystals are alive and working if:
- bubbles are forming after a 12-24 hour ferment time
- the water colour is getting a little cloudy
- thesugary water flavor turns to sour
- there’s an increase in grains after several batches of making it
Do I have to use muslin cloth?
Ideally, yes, but it is not necessary. A clean tight weave towel will do. Just make sure that the weave and elasticity are sufficient to keep the ants and fruit flies out.
Should I warm my kefir overnight in winter months?
The ideal fermenting temperature for kefir is around 20 degree Celsius. Below this temperature the grains will slow down their fermentation rate. In winter, it will take longer to ferment, so it is advisable to make one in bigger batches. You can warm your kefir by wrapping it in a blanket and place it inside an insulated bag, or leaving it to ferment in your hot water cupboard.
Do I need to rinse the grains between batches?
No need, only if they get slimy or smelly.
How much water and sugar can I use per liter of water?
The optimal ratio is 1/4 cup grains, 1/4 cup of sugar per liter of water.
Can I use my water kefir grains in coconut water?
Yes you can! I never have as I don’t like the taste of fermented coconut water, but you the grains will love coconut water.
Can I use tap water to make the sugar water?
No, because tap water contains chlorine which prohibits growth of bacteria. The water should be free of any chemicals. You can use bottled spring water or Reverse Osmosis (RO) filtered water.
How do I keep the grains alive while away on holidays?
Just make a concentrated solution of sugar water (1/2 cup dissolved sugar
to around 250ml water) and add some dried fruits and leave with the lid on in the fridge until you are ready to re-use.
Is it true that kefir can explode bottles?
Yes! We suggest burping the bottles daily in hot weather, or pop them in the fridge when you start to see the bubbles forming to reduce the risk of an explosion.
How much alcohol does water kefir contain?
This depends on the amount of sugar in the final brew – the more residual sugars, the higher the alcohol content. It’s generally around 0.5 – 1%.
How can I re-use my water kefir grains?
After bottling, just continue to make your water kefir, following the basic guidelines. Once your water kefir grains start to multiply and grow, you can split them, and store the excess in the fridge.
How do I store my water kefir grains?
Store the grains with 1/2 cup dissolved sugar in 1 litre water in the fridge, with a loose fitting cloth, until you are ready to use again. When you are ready to use them again, simply take them out the fridge, and start the process from the beginning again.
My grains are not growing. What did I do wrong?
Grains not growing could be caused by a wide range of factors, including:
- Sugar: Are you using processed white sugar? If so, use raw or brown sugar.
- Water: Are you using activated carbon filtered water? Tap water? Demineralised water? If so, source mineral rich water like spring water and see if that makes a difference. Or maybe you need to change your water filter.
- Minerals: Are there too many minerals or not enough minerals? Experiment with getting the ratios right.
- Feeding times: Water kefir is rather demanding in that it needs to be fed every 48 hours. If you left it too long, it could starve and disintegrate. If this happens, it is probably time to source fresh water kefir culture and start again.
The water kefir culture is super fragile… although what we are using is going so strong – I think it’s because we have a good water filter.
Make Kombucha FAQ
What is Kombucha?
Essentially, kombucha is a fermented tea. During the fermentation process, the living cultures consume the sugars, leaving you with a low sugar, sparkly drink. It’s a little acidic tasting, slightly on the vinegary side.
My kombucha tastes too sweet!
It tastes sweet because the fermentation has not quite yet finished. Wait for another few days and try and move it
to a warmer spot if you can. It will eventually turn from sweet tea to sour tonic, so just be patient and all the
fermentation to happen in its own time. It could take up to 30 days to ferment until it’s a sour-ish tonic.
My kombucha tastes too sour!
This has happened because the fermentation has gone a little too long and has turned into a slightly more vinegary product – still fine to drink, but it may not be that pleasant….. You can use this as a hair rinse for a lovely shine or in place of vinegar over your salads. Try it, its delicious!
My kombucha SCOBY has mould on it, what should I do?
If the mould is only on the top layer of your SCOBY you can try and peel off that layer and throw it out and use the parts of the SCOBY that are not affected. However, my mantra with fermenting is “if in doubt, throw it out!”. The reason that mould appears is that the SCOBY has not been submerged sufficiently in the sugar water, so opportunistic mould can take over. If you are having mould issues, try and keep the SCOBY under the sugar water, and always use clean hands and utensils.
My kombucha SCOBY is so thick, what should I do?
Great! You have grown a kombucha SCOBY family! You can start to gently peel off the layers and keep them as
back ups, feed them to your chickens, add them to your compost or give them to eager friends. Alternatively, start to increase the proportions of sugar tea water as your SCOBY grows so that you are fermenting bigger quantities (I have a 4 litre kombucha on the go at all times).
After I have bottled my kombucha and left it on the bench, it’s still not fizzy, what should I do?
It probably is because there is not enough residual sugar in the finished kombucha, so there is not enough sugar food for the active probiotics to convert into fizz. Try adding a little fruit juice or whole fruit or a teaspoon of dissolved sugar and leave it for another week or so at room temperature and it should fizz up. If it still doesn’t, throw it out and try the fermentation again.
Can I use honey to make kombucha?
Some people have had success fermenting kombucha with honey but its not common practise. I recommend only doing this once you have a back up of kombucha SCOBIES in case one fails. Using honey in the secondary fermentation is fine as it does not come in contact with the SCOBY.
My SCOBY has white dots on it. It is also still at the bottom of the jar. Is this normal?
It can actually take a week for the SCOBY to float. But you could do a few rounds of fermenting and throwing out the sugary tea to try and revitalise the SCOBY.