April 11, 2013

Resuming Water Kefir Production

Note: I read and enjoy every single comment. At the moment, though, the darn blog isn't letting me reply. My comments disappear into thin air, so any comments received will be answered by inserting them as q/a updates to this post. fixed!

I think I mentioned in one or more of my recent posts that I used to brew and drink water kefir, then stopped during a significant relapse back onto SAD (standard American diet) because water kefir only tastes good to me if I'm not eating a lot of sugar.

A week ago, I decided that since I've been back on whole foods for a while it would be nice to have water kefir available again. It seems to have a great effect on my gut, making me more lactose tolerant, and I enjoy making home-made sodas by adding fruit juice and bottling it.

Anyhow, my new water kefir grains came yesterday. Very exciting! I'm pretty sure they were somewhat starved; when I opened them, they looked a little dehydrated and there was an "off" smell I don't remember from the first time I ordered grains.

I gave them a good rinse and put them into feeding solution, expecting to refresh the liquid this afternoon. Last night, though, I noticed the liquid was already a very light color and I realized I may have put in too many grains for the amount of feeding solution I made. So, I fed them then and carefully measured the right amount of grains for the amount of solution.

This morning the grains look more plump and the solution is lightening but not yet exhausted. I want a mid-day feeding schedule, so I plan to feed them again in a few hours. They may or may not have consumed all the sugar by then but I'm only planning to drink a small amount so it doesn't matter. 

Update: It's now mid-morning and I just did a routine jostling of the jar. I have tiny bubbles! That's a great sign that my water kefir grains are happy and are actively turning my feeding solution into water kefir. 

One thing I learned the first time around is that you start with a small dose and work your way up to a glassful per day. Water kefir clearly makes it though the stomach and interacts with your gut flora. If you happen to have some nasty bugs, or SIBO, the kefir could actually make you ill if you drink a lot to begin with. Since I had a very unhappy gut a couple days ago I plan to be very careful.
Update #2: I started a new brewing cycle at noon PDST as planned. I was very happy to see a few grains that were markedly bigger than any of them were when received. As suspected, they were dehydrated when they arrived.

I measured 2 tbsp of grains into 2 cups of feeding solution in late evening yesterday, and by noon today I had about 3 tbsp. In a full 24-hour cycle the ideal is for the grains to about double in volume.

I tasted the "kefir" from this batch. Because of the incomplete brewing cycle, it still had a sweetness to it and didn't yet have the signature kefir flavor; it was as if I was expecting to taste hard cider but tasted fresh cider instead. I will consider tomorrow's spoonful my first "dose" and take things very slowly as planned.
I was disappointed when I bought supplies for brewing the water kefir. I found a lemon and organic raisins easily, but I didn't yet find a wheel of dehydrated, non-additive figs. Not only do the water kefir grains seem to like having a fig in the solution, I absolutely LOVE the fermented figs after they've been through 1 or 2 brewing cycles. So I need to try more outlets to find some. The fermented raisins are okay, but nothing like as good as those figs.
Update, 4/14: I'm now making and drinking carbonated blueberry sodas   as described in Brewing Water Kefir, part 2. The grains smell nice and fresh and they're doubling in volume each day. The fresh water kefir has a nice zing to it and the first soda, which I drank today, had great flavor and was nice and fizzy.

The good news is that I didn't have any strong reaction to drinking water kefir again despite my relapses last winter with wheat. Apparently my gut community was still pretty robust, because the kefir tastes great to me both fresh and carbonated and there was no churning or cramping from the initial doses of the kefir.

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