We are not sure what happens to the probiotic count of the kefir as it sits refrigerated. However we do know the alcohol content will increase the longer it sits unconsumed. Generally, we think it tastes best when consumed within a week, although we have tasted some older kefir and found it to be a highly carbonated drink with a good kick to it! You are the ultimate judge of what works and does not work for you.
Kefir cultures take on a life of their own as they adapt to a new home, new types of water, sugar and fruit, new temperatures and environment. When they have adequate minerals and clean water, they may begin to get fluffy and grow in size. If they begin to break down into crystals that are small and hard like sand granules, they are likely unhappy and may need a change or a rest. Kefir cultures also take on the color of the sugar you are using and may take on a brown hue if fermented in rapadura or molasses.
Because each batch is fermented at home under different circumstances, the alcohol content will vary. We had our kefir tested at various stages of fermentation. The average alcohol content was around .8% when brewed with a 48-hour first ferment and a 24-hour second ferment. The longer you leave your kefir, the higher the alcohol content, and the lower the sugar content. The shorter you brew your kefir, the less alcohol, but more sugar.
There is some debate as to whether water Kefir is anaerobic or aerobic (that is, doesn’t need oxygen vs. needs oxygen). We have tried to make it both ways and have found that covering the kefir with a mason jar lid results in a fizzier and tastier brew with less fruit flies!
The carbonation increases and keeps in the bottling phase. If the carbonation is sufficient after you finish your second ferment, filter your kefir into a bottle that can be very tightly sealed, like our EZ cap grolsch-style bottles, and refrigerate. If the carbonation is not adequate but fermentation levels are good, try filtering it into the bottle and leaving the bottle out for a few hours. Be aware that if you do this, you are building carbonation in a bottle which has no way of escaping. We have had reports of folks forgetting to put the bottle away, leaving it next to a crock pot or other heat source, and experiencing explosions. Be careful please! Also you may find that with a few days in the refrigerator, carbonation increases.
ver-fermented kefir has a multitude of uses! It works beautifully as a cooking liquid to use in place of wine or vinegar. Try splashing some of it on your sautéed kale to give it some kick! Many report it makes an excellent hair rinse, leaving hair bouncy and shiny. It can even be used to water houseplants.
You want to be sure to always keep your ratio balanced. For every quart of water, you
will want to use about 2 tablespoons of kefir cultures. Using a bit less or a bit more will work just fine. But once you start to generate a bigger collection of cultures, you can go ahead and use a plastic measuring spoon to re-measure out about 2 tablespoons. Think of this as a pancake recipe- you can vary it a little once you get the hang of it, but remember the ratios of sugar, water and kefir are important. And, measuring the cultures each time, or at least regularly, will let you know if the cultures are multiplying, dying or staying the same.
Use the extra cultures to make bigger batches (many folks switch to half gallon brewing vessels!) or simply start another quart jar. You may also use extra cultures to share with friends, to put in your smoothies, the compost pile, in pet foods, or for snacking!
You may have kefir cultures that are out of balance, either with too many minerals or not enough. You may want to give them a rinse under clean filtered water and let them rest in the refrigerator for a few days in some sugar water. And if your finished product looks or smells bad, use your instincts! Fermented beverages have a natural “yeast-y” smell, this is different from something that is rotten or foul. If it smells (or looks) revolting to you, don’t drink it!
Some people fear that if their cultures do not multiply, they are not well. It seems some people grow cultures that multiply and others have cultures that don’t make babies. Don’t worry too much if your cultures don’t reproduce. They are healthy if they are doing their job: fermenting your kefir!
Basically, if your cultures stop doing their job (making kefir!), and you have kefir that tastes like sugar water, then you have some dead cultures. If they have been neglected, they can often be revived. Go ahead and make a first ferment with minerals, and change it out every 24 hours with new sugar and fruit until the cultures become active again. They sometimes just need time to “perk up” and ample opportunity to consume sugar and minerals.
No. Milk kefir and water kefir have two separate cultures. This strain of water kefir cultures will die if they are used to ferment milk.
Start a new batch with it and be patient! It may take a few rounds for them to perk up. Give them an extra pinch of minerals in the first ferment (see EXTRA MINERALS section).
They do seem to float and bob up and down when they are happy and fermenting. However some folks have reported that they stopped seeing their cultures float and fear they have died, but the cultures continued to do their job. In the end, it comes down to whether or not you are happy with the product they are making.
This one is up for much debate as well, and we really believe that each person’s needs are different. Start small, with a few ounces, and listen to your body. Some people drink a few sips per day, or even just a few times per week, while others seem to thrive on up to a quart per day.
According to our research, much of the glucose in the sugar is consumed by the cultures after a 48-hour ferment, and the actual sugar impact is negligible. We suggest flavoring with low glycemic flavors, like berries and citrus, to keep the sugar impact low. And as always, listen to your body: you are the best judge of what is best for you.
Many kids drink water kefir. It’s up to the parents to decide what is best for their family and for the kids to listen to their own body to see if it is appealing or not.
Stop drinking it! It is possible to have a reaction to any food you may eat or drink, so please listen to your body. We have found a very small percentage of people with histamine issues might not do well with water kefir or anything fermented. If you believe you have a yeast overgrowth like candida, you might experience some initial side effects as the kefir kills off the overgrowth of bad yeast in the body. Please call your practitioner if you feel you are having an adverse reaction to water kefir.