Water kefir – continuous brew4 min read

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I always seem to have a stream of people coming through my kitchen, some of whom make the fridge their first stop. They grab out a bottle of water kefir and settle down around the kitchen table for a chat.

One young friend, who comes by regularly, says that it’s the water kefir that stops him having nausea every day!!! That really shows the benefits of this delicious fermented drink. Just like other fermented foods, it is considered a functional food because of the enzymes, pre-digested nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, calories/energy and billions of probiotics that it contains. Great for promoting good gut health!!

We make around six to eight litres (1 litre is approx equal to 1 quart for our American friends), of water kefir in each batch….ie every second day.

Since having a large continuous brew jar for the kombucha I figured that there must be some way to do something similar with the water kefir. So I set out to explore the possibilities.

Now, with kombucha you can just keep taking some out and topping up the jar with some more sweet tea. For my eight litre jar, with a tap on the bottom, I just take out two to three litres every second day, and top it up with the same amount of fresh sweet tea. Thus the fermentation just keeps on going and it’s not a lot of work.

But water kefir is different. You need to use most of the liquid and start with a fresh batch of sugar and water at least as frequently as every 48 hours.

water kefirI figured that a little bit left in the bottom of a large jar should not be a problem, and I should be able to use a large jar with a tap to make the water kefir processes easier, and quicker. The bonus…less things to wash. (Not having to wash three or four jars, a jug, strainer, funnel, spoons etc has to be a bonus….and sure is a big motivation for the change.)

Off I went shopping to find suitable glass jars. Not too big as I wanted them to be easily manageable, not just for me, but for the grand children who do the water kefir in their home. It wasn’t particularly hard to find as these large drink dispenser jars are trendy at the moment and every second shop seems to have them. I just wanted to be sure that the ones I got weren’t too heavy, looked good, and didn’t have a metal tap.

water kefir

 

The jars I got are 3.8 litre capacity from House. They were on special at $19.95. Half price!!

From there it was just a matter of making up the water kefir mix and letting it ferment. I do about three litres in each jar.

Once the water kefir has fermented for the 48 hours (or less in this current hot weather) it’s time to bottle it.

I just hold the bottle under the tap and fill. I tip it up to get as much as possible out of the bottom of the jar, being careful not to disturb the grains too much so that they remain on the bottom of the jar. What’s left stays there and becomes part of the next ferment.

Then it’s just a matter of putting in the fresh batch of sugar water, and any other ingredients you use, and you’re ready to set it side to ferment again.

Tip: make up your batch of sugar water when you make a cup of tea sometime during the day. Dissolve the sugar in the water and let it sit till it’s cool and you’re ready to use it. I usually make mine of an evening, and it’s ready for the next morning.

You’ll find our original recipe for water kefir here.

Does it work?

YES!!!

  • It definitely saves a whole lot of time. I do both the kombucha and the water kefir on the same day, and can have the whole lot done (bottling, flavouring, making up new batches, and cleaning up) in around 20 minutes. That’s for six litres of water kefir and three litres of kombucha….about twelve bottles.
  • I’ve found that the fermenting jars need to be fully emptied and washed out about once a week.

You’ve still got time to either run out and grab a drink dispenser jar for yourself. Or……you could put it on your list of things for Santa to bring for you.

Happy healthy fermenting,

20 comments

  1. I tried it this way. I ferment my water kefir in a2 litre jar then strain it into a large gallon jar. I put some fruit in the large jar and it ferments. I use the tap on the jar to take my drinks from. Is this a safe way to do it?

    1. As long as there is no mold forming or it gets slimy and you think there is a problem. From how I think you’re doing it…that should be fine. It’s sort of like you are doing a second ferment. – Sharon

  2. Are you using water without removing the chlorine? i thought you had to get rid of chlorine first. And, the grains won’t come out the tap? I continuous brew kombucha, would love to be more efficient with the kefir. I add a teaspoon of grape juice concentrate (frozen) to each bottle when I bottle it, we love it! Fizzy grape soda! But we always open outside, pointed away! We have had some great stories from opening it inside!
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Patricia,

      No we use filtered water. However, yes, you can let the water sit 24hrs to let the chlorine evaporate off. I have just replied to someone before about the tap and grains getting stuck. Generally I find that there is no problem. It does however depend on where the tap sits in relation to the bottom of the jar. Once the tap does get a bit blocked that is usually the time to clean it out.
      I use pineapple juice sometimes to add to my kefir on its second ferment. I get the same result with the fizziness…yumo! – Sharon

    1. Hi Patricia,

      We have a tap that is about half an inch to an inch from the bottom of the jar. That way the grains are just sitting on the bottom and not getting into the tap. You do have to watch it a bit when you are draining off the liquid as the grains can get into the tap. It’s just a bit of maneuvering the jar as you drain and you can avoid that. Having said that there are times when the grains get into the tap. That is usually the time to give it a bit of a clean out. – Sharon

  3. Hi Judith! I’d like to know: How much water kefir grains did you use for your continuous brew method? Thanks!

  4. Do you ferment your keifir and kombucha in the same place? I’ve heard not to, but some fermenting enthusiasts are overly cautious. I used to, but then my keifir grains got weird, but that could be explained with other reasons. Thanks!

    1. Hi Tai,

      No, I like to keep my different ferments in different areas so they don’t ‘cross contaminate’. – Sharon

    1. Hi Claire,
      I have seen so many different recipes and quantities/ratios out there. I do know that this one works as I have done it on and off for years now. – Sharon

  5. What is your ratio of grains, water and sugar. I have seen so many variations but none of them work for me (yet)

    1. Hi,
      You can go back and look at this post for some ideas on ratios. However, for the amounts in that post, you are probably looking at about one cup of kefir grains, the 3.7 litres of water and about a 1/2 cup of sugar per litre. I hope that helps somewhat in your quest. – Sharon

  6. Don’t you have to use a special jar and make sure the tap is food grade plastic etc? Is the House jar safe for fermentation (lead free glass, food grade plastic on tap and no metal bits etc)?

    1. I use a jar from the shops. I think the brand of the one I have is Maxwell & Williams. As long as there is no metal to touch the Kefir, then it should be fine. As the tap gets clogged pretty quickly I tend to clean it out about once a weekish anyway. – Sharon

    1. Hi Tina,
      I usually do it once a week. It’s a bit more work than a continuous Kombucha. Although doing it this way cuts down on a bit of the work oh water kefir. – Sharon

  7. Hi I also continious brew my kefir but we placed a plastic sieve infront of the taps inside so its safe for the grains and the grains do not enter into the tap.

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