Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fermenting Update

It's been a couple of weeks now since I started my fermenting kick, and I thought it might be high time for an update.  First, we'll start with the kraut.

As you can see, it's all nice and sour and ready to eat.  It hasn't developed its full flavors yet, but I'm still eating a little bit of it once in a while to help my gut.  The longer it sits in the fridge, the nicer it becomes.  The last batch we had stayed in the fridge for 10 months, mostly because I forgot about it, and it was amazing.

The ginger carrots I tried from Nourishing Traditions fermented as well, but it became weird.  The brine had a slimy texture to it.  I looked that up, and apparently it's fairly common or both carrots and ginger, and as long as the vegetables weren't slimy, it was perfectly fine to eat.  However, the recipe called for so much salt (2 tbsp per 4 cups carrots) that it was just inedible.  I had to chuck it.  I may try this recipe again using whey; the recipe says if you use a tbsp of whey, you only have to use 1 tbsp of salt.  I'm more keen to try a recipe online that has reviews, though.  I'm a review junky.

Now, for the fun stuff!  I've been having a really fun time with my water kefir.  It took 3 days to rehydrate the grains, then 2 days for the first ferment and another 2 days for the second ferment, which means I didn't get to try my first batch of water kefir until a week after I started.  It was a really long wait!

The first batch was pretty good, but it was flat.  The second batch was just starting to get a little fizz in it.  After the second batch, I noticed that my grains were multiplying like crazy, so I divided them out into two jars, and now I'm running two one quart batches at a time.  Here's what things looked like a few days ago.

Two jars of water kefir with grains, two batches in their secondary ferment, and a jar of sugar water waiting for grains.
It's a pretty easy process.  Every two days, I make up two jars of sugar water (1/4 cup sugar to 3-1/2 cups spring water).  Then I strain the fermented water kefir into a quart measuring cup, measure out 1/4 cup of grains, and put them in the new sugar water.  Then, to the water kefir in the measuring cup, I add some flavorings; our favorite so far has been 1/2 cup of pineapple juice.  Pour that into either two pint flip top bottles or one 1- liter plastic bottle.  Two days later, I do the same thing, only this time I put the bottles I made last time into the fridge.  Easy peasy!

By the third batch, I noticed that by the end of the first ferment, the water kefir was already fizzy!  And by the end of the secondary ferment, it was pretty much like soda or seltzer in its fizziness.  It's wonderful stuff.

Pineapple water kefir
Now, I've gotten so used to the process that I can pretty much know what the first ferment is done just by tasting it.  It's lost most of its sugar and is nice and fizzy on the tongue.

I've been drinking 1 or 2 glasses of water kefir a day.  I need to cut back on production, though.  Making a quart a day is too much for me and Chad, and although I have been giving some to my mom, she doesn't drink it very frequently.

Instead of just throwing away my second set of grains, I decided to run an experiment on them.  The literature I've read says that water kefir grains can't thrive in water with chlorine or fluoride in it.  I know my tap water has both of those things, so I've been using spring water instead.  So what I've been doing for the last couple of days is trying to ferment one of my sets of grains in my tap water.  I boil it first to get rid of the chlorine (yes, it really does work), and then cooling it before making the water kefir per usual.  The first batch that came out seems perfectly normal!  I'm going to do it a few times before making up my mind, of course, but so far it seems like fluoride isn't doing anything to harm the grains.  I'm not happy that we have fluoride in our tap water, but I'm also not happy about having to buy water in plastic bottles, so if I can use my tap water instead, I think that's a decent compromise.

As kind of a hedge against the possibility that I kill my water kefir grains in the future, I decided to dry and store some of the many many grains that have been multiplying.  They apparently stay good for six months after you dry them!  How cool is that?

Dried water kefir grains; this used to be 1/4 cup, and is now about a teaspoon.
And yes, I have noticed a different in my digestive health.  Not to get too TMI or anything, but it's easier for me to go now than it used to be.  So yay for that!

My lastest batches?  One is passion fruit, and the second is root beer :)

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