Water Kefir: Rinse, Rest, Recover
Water kefir is a delicious and refreshing drink, loaded with probiotics and easy to make. At times, problems can occur when the grains are stressed from overcrowding, excessive minerals, lack of nutrients, or contamination:
- Slimy grains
- Syrupy kefir
- Unpleasant aroma. (Sulfur, rotting fruit, “like feet,” etc.)
- White film forms on the top of the kefir
- Grains start to diminish in volume
Learn how to give your grains a “rest and recover” treatment that will get them back on the road to robust productivity.
Make a Resting Solution
Start with 2+ quarts water - one quart for the resting solution, plus a quart or more for rinsing the grains. Learn more about Choosing a Water Source for Culturing.
The resting solution is prepared by dissolving ¼ cup sugar in 1 quart water, the same as when making water kefir. See Choosing the Best Water Kefir Ingredients for sugar options. Ensure that the water used for the resting solution and rinsing is completely cooled below 85ºF before using.
- If mineral content is too high, do not add minerals or a high mineral sugar like Rapadura or Sucanat. Mushy grains or syrupy kefir is often a result of too many minerals.
- If mineral content is low, mineral supplementation is necessary.
If added minerals are necessary, choose one of the following:
- ⅛ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon plain baking soda
- ½ teaspoon unsulfured blackstrap molasses
- A few drops of liquid mineral supplement (such as Concentrace)
Rinse the Grains
Water kefir grains should only be rinsed as part of rehabilitation.
Put water in a shallow bowl, and set a plastic mesh strainer over the bowl. Put the grains in the strainer to bathe in the water.
Stir the grains around gently with your clean finger, brushing them lightly against the strainer. The stirring will clean any loose yeast or contaminants from the surface of the grains without damaging them. Pour off the water, which will be cloudy.
Repeat the rinsing a few times until the discarded water is relatively clear. Your grains are now ready to rest.
Rest the Grains
Put the rinsed grains in the resting solution and cover the jar with a plastic lid, tightly secured.
Put the jar in the refrigerator and leave it there for 1-2 weeks. The cold will put the grains to sleep and give them time to rest and rebuild.
Get the Grains Back to Work
After the grains have rested, separate the grains and discard the resting solution. Put the grains in a sugar water solution, adding minerals if appropriate, to culture.
Be sure to maintain proper proportions of grains, sugar, and water, using minerals only when necessary.
At times, a second resting period is necessary. If the grains still seem distressed (slimy, bad smell, or white film) after the first rest period, make a new batch of resting solution and repeat the rinse/rest process.
Once the grains are fully recovered, continue to use them indefinitely!