The ultimate brewing and fermentation guide
healthy water kefir grains up close

Common problems with water kefir fermentation and how to fix them.

When fermenting water kefir, several common problems can occur. Here are some of them and the ways to fix or prevent them:

My water kefir grains are not fermenting or they ferment really slowly!

  • Solution: Ensure the water kefir grains are healthy and active. Use mineral-rich water and provide sufficient nutrients by using organic sugar or adding a pinch of unsulfured molasses. Maintain the proper temperature range of 68-85°F (20-30°C) for fermentation.

My fermentation has mold growing on it!

  • Solution: Mold growth can occur when the fermentation environment is contaminated. Prevent this by properly sanitizing all equipment, using clean utensils, and working in a clean environment. Remove any moldy grains and thoroughly clean the container before starting a new batch.

My water kefir tastes yeasty or weird!

  • Solution: Yeasty or off-flavors can result from over-fermentation or improper fermentation conditions. Shorten the fermentation time, use fresh water kefir grains, ensure proper aeration during fermentation, and maintain the correct temperature range. Additionally, avoid using tap water with chlorine, as it can affect the flavor.

do i need a second fermentation?

My water kefir grains have separated from the liquid!

  • Solution: Sometimes, the kefir grains can separate and float to the top or sink to the bottom, leaving clear liquid on top. Gently stir or swirl the container to mix the grains and liquid. If the separation persists, check the fermentation conditions, such as temperature and duration.

My grains are weak or sluggish!

  • Solution: Weak or sluggish grains may result from nutrient deficiency or contamination. Ensure you provide enough nutrients to the grains by using mineral-rich water and organic sugar. Regularly rinse the grains with non-chlorinated water to keep them clean and free from contaminants.

My fermentation is really bubbly and my bottles are explosive!

  • Solution: Excessive carbonation can cause bottles to explode, creating a mess and potential hazards. To prevent this, use proper fermentation vessels like swing-top bottles with a pressure release mechanism. Burp the bottles periodically to release excess carbonation. Adjust the fermentation time to achieve the desired level of carbonation.

My pH is too high or too low!

  • Water kefir fermentation requires a slightly acidic environment (pH 3.2-4.6). If the pH is too high or low, it can inhibit fermentation or lead to the growth of undesirable bacteria.
  • Solution: Use pH test strips or a pH meter to monitor the acidity level. If the pH is too high, you can add a small amount of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to lower it. If the pH is too low, dilute the mixture with water or reduce the fermentation time.

My water kefir lacks carbonation or fizz!

  • If your water kefir lacks carbonation or fizz, it may not be as enjoyable to drink. Ensure that you’re using an airtight fermentation vessel, such as swing-top bottles, to trap the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation. Also, extend the secondary fermentation period after straining the grains to allow for more carbonation development. Consider adding a small amount of fruit juice or a slice of ginger to enhance carbonation.

My brew has a slimy texture!

  • Water kefir can sometimes develop a slimy or gelatinous texture, which is often an indication of bacterial contamination. Ensure proper hygiene and sanitation throughout the fermentation process. Thoroughly clean all equipment and utensils with hot water and mild soap before use. Avoid introducing foreign substances or ingredients that may introduce unwanted bacteria into the fermentation vessel.

My fermentation has a lot of sediment or cloudy particles at the bottom of the jar!

  • Sediment or cloudy particles accumulating at the bottom of your water kefir can affect the appearance and taste. Strain your water kefir thoroughly after fermentation to remove any sediment or particles. Use a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth to achieve a clearer liquid. If sediment still persists, you can let the kefir settle for a longer period before straining or try using a different strain of water kefir grains.

My grains are inactive or dormant!

  • Water kefir grains may occasionally become inactive or dormant, leading to a lack of fermentation or weak results. Revitalize dormant grains by rinsing them with non-chlorinated water and providing them with proper nutrition. You can feed them a small amount of sugar water for a day or two outside the fermenting vessel to encourage their activity. If the grains remain inactive, consider obtaining fresh and active water kefir grains.

Remember that water kefir fermentation can be a trial-and-error process. It’s essential to maintain a clean environment, healthy grains, and the right conditions to achieve consistent and successful fermentations. Troubleshooting may involve some experimentation and adjustments based on your specific conditions. It’s important to observe and adapt to the behaviour of your grains to achieve successful fermentation. In time you will learn to understand the needs of your grains and you will better understand what is needed for them to flourish.

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