by SuzanneWater kefir is my favorite summer ferment. It can be flavored with just about anything; a new batch is ready every day or two; and it's super easy to maintain! But
Water kefir grains need a bit more attention than I can give them sometimes. During busy summer months, I often neglect the poor little guys. And when I do, I know that eventually, I will have to pay for my neglect with a bit of extra attention.
Recently, we had a lot going on, with camping, beach trips, and other summer fun. I wasn't home to look after all my cultures. And just as I knew would happen, the kombucha was just fine, but my water kefir grains had turned to mush. They looked kind of like applesauce, which I know from experience is not good.
So what did I do to revive the water kefir grains?
I simply gave them a little more attention. I changed the sugar water every 24 hours for a few days. I also changed the sugar I use, to make things a bit easier on the grains. Normally, for a quart batch of water kefir, I use 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) Succanat to feed the grains.
Succanat is a less refined sugar, full of minerals. It gives finished water kefir a stronger flavor, almost like caramel, and for healthy grains, it works just fine. But Succanat can be a little harder on the grains, and for neglected applesauce grains like mine, it can be too much.
So during the days of recovery, I switched to organic cane juice crystals, a more refined sugar that is easier on the grains. The taste of water kefir made with organic cane juice crystals is light and sweet. Not my favorite, but I can deal with it for a few days as my little pets recover.
After several days of diligently changing the sugar water every 24 hours, the grains began looking more defined and less like mush.
I knew I was on my way back to the stronger flavored water kefir that I prefer. Every few days, I replaced 1 tablespoon of organic cane juice crystals with Succanat, until I had built back up to using 100% Succanat.
And that's it! My water kefir grains are healthy again and making delicious water kefir. And I promise to pay closer attention to them€until the next time!