Water Kefir Fast Second Fermentation
04 March 2022
Tibicos, or water kefir, is a powerful probiotic drink that is easy to make and perfect for anyone who does not wish to consume dairy kefir. However second water kefir ferments can take a while, 3 to 5 days or even longer in some climates. How can you speed it up?
After a bit of experimenting I have come up with a way to get a finished second ferment in 1 to 2 days. In warmer climates (I'm in England during the colder months) it should even be quicker.
Most people doing a second ferment add fruit to their kefir and seal it in a glass container. I like to add slices of lemon and apples to my second ferment. The lemon is mostly for flavouring, whilst the sugary apple slices help speed the fermentation up. I will usually slice up half and apple and put it into one litre of second ferment kefir. Slicing the apples up increases the surface area and exposes the sugar more easily to the microbes in the kefir.
You may also wish to experiment with adding an extra tablespoon or two of sugar into the second ferment, giving even more food for the bacteria and yeast and growing them quicker.
However to really help speed up the second ferment, you can add a tablespoon or two of kefir grains into it. Not only will the fruit feed the existing bacteria, the grains will also be producing new bacteria, adding extra probiotic potency. You can then drink the grains along with the kefir once the fermentation is done, or reuse them for another ferment.
Finally, another option to help speed up the fermentation in colder climates is to use a heating blanket to heat your jars of kefir. You can use one for first and second ferments. Note that the ideal temperature for water kefir is a bit over 20°C and using too high a temperature may damage or kill your grains! You also need to ensure the blanket emits low levels of electromagnetic radiation, as radiation may also damage or kill your grains. I don't use an electric blanket myself but you should be able to find something if you search for "low EMF blanket" on Google or shopping sites.
Hopefully these tips will guide you on your way to faster fermentations!