You buy some live water kefir grains, from Poseymom (Thank you very much!), and you're excited to start down your probiotic journey. In fact, you already have a list of your favorite kefir recipes for the second fermentation. You get the package in the mail, carefully follow our detailed instructions, barely able to contain your excitement.
Finally, two days later, you taste your first batch, expecting a tangy, tart, fermented flavor. But your kefir doesn't taste anything like it should! It's so sweet and bland that you wonder if it fermented at all.
"Is my water kefir dead on arrival?" you may ask yourself.
In this article, we'll talk about what to do if your brand-new water kefir grains don't seem to be performing the way they should. By the end, we hope to alleviate any concerns of doubts you might have, and, along the way, you'll gain a new appreciation for the delicate and miraculous fermentation process water kefir goes through.
Dead or Dormant?
First, we need to make an important distinction between dead grains and those that are slightly dormant. It's actually pretty hard to kill water kefir grains. They can be starved, frozen, and even dehydrated and they don't die. (In fact, we sell dehydrated grains all the time. We know how hardy these little guys are!)
If your first batch doesn't seem to be fermenting at all, it's way more likely that they have gone into a minor hibernation during the shipping process. So let's see how you can wake up sleepy grains.
Reviving Dormant Grains
We grow our kefir in extra-sugary water, full of minerals and nutrients. That way, they are super healthy when we ship them. That said, if your grains are underperforming right out of the box, we have good news: reviving dormant grains is as easy as can be!
In order to revive dormant grains, all you have to do is continue following our instructions. You may have to put your grains through up to three (or sometimes even four) cycles for them to revive and start fermenting like pros. That's it!
Here are a few extra pointers to help you revive your water kefir grains:
- Be sure to follow the instructions. Sometimes, customers email us saying their grains are underperforming, but when they describe what they've been doing, we notice that they're cheating on some of the steps in our water kefir instructions. For example, they don't add enough sugar because they don't want overly sweet kefir. (Which doesn't work the way you'd think because kefir eats the sugar in order to ferment! Not adding enough sugar just starves the kefir, which can make it go dormant and underperform.)
- Don't let the grains sit longer than 48 hours! This goes hand-in-hand with following the instructions, but it's an important point to highlight. Some people think that, in order to not have sweet kefir, they should let the batch sit longer. But that's actually starving the grains and making them go dormant! Change out the water and sugar every 48 hours (or even less for the first couple of cycles) to wake the grain up and keep them healthy.
- Remember: Water Kefir is supposed to be sweet. Some people complain because, even after several batches, the water kefir still tastes sweet after each batch. But keep in mind that this is completely normal. Water kefir is a sweet, sugary, fermented drink! If you want a tart, less sugary water kefir, you'll have to put it through what we call the second fermentation.
- Be careful how you clean around your kefir. Water kefir grains are very sensitive to bleach, antibacterial cleaners, and other strong chemicals. That's why we use Norwex rags and products instead of standard cleaners.
We hope these pointers help you get your kefir up and running as quickly as possible. If your water kefir is acting strange or not fermenting at all, you can always reach out to us and we'll help you get to the bottom of things.