Step 6: Ready to Strain
When you are new to making water kefir, you may not know exactly what taste your looking for, but as you continue to make water kefir, you'll get a feel for when you need to strain the kefir. When it's over-fermented it tends to be sour and flat, while under-fermented water kefir tends to be too sweet. Somewhere right in the middle you catch a tangy, slightly sweet kefir (like a mild kombucha).
Many people expect water kefir to be very fizzy like a soda and are disappointed that it's so subtle. Carbonation takes place under anaerobic conditions (no air). You can easily increase the carbonation of you water kefir once you've strained it by bottling it in an air tight bottle (such as special beer and soda bottles). More on this in step 7.
TEMPERATURE: Temperature can greatly affect the speed of fermentation (it can take half as much time during the summer). Experiment and see what tastes right (and digests right) for you. They will not die if they're ready at 24 hours, but you strain at 48, so don't
worry too much!
A. Place your strainer over a bowl (stainless steel, wood or plastic -preferably with a pouring spout) and pour your entire water kefir ferment into the strainer.
B. Pick out any fruit or lemon. You can eat these (once your kefir is balanced), discard, or even keep in your bottled water kefir. You can also re-use fruit for one more ferment if
desired. If you used lemon, you can squeeze it into your strained kefir for a stronger lemon flavor if desired.
SURFACE: It's normal to see some grains, the dried fruit, foam and occasionally some 'scum' floating near the top (especially when using less refined sugars and/or dried fruits). It's also normal to see a perfectly clear surface, too. Sometimes this can indicate inactivity though - taste to see if it still tastes like flat, sweet sugar water - this indicates the grains did not convert much of the sugar.
View the pics below for what your finished water kefir may look like: