It has been a while since I’ve had enough water kefir grains to take a chance on something new. I generally do not like to mess with mother cultures unless I have a backup. So I’ll take an extra kombucha SCOBY and throw it into some apple juice or that extra clump of milk kefir grains can go into coconut milk. But I always keep enough mother culture fermenting in its preferred medium to ensure their own safety. Cultures are incredibly resilient – and these experiments almost always turn out fine – but, I like my cultures too much to throw that much caution to the wind. So, when I found my water kefir grains happily multiplying, I decided to grab some and take a chance on using fruit juice instead of sugar water for the initial fermentation. I’m so glad I did. I had approximately one cup of water kefir grains freshly strained from my latest batch of water kefir. I took 1/4 cup of those grains and plopped them into a quart jar and poured 2 cups of organic cranberry-pomegranate-apple juice blend over them. This juice contained no added sugar, just to be clear.
I used the rest of the grains to make a quart of regular water kefir at the same time. It usually doesn’t take long for small bubbles to float up out of the grains when the new sugar water mixture is added. This time was no exception, so I used this as a marker of whether or not my fruit juice water kefir was culturing properly. It took a little bit longer for these bubbles to start forming but within a few hours, I could see them begin to float to the top as I gently moved the jar around. A good sign! By the next day (about 24 hours later) the top of the juice was bubbly and fizzy. I gave it a taste and while it was still sweet, it was definitely taking on that fermented tang so I decided to bottle it in an airtight pint in order to achieve some carbonation. I then took the water kefir grains I strained from the juice and added them to the culturing sugar water which wasn’t quite done yet. The grains had taken on the red color of the juice and formed quite the contrast from the other grains.