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Lacto fermented soda

At times it is good - but at times it is also bad to be quite self-critical. See water-kefir - despite the people who promote this beverage and say, that it is delicious, I had pretty mixed results.

When following the mantra of so many people online (using raw sugar or at least less refined sugars plus some dehydrated fruits, the drink taste IMHO just plain awful (as well as become more awful with fermenting longer).

I found a workaround with Darcy O'Neal's "spring water minerals" - suddenly the tibicos culture is multiplying and very happy even with plain white sugar - and the ferment taste light and nice.

However the second ferment is very unpredictable:
  • The time of the fermentation (even in the fridge) changes dramatically the taste. It ranges from slightly funky (which is great) to awful and kinda off. 
  • The fermented fruit also makes a huge difference: cantaloup melon tasted very natural like a natural melon gatorade, similar to kiwi. Watermelon tasted first very good, but after a couple of hours it tasted not that good anymore (well putting it directly into the fridge had a better result - however was also more flat - the room temp fermentation was nice and bubbly, but also tasted too fermented). Same applied for pineapple. Pear tasted heavily fermented - but in an unforeseen advantageous way - it didn't taste like fresh pear anymore but like a rather dry peary (cider based on pears). Apple juice and grape juice were just awful.
  • The level of the 1st ferment. The more fermented the 1 ferment, the better seemed the 2nd ferment 
  • The carbonation is also very different: keeping the 2nd ferment out of the fridge, makes it very carbonated - however the taste degrades.
It seems, that it is not possible to get a ferment, which taste good and is properly carbonated?

While the first workaround might have given me a Noble Price for Water Kefirology, the second workaround should cement this: using an unflavored 2nd ferment.

The principle is quite simple: after let's say 16 hours you are adding the 1st ferment into an airtight bottle - but instead of adding fruits (...), you just add a bit more sugar (if the sugar is already fermented) and water and let it carbonate (room temp). As there are no aromas in, which could "spoil" the party, it taste just slightly fermented. After that, you add the fruit to the carbonated beverage and let it just go for a bit longer directly in the fridge.

The sugar is largely reduced due to the fermentation - and the gut-friendly lactobacillus is also there... Also the liquid has a far more textured consistency. On the other hand, you won't have any degrading aromas from the fruit fermentation.

An add-on: I tried to ferment for longer than 24-48 hours and the 1st ferment was great - and the tibicos still look healthy and great. It seems that my new way of doing it with added minerals result in super active and happy crystals, which are also very robust... hence I will adapt the recipe below.

Basic Water Kefir (natural fermented soda pop)

1 Tsp Tibicos (Water Kefir crystals)
1l filtered water
80 g White Sugar
1 pinch minerals (Darcy O'Neal is a thankful resource)

Add white sugar (fine wine sugar dissolves quickest) and minerals into 1 liter of cold water and dissolve in a container. Add the tibicos and keep at room temperature for ca. 12-72h. 

Strain the tibicos out of the liquid and add to a new batch of "sugar water". Use the liquid and add homemade syrup or fruit. 


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