8 Ways To 2nd Ferment Kombucha and Water Kefir
There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t drink regular sodas that are laden with high fructose corn syrup, dyes, and chemicals that are hard on the body. Both kombucha and water kefir provide minerals and probiotics, and they are easy and fun to make. Replace your drinks with kefir soda or kombucha and you will have fewer cravings for sugary soft drinks. Remember, the sugar in kefir soda and kombucha is not for you but for the good yeasts and bacteria to consume while they create a naturally-occurring probiotic carbonation. They contain no artificial chemicals or artificial ingredients - plus, they create the bubbliciousness that so many of us crave.
Kombucha and water kefir are the only two ferments that don't use a lid during the first ferment. The first fermentation for water kefir and kombucha is done using a cloth and a rubberband, NOT a lid.
The second fermentation happens after the initial (first) ferment for either kombucha or water kefir. This is because these are high-sugar ferments. These sugars are consumed by the culture and if done in a sealed container they can become alcoholic. So, using a cloth for the first ferment is important since they both need air to ferment properly to provide the ultimate in both taste and benefits!
The second fermentation is done using a lid once the majority of the sugars have been consumed during the first fermentation. You will add a small amount of new food/sugar in a brew-safe bottle for the water kefir or kombucha to consume and create extra probiotics, fizz, and flavor!
Note: kombucha is a slightly different type of ferment and can take longer to second ferment than water kefir.
Water Kefir Second Fermentation
I second ferment my water kefir for no more than 1-3 days (regardless of ingredients used) to keep the flavor at its best and the benefits high, so keep that in mind.
8 Ways To Second ferment Kombucha and Water Kefir
My favorite way to second ferment is by using bottled juice. I use 2 ounces of juice to a 16 ounce bottle and fill the rest with plain kombucha or water kefir. I then allow this to ferment for a few more days (timing varies depending on the recipe and temperature). This is the easiest process for beginners to get fizz with their ferments and is the most consistent.
For bottled juice kombucha: I usually second ferment 5-14 days with bottled juice. Less time is needed if your home is warm (above 75 F).
For water kefir: water kefir will second ferment in 1-3 days.
I love using raw juice for second fermenting. However, the results aren't as consistent as using bottled juice due to the raw juice's natural enzymes. Also, the raw juice naturally has a higher water content. This can make your second ferments less easy to predict and not always as flavorful. (Bottled juice has been pasteurized so some of the water in the juice has been evaporated out and the flavor intensifies). When using raw juice, you should cut down your fermentation time quite a bit as the raw juice has less natural sugar than bottled juice and will ferment more rapidly.
For raw juice kombucha: I usually only second ferment with raw juice for 2-4 days.
For water kefir: raw juice water kefir will second ferment in 1-2 days.
Fresh Fruit or Frozen Fruit
Much like raw/fresh juice, you will want to keep an eye on this type of second ferment. I never use more than 1/4 cup of fruit and often use less, like one piece of fruit for a bottle. Keep in mind, if you use fruits that have a low natural sugar content (like cranberries or lemons), you might want to add a pinch of sugar to boost the fizz production along (usually 1/2 teaspoon for a 16-ounce bottle). It can also be difficult to get the fruit into the bottle and then get it out. You'll need to cut it up to fit it into each bottle. Frozen fruit works great for second fermentation too. It behaves similarly to fresh fruit.
For kombucha: second ferment for 2-5 days
For water kefir: second ferment for 1 day (unless your home is cool)
Watch out when you open the jar, sometimes the fruit will come flying out!
I love making homemade syrups for second ferments! You can use wonderful herbs, seeds, and more to make delicious flavors and provide wonderful fizz! I only use 1-2 tablespoons of syrup per 16 ounce bottle so the homemade syrups go a long way. These syrup recipes can take a bit longer to second ferment so keep that in mind.
For kombucha: I usually do my syrup ferments for 5-14 days (depending on temperatures).
For water kefir: second ferment for 2-3 days.
You can find all my syrup recipes here:
Herbs and Spices
If you are wanting to use something like vanilla beans, star anise, or lavender to do a second ferment and don't feel like making a syrup, no problem! You can simply add a teaspoon or so of whatever spice you want to add and 1/2-1 teaspoon of sugar to each 16 ounce bottle and allow to ferment!
For kombucha: second ferment for 2-4 days (depending on temperatures)
For water kefir: second ferment for 1-2 days
Fruit Jams or Jellies
You can actually get creative and add something like jam or jelly to second ferment your kombucha. I have done this when I didn't have any other types of juice or fruit on hand. You only need 1/2-1 tablespoons of jam or jelly to do a second ferment. I sometimes like to strain my kombucha or water kefir before drinking when I use this method.
For kombucha: second ferment for 3-7 days.
For water kefir: second ferment for 1-3 days
Honey, Sugar, Maple Syrup, Molasses
If you want an "original" or plain flavored kombucha but still want the fizz, you can do a second ferment by adding 1/2-1 teaspoon of sugar, maple syrup, honey, or molasses to a 16 ounce bottle and fill with plain kombucha or water kefir.
For kombucha: second ferment for 5-10 days.
For water kefir: second ferment for 1-3 days.
You can use dried fruits like figs, dates, cranberries, pineapple, or raisins. One tablespoon of dried fruit works great for a 16 ounce bottle.
This method only takes a few days! If you are using unsweetened dried fruit like pineapple or cranberry you may want to add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar as well to the bottle. The dried fruit doesn't provide a ton of flavor, but is great in a pinch and has a unique taste. I always strain before drinking :)
For kombucha: second ferment for 2-5 days.
For water kefir: second ferment for 1-2 days.
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