Kefir Cider

I finished making my first batch of kefir cider yesterday. I brought it to Christmas dinner and either it is bad luck to insult someone’s home brewed cider or those who tried it genuinely liked it. And for such a satisfying end product it couldn’t have been much easier to make, especially when compared to traditionally home brewed beers.

To make the cider, I took my first batch of water kefir (as described in this post), strained out the grains, and added a tablespoon of said grains to a quart and a half of plain apple juice. I try to use glass to avoid any contamination as the plastic breaks down, so I used juice that came in a glass jar. Just pop the top, drain a little off to keep foam from reaching the top during fermentation, put a tablespoon of active water kefir grains in, put the cap back on (do not tighten – carbon dioxide needs to escape), and set it on the counter to brew.

One day later I began to see bubbles rising through the juice. It was difficult to see them in regular light, so I took a flashlight and lit the jar from the side. If the fermentation is working there will be a lot of bubbles. At this point it tasted like a (non-alcoholic) sparkling cider.

While the original juice was relatively clear, and it remained clear one day after I started, by the second day I could no longer see through the jar. Even when I shined a flashlight in from the side, I could see few bubbles even though they still appeared on the surface. I imagine this is a result of the microbes from the kefir grains spreading into the solution or some product of fermentation spreading the light. Either way, it should be expected.

On the second day I strained the solution using a plastic strainer (metal is toxic to some of the beasties), set the cap back on, and let it brew a couple more days. I finished some water kefir at the same time, so I just recombined the grains and used them to start another batch of water kefir.

I figured on going about two days after straining but it ended up being three. I tried to seal the bottle for the final day to carbonate the cider, but I don’t think the cap was only meant to seal when the bottle is under pressure.

The final product had a pleasant fizz, tasted lightly sweet, and had seemed to have an alcohol content comparable to commercial cider. Overall a delicious drink, even for a first attempt. It tastes even better considering it costs the same as apple juice and took something like a half an hour of actual work to produce.

Next time I intend to use a stopper and an airlock so I can ensure no oxygen leaks into the bottle. I don’t know how much oxygen did get in, or if it even had a negative effect on the cider’s taste, but I would like to be able to control the process better.

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Kefir: Rehydration and the First Batch

A friend of mine recently gave me some water kefir grains. Just thought I’d share my experiences.

If you’ve ever seen some, you’ll know the dehydrated grains aren’t terribly exciting. Though, from what I’ve read about the number of microbes in active kefir, it is surprising that they can go dry and then be reactivated so easily. I wonder if dehydrating the grains occasionally might even protect them from colonization by intruders. I’ll have to get my army of scientists to write a paper on it.

The method for rehydration was simple. In a mason jar I mixed four tablespoons dried sugar cane juice with a cup of distilled water. For minerals I added a few drops of a pH balance/mineral solution. I’m not sure if it was necessary as the cane juice should already have most of the minerals, but it didn’t seem to hurt. Once the sugar dissolved, I added three more cups of distilled water to fill the mason jar. The final ratio of dried cane juice to water was ¼ cup to 4 cups.

Finally I added about a teaspoon of the dried kefir grains. I had twice this amount, but it didn’t seem prudent to keep all my grains in one mason jar. I haven’t personally experienced this, but I could imagine the residue from an antibiotic dish soap might destroy the grains out if one isn’t careful.

Next I covered the jar with a clean coffee filter and let it sit on the counter for two days. The grains plumped up and bubbled occasionally, and I think the color of the solution lightened a little. The instructions said to let it brew for four days, but I wanted to get some cider started so I cut it short.

On straining the solution I got two to three tablespoons of hydrated grains. I wasn’t sure if the first batch of kefir water was supposed to be consumed, but it didn’t smell moldy so I gave it a shot. It tasted a little like soda, but without all the questionable chemicals.

The cider should be ready tomorrow. Check back later to see how that goes.

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Starfall: The First Cut

StarfallA pilot drops from hyperspace to find his ship disabled by space dust. Unable to rendezvous with a nearby terraforming station, he falls to the planet below. After escaping the landing with little more than his life, he realizes his fiery decent went unnoticed. Now his only chance of returning to his family on the station lay in the data stores of a wrist computer and the sparse resources available near the crash site. Can the spaceman return to the stars or is he destined to remain on a planet with a population of one?

Check out the first draft of Starfall for free via Smashwords.

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Witch Island

To the readers of Witch Island:

The story of Witch Island lingered in my thoughts for years; if ever I was to become a writer, it was the story I would write. Then last summer, in the midst of an uninteresting job, the story demanded to be written. So I cleared my schedule, expanded the kernel of a tale, met the characters and learned their roles, then put the story to words. Drafts, redrafts, and many months later the novel was born, as I have presented it to you.

If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. What if you give him a fish the next day, the day after, or everyday? This is the question that inspired the book, and I think it is an important question to consider, especially for those receiving the fish.

As to my thoughts, they are written in the book, and if you are here you have likely read them. So what do you think? Did you like the story? Is its conclusion valid? Let me know in the comments.

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Book Release – Witch Island

A terrible storm casts a sailor from the rigging to an island unknown. He waits for rescue only to discover two more castaways. Now they must survive the island and each other until a ship can be hailed. The sea can supply their needs, but a dangerous plan threatens to destroy them where the island cannot. Will they still be waiting when help arrives?

Check it out at:
Barnes & Noble

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