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.