Fermenting Drinks How-To

On Wednesday, October 4th, BCFA held a Fermenting Drinks Workshop at Plumsteadville Grange that attracted 50+ participants! Angela of Sole Kombucha detailed the in and outs of the Kombucha process, Gene Taylor instructed on how he makes Dairy Kefir, and Susan Peirson of BCFA's Advisory Board taught how to make Beet Kvass, Apple Cider Fizzy, and Buttermilk. Attendees enjoyed sampling the probiotic-rich drinks after the lessons and left the event ready to ferment all types of beneficial drinks!

In case you missed the event, or were unable to get a hand-out, here are the instructions: 

To download a printable version of these instructions click here.


Kombucha – from Andrea of Sole Kombucha


  • Brewing Vessel: Glass, Stainless
  • Water: Filtered, Spring, Uncontaminated Well Water
  • Tea: Black, Gree, White
  • Sugar: Organic Cane, Cane, White
  • Starter: SCOBY, Starter Tea or White Vinegar (in a pinch)
  • First Ferment: Approximately 2.5 to 3 weeks (new batches could take a little longer)
  • Second Ferment: Infuse (herbs, roots, fruits, etc.) approximately 3 to 4 days or add juice
  • Bottling
  • Temperature: 65-80 degrees F
  • Placement: Warm secure location
  • Covering: Dish towel, Muslin, etc. (Do not use Cheese Cloth)


Milk Kefir – From Gene Taylor


Makes 1 cup


  • 1 cup milk, preferably whole fat
  • 1 teaspoon active kefir grains


  • 1 pint-sized glass jar
  • Cheesecloth, paper towel, or clean napkin
  • Rubber band
  • Small strainer (preferably plastic)
  • Storage container with lid


  1. Combine the milk and the grains in a jar: Pour the milk into a clean glass jar (not metal) and stir in the kefir grains. The milk can be cold or room temperature, either is fine.
  2. Cover the jar: Cover the jar with cheesecloth, a paper towel, or a clean napkin and secure it with a rubber band. Do not screw a lid onto the jar as the build up of carbon dioxide from the fermenting grains can cause pressure to build in the jar, and in extreme cases, cause the jar to burst.
  3. Ferment for 12 to 48 hours: Store the jar at room temperature (ideally around 70°F) away from direct sunlight. Check the jar every few hours. When the milk has thickened and tastes tangy, it's ready. This will usually take about 24 hours at average room temperatures; the milk will ferment faster at warmer temperatures and slower at cool temperatures. If your milk hasn't fermented after 48 hours, strain out the grains and try again in a fresh batch (this sometimes happens when using new kefir grains, when refreshing dried kefir grains, or when using grains that have been refrigerated).
  4. Strain out the kefir grains: Place a small strainer over the container you'll use to store the kefir. Strain the kefir into the container, catching the grains in the strainer.
  5. Transfer the grains to fresh milk: Stir the grains into a fresh batch of milk and allow to ferment again. This way, you can make a fresh batch of kefir roughly every 24 hours. To take a break from making kefir, place the grains in fresh milk, cover tightly, and refrigerate.
  6. Drink or refrigerate the milk kefir: The prepared milk kefir can be used or drunk immediately, or covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  7. Recipe Notes
  8. Activating Dried Kefir Grains: If you bought your kefir grains in a dried form, rehydrate them by soaking them in fresh milk at room temperature. Change the milk every 24 hours until the grains begin to culture the milk and make kefir. It may take 3 to 7 days for the kefir grains to become fully active.
  9. What Milk to Use: Kefir works best with whole-fat cow, goat, sheep, or other animal milk. You can use low-fat milks, but refresh the grains in whole fat milk if they stop fermenting the kefir properly. Raw and pasteurized milks can be used, but avoid ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milks.

10. Making More or Less Kefir: You'll need about a teaspoon of grains to ferment 1 to 2 cups of milk. You can also ferment less milk than this, but fermentation will go more quickly. Your grains will start to multiply over time, allowing you to ferment more milk if you like. Maintain a ratio of about a teaspoon of grains to 1 cup of milk.

11. Taking a Break from Making Kefir: To take a break from making kefir, transfer the grains into a fresh container of milk, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to a month.

12. What to Do if Your Kefir Separates: Sometimes kefir will separate into a solid layer and milky layer if left too long. This is fine! Shake the jar or whisk the kefir to recombine and carry on. If this happens regularly, start checking your kefir sooner.


Beet Kvass – from Susan Pierson, BCFA Advisory Board Member


  • 1 pound beets, greens removed (and eaten!), scrubbed and cubed into 1/2 inch dice
  • 5 cups water (filtered if your water is treated with chlorine)
  • 5 Tbs whey or sauerkraut juice from fermented and active culture sauerkraut (not canned or vinegar sauerkraut)
  • 5 1/4+ sea or Himalayan salt
    • Pour water into 2-quart jar, add salt and stir to dissolve, add whey or sauerkraut juice. Add cubed beets. Cover and wait 2+ days. Taste. Refrigerate when just right.

Apple Cider Fizzy


  • Dilute apple cider by about 1/2. Pour into bottles, cap, and wait a few days.Cider pressed later in the season has less tannins (flavor is milder) you may need less water earlier in the season than later. Add other juices for different flavors.



  • 3 ½ cups whole raw milk
  • ½ cup commercial buttermilk (I used grocery store buttermilk for my starter)
    • Time needed varies according to temperature, but one to three days should be plenty to turn milk into buttermilk.


For all of these, please make sure that your jars and hands are well scrubbed.


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