The Fresh Loaf

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Making a Sourdough starter with water kefir

bread10's picture

Making a Sourdough starter with water kefir



I have neglected my sourdough culture in the back of the fridge and it looks and smells beyond recovery! I have water kefir (sugar, water & kefir grains/culture) which I regularly ferment for a probiotic drink... can I use this to make a super quick sourdough culture - e.g. mix flour and water kefir and leave overnight??? I have never made my own culture before. Has anyone done this using water kefir and how would you go about doing it?


In the meantime - is it possible to make a sourdough loaf and replace the water in the recipe with water kefir - would this work? Has anyone tried this before?


Thanks Heaps!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Try searching under:  Kefir bread    Kefir sourdough    Kefir starter    or  ask your Q directly    How to make a kefir starter?

Are you sure your sd culture is beyond saving?  If you pour off the hooch, clean off the surface with a spoon or two and get a clean sample at the bottom of the starter, it is often light colored and revivable.  If you can get a teaspoonful, you're in luck.  

Heidela123's picture

Honestly I have used kefir as a starter a few times a few ways and didn't like it at all. It was not a hefty starter at all and gave an odd flavor to the bread. The rise was not great and I ended up tossing the kefir starter to my hens ( who adore all things keffir and sourdough and I have npbeen told it is good for their digestion as well)
And I adore kefir as a fermented dairy product, use it like yogurt, cheese, beverage, but have been disappointed in baking with it.

I am sure considering all the dialog online, some folks really like it, this is just my opinion based on a few personal attempts.

You can make a "quick-ish" starter with fresh organic grapes or my favorite are really powdery looking juniper berries ( the powder being the yeast) ..Others have far more detailed, I am sure much better instructions... but for the decades I have baked with sourdough, nothing tops capture of wild yeast... I have started many a friend off with a hike in the mountains ( or unsprayed neighboring bush) to collect about 9 juniper berries mixed them into 1 cup tepid ( I use my tap water but it is very " good" water I have lived places where I boiled it first) water mixed with one up flour of choice. It bubbles up in a day and with in less than a week of feeding here and there left in a loosely covered jar, at ambient temp and if all your stars are lined up, you can have a lovely new starter. So to answer your question, does keffir work? Yes but for me I will eat or drink my keffir fresh because, the results of a few attempts were disappointing and I would rather keep my keffir and use juniper berries or grapes, to make new starter if I were to need one fairly soon

Good luck and again my opinion based on my trials.

clazar123's picture

The quick answer you are seeking is.....maybe.

As MiniOven has said-try and revive the sourdough-there are still some of the yeasty-beasties occupying the neighborhood. They are worth re-culturing and it will take about a week of diligent feedings. Very tough critters.

As for the water kefir, the quick answer is ,again,........... maybe. There have been MANY discussions here and the search feature works wonderfully. I know there was one member that would pour whey (from milk kefir) over her dough to fill the pan and bake. Her bread had a shiny dome of brown crust. I have used milk kefir as an ingredient in WW bread but I've had some issues with it breaking down the gluten with excessive enzyme activity. I'm not sure about water kefir-it is a similar but different little beast.

Have a revival,search and experiment!

bobku's picture

I have never had a problem reviving a starter. I have neglected it as far as 4-5 months looking horrible, as long as you scrap through and get a small sample you can mix it with some flour and water, feed it every 12 hours and it should be fine. Maybe I've just been lucky but I would try to get any minute sample and just keep feeding it.

MangoChutney's picture

Water kefir, like milk kefir and sourdough culture, is a combination of bacteria and yeast.  Water kefir, known also as tibicos, prefers plant sap sugars.  Milk kefir prefers milk sugars.  Kefirs tend to have more bacteria than yeast, which makes for tart beverages with little alcohol but produces lousy rising in bread.  You can use either type of kefir to augment a sourdough culture, but for a sourdough recovery operation in both cases the population mix would have to re-establish itself to one which prefers grain as its food and which has enough yeast to produce rising.  If you want something fast, I would suggest the yeast water that was mentioned above.  It is more purely yeast, grown on fruit sugar, and will give more rising power for the time spent cultivating it than you will get from either kefir.  In the meantime you can either try to recover your old sourdough culture or begin a new one.