Now, here's a little story, I've got to tell
About a Fido and a Grolsch that I knew so well
It started way back on Saturday
With my water kefir just bubbling away
Ok, so I went old school on you and busted out some faux Beastie Boys. I couldn't resist. It's how I start all my greatest tales!
I'm talking fermentation today, specifically as it relates to water kefir. For those of you who do not know what water kefir is, check out this post from Lydia at Divine Health. I'll write about it one day myself but for now, let's talk about my little weekend adventure.
On Thursday of last week, I took some fun video of my fruit juice water kefir bubbling away in a Pickl-It. There was some serious activity going on in the airlock. All kinds of bubbles and hissing noises galore. Check it out:
Typically, I make plain old water kefir but I cut loose and decided to ferment in a fruit juice instead. (You can do this but you want to make sure that you alternate between sugar water and fruit juice to keep your grains healthy).
On Friday, I strained out the water kefir grains and poured the water/juice kefir into a Fido jar with a Fido lid. I was out of Grolsch bottles (what I typically use for second ferments of water kefir as well as kombucha) and figured my kefir would be just fine for a day in the Fido before I transferred it to cold storage.
Heh. Joke's on me.
On Saturday morning, my kitchen miraculously cleaned itself. Seriously…the little cleaning gnomes came in and left a spotless kitchen behind. Ever so grateful that I could cross that off my to-do list, I busied myself playing with Tiny. And then I heard it…
The unmistakable hissssssssssssssss.
Followed by the unmistakable sound of air being sucked in.
BAM! The Fido lid blew open and there was a volcanic eruption-like ooze of dark purple kefir cascading up and over the top of the Fido and all across my counters and floors. The clean ones. Thanks to the gnomes.
I grabbed the Fido and plopped it into the sink. The lid had come completely unhinged during this explosion resulting in a very bent up wire-bail. I tried to get a good photo of it so you could see how much the wire bent but it did not turn out that great. But in any event, here is how the wire looked after the great kefir explosion of 2012.
To be fair, I have made water kefir in a Fido before. I have left it there for 3-4 days during the first ferment and then another day or two after removing the grains for a second ferment. While there was lots of bubbling and hissing, there had never been any sort of leakage or explosion. I guess I was lucky. I guess I am still lucky that the only casualty was the wire bail. It could have been worse. There could have been glad shards everywhere.
So why did the Fido blow?
Simple. The pressure from the CO2 built up at a higher rate than the Fido gasket could release it. Once it hit the point of no return, the CO2 forced its way out.
Now, I am not saying don't do a second water kefir ferment in a Fido. But if you do, put it in a place where no one will get hurt if it blows. Clearly, there is a chance that it can happen.
This of course begs the question of the safety of fermenting in a Fido. If this sort of explosion happened with a second ferment of water kefir, could it happen when fermenting vegetables or fruits in a Fido?
Of course it could.
Bottom line – be cautious when using a Fido type jar for any sort of fermentation. If too much CO2 builds up, you could end up with a mess at the very least or with a serious injury at the worst. (And this doesn't even begin to tackle the effect too much CO2 has on the ferment itself.)
Ok – so about that Grolsch.
It was a bad Saturday for my water kefir. After I got the kitchen restored from the Fido explosion, I decided to open up a bottle of water kefir that was in the fridge. I had a nice cherry vanilla blend sitting in a Grolsch bottle. I needed a nice cold fizzy beverage after my fiasco.
What I love about doing a second ferment in a Grolsch is that the water kefir gets soooo fizzy. It is always fun to hear and feel that “pop” of that first release of CO2 when you flip the lid for the first time.
I told Tiny to listen closely and I flipped open the topper. HOLY WATER KEFIR BATMAN!!!!!!
That Grolsch bottle released the water kefir with such a fury. Mount Saint Helens had NOTHING on the eruption of water kefir in my house. (And I lived pretty close to Mt. Saint Helens when it erupted in the 80's.) It was insanity!
Water kefir sprayed 22 feet out in front of me. My entire kitchen, floor to ceiling, was covered and dripping. My entire dining area and living room were drenched. I was drenched, the dog was drenched, my husband was peeved, and Tiny was screaming bloody murder over the whole thing. (I don't blame her. Even I was a bit traumatized.)
My gosh. There were just no words. Maniacal laughter came pouring forth from the depths of my being. Two explosions in a one hour span of time. It was too much.
I cleaned, again. I cleaned some more. Seriously. There was nothing that escaped the fury of the Grolsch bottle gone wild. But on a positive note, our ceiling fans are clean and so is the dog bed! And yeah – behind the stove is pretty spiffed up now.
So let my adventure be a lesson for you all.
- Be careful what vessel you ferment in. Period.
- If you hear a hiss coming from your ferment, get it outside as quickly as possible, wrapping it in a towel for safety first.
- Open Grolsch bottles outside. Always. Always. Always.
For the record, I only make my first ferment of water kefir in a Pickl-It. I have been doing this for the past few months after close to two years of fermenting water kefir in a mason jar. The difference is HUGE! It looks different, tastes different (better), smells different, and is Just. So. Awesome.
I also typically do the second ferment in a Grolsch bottle because I love how fizzy it gets. I have used other random bottles and the results are never as good. I won't stop using my Grolsch bottles. I will just be a heck of a lot more careful when opening them.
So what about all of you? Have you ever ended up with a fermented beverage on your ceiling? Do tell. I want to think that I am not alone!
Interested in a few other great posts this week? Check out these little nuggets of fermentation information:
- Lemon Mint Cantaloupe Drink – Melanie from Pickle Me Too shares a recipe for a refreshing fermented melon drink. This is a tasty way to use up some of the melon harvest that is rolling in fast.
- Aunt Joanne's Lacto-Fermented Watermelon Pickles. Patty from Loving Our Guts shared a Lacto-Fermented twist on classic watermelon rind pickles. These sweet pickles are a hit with pickle lovers of all ages and so much better for you than their sugar sweetened, canned counterpart.