Celebrating Cultures: A Conversation with Harries, our Water Kefir Crystals

bright pink water kefir bottle

Name

Harry (one crystal), Harries (the entire colony)

Aliases

Water kefir, Tibicos, water kefir crystals, Japanese water crystals, eternity grains

Not to be confused with

Milk kefir

Age

Eternal as the alias has it.

Nationality

Originally Mexican. The ones Edible Alchemy picked up, however, are Hungarian.

Loves

Minerals, fruit sugars and proteins. A fresh shower under the tap. 

Hates

All metals (spoons, funnels, containers, straws etc.)especially ones that rust. Chlorinated water. Sulphured dried fruit. Not being refreshed for more than 4 days. 

Feeds on

Glucose and fructose. 

Favourite sugars

Raw cane sugar, dates and plums.

Most active at

Low room temperatures or lightly refrigerated.

Maintenance level

High. Needs to be fed daily/every other day.

Best-enjoyed 

After the secondary ferment with a splash of juice and a 24-hour rest in a closed bottle to build up those sparkles.

Best-served 

On ice on a hot day or as a refreshing hangover cure to restore those electrolytes.

Hello Harries! Tell us a little bit more about how you got to where you are today. How did you end up in Edible Alchemy’s Microbial Circus?

Legend has it that our fore-fore-fore-fore-fore-fore-fathers were born in a freshwater stream. Indigenous sugar cane growing along its banks was carried downstream where our sparkly community of water kefir crystals formed, multiplied and thrived. 

When humans first found us, they were enchanted by our mysterious gelatinous crystalline forms. So luminous, so divine. Our caretakers groomed us as though we were gifts from the Godsthey diversified our diets by feeding us pineapples, mangos, lemons, ginger and an abundance of other exotic fruits and herbs. For the most part, we accepted their offerings with gratitude. Some plants containing natural oils, however, possess the powers to spoil us. And we generally steer clear of all fruits sprayed with chemicals to avoid suffering and despair. 

pink water kefir crystals

We were prized for our ability to transform simple water and fruit into soda-like refreshments. Epicureans, anthropologists and bacteria dealers carried us around the world and tried to introduce us to the market for sodas, but to little avail. “Too chaotic” some proclaimed; “too unpredictable” others whispered. 

One or two kind souls attempted to market us. They bottled us up all nice and pretty and placed us on display. But we’re not one to be banished to the bores of shelf-life or presented like some lowly soft drink. We staged peaceful revolutions by sleeping on the job, offering a flat, dull-tasting liquid when open. But most of the time we got far too excited. As soon as we were opened, we exploded with delight in a performance designed to showcase our capabilities.

Edible Alchemy picked up a healthy batch of our crystals in Hungary on one of her Microbial Circus tours. Since then we have decorated many homes around Europe, and even been re-adopted by Alexis when we multiply too much for good caretakers. 

alexis edible alchemy serving drinks
water kefir in glass

Is it true that you’re a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY) in disguise?

Yes, we are a type of SCOBY. In fact, there are more SCOBYs out there than one might think kombucha, jun, milk kefir and vinegar mothers are all our next of kin. But our flamboyant mother-in-law, a kombucha SCOBY called Snowflake, usually hogs the headline act and keeps most of the fame to herself. #snowflake #sharethelimelight

In contrast, us water kefirs, we’re social folk by nature. We do like to move and giggle and dance. So why the bad rep, you ask? Our theory is that because we’re somewhat high-maintenance.

We’re the first to admit that we are much pickier than our other SCOBY counterparts. But in our defense, it’s all in the name of hygiene. Yes, we like fresh, clean (!) water every time we have a new meal. So? While the others enjoy sitting in their own bubbles and farts for days on end, we prefer to be refreshed daily to ensure our fizz never stops sparkling. If we sit in those sparkles too long, we’ll get drunk fast and pickle ourselves to death. And yeah, if you forget to feed us, we’ll savagely cannibalize each other and ourselves until there’s nothing left of us but a trace of fairy dust at the bottom of the bottle.

water kefir drinks on table
pouring edible alchemy water kefir drinks

What’s the difference between a primary ferment and a secondary ferment?

Primary fermentation: The act of combining water kefir crystals with fresh water, sugar and fruits. We are then left to work our magic in an open (aerobic) or closed (anaerobic) vessel for 24-48 hours.

Secondary fermentation: The act of removing water kefir crystals from the liquid through a plastic strainer and then bottling us in a tightly sealed vessel. We can be kept like this at room temperature for another 24-48 hours to build up sparkly gas. 

Note: For extra tang, flavour and bubbles, add a shot of fruit juice or fruit pieces. BUT BE WARNED! CARBONATION CAN BUILD UP FAST, so never underestimate our willingness to flex our muscles.

What are your biggest superpowers?

Our effervescenceas we feed on sugar, we begin to put on an animated frizzante show for anyone who’s watching. Our act intensifies when our CO2 and alcohol are trapped together in a brawl in a tight vessel. We reward our crowds with showers of sparkles that tickle their tongues and feel good in their tummies.

In contrast to kombucha, which is very pungent and sour, we procure a lightly sparkling drink. One of our unique talents is the ability to extract flavours from almost every fruit and vegetable on the planet and produce the finest and most pure aromas. 

 

Share one of your most exotic acts of late with us!

A chameleon of sorts, we love being encouraged to change colours. Here’s a kaleidoscopic ingredient catalogue for you to play around with:

  • Young walnuts → Black/dark blue 
  • Butterfly pea flowers → Cretan blue
  • Turmeric → Mellow yellow 
  • Beetroot → Pink unicorn tears

For Halloween, we sometimes like to get dressed up in activated charcoal. In winter, the dried fruit pieces that people preserve during summer taste especially divine. And then there are all the jazzy flavours we procure:

  • Celery leaves → Sweet sips of celery 
  • Banana fruit → Candy banana bliss
  • Orange → Tangy soda pop

Head here for more exciting water kefir recipes and inspiration.

Thank you, Harries!

bottled edible alchemy water kefirs on table
purple edible alchemy water kefir
orange water kefir on table

Become the proud owner of your very own crystalline Harries colony.

Start your sourdough journey today and learn how to make wild fermented drinks in our Online Academy

In Celebrating Cultures, we sit down with some of our favourite artists from our Microbial Circus. If you are new to this exotic freak show, this series is a fantastic opportunity to really get to know our dearest and wisest sourdough starter, Cornelius, our lively kombucha SCOBY, Snowflake, and our eccentric water kefir colony, Harries. And for those of you who know them oh-so-well already, we’re confident you’ll learn something new about each along the way. 

Leave a Comment

X