By: KEFIRKO

Overfermentation is a phenomenon which is a result of fermentation that lasted too long or had too much culture in it. Read on to get more insight on it and some tips on how to avoid it.

Time is Important!

Usually overfermentation happens when we leave the culture to ferment longer than recommended. For milk kefir that means more than 24 hours and for water 48 hours. With kombucha things are a bit more complicated, since there are very different approaches on how long it should ferment, depending on the individual taste. In our opinion, to make kombucha a great tasting beverage, it’s best to ferment it for 7-10 days.

So, if you exceed the recommended time of fermentation, it’s quite possible your culture will overferment. How will you know if this happened? By the look and taste of it.

The liquid that separates form thicker kefir is whey. It is rich with proteins.

Overfermented Kefir is More Potent

Just by the look you are able to see if overfermentation is happening in your milk kefir. It will become more curdled and you will see separation happening. The liquid whey will separate from more thicker kefir. Additional fermenting time will also change the taste, it will become more sour.

Water kefir will not change much in appearance. When water kefir is finished, it tastes a bit sweet still. If you prefer it more sour you can overferment it. If you leave it for a very long time it may become even to sour to drink.

The same is with kombucha. After long fermentation, it becomes more sour, even vinegar-like in taste. If you overferment kombucha you will also notice it becomes a bit more cloudy.

If you like more sour kombucha just leave it to ferment longer, more than a week.

Why This Happens?

We already mentioned one important factor that leads to overfermentation – time. If you leave the culture in milk/water/tea too long, it will overferment.

This is also connected to temperature of the environment. Higher temperature accelerates the activity of the microorganisms in the ferment. You will notice that in warmer seasons or if you have very warm interior in cold season, the fermentation can be finished even in half time.

Too much culture for the amount of milk/water/tea you are using. If you have more microorganisms in the ferment it’s only logical they will need more food. If you keep the volume of your ferment the same all the time, but the cultures multiply, the ratio will change noticeably. Again the fermentation will be ready faster. Note, it’s not recommended to overcrowd the grains, take away extras regularly. This will ensure activity and well-being of your cultures.

What to do When You Overferment?

If this was not intentional, you probably will not like the taste of kefir or kombucha once it’s overfermented. Here are some ideas what to do with it:

MILK KEFIR

If it’s only slightly separated and you still like the taste, you can just stir it well then strain and use as always. But if the kefir is very curdled and dense, you will probably need a big colander, where you can gently stir the kefir and separate the grains.

If you don’t like the taste of overfermented kefir you can use it in smoothies or as ingredient in other dishes and baking recipes (pancakes with wheybriochemuffins).

WATER KEFIR

You can’t do much to change the taste of water kefir once it gets too sour. You can add sugar or other sweeteners. But maybe using it in smoothies or even for baking, would be better idea (ciabatta).

Water kefir gets more opaque if you ferment it for too long.

KOMBUCHA

The same as with water kefir, you can use the sour kombucha in the smoothies or other refreshing drinks.

You can also leave it to ferment even longer until it gets really sour and then use it as a kombucha vinegar. This means fermenting it a few weeks not just days longer. Some also use this very sour kombucha as a natural cleaning product.

IS OVERFERMENTATION PROBLEMATIC?

Overfermentation basically happens when the grains don’t have enough food, the content of sugar has disappeared. Once all the food is gone the cultures starve. If this happens very often it can pose a threat for the cultures and they may stop growing and multiplying or producing fermented beverage. With fermentation, it’s important to feed the cultures regularly and this ensures having them for a lifetime.

KEFIRKO is a company that designs products for fermentation enthusiasts making their own kefir at home. They make glass jars with specialty lids for making a kefir drink and kefir cheese. KEFIRKO launched their product on Kickstarter 6 years ago, an idea “born from noticing how kefir preparation at home can be quite messy and complicated. Not something most of us would gladly do every day.”

At this week’’s Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, Mintel research announced what a senior analyst called a “major milestone” — specialty food and beverage sales account for 16% of all food and beverage sales, with a record year of growth at $148.7 billion.

The biggest drivers of the specialty food market are 1) functional drinks aiding the microbiome, 2) snacks rich in protein and low in sugar, 3) plant-based foods with unique innovation and 4) international sauces and seasonings from  new regions of the globe.

Research from Mintel and the Specialty Food Association shows that nearly three in four consumers purchase specialty food products. The specialty food market is defined as premium products, food made in small batches, food featuring authentic recipes or food made with high-quality ingredients. 

“I think so many consumers are more aware of what they’re eating and are more interested in what they’re eating, they’re curious about it, they care about clean ingredients and quality foods. And were on the cusp of all of that,” said Denise Purcell, director of content for the Specialty Food Association.

Some key points from research highlighted at the winter show:

  • Specialty beverages hold 18% share of all specialty products, totalling $14 billion in sales. Consumers want functional drinks that boost energy, mental focus, relaxation and microbiome health.
  • Snack foods total $18 billion in sales, 27% of the specialty food and beverage share. The fastest growing sellers were turkey and meat (10% growth), then chocolate and other confectionery (9% growth) and juices and functional beverages (7% growth). 
  • Plant-based foods “It’s a movement, it’s hard to call it a trend anymore,” Purcell noted. Innovations in plant-based items are leading growth in their segment, like shelf stable creams and creamers (37% growth), plant-based meat alternatives (36% growth) and refrigerated creams and creamers (20% growth). One-third of specialty food consumers have purchased plant-based products. And 90% of specialty food consumers, Mintel found, are “committed plant-based consumers.” 
  • E-commerce is the key specialty food purchasing channel. Today, 41% of shoppers buy at least some of their groceries online, with Mintel estimating online specialty sales will double to $6 billion in sales in the next few years.
  • The top 10 online specialty categories for sales from specialty food consumers include: 
    • Sparkling water (15%)
    • Nuts, seeds, trail mix, dried fruit (11%)
    • Soda and carbonated beverages (11%)
    • Bars (10%)
    • Juice (10%)
  • Marketing and positioning claims is an important branding element, too. Sales from positioning claims were led by:
    • Natural (68%)
    • Organic (55%)
    • Non-GMO (45%)
    • Locally-sourced (41%)
    • Eco-friendly (40%)
    • Ethical (37%)
    • Fair trade (36%)
    • Plant-based (34%)
    • Gluten-free (27%)
    • Sustainable (25%)
  • Global sauces and seasonings are also trending, especially flavors interesting new regions of the globe. Trends are showing customers are willing to pay more for these higher-quality, authentic ingredients. “People…always want to see a value,” says Mat Schuster, chef at Canela Bistro & Wine Bar. “It doesn’t mean they want to pay less, per say, but they want to feel the value. So if they’re getting an ingredient that they feel is special, that is authentic, that is flavorful, then that is part of the thing that builds the value to them.” 

You’ll never find Jon Bertolone, chef of Nourish in Oregon, serving an Impossible Burger. He says there are other ways to be inventive with a savory, plant-based patty. “Umami is something that has sort of driven my culinary journey,” Bertolone says. He’s been experimenting with garum (fermented fish sauce) to capture beef flavor, too. Fermentation, Bertolone says, is “the key to bridging cultures, because every culture has them.”

Read more (The Register-Guard

2020 is the year of the adventurous eater. A new survey reveals 74% of people love to discover new flavors. The Innova Trends Survey highlights botanicals, spices and herbs as popular flavors that will drive the food and beverage market in the new year. Innova calls these trending ingredients as “functionally flavorful.”

Fermented food brands are active in this regard. Kombucha brands are adding more botanical flavoring to their beverages, and fermented vegetable products are experimenting with unique spice and herb combinations. Flavor is still the No. 1 factor for consumers when buying food and beverages. Fermented food brands can use the trending ingredients of 2020 to develop new products and experiment with new flavor combinations. 

“Ingredients have become the stars of many products,” says Lu Ann Williams, Innova Market Insights Director of Insights & Innovation. The industry, she notes, is experimenting with more unusual ingredients to the delight of customers.

Fermented food brands can use 2020’s most popular ingredients as they develop new products. One in two consumers associate floral flavors with freshness, and they associate herbal flavors with healthiness. Flavor is still “the No. 1 factor of importance when buying food and beverages.”

Below is a breakdown of the ingredients consumers want in the New Year. 

Ethnic

Today’s consumers don’t just want to have food, they want to experience their food. Innova refers to this as living vs. having.

“Consumers are really living and focusing more on experiences, and a  big part of that is food and where it comes from,” Williams adds. “Consumers are also looking for richer experiences. You can have Mexican food or you can have authentic Mexican food. And you definitely have a richer experience with authentic Mexican food with a beer paired with the product, with ingredients that came from Mexico.”

Evidence that globalization is changing food, six in 10 U.S. and U.K. consumers say they “love to discover flavors of other cultures.” There was a 65% growth in food and beverages with ethnic flavors. Products with the biggest growth rate have Mediterranean and Far Eastern flavors. Meat, fish, eggs, sauces and seasonings lead the ethnic flavor categories.

Earthy

The growing sect of health-conscious consumers want green, earthy flavors. Matcha, seaweed ashwagandha, turmeric and mushroom are all trending ingredients. 

Fermented food brands shouldn’t hesitate to use bitter ingredients. Consumers more and more are embracing green vegetables with bitter flavors. Spinach, kale, celery and Brussels sprouts are ingredients used in product launches. 

“Bitter-toned beverages are also on trend, with gins particularly popular over the past few years, and now seeing further differentiation via a growing variation in flavors, colors and formats,” according to Innova.

Floral

Thanks to the plant-based, natural, organic, healthy eating revolution, consumers are buying food and drink products with botanical, floral flavors. These are becoming more common in beverages, especially kombucha.

Bell Flavors and Fragrances EMEA launched a concept “Feel Nature’s Variety,” capitalizing on the trend. Chamomile and lavender are two of the most popular floral flavors. 

“Although many emerging botanicals need more scientific investigation to support anecdotal evidence, many consumers trust ancient, traditional herbals,” according to an article in Prepared Foods.

Spicy

Consumer interest in spicy ingredients has increased 10 years in a row, according to global flavoring company Kalsec. More than 22,000 new hot and spicy products were launched in 207, while 18,000 hot and spicy products were launched in 2016.

“I think the trend has gone from shaking a bit of hot sauce on something to give it some heat to present day where consumers have a better understanding of how chili peppers can add depth and layering of both heat and flavor,” says Hadley Katzenbach, culinary development chef at food company Southeastern Mills.

Spicy ingredients gochujang (a red chili paste) and sriracha (a hot sauce) has grown about 50% in condiments and sauces, with mole, harissa and sambal following. Spicy peppers, including peri peri, serrano, guajillo, anaheim, pasilla and arbol, are also growing.

Fermentation is becoming a flavorful and cost-effective technique for food companies to make plant-based proteins with reduced sugar. Food Business News highlights numerous companies using fermentation in their processing to make a product with less sugar. Florida Food Products is using a lactic acid fermentation process, lowing sugar content in beet juice by 10%. Christopher Naese, the vice president of business development, says: “The result is a clean label ingredient with a fresh flavor and light sweetness coupled with beet’s inherent health benefits. Fermented beet juice is an opportunity to offer on-trend label benefits for health-conscious consumers while delivering appealing taste attributes along with lower sugar content and a simple label declaration.” Besides lowering sugar content, the fermentation process also lowers the beet juice’s pH, which results in a brighter flavor with red berry notes and a less earthy taste, he said. “Though long established in Eastern European, African and Asian cuisines, fermented flavors have only recently captured American consumers’ taste interest, and while there appears to be widespread interest in fermented foods and beverages, this trend toward global flavors is driven mainly by adults under 40 years old.”

Read more (Food Business News)


The global kefir market is expected to grow to $2.58 billion in 2027, increasing at a CAGR of 5.8%. The fermented milk drink is gaining popularity due to its unique taste and various health benefits.

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Food movements from the past decade have changed how we are eating. Fermenting is one of the trend-defining innovations (and resurrections), according to a list by The Sunday Times in Britain. The article, titled “We foraged, we fermented, we went vegan” — the decade that changed the way we eat,” highlights the “real increase in locality and seasonality; a revival of the crafts of foraging and pickling and fermenting.” Author Marina O’Loughlin’s other food moments from the past 10 years: diners desiring independent restaurants instead of chains, an explosion of regional food (think Sichaunese or Hunanese restaurants instead of Asian), “dinner got cool” with food festivals and food trucks, veganism turned mainstream (same with nut milk, alternative meat products, zero waste and organic produce) and people are avoiding imported ingredients. Media is changing the restaurant scene, too. Netflix, The Food Channel and social media turned food photos into art.

Read more (The Sunday Times)

Civil Eats declares: “Tempeh, the ‘OG of Fermented Foods,’ Is Having a Moment.” More artisanal tempeh producers are selling around the country, and restaurants are beginning to sell tempeh-based dishes. The founder of Tofurky (Seth Tibbott) says tempeh is one of the company’s fastest-growing product lines, increasing 17% from 2017 to 2018. Pictured is Tibbot in front of his first tempeh incubator, in 1980.

Read more (Civil Eats)

Fermentation: Ingredient of the Future?

Is fermentation the ingredient of the future? As more consumers fear technologically-processed food, manufacturers are turning to ancient processing methods to make ingredients. Nutritional Outlook published an interesting article detailing how manufacturers are using fermentation to extract ingredients from foods. It’s a sustainable solution that produces ingredients like MSG, cultured dextrose and the sugar alcohol erythritol. Erythritol, for example, is produced by some fruits and mushrooms in very small quantities. But by fermenting the fruits and vegetables, an economical, high-quality sweetener is produced. The article notes “in an environment that prizes transparency, fermentation present a refreshingly open book. …Fermentation may not strike the romantic chord of tugging an ingredient from the soil, but it’s unambiguously traceable, quantifiable, and safe.” Brands like Impossible Foods (plant-based meat) and EverSweet (sweetener) both use fermentation to extract ingredients.

Read more (Nutritional Outlook)

Thousands of new state laws were passed across America this year, and dozens affect fermentation businesses — small and large — as well as home fermenters. 

Government agencies are loosening some strict health code and alcohol regulations, laws that made running an artisanal business difficult. There are also new opportunities being created that allow craft breweries to expand their operations, such as entertainment districts where beer can be sold and enjoyed legally.

Read on for the breakdown of 2019 food laws passed in each state

Alaska

SB16 — Expands state alcohol licenses to include recreational areas. After the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board began cracking down on alcohol licenses in 2017, several recreational sites were denied licenses to sell alcohol. The bill, known as “Save the Alaska State Fair Act,” now expands license types to the state fair, ski areas, bowling alleys and tourist operations. 

Arizona

HB2178 — Removes red tape for small ice cream stores and other milk product businesses to manufacture and sell dairy products. The bill, called the “Ice Cream Freedom Act,” allows smaller mom and pop businesses to make milk-based products without complying with state regulations designed for large dairy manufacturers. 

Arkansas

HB1407 — Prohibits false labeling on agricultural products edible by humans. That includes misleading labels, like labeling agricultural products as a different kind of food or omitting required label information.

HB1556 — Ends the “undisclosed and ongoing investigations” of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, and the Alcoholic Beverage Enforcement Division.

HB1590 — Limits the number off-premise sales of wine and liquor in the state to one permit for every 7,500 residents in the county or subdivision. Small farm wines are the exception to the new law. 

HB1852 — Allows a microbrewery to operate in a dry county as a private club, without approval from the local governing body.

HB1853 — Amends the Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Acts to increase the amount of local farm and food products purchased by government agencies (like state parks and schools).

SB348 — Establishes a Hard Cider Manufacturing Permit. Cider brewers can apply for the annual $250 permit, authorizing the sale of hard cider. Producers may not sell more than 15,000 barrels of hard cider a year.

SB492 — Establishes temporary or permanent entertainment areas in wet counties where alcohol can be carried and consumed on the public streets and sidewalks.

California 

AB205 — Revises the definition of beer to mean that beer may be produced using “honey, fruit, fruit juice, fruit concentrate, herbs, spices, and other food materials, and adjuncts in fermentation.”

AB377 — A follow-up to the state’s landmark California Homemade Food Act in 2018, the new bill would clarify the implementation process of last year’s bill. The California Home Food Act made it legal for home cooks to operate home-based food production facilities. The law, though, was only enacted if a county’s board of supervisors voted to opt-in to offer the permits. Only one county in California has opted in (Riverside). County health officials are avoiding singing on the bill because of potential food safety risks. 

AB619 — Permits temporary food vendors at events to serve customers in reusable containers rather than disposable servingware. The “Bring Your Own Bill” also clarifies existing health code, allowing customers to bring their own reusable containers to restaurants for take-out.

AB792 — Establishes a minimum level of recycled content (50%) in plastic beverage bottles by 2035. The world’s strongest recycling requirement, the law would help reduce litter and boost demand for manufacturers to use recycled plastic materials. 

AB1532 — Adds instructions on the elements of major food allergens and safe handling food practices to all food handler training courses. 

Connecticut

HB5004 — Raises minimum wage to $15 by 2023.

HB6249 — Charges 10 cents for single-use plastic bags by 2021.

HB7424 — Raises sales tax from 6.35% to 7.35% for restaurant meals and prepared foods sold elsewhere, like in a grocery store. Also repeals the $250 biennial business entity tax.

Delaware

HB130 — Bans single-use plastic bags by 2021.

SB105 — Raises minimum wage to $15 by 2024.

HB125 — Facilitates growth and expansion of craft alcoholic beverage companies, raising amount of manufactured beer to 6 million barrels. 

Florida

SB82 — Prohibits a municipality from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties. 

Idaho

HB134 — Regulates where beer and wine can be served, now including public plazas.

HB151 — Charges licensing fees for temporary food establishments based on the number of days open. Fees will gradually increase through 2022. 

Illinois

HB3018 — Amends Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act, requiring a restaurant prominently display signage indicating a guest’s food allergies must be communicated to the restaurant. 

HB3440 — Allows customers to provide their own take-home containers when purchasing bulk items from grocery stores and other retailers. 

HB2675 — An update to state liquor laws, the bill removes hurdles for craft distilleries to operate. Craft distilleries would be allowed to more widely distribute their products themselves, rather than distributing under the state’s three-tier liquor distribution system that separates producers, distributors and retailers.

SB1240 — Imposes a 7 cent tax on each plastic bag at checkout, with 2 cents staying with the retailers. The remaining 5 cents per bag would fix a statewide budget deficit. 

Indiana

HB1518 — Creates a special alcohol permit for the Bottleworks District. The $300 million, 12-acre urban mixed-use development in the Coca-Cola building will serve as a culinary and entertainment hub in downtown Indianapolis.

Iowa

SF618 — Increases the limit on alcohol in beer from 5% to 6.25%.

SF323 — Canned cocktail and premixed drinks served in a metal can, up to 14% alcohol by volume, will now be regulated like beer. 

Kentucky

HB311 — Requires proper labeling of cell-cultured meat products that are lab produced.

HB468 — Expands defined items permitted for sale by home-based processors. 

Louisiana

HR251 — Designates week of September 23-29 as Louisiana Craft Brewer Week.

SB152 — Establishes definition for agriculture products. Prohibits anyone from mislabeling a meat edible to humans. 

SR20 — Designates week of September 3-9th as Louisiana Craft Spirits Week.

Maine

LD289 — Prohibits stores from selling or distributing any disposable food containers that are made entirely or partially of polystyrene foam (Styrofoam). 

LD454 — Provides funding and staffing needed to give local students and nutrition directors the resources needed to purchase and serve locally grown foods. 

LD1433 — Bans two toxic, industrial chemicals (phthalates and PFAS) from food packaging. Maine becomes first state in the nation to ban the two chemicals. 

LD1532 — Bans all single-use plastic bags in the state. Law will be enacted by April 2020, at which time shoppers can pay 5 cents for a plastic bag. Maine is the fourth state to pass a ban, joining California, New York and Hawaii.

LD1761 — Increases amount of barrels craft beer and hard cider manufacturers can produce in a year. The cap increased from 50,000 gallons to 930,000 gallons (approximately 30,000) barrels. The law also makes it easier for a small brewery to get out of a contract with a large distributor.

Maryland

SB596 — Defined mead as a beer for tax purposes.

HB1010 — Updates state beer laws by increasing taproom sales, production capabilities, self-distribution limits and hours of operation. Known as the Brewery Modernization Act, the law is aimed to create jobs and increase economic impact.

HB1080 — No restrictive franchise law provisions for brewers that produce 20,000 barrels a year or less.

HB1301 — Sales tax will be collected on Maryland buyers from online sellers, helping small businesses compete with online retailers. 

Massachusetts

HB4111 — Raises minimum wage by 75 cents a year until it reaches $15 in 2023.

Michigan

HB4959 — Gives state Liquor Control Commission the power to seize beer, wine, mixed spirit and mixed wine drinks, in order to inspect for compliance with the state’s extraordinarily detailed and complex “liquor control” regulatory and license regime. Bill also repeals a one-year residency requirement imposed on applicants for a liquor wholesaler license, after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a similar Tennessee law as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause.   

HB4961 — Prohibit licensed liquor manufacturers from requiring licensed wholesalers to give the manufacturer records related to the distribution of different brands, employee compensation or business operations that are not directly related to the distribution of the maker’s brands. 

SB0320 — Eliminates mandate that businesses with a liquor license must post a regulatory compliance bond with the state. 

Minnesota

HF1733 — Updates the state’s omnibus agriculture policy law, including: create a custom-exempt food handlers license for those handling products not for sale; extend the state’s Organic Advisory Task Force by five years; allow the agriculture department to waive farm milk storage limits is the case of hardship, emergency, or natural disaster, and modify milk/dairy labelling requirements; modify labelling for cheese made with unpasteurized milk; expand the agriculture department’s power to restrict food movement after an emergency declaration; modify eligibility and educational requirements for beginning farmer loans and tax credits.

Mississippi

SB2922 — Prohibits labeling non-meat products as meat, like animal cultures, plants and insects. 

Montana

HB84 —  Changes tax on wine to 27 cents per liter, and a tax on hard cider at 3.7 cents per liter.

SB358 — Raises alcohol license fee for resorts from $20,000 to $100,000 each. 

Nebraska

LR13 — Establish and enforce definitions for plant-based milk and dairy. Proper product labeling would be enforced for milk and dairy food products that are “truthful, not misleading, and sufficient to different non-dairy derived beverages and food products.” 

Nevada

SB345 — Authorizing pubs and certain wineries to transfer certain malt beverages and wine in bulk to an estate distillery; authorizing a wholesale dealer of liquor to make such a transfer; authorizing an estate distillery to receive malt beverages and wine in bulk for the purpose of distillation and blending; revising when certain spirits that are received or transferred in bulk are subject to taxation.

New Hampshire

HB598 — Establish a commission to study beer, wine, and liquor tourism in New Hampshire. The commission will specifically develop a plan for tourism, including establishing tourist liquor trails with signage along the highway, suggest changes to liquor laws that would enhance tourist experiences at state wineries, breweries and liquor manufacturers and suggest how to allow a “farm to table” dinner featuring New Hampshire produced food items and local alcoholic beverages. 

HB642 — Defining ciders with alcohol content greater than 6% (but no more than 12%) as specialty beers. 

New Jersey

A15 — Raises the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, raising in $1 increments every year.

SB1057 —  Establishes a loan program for capital expenses for vineyards and wineries in New Jersey.  

New Mexico

SB149 — Change name of Alcohol and Gaming commission to Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.  

SB413 –Allows breweries to: sell beer at 11 a.m. on Sundays; have private celebration permits for events like weddings and graduation parties; no minimum standards (50 barrels a year or 50 percent of all sales coming from beer brewed on site) for businesses to hold a small brewer license; eliminate excise tax, with breweries paying $.08 per gallon on the first 30,000 barrels produced.