November 05, 2016

Keeping your cultures warm during fall & winter

Fall picture

Fall is in the air and the holidays are right around the corner. It's a time for reflection. A time to relax and get cozy. But most importantly, its a time for family. In our family, we have 2 beautiful boys and several trillion bacteria "kids" in the form of kefir, kombucha, GBP, etc. There is plenty of information out there on how to keep the children warm and happy, but what about the sweet innocent cultures?

All cultures have an amazing ability to adapt to their environment. Milk kefir naturally does very well in the colder months, but the other cultures can adapt quite well as well. Surprisingly, the cold is not the biggest obstacle to good fermentation, but rather its the fluctuation of temperatures. The culture can adapt to the cold, but it will have trouble adapting when the temperatures are fluctuating wildly. Keep the temperature consistent (even if its on the cool side), and they will have less issues. We designed our wool jar insulator for this in mind.

yemoos jar insulators

It will help stabilize fluctuating fall and winter temperatures within the house so the culture can better adapt. It's a great option for houses that get cold during the night, but warm during the day.

If you have a 200 year old farmhouse, or just like to keep the house a “toasty” 60 degrees or less, you may need more heating assistance for your cultures. Sometimes an oven with the light on can work, but be sure to test the temperature beforehand. Insulated cooler boxes and water can work, but can be a pain to keep the temperature consistent. Installing a small light in a cupboard can work as well. We also offer a seedling type heating mat.

Heating Mat

It's best if you use it to surround the cultures rather than heating from the bottom as bottom heating can create inconsistent batches.

Keep in mind that cultures in the winter tend to be more bacteria rich and less yeasty. People tend to like that trait in milk kefir, but not so much in water kefir and ginger beer. Some people embrace the seasonal changes where they get a somewhat different drink in the winter than in the summer. Others want consistency throughout the year and will try to manipulate the environment to keep it that way. Like with most fermenting, the only correct method is what works best for you.