To make Tibicos:

(NB: For every brewer of Tibicos there is a different recipe! But here is what works for us here in the Bay of Plenty, NZ)

Per litre of water you’ll need:

½-1 cup of Tibi

¼-1/2 cup sugar (raw is best, but other types are just fine to use)

A suitable non-lead glass or ceramic container (we use mason and fido preserving jars) and a covering for the vessel to keep fruit flies out (a close-weave cloth of any description with a rubber band, or the lid that comes with the jar so long as there’s no signs of corrosion)

 

Optional extras:

A wedge/slice of lemon to keep pH levels optimal

Extra minerals to feed the Tibi, eg: a pinch of baking soda or piece of clean eggshell

A pinch of unrefined salt

A dash of molasses

Unsulphured dried fruits eg: 3-5 raisins or 1 chopped fig or apricot

As our water supply is rainwater and thus devoid of minerals, we add baking soda, salt, and raisins to add minerals to feed the scoby. If using rainwater, distilled water or plain sugar we recommend the addition of minerals for optimal health of the culture.

Method:

  1. Dissolve the sugar (and baking soda/salt/molasses if using) in water
  2. Ensuring the sugar-water solution is around room temperature or not above 25°C, add the Tibi, then the fruits/eggshell/lemon if using
  3. Cover, then store out of direct sunlight for approximately 48 hours (the ideal condition for culturing drinking Tibicos is 18-27°C, but seasonal temperatures change the rate of microbial activity – in a very hot summer it may need only 24 hours, and in a cold winter it may be able to brew three days or more before turning sour.
  4. When the brew is ready, the raisins should be floating on the surface, there should be a few bubbles rising when disturbing the jar by swirling it or picking it up and there should be a hint of sourness or yeast-like flavour to the brew. It should be both sweet and sour to the taste.
    Remove the fruit, then strain the grains through a fine colander or sieve. Rinse the grains under running tap water and put aside ready for the next brew.

This process is called the ‘first ferment’; often abbreviated to ‘1F’ on fermenter’s forums. From here you can drink the liquid (Tibicos) from this first ferment if you like. We here (but mostly Claire because she has the palate of a fussy child) prefer to take this 1F and do a second fermentation (2F), whereby while the Tibi are back fermenting a new 1F, the strained off liquid is then fermented for a further day or two with fruit or fruit juices. This gives the brew a more distinctive flavour …and lots of fizz!


Tibicos Second Fermentation:

Tibicos is more consistently fizzy when put through a second fermentation with fruit or fruit juice, and stored in containers with air-tight lids to help the pressure build up. We prefer fruit juice to fresh fruit as the naturally-occurring yeasts in the fresh fruit can make the brew quite yeasty to the taste, whereas straight fruit juice make a really yummy soda. We find sweet fruit juices from the supermarket such as grape, guava, aloe, mango and apricot work great. Below is our technique…

For a 2F ferment you’ll need:

Some poured off and strained 1F Tibicos

Fruit juice (pasteurized is fine; all the 1F Tibicos needs is the sugar to feed its' probiotic content)

Good quality swing-top bottles.

A funnel is optional but highly recommended if you’re the clumsy type

Method:

  1. Fill the swing-top bottles to 2/3-full with the 1F Tibicos
  2. Top the bottles off with the fruit juice, leaving about 1 inch of head room.
  3. Store at room temperature out of direct sunlight for another 1-2 days (maybe 3 days in winter), popping the lid each day to relieve the pressure building up in there.
  4. Second ferment (2F) is now ready to enjoy.

Please note: Always open bottles pointing away from yourself and over a sink or outdoors, as the natural live cultures can sometimes create an extraordinary amount of fizz. Keep stored in refrigerator once ready to drink – while Tibicos is best consumed within the week while the probiotic content is at its most diverse, it should keep its flavour and fizz for up to a month in the fridge. Being a live cultured drink it can be a bit unreliable though so if you are intending on storing it for a fortnight or a month, you may open the bottle to experience (a) a flat drink with no fizz, (b) a big messy explosion or (c) a nice fizzy soda. If you do not store your Tibicos in the fridge, it will continue to ferment and become sour, potentially flat or potentially explosive, but most of all: beware its potential alcohol content; you may want to refrain from driving or texting when consuming over-fermented Tibicos.

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To make Coconut Tibicos: Perfect for those aiming for a sugar free probiotic drink.

½ cup Tibi grains

1L 100% coconut water

A suitable non-lead glass or ceramic container (we use mason and fido preserving jars) and covering for the vessel to keep fruit flies out (a close-weave cloth of any description with a rubber band, or the lid that comes with the jar so long as there’s no signs of corrosion)

Method:

  1. Add Tibi grains and coconut water into jar.
  2. Cover, then store at room temperature out of direct sunlight for approximately 48 hours (the ideal condition for culturing drinking Tibicos is 18-27°C, but seasonal temperatures change the rate of microbial activity – in a very hot summer it may need only 24 hours, and in a cold winter it may be able to brew three days or more before turning sour.
  3. When the brew is ready, it should be sour to the taste and perhaps even mildly effervescent (sometimes when over-fermented it loses its effervescence, but still sour and probiotic).
  4. Pour off and strain as per the normal tibicos procedure.

Note:
Tibi grains need sugar to feed and grow and as coconut water is low in sugar, continual brewing of coconut water kefir will quickly starve the grains. We therefore recommend that you alternate a coconut water brew with a standard sugared brew ie, 1 coconut brew, 1 sugar brew, 1 coconut brew, 1 sugared brew etc. This way you keep the grains feed and healthy enough for the coconut brews.

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Sending Tibicos on holiday:

If you want a put the Tibicos brewing on hold for awhile, you have options:

  1. For short term holidays (up to 1 month), keep the grains in fresh, unsweetened water and store in the fridge, or alternately in a cool, dark room eg. root cellar or garage.
  2. For long term holidays ( 1 month +), dry the grains. Spread the grains out on baking paper and leave to air-dry until they become tiny hard crystals, then store in air-tight bags until ready to use again.

When ready to wake them up:

  1. Fresh grains – make up a regular batch of sugar-water with minerals and brew as per usual. It may take anywhere from 2 batches to a month of brewing to get them to ‘wake up’ and start creating fizzy beverages again but don’t give up! These little guys are surprisingly resilient. Often their condition before they went on holiday as well of the length of time spent on holiday will be indicative of how quick they start to work again. You’ll know they’re completely back to normal when they start replicating like crazy again. Tibicos replicating like bunnies in spring = a high-health culture!
  2. Dried grains – rehydrate for 10 minutes in a glass of water then proceed to step 1.

If you order Tibicos online you are likely to get grains that are either dry or in a low-sugar solution (regular solutions create a lot of gas and cause explosions in the mail), so when you first start brewing, proceed with the knowledge that you are reviving Tibi that have been in hibernation to some extent and may take a few batches before they start brewing properly. If you are new to brewing Tibicos, never fear, Tibi are indeed resilient and will adapt as you experiment with ingredients, timing and conditions and learn how best to make it your own way.

 

For further reading on Tibicos, check out Claire’s blog, or visit this site ofr FAQs on Water kefir.

For a more detailed comparison of Tibicos vs Kombucha, check out Claire’s blog, or this site.