You might have been making water or milk kefir for quite a while already. But the chances are high that you don’t have a pH tester. You probably don’t even know that your kefir needs such a thing.
Well, the truth is that a pH tester really is an optional device. And you can totally make tasty and healthy kefir, even if you don’t have a pH tester.
However, getting your hands on one of these can be a very good and mature decision. Why is it important to make sure that the pH level of your water or milk kefir is good? What is the best pH tester for making kefir available on the market nowadays? And, ultimately, what does ‘pH’ even mean?
In this article, we will be answering all of these questions.
But in case you are simply looking for the names of the brands and the devices, then here is our short list of the best pH tester for making kefir:
Want to know a little more about the secrets of kefir making and, well, chemistry? Then make sure to read to the very end!
What Exactly Is pH?
In a nutshell, pH helps us measure the acidity or the basicity of liquids. The number shows us the concentration of the hydrogen ion in our kefir, for example.
The pH range is between 0 and 14. But these numbers don’t really make any sense unless you have a certain liquid that you can use for comparison. Pure water is considered to be neutral. That means that the liquid has a pH of 7. You can totally check the water that you use for your water kefir with a pH tester. In case, the water has a slightly higher pH (7.2-7.5), it still can be used for your kefir. However, try to avoid any water that has a different pH as it may affect the well-being of the grains and the quality of your future kefir.
If a certain liquid has a pH higher than 7, then it is considered to be “basic”. In case the solution’s number is less than 7, then the liquid is acidic. In fact, that’s exactly what we need from our kefir. This beverage (no matter if it’s water or milk) has to be acidic.
Why Is It Important to Control the pH Level of Your Kefir?
Ok, but why is this number so important for kefir making? The chances are high that you have already made dozens of batches of this wonderful beverage and never used a pH tester. And your milk or water kefir turned out just fine.
So, why should you even bother?
The pH testers help with ensuring that the kefir is safe for your health. The truth is that you can’t always determine if everything is ok with the grains or not. In fact, you might continue to use the same grains over and over again without even realizing that they have been contaminated. Unfortunately, you can’t always see/smell or taste that. And as we are dealing with bacteria while making kefir, it is incredibly important to control the whole process.
Ideally, you would want to ferment your kefir until the pH number is below 3.7. Usually, you can achieve that by fermenting your milk or water kefir for the second time and by leaving it to age. However, bear in mind that such an option is the safest, but you can consume the beverage even if the number is a bit higher.
One important thing that you would have to check is this one – once you start making the kefir, it needs to be dropping the pH level rapidly. In about 18 hours, the number has to be below 5. In case the baby kefir failed to reach such pH levels, that means that there might be some pathogenic bacteria developing in it. Once the level is below 3.7, the absolute majority of the ‘bad’ bacteria are not able to survive.
What can you do, if you assume that your grains are contaminated? Test your kefir at least once a month. You can easily do that in a public health laboratory. Bear in mind that the staff may not know what ‘kefir’ means, so you can always ask them to perform a standard microbiological food safety screen.
Unfortunately, some ‘bad’ bacteria can attack your grains, turning the good guys into dangerous agents. Later on, the kefir that has been fermented on these grains can infect people and lead to food poisoning.
What Are the Right pH Levels for Water and Milk Kefir?
Now that you know why it’s important to control the pH level of your kefir, let’s find out what are the exact numbers that you have to be looking for.
- Greater than 5.3 – this is the pH level of extremely young kefir. If you have been culturing it in a container for about 6 hours, this is the number that you’re going to get. Such kefir is just a bit thicker than milk (if we’re talking about milk kefir).
- 5.1 – it looks like you have been fermenting your kefir for about 12 hours. The beverage now becomes more sour and thicker.
- 4.5 to 3 – you can reach such numbers, in case you have been culturing your kefir for a day or two. The drink now has a nice acid flavor.
Bear in mind that the longer you culture your kefir, the stronger the taste will be and the thicker the consistency.
When it comes to water kefir, the rules are a bit simpler. The beverage has to have a pH between 3.0 and 4.6.
Review: 4 Best pH Tester for Making Kefir
You can use your pH tester to test your kefir and to test the water that you are initially adding to the future beverage.
1. Oakton EcoTestr pH Tester
- Ideal for Student; Hydroponics; and Hobbyist use
- Economical; pocket sized meter is perfect for less demanding applications
- Waterproof; dustproof housings float
- Easy to use; push-button calibration with auto buffer recognition
This certainly is one of the best waterproof pH testers out there. Moreover, you will be able to use it not only for your kefir but for other things as well.
The range is amazing – from 0.0 to 14.0 (and that’s the whole pH scale). The tester has a convenient LCD screen where you can easily see the results. The thing is not only water but also dustproof. By the way, the device floats if dropped in liquids. The batteries can be replaced without any additional tools.
The tester has to be stored in a special solution to ensure the right calibration. The device can be calibrated with a push of the button.
The tester is definitely an investment that will last for a long time.
2. 8-4.4 Range Wine Making pH Test Strips
- 100 strips per vial
- Measures ph from 2.8 to 4.4
- This product is highly durable
- Includes: (100) Strips of pH Testing Paper This is the perfect pH paper for testing your water during the wine making process
- You just place a drop of water on the end and then match it up against the color coding chart
If you are not fond of electronic devices and don’t want to be dealing with calibration and battery changing, then the pH test strips are a great option for you. This kit includes 100 strips. Even though the pH range that the thing measures is not wide (2.8-4.4), it’s enough to determine whether your kefir is good or not.
How do the strips work?
You place a drop of your water or milk kefir on the strip and then match the color up against a special coding chart. Strips are extremely durable and can be stored in your cupboard for several years. Simply remember to keep the place cool and dry.
3. MonkeyJack Digital LCD Meter
- Large digital backlit LCD screen, 0.01 resolution, quick and easy readings even in the dark.
- Test temperature in ℃ / ℉ (switchable unit). Accurate Tri-meter, use to measure the pH/ TDS/ TEMP of solution.
- Replacable electrode, good for water sources, aquarium, hydroponics, spas, swimming pools and other water systems.
- Reliable & Accurate Readings: 0.1pH high accuracy, 0-14pH full measurement range, -50℃ ～ 70℃ temperature range.
- Automatic temperature compensation (ATC), easy calibration of pH and TDS with just a mini-screwdriver,ensuring precise results.
This option is practically an all-in-one. You can use it to measure the pH of your kefir, the temperature (if you need to), as well as the TDS (total dissolved solids). Even though you might not need the last measurement, the first two are great for kefir making. And the price is relatively cheap.
This device has a convenient LCD display that is backlit so that you can see the numbers even at night. The measurements are extremely accurate. By the way, the device has a full pH range (0.0-14.0).
Bear in mind that you would need a mini-screwdriver to calibrate it according to the instructions. Another important thing: the batteries are not included.
4. Digital pH Meter
- ✔ WIDE USE - Pocket Size PH Meter is the ideal test kit for home and laboratory uses. Ideal use to test for water, pools, aquariums, spas, hydroponics, food, wine and beer making and more.
- ✔ FAST AND ACCURATE - Ensure your pool, general hydroponics ph or even drinking water has a perfect pH balance and safe for use with VANTAKOOL Tester precision pH accuracy. VANTAKOOL Tester has a sensitive electrode sensor to read accurate pH levels. The included detailed manual will show you how to get the best accurate and stable reading
- ✔ AUTOMATIC TEMPERATURE COMPENSATION - No more need to take care about the temperature of testing liquid, as ph meter has built in (ATC) automatic temperature compensation, so that it can accurately determine pH value of the sample at any temperature in a range of 0°C - 80°C (32°F - 176°F)
- ✔ AUTO CALIBRATION - The VANTAKOOL PH meter has an auto temperature compensation feature that adjusts to water temperatures and water quality to give pH readings almost instantly. As well, you can calibrate the tester with one touch button using VANTAKOOL Buffer Powder.
- ✔ MAKE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE PRODUCTS - Come with 1x VantaKool PH meter, 1x user manual, 2x 1. 5V LR44 button cells(build-in), 3x PH Buffer Powders; 1-Year .
The package includes the actual device, two calibration packets, a carrying case, and a user’s manual. Batteries are included. You would have to clean the electrode with distilled water before and after every measurement. However, this meter is very accurate and the range is as wide as it can possibly be (0.0-14.0).
The calibration process is simple. You wouldn’t need any screwdrivers as the device has an auto-calibration function. The digital meter has a small size and it is lightweight. This is a good affordable option.
These were the 4 best pH tester for making kefir. In case you don’t want to be calibrating anything, then go for the strips. However, if you value accurate results, then a digital model is exactly what you need.