How do I tell you about water kefir?
Water kefir sort of changed my life. Does that sound unbelievable? It’s true; if I could pinpoint one change we made that made the most difference in our lives, I would chalk it up to water kefir. That fizzy, bubbly, tingly, probiotic vitamin powerhouse. It was our first ferment that I kept up with, kind of like my gateway ferment. 😉
Fermenting, if it’s something you have never tried before, can seem intimidating and complicated, but let me assure you, fermenting is incredibly simple, and the best way to learn is to get started!
What is Water Kefir?
So what exactly is water kefir? Water kefir is a probiotic beverage that you can make at home with a few simple ingredients and supplies. It is a continuous ferment – meaning that once you have the supplies, you can make it over and over and over, as long as you take good care of your grains. I’ll show you how to do this today.
Water kefir is made by adding special water kefir grains (they’re called grains, but they are not really a “grain” – more like translucent globs of beneficial yeast and bacteria) to a sugar water solution. You let the grains ferment at room temperature for a day or two, then you strain the grains out.
You can choose to drink as is, you can flavor the water kefir, or you can allow it to ferment again – this is called the second ferment, and it actually boosts the flavor and the health benefits. The grains are reusable, like I mentioned, and with proper care, should last indefinitely. How frugal is that?!
Why Would I Want to Make Water Kefir?
Well, in short, it’s amazing. Haha. Do you find yourself drawn to soda, even though you know how bad it is for you? Do you love carbonated drinks? I’m sure everyone knows that sodas aren’t really that great for you, but not many people are motivated to give it up.
Water kefir, however, took me from a soda dependency to the point where soda wasn’t even appealing anymore. Instead of feeding the bad yeast in your body, the way sugary soda does, the beneficial organisms in water kefir kill off bad yeasts and bacteria, and repopulate your gut with good yeasts – which is what you want to stay in good health! Plus, I love the carbonation. It’s like an alcohol-free champagne or something.
Here are some of the many benefits of water kefir:
From Kombucha Kamp:
Like all fermented drinks or eats, water kefir has a vast array of benefits. It is full of beneficial bacteria, yeasts, enzymes, easily digested sugars, acids, vitamins and minerals. One study showed that Water Kefir contained over 450 kinds of beneficial bacteria! Water kefir bestows billions of health-bestowing bacteria and yeast into your gut, helping your body with digestion, absorption of vitamins and minerals, and helping your immune system fight off unwanted and bacteria, yeasts and viruses.
Though it is fermented from sugar, the enzymes in the water kefir kefir grain break down sucrose into more easily digested fructose and glucose. Digested by the liver, fructose do not spike blood sugar in the same was as sucrose. The amount of sugar remaining at the end of a water kefir ferment will depend on the ingredients used and the length of culturing time. In general, the longer you ferment a beverage with sugar, the less sugar will remain in the final ferment. . Due to the presence of yeast, water kefir also has a small percentage of alcohol though typical under .08% but up to as much as 3% depending on fermentation time and technique used.
Water Kefir Resources:
- Here’s a great FAQ about water kefir, and if you enter your email address, you can download a FREE ebook full of water kefir recipes for you to try.
- Another great set of FAQ for water kefir brewing!
- Tons of info on water kefir and fermenting in general!
- You can ask around and see if some other health nut has some starter grains they’ll give you. Fermenters are very generous with their starters! You can try fermenting groups on Facebook, local health food co-ops, you can try Amazon, or you can also go to Kombucha Kamp. When I can’t find any locally, I usually order from Kombucha Kamp because they have high quality starters and I trust them. Plus, if you order from them, they send you a hand e-book with tips and recipes for water kefir.
You Will Need:
- water kefir grains in a starter liquid
- 1/4 cup sugar to feed the grains – can be white sugar, turbinado, rapadura, evaporated cane juice crystals, coconut sugar, you get the idea. Do not use honey at all.
- wooden or plastic spoon
- quart glass jar
- tea towel or other cotton cloth to cover jar -or- fermentation lid
- large rubber band
- fine mesh strainer – plastic is preferred but metal is okay
- a plastic funnel is helpful for second ferments
- 16 ounce airtight glass bottles for second ferments – you can get Grolsch-style bottles like these, or you can re-use the store-bought kombucha bottles. You can also use old pickle jars and lids, anything that will give an airtight seal. I have found that Grolsch are the best though.
How to Make Water Kefir / Water Kefir Tutorial:
1. When you receive your grains, either from a friend or in the mail, you can pour the grains into a quart-sized glass jar. (You will not need the lid – water kefir is an aerobic ferment – the yeasts thrive on oxygen and a tightly-closed lid would be counterproductive!)
2. Add 1/4 cup sugar (see above for recommendations) to the jar, and also 4 cups non-chlorinated water. (This is important – chlorine will kill the grains.) Stir with a plastic or wooden spoon – not metal. The sugar doesn’t have to dissolve fully.
3. Cover the jar with a clean cotton cloth such as a tea towel, or a coffee filter, and secure with a rubber band or fermentation lid. I then cover the whole jar with a kitchen towel to keep the light out.
4. Store for 24-48 hours away from sunlight, but in an area that doesn’t get too cool. I keep mine on the counter where the sunlight doesn’t come in. In the winter, I keep mine on the counter near the warmth of the refrigerator.
5. Sample the water kefir – when it tastes a little bit sweet and a little bit tart, it’s ready. If it tastes like alcohol, it has fermented too long. If it still tastes like sugar water, let it ferment longer. I realize this is vague, but you will get the hang of it quickly and learn just the right amount of fermentation for you.
6. When your water kefir has finished fermenting, it’s time to strain the kefir grains from the kefir, and put the kefir in a seperate glass airtight container. Another quart jar works well, as long as the lid is airtight. Then, repeat steps 1 – 5 again to ferment another batch.
Now you have your freshly fermented water kefir! Are you going to drink it as is, add some flavoring to it, or do a second ferment? It’s totally up to you!
Water kefir tastes good as it is; however, it might be an acquired taste if it’s new to you. The more you drink, the more accustomed you’ll become. Be aware, though, that because of the high probiotic content, I recommend starting with no more than 1/4 cup per day for a few days, so your digestive system can get used to it.
If you want to add some flavoring but not do a second ferment, here are some suggestions:
- add a tiny splash of vanilla for a cream soda type of flavor. Enjoy!
- add some fruit juice to flavor – I love adding apple juice and grape juice!
- add an equal amount of herbal tea, like chamomile, red raspberry leaf, hibiscus, etc.
Whether you keep it plain or add flavorings, store what’s left in the refrigerator.
Now on to the 2nd Ferment:
1. Now you have your finished water kefir poured into another jar with an airtight lid. Add a few spoonfuls of fruit: fresh, or dried. Raisins, strawberries, blueberries, mint leaves, whatever you like! Ginger is very good too. Search around for some sites that have flavoring ideas. Do NOT overfill the jar! Leave lots of headspace, because the fermentation process will cause it to inflate with CO2.
2. Leave with the lid on and ferment for up to another 24 hours. Check it often, and sample to see if enough carbonation has accumulated without turning alcoholic. Be sure not to let it over ferment, or the pressure will bust your glass jar all over the place!! 😱 “Burp” your jar often – that is, slightly open the lid and let the pressure release, and then reseal. When it tastes like a fizzy, sweet soda, you’re done. Serve and store the rest in the refrigerator until gone.
3. If it tastes alcoholic, it has fermented too long, although you can still enjoy it. Probably not before work though. 😉
You’ll quickly realize your favorite flavors, but the flavor possibilities seem endless! Keep trying new things.
Enjoy your fizzy, healthy, natural soda!
Notes & Tips for Water Kefir Brewing
- Start slowly!! It is full of probiotics and they will get right to work destroying candida yeast in your body. You might feel a slight headache, or more tired… in that case, just drink less kefir, but keep drinking it and building up your tolerance. Also, be sure to drink lots of water to flush out the toxins. You’ll quickly see how refreshing it is and how much you crave it! It’s full of good stuff!
- If you end up with more water kefir than you can drink, pour the extra in your compost bin, around your acid-loving plants, in your lawn, or down the sink.
- Your grains, when properly taken care of, will multiply! You can eat them off the spoon (really globby though), you can blend them into a shake or smoothie, you can share them with friends, you can give them to pets (not too much at once, remember their delicate systems too!) or you can throw them out. But I’m sure you wouldn’t want to do that! 😉
- You might be tempted to rinse your grains when starting a new batch, but this is really not necessary. If you really feel you need to, be sure to use filtered water to rinse them.
- Don’t let your grains sit too long fermenting (more than three days), this will damage them. 🙁
- Try not to let the kefir or the grains come into contact with metal. That’s the reason for the plastic/wooden utensils.
Pin: How to Make Water Kefir / Water Kefir Tutorial
Fermenters, leave your best water kefir tips for those getting started!
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