Water kefir is a delicious probiotic beverage made with water kefir “grains”.
They are not actually grains – they’re called that because of the way they look. Actually they are a colony of bacteria and yeast that exist together in a symbiotic relationship. Healthy kefir grains grow and multiply!
Kefir was introduced more than a thousand years ago in the Caucasus Mountains in Central Asia.
Water kefir grains are used to culture sugar water, juice, or coconut water, but that doesn’t mean it contains a lot of sugar. The kefir grains consume the sugar and converts it to carbon dioxide, bacteria, and yeasts – creating the fizz, and the beneficial probiotics that are so good for us. (want to learn about what strains of probiotics are in water kefir?)
Water kefir supports both gut & cellular health:
Gut Health. Water kefir is rich in probiotics which support both a healthy digestive system and a healthy immune system,
Cellular Health. Some research shows that water kefir supports healthy cells and may even have may protect against certain types of cancer (1)
While it has many similarities to kombucha, I’ve found that making water kefir is much simpler and quicker . In less than 10 minutes I can run through my bottling routine, and in 72 hours I can be done with a first AND second ferment.
How do I make it?
You can use just about any sugar, but my preference is organic cane sugar plus a tablespoon of coconut sugar for the mineral content.Kefir grains need some minerals to remain healthy. Straight coconut sugar would likely be too much for the grains though. Use spring, distilled or filtered water – whatever is easiest for you. If you use hard/mineral water, you won’t need to worry about the coconut sugar.
Okay, let’s get down to business. You need:
Large glass jar (I have a big old pickle jar)
Cotton cloth, towel, or coffee filter
Non-reactive strainer (kefir grains don’t like metal)
1/2 cup water kefir grains
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups water
Combine sugar and water (I generally add sugar to about 1/2 cup of warm-hot water so the sugar dissolves thoroughly and then I add that plus the additional water to a large glass container.
Add kefir grains. I also add a bit of “starter”. When I strain out the kefir grains from a batch, I add a bit of that kefir back with the grains into the jar. Cover with cloth or coffee filter and place in a warm spot for 24-48 hours (I sit my jar on top of the fridge).
Now it’s time for the second ferment — time to get creative with flavors if you want.
Strain out the grains. I use a strainer bag over the top of the jar and just pour the kefir though it and into a large glass measuring cup. Place the kefir grains in a jar or bowl and a bit of the finished water kefir to it.
Now to doctor up the kefir 😉 Add some juice or dried fruit into clean jars if desired. You can use flip top bottles, cleaned and repurposed kombucha bottles, canning jars….whatever you have on hand. I have several kombucha bottles that I rotate through. Fill with water kefir, cap and let sit for about 24 hours, then chill in the refrigerator. It’s best to use within about 10 days (ours never makes it that long)
Unused grains can be fed and stored, covered, in sugar water (1/4 cup sugar to 1 quart water), and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Bring the mixture to room temperature before using the grains for a new batch of kefir. For longer periods of storage, the grains can be laid out to dry and then stored in an airtight container, and refrigerated. You can add them to smoothies, take care of your pet’s health by adding to their food, or even add to compost for an extra boost.
Some of my favorite flavor ideas for the second ferment:
- Grape Juice
- Cherry Juice
- Ginger Juice & 1-2 drops doTERRA Ginger Essential Oil
Sometimes I skip the second ferment and just add a couple drops of doTERRA Lemon to the kefir. It’s light and refreshing!
Here are some other recipe suggestions I’d love to hear about your water kefir adventures!