Full disclosure — I hadn’t heard of water kefir before about a month ago. I use to buy regular Milk Kefir from time to time because I knew how great a probiotic it is. But, I hated buying it because I rarely got through a container before it went bad. In part because it’s like a thick yogurt shake…. And I don’t really like milkshakes and have been cutting out cow dairy. THEN a friend told me about different options of making Kefir at home. At first I was skeptical, but I figured I’d give it a try.
OPTIONS: 1) I could learn to make my own Milk Kefir using Sheep or Goat milk (which I considered) or 2) I could make my own coconut water…which we all know how much I don’t like coconut water. So I didn’t think anymore about the subject. That was until I started looking into making Kombucha (I will be doing a blog on that one too). During my research I found info on Water Kefir grains…. And down the rabbit hole I went.
Let’s start with the basics… WHAT IS WATER KEFIR? Water Kefir (pronounced keh-FEER) is not as well known as Milk Kefir. But it is the same concept – symbiotic grains of bacteria and yeast that ferment using a specific type of liquid – in this case, a sugar-water. It produces a mild, light and refreshing, slightly carbonated beverage. It is incredibly easy to make at home and is a fantastic non-dairy alternative to milk kefir and can be flavored to make a range of delicious beverages.
WHY DRINK THIS STUFF? I decided to drink/make Water Kefir because it’s a probiotic. Probiotics are good bacteria that help you keep a healthy gut. These good bacteria help us to digest our food, prevent allergies, boost our immune system, and overall keep our body healthy. I’ve been buying probiotic supplements from Costco, which have definitely helped my digestive system, but I wanted to find a better and cheaper way to get the same properties. Also because supplements are not always reliable, I thought adding fermented foods – like water kefir – would be a great way to do that!
I also love the TASTE of Water Kefir vs Milk Kefir! My biggest gripe about Milk Kefir is the sour taste and that it doesn’t easily to mix with other things. I often just added it to my smoothies to mask the flavor.
This is NOT the case with Water Kefir at all. You can make it taste like anything you want during the second fermentation (will explain more below). Right now my favorite flavor is apple cider, mango peach, ginger ale and sweet tea.
ALSO unlike Kombucha it’s caffeine free so I can drink Water Kefir at any time of the day. It means I am also drinking more water, which is good for the skin. Plus, I am drinking my probiotics instead of popping yet another pill.
HOW DO YOU MAKE WATER KEFIR? It was super easy. I went online and purchased the dehydrated grains. I bought the Cultures For Health brand, but there are tons of companies out there to choose from. OR if you happen to know someone that makes some you can simply ask them.
I followed the very simple instructions that came with the grains. Basically you need to add cooled sugar water & kefir grains to a glass container. This should be covered with a clean tightly weaved cloth or coffee filter; using a rubber band to secure the cloth. Then you just wait 3-4 days for it to rehydrate. After 4 days the grains should be plump and translucent. Now they’re ready to make kefir. Strain out the grains with a fine mesh strainer, and discard the first batch of sugar water.
1) Now, you are ready for your first drinkable batch. Again make more sugar water. (I personally just made up few batches ahead of time and placed them in the fridge so I didn’t have to keep worrying about making more water.)
2) Add the grains into the new water, and again cover with a towel secured by a rubber band. Leave in a warm spot (68-85 degrees F) and allow to culture for 24-48 hours.
3) Prepare a new batch of sugar water. Let it cool.
4) Strain out the grains from the liquid. Put the grains back into new batch of sugar water to start the process all over again. But, this time instead of throwing the fermented liquid away you will use it. You can either drink it right away (adding it to smoothie or juice) or you can do a second ferment.
1) Take the water you fermented for 24-48 hours, add fruit juice/coconut water/fruit puree/etc and place into a mason jar, glass swing top bottle, or a glass screw top bottle like Epica (bought mine on Amazon).
- If you want it super carbonated then leave out on the counter for another 24-48 hours before putting it into the fridge.
- If you want it more flat then put directly in the fridge.
The longer you “ferment”/leave this out on the counter, the more carbonated the liquid will become. SOOO you should “burp” the bottles to release some of the carbonation pressure at the end of each day, otherwise on rare occasions the pressure could break the bottle if left out too long. I haven’t seen any bottles explode, but I did forget to burp one yesterday … and when I opened it this morning it was like opening a Champagne bottle and the liquid spewed everywhere until it settled down.
After each fermentation I’ve had two 18 oz bottles worth of fresh Water Kefir to flavor. I am finally getting to the point where I have enough grains that I COULD make two batches at once. My grains grew from the initial 3 TBSP to 11 TPSP. So now I am splitting the grains into two different containers – leaving one to rest in the fridge as a back up and making the other one daily. I could also make two batches at once, but that would be WAY WAY too much Water Kefir for me to drink in one day.
So far I’ve made Peach Lavender, Mango Peach, Lemonade, Sweet tea, Apple Cider, Ginger Ale, Blueberry and Peach Turmeric Ginger flavored Water Kefir. All have been enjoyable. But, really you could do whatever you want to. The flavor combinations are endless.
So why not give it a try yourself. It’s fun, quick, and really tasty.
MAKING SUGAR WATER
- Heat 4 cups of water (They suggest bottled water. I just used tap water and boiled for 10 mins to get rid of the chlorine)
- Add ¼ cup of Cane sugar (DO NOT USE Coconut sugar, Maple sugar, Honey or Agave)
- Allow to cool to room temperature before adding to the cultures.
- OR you could do what I have done is make and extra 4-8 glasses of sugar water and placed them in Mason jars after they’ve cooled…placed them in the fridge until I need them. Cold water slows the fermentation process… but I live in LA where it is hot and mine have been fermenting in 24 hours… so the extra time is helpful!
- Lots of Sugar – ¼ cup daily. I buy Turbinado sugar in bulk and keep extras under the cabinet.
- Clean glass bottles with either a swing top or screw top. Can use plastic, but not advised because of BPA issues. For 2nd ferment
- 5- 10 mins each morning to do this.
- Fine Mesh Strainer
- A Water Pitcher
- Mason Jars
- 1 TBSP measuring spoon
- Most sites will tell you to bottles of water or use chlorine free water. I don’t have time for that. I just boil water and let it sit for 20 minutes so the chlorine will evaporate. THEN I put the water into pitchers and place it in the fridge to get nice and cold. In the AM I use my tea kettle to boil 1 Cup of Water and add/dissolve ¼ cup of sugar into that. THEN I add 2-3 cups of my already ICE COLD water to cool the whole thing down quickly.
WHERE TO BUY WATER KEFIR GRAINS –
EPICA GLASS BOTTLES –
VIDEO ON HOW TO MAKE WATER KEFIR –