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How to Make Water Kefir at Home – Fizzy Soda That’s Good For You!


How to Make Water Kefir at Home - Fizzy Soda That's Good For You! Follow Me on Pinterest

UPDATE – July 2012: Since I first wrote the post below (back in April 2011) , I have changed my methods for how I brew water kefir. For an updated post about how to make water kefir at home, please visit this post: “How to Make Water Kefir“. The main change is that I no longer use a Mason jar. I use an airtight vessel for all of my ferments now (excluding kombucha). The post below still contains great information and a how-to recipe, but I just wanted to let you know about the updated version! Thanks for reading!

Many of you know what kefir is. The smooth, tangy, sometimes effervescent yogurt-type drink that so many of us real food lovers recommend. But, did you know that you can also make water kefir, which is dairy free? It’s delicious and SO easy to make!

I experimented with milk kefir before I turned to water kefir. To be honest, I never liked my milk kefir. I could never get the flavor or texture quite right. I turned to water kefir because I thought that it would be a perfect solution – no milk, no funky textures, and cheaper to make. And, you know what? It was! I’ve had great success with water kefir and I now drink it daily.

DISCLOSUREThis post contains affiliate links and/or ads. I only recommend products or services that I have personally tried and love. For these products, I am part of their affiliate program and when you make a purchase through any of these links, I earn a small commission on each sale, which allows me to cover a portion of the cost of this site. This has no effect on your sale price and is simply a cost of doing business for the company you are purchasing from. All funds received help with the continued maintenance of this website and free content. You can view it like leaving a tip. Thank you! Read our full terms and conditions here.

What is Water Kefir?

Kefir (both water and milk) is full of all sorts of beneficial yeasts, micro-nutrients, enzymes, and good bacteria. True health starts in the gut, so getting as many good bacteria into our bellies is of great importance! It’s considered a probiotic beverage and it’s safe for everyone in the family to enjoy. The flavor is going to vary based on the natural yeasts and bacteria in your house. Over time, your grains will adjust to the “flavors” in your air. It’s pretty fascinating. For someone who does a lot of baking, their grains may taste a little more yeasty than those who don’t do any baking. The general flavor is going to be a slightly dry, mildly sweet and lightly fizzy beverage. It’s very refreshing, especially with some fresh lemon juice added (my personal favorite).

Water kefir, also known as Tibicos, is a “culture of bacteria and yeast held in a polysaccharide matrix created by the bacteria. As with kefir grains, the microbes present in tibicos act in symbiosis to maintain a stable culture. Tibicos can do this in many different sugary liquids, feeding off the sugar to produce lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol), and carbon dioxide gas which carbonates the drink.” This drink is found in many cultures, from all over the world. No two strains of the kefir grains are going to be the same. Like I mentioned above, the grains adjust to the yeast and bacteria present in your house. It’s no different than sourdough breads and cheeses – both are unique to the environments they are made in. It’s important to note that these do not actually have any grain (as in wheat, barley, etc.) in them. It’s just a term coined because of the way they look – like clumps of grain. But actually, they’re clumps of beneficial bacteria!

In my opinion, water kefir is the simplest of the fermented beverages to make. All it takes is some water, sugar, kefir grains, and whatever flavorings you’d like. Or, to make it even more simple, you can use coconut water. Let’s start with water kefir.

Water Kefir Grains In Jar Follow Me on Pinterest

Basic Water Kefir Recipe

1/4 cup organic cane crystals, rapadura, or sucanat (honey is not recommended)
1 quart spring water, well water, or filtered water (see note below on filtered water. don’t use city tap water – the chlorine will kill the grains)
3 tablespoons water kefir grains
flavoring of your choice

NOTE: if you use filtered water, then you will need to add a mineral source back into the water since the filter will remove a lot, if not all, of the minerals. The kefir grains need the minerals to thrive, which is why well water or natural spring water is best. But, for those of us who live in the city and are on chlorinated city water, filtered water is our only choice. To add minerals back into the water, you can simply do any of the following:

  • add a small pinch of unrefined sea salt
  • add a clean egg shell
  • a couple drops of liquid minerals
  • a drop or two of molasses

I personally don’t like the flavor of the molasses in the kefir, so I always used the egg shell or the salt and have had great success.

Directions:

1. Dissolve the sugar in the water. If you use hot water to dissolve the sugar, then let the sugar water cool to room temperature before adding the grains.

2. When the sugar is fully dissolved, add the egg shell, salt or molasses, along with the kefir grains and cover with a coffee filter, tea towel, or loose fitting lid. You want to keep it covered so that it doesn’t attract bugs, but you also want it to be able to breath a little, as the fermentation can build up pressure in a tightly sealed jar.  I usually just place a plastic yogurt lid over the top of the jar. Make sure you leave about a half inch to an inch of space at the top of the jar.

3. Place the water kefir in a warm part of your house. The warmer your house is, the faster the kefir will ferment. My house is usually between 68 and 70 degrees, so it takes about 3 days to get the desired fermentation.

4. When it’s done*, use a plastic strainer to pour the liquid into another jar and reserve the grains. I’ve been told not to use metal, and I’ve read that the metal, especially aluminum, interacts with grains and can kill them. However, I’ve also read many blogs about water kefir and it looks like a lot of people use stainless steel utensils straining/stirring their kefir. The choice is up to you. I got a plastic strainer at Bed, Bath and Beyond, with teeny little holes for only $3.00.

5. Once you’ve strained out the grains, you can then drink it as is, or flavor your kefir any way you want. I prefer to flavor it. You really can do just about anything you want, but here are some ideas. With all of these, I do a second fermentation of 24 hours – just add the flavoring, cover tightly (to help it fizz up a little more) and let it sit out for another day:

  • Add fresh lemon, orange, tangerine, grape, blueberry, etc. juice. I usually add about 1/4 cup of juice to 1 quart of kefir.
  • Add fresh grated or sliced ginger.
  • Add some lemon or orange peel (only from organic fruit and make sure you remove after 12-24 hours or it will become bitter).
  • Vanilla extract is good for a cream soda.

In addition to the ideas above, some people like to add dried fruit to the initial fermentation, such as dried figs, raisins, cherries, cranberries, etc. Check out this Water Kefir Flavor Guide for lots of ideas on how to flavor your water kefir!

The sky is the limit. Experiment with any combination that sounds good to you. The key to getting a fizzier drink is to strain off the grains, add the fruit or juice and do a second fermentation. For the second fermentation, you can use a tight sealing jar or the flip top hermetic glass bottles like these. Just make sure you do use caution when opening the bottles after the second ferment!

*How do you know it’s done? You’ll be able to tell when it’s done primarily by taste and if it’s a little fizzy. The kefir grains will eat up approximately 80% of the sugar, so it should taste a lot less sweet than when you first made it. If it’s still too sweet, let it sit out another day.

Coconut Water Kefir – Less Sugar, Just as Tasty

Now, if you’re like me, you might be worried about all that sugar in the kefir. Like I mentioned above, most of the sugar is going to be consumed by the kefir grains, so there’s not going to be a lot leftover. However, I want to avoid as much sugar as possible in my diet, so I stopped making the water kefir and turned to coconut water kefir.

The process is pretty much the same using coconut water, you just end up with a much less sweet beverage, plus, I am trying to get more potassium into my diet, so coconut water is a good option for me.

 

Coconut Water Kefir With Fresh Orange Juice Follow Me on Pinterest

Coconut Water Kefir Recipe

1 quart of young coconut water

3 tablespoons water kefir grains

Directions

1. In a glass jar, add  the coconut water and kefir grains. Make sure you leave about a half inch to an inch of space at the top of the jar.

2. Set aside and cover loosely with a coffee filter, tea towel, etc.

3. Leave at room temperature for 12-36 hours.

4. Strain off the grains, and flavor any way you like.

Now, a couple notes about using coconut water:

  • You don’t have to add any additional sugar. The coconut water has enough natural sugars to feed the grains. However, the fermentation process is going to be a lot quicker than plain water kefir. My coconut water kefir is always done within 24 hours, sometimes less.
  • Coconut water already has a “different” taste, which some people may not like. Coconut water kefir is going to be a lot stronger tasting and much less sweet than your regular water kefir. Some people will probably not like the flavor of plain coconut water kefir, so adding additional flavorings is really beneficial here.
  • You don’t need to add any additional minerals if you don’t want to. There’s enough in the coconut water to sustain the grains. If you do want to add a drop or two of liquid minerals, it certainly won’t hurt though.
  • I find that my kefir grains go CRAZY when I make coconut water kefir. The grains multiply like you would not believe. As a matter of fact, within two days, I doubled the amount of kefir grains I had when making coconut water kefir. So, if you decide to make coconut water kefir, be prepared for your grains to go NUTS! :)
  • The coconut water kefir always got a lot fizzier for me than regular kefir. I’m not sure why. I’d be interested to see if other people have the same experience with it. By the second ferment, it’s downright bubbly, like a sparkling wine.

For the sake of not boring you too much, I have split the Frequently Asked Questions into a separate post and that will be going up in the next day or so! Let me know if you have a specific question and I’d be happy to answer it.

Do you make water or coconut water kefir? If so, I’d love to hear your tips and tricks. I find that the fermented beverages are very forgiving, so there’s really not a lot you can do to mess them up! These are just the things I’ve learned over the few months that I’ve been experimenting and I wanted to share! Leave me a comment below and tell me your favorite water kefir story!

For more information on water kefir, check out these posts:

How to Make Water Kefir

52 Weeks of Bad A** Bacteria – Week 23 – Water Kefir Revisited

Water, Water, Everywhere, and Lots of Drops to Drink!

Water Kefir Flavor Guide – Lots of Delicious Fizzy Flavors!

Sources:

Tibicos, Wikipedia

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday, #39 and Fermentation Friday

DISCLOSUREThis post contains affiliate links and/or ads. I only recommend products or services that I have personally tried and love. For these products, I am part of their affiliate program and when you make a purchase through any of these links, I earn a small commission on each sale, which allows me to cover a portion of the cost of this site. This has no effect on your sale price and is simply a cost of doing business for the company you are purchasing from. All funds received help with the continued maintenance of this website and free content. You can view it like leaving a tip. Thank you! Read our full terms and conditions here.

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Make Kefir at Home

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About Jessica Espinoza

Jessica is a real food nut, coconut everything enthusiast, avid reader and researcher, blossoming yogi, and animal lover. She has had a life-long passion for food and being in the kitchen is where she is the happiest. Jessica started Delicious Obsessions in 2010 as a way to help share her love for food and cooking. Since then, it has grown into a trusted online resource with a vibrant community of people learning to live healthy, happy lives through real food and natural living.

Discussion

32 comments

  1. I love my water kefir! :) I haven’t tried coconut water kefir yet so that is now on my to-go list.

    reply 

    Laurie
    Posted 04/14/11

    • Let me know how it goes! I like it a lot better! Thanks for stopping by!

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 04/15/11

      • hi Jessica,

        Great site with wealth of good information on kefir, keep up the good job.

        I make Coconut Water Kefir and Raw Milk Kefir daily and I absolutely love it.
        I am from Malaysia and we have lots of fresh coconuts here.

        The Coconut Water Kefir can also be used as starter to any lacto-fermented beverages and vegetables such as Lacto-Fermented Lemonade, Beet Kvass, Sauerkraut etc

        By the way, if anyone from Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand who would like to have Water Kefir Grains or Milk Kefir Grains, you may email Joy at kefirbaby @ yahoo.com

        Her grains are great :)

        reply 

        Samuel Tan
        Posted 10/17/11

        • Thanks for the info Samuel. I’m glad you stopped by and found some interesting info. How fun that you’re on the other side of the world and found my blog! I bet the fresh coconut water tastes magnificent compared to the bottled brands we get here. Even fresh coconuts aren’t that fresh by the time we get them in Colorado. I’ve tried a few times to buy one in the store and each time I’ve cracked it open, it’s been rotten on the inside. Ick! Thank you for stopping by!

          reply 

          Anonymous
          Posted 10/24/11

  2. not “to-go list”…my to-DO list. :)

    reply 

    Laurie
    Posted 04/14/11

  3. I mix dried peaches and ginger pieces right in with my grains in water and only ferment once. Love it. Will be trying it with the coconut as I already drink that most days. Thanks for the info.

    reply 

    Kathy
    Posted 04/14/11

    • Hi Kathy – that sounds really good. I’ve been experimenting with ginger and lemon. I love that combo. I pretty much love anything with ginger in it and the peach/ginger combo must be delish! My water kefir never got very fizzy, but the coconut water kefir did. I don’t know what makes one fizzier over the other, but I’ll take it! :)

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 04/15/11

  4. That’s for posting on the blog carnival!

    I love water kefir. I enjoy kefiring straight apple juice from time to time and I use that for making sourdough.

    I like adding concentrace. We do a second fermentation, that’s the way my kids like it. I can get them to drink large amounts as long as it is fizzy.

    reply 

    KerryAnn
    Posted 04/15/11

    • I’ve never tried it with straight juice before. I have tried making sourdough bread and I have to confess. I suck at it! Bread making has always been a struggle for me! I can bake cookies all day long, but bread? That never comes out right! Thanks for hosting the carnival and thanks for stopping by!

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 04/15/11

  5. I’ve made coconut kefir before. It’s delicious and I find I have to hide it from my partner who will drink it all.

    The best coconut water I’ve found to make coconut kefir is from the young Thai coconuts which are sweeter.

    reply 

    Mil
    Posted 02/20/12

    • Yum! I love coconut water kefir. It’s so good! I’ve never made it with fresh coconut water, which I imagine is heavenly :)

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 02/20/12

  6. Wow. i had never heard of Kefir before, and now i find myself perusing the google results looking to buy some grains :) where did you get yours? I’m wondering if the local co op carries them…

    reply 

    Craftasaurus Rex
    Posted 02/21/12

    • Hi there. I actually got mine from a friend last year and then I was horribly neglectful and let them die :( I’m in the process of trying to track some more down. I would check with some local people and see if you can find any. Do you have a Weston A. Price Foundation chapter in your area? That would be a great place to start: http://www.westonaprice.org/local-chapters/find-a-local-chapter

      If you’re on Facebook, there is a group that you can join that was set up so people from all over the world could connect and share cultures. Here’s the link for that: https://www.facebook.com/groups/290350194354532/

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 02/21/12

  7. Hi Jessica,

    I just did my first batch of water kefir. It took about 72 hours and the grains did not multiply much but I still did a second ferment using orange juice. I was scared of trying kefir and delayed doing it because of this for years but I am so glad I took the plunge. We use it in our green smoothies in the morning. The kids were not keen on it as a straight orange drink so it was easy to hide it in the smoothies and we need ferments in our diet. I am going to try some coconut kefir when I have enough grains and it looks like that will be next time. I’m about to try a berry flavor. How wonderful these little living grains are. I could almost talk to them like plants. :-)
    Stay well and hope you will find time to visit my blog and leave a comment.
    Eileen.

    reply 

    Eileen
    Posted 10/14/12

    • Hi Eileen – Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I hope that you are getting the hang of it and enjoying your water kefir! I love my WK. So much fun! :):) I’m going to head over to your site now!

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 10/17/12

  8. I just bought water kefir grains from an eBay seller. She said that water kefir shouldn’t be consumed regularly for long periods without taking breaks so that the body won’t become dependent on it for replenishing good bacteria – any thoughts on this?

    reply 

    Dee
    Posted 12/06/12

    • Hi Dee – I have never heard that before. Our bodies need constant replenishing of good bacteria because we live in such a toxic world and our foods are lacking in nutrition. I would advise making sure that you are getting a wide variety of fermented foods into your diet and not just water kefir. I drink water kefir and kombucha, as well as eat many different vegetable ferments as well, so there is a wide spectrum of bacteria there. Hope that helps! :)

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 12/06/12

  9. I have my water kefir grains now for bout a month and am intrigued by coconut water kefir.

    I have made coconut water kefir twice and I too found that they ferment faster than the usual water, kefir, sugar mixture.

    I liked that you wrote a section on coconut water kefir as initially I was wondering if I still needed to add sugar. I researched and found that all you need is fresh young coconut water and grains.

    I’m really enjoy doing the 2nd fermentation for my water kefir. I’ve done strawberry, blueberry, passion fruit, peach, nectarines, ginger lemon and am still experimenting new flavours. My daughter’s favourite flavours are peach and strawberry, blueberry, kiwi fruit combo.

    reply 

    Ylinn
    Posted 02/03/13

    • The coconut water does ferment a lot faster. The second fermentation is my favorite. There are ENDLESS flavor combinations! So much fun! :)

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 02/06/13

  10. Hi

    How can I have kefir grain for milk

    Tq

    reply 

    Ainie
    Posted 04/05/13

  11. I live in Thailand and I really need water kefir grains. But i cannot find it from here. If anyone know how can i buy or order it. Please tell me.

    Thanks a lot.

    reply 

    Gard
    Posted 06/13/13

  12. Thank you for the wonderful post! :) Question tho, which brand of coconut water do you recommend??

    reply 

    Brian
    Posted 12/03/13

  13. I’m making my first batch of water kefir! Just added lemon juice and ginger for second fermentation. Second batch I hope to try cherry juice and lemon. I purchased a 1.5 liter dark blue sealing bottle from the beer brewing supply store. Hoping it works all right. Since I live in WA state, it is pretty cool. For the initial fermentation, I set my quart jar in the slightly warmed oven a couple of times. This morning there were little bubbles on top, so I assumed it was ready for second ferm. And flavoring. Ready to start batch two. Hoping to enjoy kefir throughout the warmer summer months. Thanks for all your information!

    reply 

    Nana Phyllis
    Posted 04/16/14

    • I hope you enjoy Nana! It can take a little while to get the hang of brewing it, but the end result is SO delicious! :)

      reply 

      Jessica Espinoza
      Posted 04/17/14

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