Many people aren’t familiar with water kefir (or kefir soda). It’s not something you can typically find in a grocery store but its relative, traditional kefir made with milk, can often be found in larger supermarkets. Kefir is a probiotic beverage consisting of an incredibly healthy blend of beneficial yeast and bacteria. Both water kefir and traditional milk kefir have far more probiotic strains than yogurt or other cultured products like buttermilk. Water kefir is incredibly easy and fast to make. I also make traditional milk or coconut milk kefir which is equal in it’s health benefits and also easy to make.
For water kefir, you start with a sugar water and add water kefir grains. Water kefir grains are not actually grains they just have a grainy appearance and look a lot like little blobs of gelatin.
You can use kefir grains over and over and if properly cared for, they will last indefinitely. They also grow so if you have a friend who makes kefir, you can most likely get some from them. If you don’t have anyone who wants your extra kefir grains once they’ve multiplied, you can either add them to smoothies for a probiotic boost or compost them. Good for you, and also great for your garden 🙂
I usually make a half gallon at a time but you can make a full gallon, or a quart. Whatever you choose. Start with the amount of water you need and if it’s tap water, boil it to get the chlorine out of it as that will kill your kefir grains. Once boiled, add sugar and dissolve. This can be any type of sugar – white, brown, sucanat, coconut sugar, turbinado…. they will all result in a different taste so see what you like! My favorite is turbinado raw sugar. Then let your sugar water cool to less than 100 degrees. Too hot and it will kill your kefir grains.
Place sugar water and kefir grains in a mason jar and cover with a tea towel or coffee filter. Let this sit at room temperature for 48 hours and then strain the kefir grains out. Either place the grains directly into the next batch of kefir or you can place in a quart of sugar water and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks before making another batch. Alternately, if you’re going to take a longer break, you can freeze the grains for up to 6 months or leave them on the counter to dehydrate 3-5 days. Dehydrated, they will keep in a zip top bag in the fridge for 6 months to a year. You will need to rehydrate them in sugar water before making your next batch.
You can drink it at this point but I prefer it get a little more fizzy and add a little flavoring to it. I use a large glass measuring cup to pour my water kefir into flip top grolsh bottles. I found these bottles at a local home brewing supply store but you can find them here as well. Once you add the flavoring, seal the bottle and let it sit at room temperature for another 12-24 hours to get satisfyingly fizzy. Place in fridge until ready to drink or serve over ice.
Here are a few flavoring ideas (add the flavoring to each bottle first, then fill with water kefir):
- add 1/2 cup fruit juice of any kind
- add 15 raisins or diced dates or prunes
- mix with a little herbal tea and add grape or cherry juice
- add a tablespoon pureed berries like strawberry, raspberry, blackberry or blueberry. Note these made with fresh berries get pretty fizzy and can fizz out of the bottle (like a shaken soda pop) if left to ferment too long. I usually don’t leave these on the counter but rather put them directly in the fridge as they get fizzy enough.
- add diced dried fruits like cranberries or apricots
- add 2 teaspoons of vanilla and it’ll have a taste similar to cream soda
- add a tablespoon of pureed ginger with a teaspoon of lime juice
- add 1/4 cup lemon (or lime) juice to a full half gallon batch and add 1/4 cup honey for a probiotic lemonade (or limeade)
- 1 quart water - you can also use fruit juice, or coconut water
- ¼ cup sugar (any kind except honey or maple syrup)
- 2-3 tablespoons water kefir grains
- Boil water and mix in sugar.
- Let sugar water cool to room temperature.
- Place sugar water and kefir grains in a quart mason jar (or other glass vessel) and cover loosely with a tea towel or coffee filter. Secure with jar ring or a rubber band.
- Let this mixture sit at room temperature 48 hours to culture.
- Strain out kefir grains with a non-metal strainer and reserve for next batch.
- Pour finished kefir into glass bottles (or smaller mason jars) and add flavorings if desired.
- Close bottles tightly and let kefir sit at room temperature another 12-24 hours to get fizzy.
- Place in fridge until ready to drink!
•add 15 raisins or diced dates or prunes
•mix with a little herbal tea and add grape or cherry juice
•add a tablespoon pureed berries like strawberry, raspberry, blackberry or blueberry. Note these made with fresh berries get pretty fizzy and can fizz out of the bottle (like a shaken soda pop) if left to ferment too long. I usually don't leave these on the counter but rather put them directly in the fridge as they get fizzy enough.
•add diced dried fruits like cranberries or apricots
•add 2 teaspoons of vanilla and it'll have a taste similar to cream soda
•add a tablespoon of pureed ginger with a teaspoon of lime juice
•add ¼ cup lemon (or lime) juice to a full half gallon batch and add ¼ cup honey for a probiotic lemonade (or limeade)