Water kefir is a pleasantly fizzy and sweet drink, that is more like soda-pop than kombucha. It is also MUCH easier to make than kombucha. Here’s how to make water kefir.
- Beyond having a similar name, water kefir is not at all the same as milk kefir, and you cannot use it to culture dairy (or vice versa.) My grains are slightly brown due to the molasses in my mix. They are generally clear if cultured in straight sugar.
- The grains need to eat sucrose (sugar, molasses, coconut palm sugar, maple syrup). You cannot use high fructose sweeteners (agave, rice syrup) or other sugar substitutes. However, it is possible to occasionally make a low sugar water kefir.
- Like all SCOBYs (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), water kefir grains needs to be cared for. To keep the grains healthy and happy, feed the grains sugar water at least once a week.
- The grains can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks in a fresh culturing solution.
- The hardest part about making water kefir is finding the grains. They don’t reproduce as much as milk kefir or kombucha does, so getting them from a friend might be difficult. However, you can always buy the grains online (affiliate link.)
Flavours for 2nd Fermentation:
Water kefir is brewed in sugar water. Once the grains are removed the probiotic cultured liquid can be flavoured and bottled to build up carbonation (for a 2nd fermentation.)
Here are some ways of flavouring water kefir for the bottled 2nd fermentation.
- Juice: Add 1/3 part of juice to 2/3 water kefir. Avoid acidic juices (like orange and pineapple) because it wil end up with floaty bits of yeast. Clear juices, like blueberry, apple and pomegranate make nice sodas.
- Herbs and Spices: You can add spices directly to your second fermentation. Fresh ginger is particularly nice. Herbs are best added as an elixir. Mix herbal elixirs like juice, 1/3 herbal elixir to 2/3 water kefir.
- Dried or Fresh Fruits: You can use any dried or fresh fruits that you have on hand. Dried raisins or prunes will result in a soda that tastes like Dr. Pepper.
- Direct mixes: Some flavours are best when mixed right before drinking, like citrus juices (lemonade, orangeade), vanilla extract (cream soda) or pineapple juice. However, you could add orange zest or a sliced vanilla bean directly to the second ferment without any issues.
How to Make Water Kefir
Water kefir is a pleasantly fizzy and sweet drink, that is more soda-pop-like than kombucha. It is also MUCH easier to make than kombucha.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 4 cups 1x
- Category: Beverage
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Probiotic
- 3 tbsp water kefir grains
- 4 cups of filtered water (chlorine-free)
- 1/4 cup of sugar (molasses, coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, brown sugar)
- 1 tsp of molasses (provides necessary minerals if you are using white sugar)
- Flavours for the 2nd ferment (see above)
- Bring 1/4 cup of water to a boil, and dissolve the sugar and molasses into the water.
- Add in the remaining 3 3/4 cups of water to cool it to room temperature.
- Place the sugar-water solution in a glass jar with the grains. Cover with a cloth to keep bugs out -I use a square of cotton fabric secured with a mason jar ring.
- Allow to ferment on the counter for 24-36 hours depending on your room temperature. The liquid will become darker and slightly cloudy. It will be a bit less sweet, though not as sour as kombucha.
- Strain into a bottle to remove the grains. Place the grains in a new batch of sugar water.
- Add flavours to the bottled water kefir for the 2nd fermentation. See the section above for suggestions.
- It should become fizzy after 14 or 24 hours out on the counter.
- Store the finished water kefir in the the fridge.
- Water kefir will continue to build up carbonation for at least a few weeks. Store it in plastic pop bottles, or swing-top bottles that can handle the build up of carbonation.
Keywords: probiotic, simple, soda pop, summer, spring, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, caffeine free