Water kefir is a sweet fermented pop that lives on sugar and molasses. However, water kefir grains can be used to ferment other sweet liquids, like honey, juice, or coconut water. Here is everything you need to know to make water kefir without sugar.
How to culture water kefir without sugar
To be clear, water kefir grains really do need sugar and molasses (or dried fruit) to thrive.
It is not the most robust culture and really isn’t great at being pushed outside of its usual diet. Water kefir made without sucrose (sugar) won’t be as fizzy.
Here are three different ways of making water kefir without sugar:
- Use excess grains to make sugarless water kefir. Then it doesn’t matter if they aren’t healthy and happy.
- Refresh the grains in a sugar, molasses, and water mixture after every non-sugar ferment to keep the grains healthy.
- Make a sugar-free second ferment. There are lots of ways to flavor water kefir without sugar when bottling.
Alternatives to Sugar
It is happiest being fed sucrose. It doesn’t matter whether it’s raw sugar, brown sugar, or coconut palm sugar.
However, here are 3 sucrose-free alternatives to try.
Honey water kefir
- Heat 1/4 cup of filtered water and 1/4 cup of honey on the stove.
- Bring to a boil to pasteurize the honey. This will prevent any potential contamination from the natural yeasts and bacterial cultures in the honey.
- Mix the honey water with an additional 3 3/4 cups of filtered water and cool to room temperature.
- Culture with 3 Tbsp of water kefir grains.
- Ferment for 2 to 3 days, then flavor and bottle for a second ferment.
- Mix 3 Tbsp of water kefir grains with 4 cups of coconut water.
- Ferment on the counter for 24-48 hours, then strain and bottle.
Juice Sweetened Water Kefir
- Mix 3 Tbsp of grains with 4 cups of clear juice (grape, apple, blueberry).
- Ferment for 24-48 hours then strain and bottle.
- Avoid acidic juices like orange or pineapple which will result in unpleasant yeasty strings.
- The fructose in the juice will result in a slightly alcoholic beverage, so it’s not recommended for children.