Coconut water kefir is a healthy, refreshing, probiotic electrolyte fizzy drink, when made properly. It is a potent digestive aid that can help fight candida and curb sugar cravings.
It all starts with the coconuts.
When making coconut water kefir, you will want to get healthy, fresh, young green coconuts for best results. If you cannot source fresh young green coconuts, you can use coconut water that has been frozen instead of processed. I personally have not found any processed coconut water that I like to make coconut water kefir with.
Why use fresh coconut water?
One of the reasons I love using fresh coconut water is the freshness and taste. Most packaged coconut water brands do not taste like real coconut water. They also sometimes have off-smells, a hint of moldy taste or weird coloring (yellow, too cloudy, pink)….
I grew up in Jamaica getting coconuts straight from the tree, so it’s hard for me to get used to coconut water that doesn’t taste absolutely delicious. Big companies cannot take the time to check and taste each individual coconut they open, and this can lead to inconsistencies in quality of the final product.
Another reason to use fresh coconuts if possible is that you will have more control over cleanliness. Raw packaged juices, including coconut water, have unfortunately been contaminated with food-borne pathogens such as salmonella in the past.
Once you chop open the coconut and pour out the water, it should be translucent. It should almost be as clear as water. Strain to remove any pieces of coconut shell, then follow the recipe instructions below. Click here to skip to the recipe, or continue reading for all the wonderful benefits of coconut water, and the potential implications for fermented coconut water.
How do I know if my coconut water is good quality?
Your coconut water doesn’t have to be organic, but sustainably-grown is preferable. If you are extracting the liquid from a fresh young green coconut, it should be mostly clear, and should have a pleasant smell and taste, like sweetened water.
Fresh coconut water generally does not have an overwhelming coconut taste like coconut milk does. The degree of sweetness will vary from coconut to coconut. As the coconut matures it will develop a richer, more coconutty taste and the water will get more cloudy.
It should not have any off-colors or hints of moldy taste or smell. If you detect mold, it is best to discard. Choose local coconuts if you can source them.
What are the benefits of coconut water?
- It is very hydrating and readily accepted by most people (including picky children!) despite being low-sugar and low-calorie. Multiple studies support the use of young coconut water for rehydration:
- during bouts of cholera/severe gastroenteritis (see here)
- Potassium, chloride, and glucose are key nutrients in coconut water, making it useful for promoting hydration. There’s 1456 mg of potassium per liter of coconut water, which is 31% of the recommended daily allowance. The equivalent portion of pedialyte contains 2040mg of potassium, for reference.
- It is a natural laxative, but low in sucrose so does not promote diarrhea.
- This study found that young coconut water is a potent anti-inflammatory aid, and mature coconut water is a moderate aid. The study measures the anti-inflammatory effects of young coconut water, mature coconut water, and ibuprofen on rats to reduce edema. The young coconut water performed better than ibuprofen!
- Coconut can decrease blood pressure significantly. This study demonstrated that drinking 2L of coconut water per day, without altering regular diet in any other way, decreases blood pressure. 71% of study participants had a significant decrease in mean systolic blood pressure and 29% had a mean decrease in diastolic blood pressure. This is promising for those who suffer from hypertension!
- Coconut water may be a great aid against calcium oxalate and kidney stone formation. In this study by the UC Irvine Department of Urology, coconut water consumption increased urinary citrate excretion significantly, moreso than grapefruit juice, lemon juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, and lemonade. The renal tubule reabsorbs much of the citrate in the latter beverages. This is not the case with coconut water. The high alkali content of coconut water means it is potentially the best beverage choice for those suffering from hypocitraturia (low urinary citrate excretion) and may help decrease urinary stone risk.
- Contains cytokinins, which are beneficial for fighting aging, cancer and blood clots
What are the benefits of fermented coconut water?
- Fermentation reduces sugar content and improves nutrient profiles
- Lactic-acid fermentation adds beneficial bacteria and yeasts to the beverage. It adds probiotic strains L. casei and L. brevis and many others, which have been shown to inhibit growth of harmful bacteria (source) and improve digestion
- Lacto-fermented coconut water helps with digestive issues, including upset tummies, diarrhea and constipation
- It boosts the immune system and aids in cleansing your liver (so does this smoothie recipe)
- It is dairy-free so a great way for those with dairy intolerance or allergies to consume kefir without the residual cane sugar from regular water kefir.
- Coconut water kefir fights candida overgrowth and helps stop sugar cravings
- Fermenting coconut water increases vitamin B12, calcium, and sodium levels, and retains levels of micro-nutrients (source)
- Vitamin B12 is mostly obtained from animal products, and fermented coconut water kefir may be a good source of vitamin B12 for vegetarians and vegans.
It is easy to make your own coconut water kefir. It is less expensive, and tastes way better than store-bought. Homemade coconut water kefir also doesn’t require the use of additional additives such as sugar, grains, and beans.
How do I source water kefir grains and fresh young green coconuts?
Get your coconut water kefir grains here. They will come hydrated and ready to go. Even so, I recommend making 1 or 2 batches of regular water kefir first to ensure that your grains are in tip top shape. You want to take every measure possible to ensure your batch of coconut water kefir is successful, especially if you find coconut water expensive and/or hard to source.
You can often find green coconuts at Caribbean stores, Asian markets, farmers markets, and even Whole Foods. The green part of the shell may be shaved off and some stores wrap with plastic. Azure Standard is another source for fresh coconuts.
I have also read reviews that this coconut water, available on Amazon and at certain health food stores, tastes like real coconut water. I have not tried it myself, though.
Here’s the recipe, followed by some frequently asked questions.
Coconut Water Kefir Recipe
- 1 quart fresh coconut water (or frozen)
- 2-4 tbsp water kefir grains (active)
- Wash and rinse a 1 quart jar very well.
- Add water kefir grains.
- Add coconut water to shoulder of jar.
- Close jar.
- Allow to ferment until water is cloudy instead of translucent. When you move the bottle you should see bubbles within. This will generally take 16-24 hours.
- Strain and bottle.
- Refrigerate and enjoy cold.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Can I use coconut water instead of pedialyte?
The three main ingredients in pedialyte are potassium, chloride and sugar. It is highly recommended as a re-hydration agent for “mild to moderate dehydration.” If your child is experiencing more severe dehydration, it may be time to see a doctor. Pedialyte provides electrolytes, but does not help fight the bad bugs.
Using coconut water preemptively works wonders. However, it is not a 1:1 replacement for the minerals found in pedialyte. Coconut water has good potassium content, but only contains about 300mg of sodium chloride per liter. To match pedialyte’s contents, it would take the addition of approximately 1/4 tsp of salt.
Coconut water has an appropriate amount of sugar. Per 100L, coconut water contains around 2.7g glucose and 2.4g fructose, compared to 2.5g dextrose (glucose) in pedialyte. Additionally, it does not contain large amounts of sucrose, which can worsen diarrhea. (source)
That being said, I personally do not use pedialyte. Even if I wanted to (which I don’t!), the additives would make my son sicker. I try to prevent a risk of dehydration first, through the use of salted broth (made with kombu) and a variety of specific fermented beverages that help fight the disease as well.
Can I do a second ferment or add juice?
Yes, you can do a second ferment. Just use approximately 7oz coconut water kefir with 1 oz juice of your choice (I like pomegranate, pineapple, and cherry). You can do the second ferment in the fridge (leave for an additional day) or leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours. You can also add a splash of juice for flavor right before serving.
Does it have to be fizzy?
It will naturally become fizzy as the yeasts and bacteria eat the sugars and create carbon dioxide, but you can shorten the ferment or mix with water/more unfermented coconut water for a less fizzy product, while still benefiting from the probiotics.
Do I have to close the jar? I’m used to making kefir with an open jar.
I use a closed jar (with an airlock) for all my ferments. This includes water kefir, milk kefir, and sourdough. When any kefir is made aerobically, there are unwanted wild yeasts and bacteria introduced into the culture that lead to off flavors and sometimes textures as well. It also encourages the growth of kahm yeast, mold and excess histamine. My son is deathly allergic to ingesting mold so I do not take any chances there, at all. In addition, although kahm is considered “safe for consumption,” I do not like the look, taste or texture it imparts and dump anything that gets kahm.
I ferment anaerobically as I like my ferments to be pure, taste great, and have vibrant color.
My favorite fermentation vessel is the Pickl-It. I’ve used several others and always come back to this one. I’ve been fermenting for 8 years now and after millions of batches of ferments my love is unconditional. Buy small jars or call and order lids only to save money.
You can get the Fido jars inexpensively at places like Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshall’s, and Sur La Table. I have a huge collection of 1/2L-5L jars I’ve collected from these stores. Pickl-It does not have an affiliate program that I’m aware of, and anything you purchase from them does not benefit me financially. I just truly love their products (and the creator, Kathleen, was sent from Heaven!).
How long can coconut water kefir be stored, once ready?
You can store your coconut water kefir for about 2 weeks in the fridge. You can also freeze in ice cube trays then store in a freezer ziploc bag or freezer-safe glass jar for longer storage. The probiotics will wake up once defrosted.
Can I ferment coconut water with water kefir grains continuously?
I have not fermented more than 2 batches of coconut water kefir in a row. It is lower in sugars than cane sugar, so in-between I make regular batches of water kefir and add a little bit of molasses to ensure the grains stay in tip-top shape. If you have extra grains, then you can try and see how it goes. I like to keep extra grains frozen just in case I kill my water kefir grains somehow (which I’ve done more than once).
Can I make coconut water kefir with prepared water kefir?
Yes, you can use already prepared water kefir to ferment your coconut water kefir in lieu of using water kefir grains. Use 2oz water kefir per 6oz coconut water for your second ferment.
Can I use milk kefir grains to make coconut water kefir?
I have used milk kefir grains to make coconut milk kefir. I have not used it to make coconut water kefir. If you have extra milk kefir grains and don’t mind risking a failed experiment, it wouldn’t hurt to try. My personal thought process is that water kefir grains are more likely to make a fizzy product.
Can I use probiotic capsules?
You probably can, but I wouldn’t. Kefir grains have the test of time on their side and contain probiotic strains that do a pretty good of inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria and yeasts. I prefer to stick with them. If you do not have water kefir grains yet, you can buy great grains from Florida Sun Kefir on Amazon.
Once you have your grains, they last forever with proper treatment (mostly feeding them sugar regularly). Your grains will also grow and you can share them with your friend and freeze some as a back-up. I much prefer freezing extra grains to dehydrating them, as they come back to life easier and quicker.
Can I drink this if I am diabetic?
This is a decision you will have to make on your own or with your doctor.
There are preliminary studies such as this one that show mature coconut water may be beneficial for treatment of diabetes and hyperglycemia by reducing blood glucose levels. You can use mature coconut water for this recipe, just be careful that it is very fresh. The older the coconut gets, the more prone it is to mold.
In addition, fermentation reduces the sugar content in the coconut water. My maternal grandma is a Type II Diabetic and has had great results switching to fermented foods, including fermented coconut water and homemade yogurt. While consuming these things, as well as eating a more healthful diet, her daily blood sugar level test results have improved significantly.