Water kefir has become a popular probiotic beverage and continues to grow in popularity, especially because it is one of the easier fermented foods to get kids to consume willingly. I wrote this guide as a resource to show you how to brew water kefir at home.
First you need to get water kefir grains in order to make water kefir, but once you have your grains, the rest of the process is super easy! I love the grains from Florida Sun Kefir because they come live and ready to go. Dehydrated grains require some work to rehabilitate, and sometimes they fail or don’t grow well.
Water kefir is brewed in two stages, known as the first and second ferments. I’ll cover both.
Water Kefir First Ferment
For this ferment, you will need the following to make a quart (4 cups):
- 2-3 tbsp water kefir grains
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- Filtered water
- Optional add-ins:
- tbsp of unsulphured raisins
- goji berries
- 1/4 tsp of mineral-rich sea salt
- baking soda
- blackstrap molasses
- 1/2 inch fresh slices of ginger
- 1/2 of a lemon
- sterilized egg shell
- other dried fruit and some fresh ones can be used as well!
In a clean quart jar, put your water kefir grains and sugar, then fill to shoulder leaving about an inch or two of headspace.
You don’t want to leave too much headspace as this leaves too much oxygen in the jar and can lead to kahm yeast growth, or even mold.
Some people cover with a clean cloth and use a rubber band to hold it on or just use the jar’s cover. I personally prefer to brew with an airlock as it lends a better taste, in my opinion.
The optional add-ins provide minerals for the kefir grains and can also affect flavor in positive ways. I generally don’t add anything, and once in a while will add a tbsp of molasses.
The first ferment for water kefir will typically last 1-2 days. Here in S. Florida I do 1 day in the summer and 2 days in the short cold season. Can I even call it winter?
Water Kefir Second Ferment
Once the first ferment is complete, you’ll see hints of bubbles and if you used add-ins such as raisins or goji berries they may float at this time.
You are going to strain out the liquid into a pitcher and toss the add-ins away.
Measure out 2-3 tbsp of grains and put in the jar with another 1/4 cup of sugar, filtered water and optional add-ins to start up your next batch. Close to start another 1st ferment–this is what you will do repeatedly to keep water kefir on hand.
If you wish to take a break from brewing water kefir, put the grains in a jar with a tbsp of molasses, some cane sugar and enough water to cover. Close the jar and place it in the fridge for a week or less, or the freezer for longer periods of time (providing the glass is freezer-safe and you haven’t filled it too high).
With the liquid that you’ve strained (the completed first ferment), you will flavor and bottle for an additional 1-2 days.
During this time, it should get some fizz and then you can move to the fridge or enjoy right away.
You can bottle in a tightly capped mason jar or a swing-top jar. The swing-tops tend to get MUCH fizzier, but both work well. I’ve also used recycled apple cider vinegar bottles and they hold fizz pretty well, too!
Flavoring Water Kefir
- Fresh or dried fruit chunks
- Freshly squeezed/pressed or bottled fruit or vegetable juice (natural juices without harmful additives, of course!)
- Herbs, spices, etc. such as peppermint, ginger, basil
- Tea bags (clean source, please!)
You can mix and match what you’re flavoring with. One of my favorites is chunks of strawberry and watermelon. Very refreshing!
Water Kefir Recipes
Here are the current water kefir recipes on the blog:
I’ll also be adding more delicious water kefir recipes soon!
Troubleshooting Water Kefir (FAQ)
The first thing you want to do is to wash the jar you are brewing with thoroughly. Put it to air dry while you follow the remaining steps.
Rinse your grains thoroughly with filtered water. Chlorinated water will kill your grains, so you don’t want to use that. Once your grains have been rinsed well, put them in a bowl of water with 1/4 cup of baking soda. Mix and allow to soak for approximately 2 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly again!
This process should re-balance the grains so that you have a safe batch.
Use the grains to make a batch of water kefir in the clean jar as you normally would. Be sure your jar is filled almost to the top, and consider using an airlock if you aren’t already!