Water kefir is becoming a popular probiotic beverage lately, especially because it is one of the easier fermented foods to get kids to consume willingly. I still get questions from time to time about how to make it, so I figured I’d write up a quick little guide as a resource. You do need to get water kefir grains in order to make this drink, but other than that it’s pretty easy! If you need help sourcing grains, let me know and I’ll see if I can help you.
Water kefir is brewed in two stages, known as the first and second ferments. I’ll cover both.
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, figs, goji berries, etc., 1/4 tsp of mineral-rich sea salt, baking soda, or blackstrap molasses, 1/2 inch fresh slices of ginger, or 1/2 of a lemon or sterilized egg shell. Other dried fruit and some fresh ones can be used as well!
You will put the water kefir grains and sugar in a clean glass jar and fill with almost a quart of filtered water leaving about an inch of space. Some people cover with a clean cloth and use a rubber band to hold it on or just use the jar’s cover. I 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. This ferment 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?
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. Measure out 2-3 tbsp of grains and put in the jar with another 1/4 cup of sugar and optional add-ins. 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, put the grains in a jar with enough water to cover and some sugar in the fridge. I usually add molasses to the “resting grains” as well.
With the liquid that you’ve strained, you will flavor and bottle for an additional 1-2 days. It should get some fizz and then you can move to the fridge or enjoy right away. You can bottle in a tightly capped jar or a flip-top. The flip-tops tend to get fizzier, but both work well. I’ve also used recycled apple cider vinegar bottles and they hold fizz pretty well!
To flavor, add:
- 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!
I’ll be writing more on water kefir, troubleshooting etc. and if you have any questions always feel free to ask! 🙂