How to make Water kefir!  A happy bubbly, fruit-infused sparkling water, that is packed full of healthy probiotics that will energize the body and help heal the gut. 

A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy!

Hi, I’d like you to introduce you to happy, bubbly WATER KEFIR! A delicious, effervescent,  fruit-infused water, full of healthy probiotics, that heal the gut, clear the skin and energize the whole body.

AND THE BEST PART…..IT’S SO EASY TO MAKE at home!  And in my humble opinion tastes WAY better than Kombucha, with so much less fuss.

I hadn’t heard of water kefir until a friend of mine, Bee (from H is For Love), introduced it to me a few months ago, and since then, I’ve been crazy, head-over-heels in love with it.  It is very energizing.

How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

Here’s an easy guide to help you get on your way to making this delicious drink at home!

How to Make Water Kefir! (45-second video) 

What is Water kefir?

  • Fermented, fruit-infused water, similar to kombucha in that it’s slightly fermented and effervescent-but water kefir is fermented with live water kefir grains, which actually come from a cactus. 
  • Water kefir is completely different from Milk kefir. Not only is this a dairy-free probiotic, it’s gluten-free.
  • Water Kefir Grains are “fed” with sugar and actually metabolize (consume) the sugar, making the final drink very low in sugar

How long does it take to make kefir water?

  • It takes about 3-4 days to make Kefir Water, with only 15 minutes of hands-on time!

What you”ll need to make Water Kefir:

What are Water kefir grains?

Water Kefir grains are soft and gelatinous “grains” from a cactus plant. This is what water kefir grains look like.  They grow and multiply when healthy and fed. They are thought to originate from Mexico where they thrived in the sugary water of the Ountia (prickly pear) cactus.

How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

How to make Water Kefir!

  1. STEP ONE: Fill with water, two, 2-quart mason jars to the halfway mark– two.

How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

Here locally in the Northwest, our regular tap water works well and keeps the kefir grains happy.

What type of water to use in Kefir Water?

  • Tap water or well water is generally best.
  • Use highly mineralized water- hard water is better than soft water here!
  • Filtered water, reverse osmosis water, or soft water or highly chlorinated water can actually inhibit growth or even lead to the kefir grains dying.
  • Bottled water tends to lack nutrients that feed the kefir grains.

How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

STEP TWO. To the water, you will mix in ¼ cup of organic cane sugar into each jar. I highly recommend making the sugar mixture in the notes.

How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

Now before you start thinking (like I did) that there is so much sugar in this, and how it must be so high in calories,  remember, the kefir grains metabolize the sugar, which means they basically “eat” the sugar, (this is what feeds them) taking it out of the water. Once it’s done doing its thing, the water is only very mildly sweet, which I find completely and utterly fascinating. 

Where does the sugar go?

From Yeemos: “Kefir grains are an amazing symbiotic matrix of bacteria and yeast that work together to feed off the natural sugars (and sometimes proteins and fats too, especially in the case of milk kefir) found present in the sugar-water and dried fruits. The yeast and bacteria co-operate, making the nutrients that are inaccessible to one digested into accessible nutrients for the other. Yeasts break down the simple sugars like glucose and fructose, turning them into ethanol and acetic acid. Lactic and acid-producing bacteria (such as lactobacilli) convert sugars (such as sucrose) and complex carbohydrates (starches, etc) into simpler sugars and lactic acid. Lactic and acetic acids naturally preserve as well as stave off harmful foreign bacteria. The result is a drink that has had much of the sugar converted to simpler sugars, lactic and acetic acids, carbon dioxide and ethanol. It also contains millions of probiotics and is more nutritious in some regards because of the more bio-available and digestible nutrients from the sugars and dried fruits including an increase in vitamin C and many B vitamins.”  From Yemoos

How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

HIGH MINERAL SUGAR BLEND 

Bee shared that using a mixture of organic cane sugar, coconut sugar and sea salt is a really nourishing combination to the kefir grains.  Both sea salt and coconut sugar are high in minerals! Mix 1 cup cane sugar, 1/2 cup coconut sugar, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Then take your 1/4th cup from this mixture.

STEP THREE: Stir the sugar into the water with a wood spoon until dissolved.

How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

STEP FOUR: Add 1/4 cup water kefir grains to each jar.

Water Kefir Grains - And How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

Give a gentle stir.

How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

STEP FIVE: Add a big slice of lemon. Now if you are allergic to lemons, sub orange, lime or even grapefruit. The acidity here helps prevent the growth of Kahm yeast – a harmless yeast but one that could affect the taste. Add one prune. These are for better flavor and they also seem to also boost fermentation. They are not imperative, but definitely add if you have on hand.

How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

 Cover with a thin kitchen towel. It needs to breathe, but you want to prevent little fruit flies from getting in.

STEP SIX:  1st Ferment. Let them sit on the kitchen counter for 2-3 days. Two days if it’s warm out (in the summer), 3-4 days if it’s cold. Right now in fall, I’m leaving it out for 3 days.

Check for sweetness. After 2-3 days your kefir water should have fermented slightly – and you can check this by tasting it. If it tastes very sweet, then not all the sugar has metabolized and you can ferment it longer. The longer it goes, the tangier it will get and the less sweet. You want it balanced- just subtly sweet with a little bit of tangy. Find your own balance. If you taste no tanginess, it may not have fermented, a sign the kefir grains may not be healthy, active or alive. Tangy tells you it has fermented.

STEP SEVEN: FLAVOR: Place 1- 1  1/2 cups fresh fruit in a clean 2-quart jar– like fresh berries, peaches, apricots, pineapple, plums, concord grapes, apples or pears. You can also add fresh herbs. Then strain both jars of the fermenting kefir into the third clean jar with the fresh fruit in it, straining out the kefir grains (set them aside) filling the jar to a ½ inch from the top.  (Save the extra water to store the grains in and place them in the fridge with 1 tablespoon sugar. Add more water to cover.)

STEP EIGHT: SECOND FERMENT. Cover tightly with a lid, and leave on the counter another 24 hours. Your kefir should start bubbling.

During the 2nd Ferment, the water kefir is creating gas and building pressure, which you want it to do – this makes it nice and bubbly, but with the metal lids, you must let out some of the pressure, “burping it” every 6-12 hours or so (depending on the temperature in your kitchen)  so the lid doesn’t explode open (yes this happened to me). With a plastic lid, it stays on fine, and the air can escape. If using a metal lid, just screw the top on loosely until you feel the first resistance- this will allow some air to escape.

How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

WARNING:  These metal lids like in the photos above, have pros and cons. They allow pressure to build up, with their tight seal, creating bubbly effervescent kefir, but they can explode if the pressure is not released occasionally. They must be burped! If you need to leave your home and are worried about the jar exploding, simply loosen the lid while you are gone. Place the jar over a bowl to collect any runoff.

Plastic lids are “self-burping”, which if you are away from home for over 8 hours, I would recommend using. The downside is the plastic lids do not let the pressure build quite enough in my opinion so kefir is not quite as bubbly. Sometimes I switch between both, depending on if I am planning to be gone.

STEP NINE: After 24 hours, the fruit will float the surface and it’s time to refrigerate it. Once it’s chilled, give it a try. You can strain the fruit,  eat the fruit ( it won’t hurt you) or keep it in the water to infuse longer – I generally just leave it in, and strain it as I pour into a glass. Up to you.  For presentation, or if giving away, you could strain, bottle and add fresh fruit for “looks”.

 Trouble Shooting:

  • If you see a white yeast on top of your second ferment, it is most likely kahm yeast. Kahm yeast is harmless but can affect the taste in an unpleasant way.
  • If you have Kahm yeast, make sure to rinse your kefir grains in pure clean water before storing in a clean jar with no soap residue. Cover with clean water and feed. This should hopefully prevent it from coming again.
  • Make sure to add citrus to your kefir water, to help prevent Kahm yeast.
  • Leave less headroom at the top of the jar for oxygen to get in, during the second fermentation (1/2 inch). Rinse your fruit before using, as this can also introduce the yeast.
  • Sometimes Kahm yeast can grow when the environment’s temperature is too warm.
  • If water kefir is not bubbling or not fermenting, it can be due to a lack of minerals. Use the mineralized sugar mixture, or try adding a pinch of sea salt.

How to Maintain or Grow your Kefir Grains:

  1. The kefir grains that you strained out earlier can be stored in a smaller jar, in the fridge in sugar water or the extra water kefir, you will have after you merge the two jars into one.
  2. When refrigerated, you want to feed the grains at least once a week, to keep them healthy and alive. They are happiest when they are actually making water kefir, so I just make one jar a week.
  3. If you want to make kefir water more often (or grow the grains faster so you can give some away) you can leave them out on the counter, feeding every two days.
  4. Feed 1 cup kefir grains with 1 tablespoon sugar, in 2 cups water, in the fridge once weekly. Feel free to change out the water every 2-3 weeks.
  5. The colder they are kept, the slower they will metabolize the sugar. The warmer they are, the faster they will metabolize the sugar- and will need to be fed more often.
  6. You can tell if the grains are “hungry” by tasting the liquid- if it is not sweet, but tangier, they are probably ready to be fed. If the water is sweet, they are not hungry and do not need to be fed.

How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

Bubbly, sparkling and raspberry-infused Water kefir- it’s seriously the best!!!

A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like milk kefir but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

There are so many versions to make….. the possibilities are endless!  Here above is Strawberry Water Kefir with Chia Seeds– energizing and refreshing!

WATER KEFIR! A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! #kefir #kefirwater #waterkefir #probiotics

Above is a peach water kefir!

Below is a raspberry water kefir – probably my favorite.

How to make Water Kefir- A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy! | www.feastingathome.com

And here below is a Plum-Ginger Shiso Water Kefir.

Strawberry Peach Water Kefir, full of healthy probiotics, good for the gut, like Kombucha but BETTER and EASIER! A simple step by step guide | www.feastingathome.com

Here is Strawberry Basil Water Kefir!

Strawberry Water Kefir, full of healthy probiotics, good for the gut, like Kombucha but BETTER and EASIER! A simple step by step guide | www.feastingathome.com

A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy!

The possibilities are endless! Get some water kefir grains and give it a try!

You’ll love this! I promise!

xoxo

Sylvia

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A simple step-by-step guide to making delicious Water Kefir, a fruit-infused, slightly fermented sparkling fruit water full of healthy probiotics, like yogurt but without the dairy!

How to make Water Kefir


Description

A simple guide to making Water Kefir-a refreshing probiotic fruit-infused drink made with water kefir grains (cactus grains) that is bubbly, effervescent and so healthy!


Ingredients

Scale
  • ½ cup alive  water kefir grains
  • 8 cups tap or well water- divided
  • ½ cup sugar (divided) organic cane sugar, coconut sugar, or a ***mixture-see notes. ( FYI this will be metabolized or consumed by the kefir grains, so it will NOT end up in the finished drink!)
  • 2 lemon wedges (optional)
  • 2 prunes (or dates, or or dried fruit) optional
  • ——-
  • 12 cups fresh fruit- berries, stonefruit (peaches, plums, nectarines), apples, pears, mango, pineapple, etc.

Optional Additions- fresh ginger, whole spices, herbs.

Equipment:

Sugar Mixture: (optional, but highly nutritious to you kefir grains)


Instructions

  1. Fill two, half-gallon mason jars with 4 cups cool tap water in each.
  2. Add ¼ cup sugar in each, stirring to mostly dissolve. ( Feel free to make sugar mixture first)
  3. Add ¼ cup kefir grains to each jar.
  4. Add ¼ kefir water to each jar (optional–you can obviously only do this after your first batch of kefir, so just leave it out for the first batch.)
  5. Add ¼ of a lemon wedge to each jar.
  6. Add 1 prune to each jar.
  7. Cover both jars with a thin kitchen cloth and leave on the counter for 2-4 days. 2 days if warm out, 3-4 days if cold. This 2-4 day time period allows the grains “to eat” the sugar, so most of the sugar will actually be metabolized, and not end up in the drink itself. You want the water to get the point where it is  just slightly sweet, and nicely tangy. So taste it before moving to the next step. If it tastes very sweet, it’s not ready. When it’s cold this takes longer.
  8. After 2-3 days the kefir will have fermented slightly, taste tangy or lightly sour, but there is one more step which gives it flavor and makes it effervescent and bubbly.
  9. FLAVOR: Get your third jar ready and place 1- 1 1/2 cups fresh, ripe fruit in it– like fresh berries, peaches, mango, pineapple, plums, concord grapes, apples, pears – I muddle them up a bit to release their juices. Add a few thin slices of ginger, or whole spices if you wish. Or add 1 cup fruit juice – especially nice in winter when fresh fruit is limited.
  10. Strain both jars of the fermenting kefir water into the third clean jar with the fresh fruit in it, straining out the kefir grains ( set them aside), tossing the lemon and prunes, filling the clean jar (with the fruit in it) to a 1/2 inch from the top. Then cover tightly with a  lid, and leave this on the counter another 24 hours, allowing pressure to build up yet, burping the lids (releasing the pressure), every 8-12 hours or so, more often especially if warm. Keep in mind, not burping may cause the jar to explode. If you must leave them for longer, either loosen the lid and place jar in a bowl to collect runoff, or place the jar in the fridge, to slow the fermentation down, and continue fermenting on the counter when you have more time.
  11. WARNING:  These metal lids like in the photos above, have pros and cons. They allow pressure to build up, with their tight seal, creating bubbly effervescent kefir, but they can explode if the pressure is not released occasionally. Plastic lids are “self-burping”, which if you are away from home for over 8 hours, I would recommend using. The downside is the plastic lids do not let the pressure build quite enough in my opinion so kefir is not quite as bubbly. Sometimes I switch between both, depending on if I am planning to be gone.
  12. To reiterate- During the 2nd fermentation phase, the water kefir is creating gas and building pressure, which you want it to do – this makes it nice and bubbly, but with the metal lids, you must let out some of the pressure, “burping it” every 6-12 hours or so, so the lid doesn’t bend or blast open (yes this happened to me). With a plastic lid, it stays on fine, it self burps, but it’s less bubbly.
  13. After 24 hours, the fruit will float to the surface and it’s time to refrigerate it. Burp it, place it in the fridge, lid tight. Once it’s chilled, give it a try. You can strain this and put it in a different pourable container, or just strain as you pour, leaving the fruit in for maximum infusion. Up to you.
  14. The kefir grains that you strained out earlier should be stored in a smaller jar, in the extra kefir water you will have after you merge the two jars into one. You can refrigerate them and feed with a tablespoon of sugar, every week –or if trying to grow more grains to give away, store the jar on the counter, feeding every couple of days. They grow faster at room temp, and grow slower in the fridge. They are happiest when they are actually making water kefir, so I usually make a jar a week. See notes.

Notes

Yes, feel free to halve the recipe.

It is OK to use frozen berries or fruit.

YES, you can get by with two 2-quart mason jars ( instead of 3). Strain one of the kefir jars into a pitcher, temporarily, rinse out the mason jar, add the fruit to this one, and pour in strained kefir water form pitcher and 2nd jar. Get it? 😉

Adding the lemon helps prevents kahm yeast, and the prune really adds flavor and helps with fermentation.

Kahm Yeast: If you see a white yeast on top of your second ferment, it is most likely kahm yeast. It’s harmless but can affect the taste. If you have Kahm yeast, make sure to rinse your kefir grains in pure clean water before storing in a clean jar with no soap residue. Cover with clean water and feed. This should hopefully prevent it from coming again. Make sure to add Citrus to your kefir water. Make sure all jars are clean. Leave less headroom at the top of the jar for oxygen to get in, during the second fermentation. Rinse your fruit before using, this can introduce the yeast. Sometimes it can grow if the environment is too warm.

How to maintain/grow your kefir grains:

The kefir grains that you strained out earlier can be stored in a smaller 8-ounce jar, in the fridge in the extra water kefir you will have after you merge the two jars into one. Add more water to fill and 1 tablespoon sugar.

  1. When refrigerated, you want to feed the grains at least once a week, to keep them healthy and alive. They are happiest when they are actually making water kefir, so I just make one jar a week.
  2. If you want to make kefir water more often (or grow the grains faster so you can give some away) you can leave them out on the counter, feeding every two days.
  3. Feed 1 cup kefir grains with 1 tablespoon sugar, in 2 cups water, in the fridge once weekly. Feel free to change out the water every 2-3 weeks.
  4. The colder they are kept, the slower they will metabolize the sugar. The warmer they are, the faster they will metabolize the sugar- and will need to be fed more often.
  5. You can tell if the grains are “hungry” by tasting the liquid- if it is not sweet, but tangier, they are probably ready to be fed. If the water is sweet, they are not hungry and do not need to be fed.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 85

Keywords: water kefir, how to make water kefir, what is water kefir, water kefir recipes, kefir water, probiotic drink recipes

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  1. After reading this article my sister & I got some Florida Sun Water Kefir grains and started making water kefir. I always loved kefir, but no longer consume dairy products, so I was very excited to try this recipe. I LOVE it! My sister had never tried kefir but has been enjoying it, especially the raspberry flavored. Thank you so much.

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Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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