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.
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.
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!
This is Bee. She came over a while back and walked me through the simple steps to make water kefir– which I’ll share with you here. It’s so easy!
What you”ll need to make Water Kefir:
What are Water kefir grains?
- This is what water kefir grains look like. They are soft and gelatinous “grains” from a cactus plant. They grow and multiply when healthy and fed. They are thought to originate from Mexico where it thrived in the sugary water of the Ountia (prickly pear) cactus.
How to make Water Kefir!
- Fill with water, to the halfway mark– two, 2-quart mason jars.
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.
2. To the water, you will mix in ¼ cup of organic cane sugar into each jar.
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
What kind of sugar to use:
- organic cane sugar
- coconut sugar
- Turbinado or sugar in the raw
- brown sugar
- regular white sugar
- pure maple syrup
- Piloncillo (evaporated sugar cane juice in a cone-shape found in Mexican markets).
Make a blend of sugar:
- Bee shared that using a mixture of organic cane sugar, coconut sugar and sea salt is a really nourishing combination to the kefir grains- the pinch of sea salt add healthy 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.
3. Stir the sugar into the water with a wood spoon until dissolved.
4. Add 1/4 cup water kefir grains to each jar.
Give a gentle stir.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Cover with a thin kitchen towel. It needs to breathe, but you want to prevent little fruit flies from getting in.
8. 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.
9. Check for sweetness. So 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 have not fermented, a sign the kefir grains may not be healthy or alive. Tangy tells you it has fermented.
10. FLAVOR: There is one more step that gives it flavor and makes it effervescent and bubbly.Get your third 2-quart mason jar and place 1- 1 1/2 cups fresh fruit in it — 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.)
11..SECOND FERMENT: Then cover tightly with a lid, and leave on the counter another 24 hours. Your kefir will 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.
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.
12. 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”.
Kahm Yeast and Trouble Shooting:
If you see a white yeast on top of your second ferment, it is most likely kahm yeast. Kahm yeast harmless but will 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. Make sure all jars are clean. 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 temperature of the environment is too warm.
How to Maintain or Grow your Kefir Grains:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Bubbly, sparkling and raspberry infused Water kefir- it’s seriously the best!!!
There are so many versions to make….. the possibilities are endless! Here bove is Strawberry Water Kefir with Chia Seeds– energizing and refreshing!
Above is a peach water kefir!
Below is a raspberry water kefir – probably my favorite.
And here below is a Plum-Ginger Shiso Water Kefir.
Here is Strawberry Basil Water Kefir!
The possibilities are endless! Get some water kefir grains and give it a try!
You’ll love this! I promise!