Water Kefir: A delicious effervescent probiotic drink!

This fermented fizzy beverage is one of the easiest things you can make!

*NOTE: If you do any other fermenting (milk kefir, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, etc) please keep all of your cultures in separate areas of the kitchen, as far apart as possible. There is the possibility that they can cross contaminate. People have found SCOBYs growing in their water kefir!

Water kefir (pronounced "kay-feer") is a fermented beverage full of beneficial bacteria, and it is made by adding Water Kefir grains to sugar water. Sugar is added to the kefir recipes because that is what the kefir eats; however, there is far less sugar in the finished kefir beverage. The beneficial bacteria and yeasts present in the water kefir grains metabolize the sugar, resulting in a healthy fermented drink full of probiotics. 

As with any new probiotic supplement, you may need to start slow, drinking 1 tbsp a day to start, and work your way up to larger amounts….For example, if you have a candida buildup in your system the probiotics will start to kill off the overgrowth. It can cause the candida to give off toxins as they die off causing you to feel like crap! As your body gets used to the new balance you will feel better.  (I myself started drinking lots right away and had no problems).

First, you need to get the “grains”. You may find them in some stores, but it's usually easier to find someone who has them (like me! Ask me for some!) Once you have water kefir grains and start using them, they will multiply, so soon you will be able to pass some on too. 

These are my Easy Instructions:

The ratios are:
1/4 cup grains:1/4 cup sugar:4 cups water
(you might be starting with 1 tbl grains, then you would use 1 tbl sugar and 1 cup water).

Note: You really do need to use sugar. You cannot use honey, coconut sugar, brown sugar., etc. It's got to be real sugar. I buy the regular organic sugar from Costco. I tried turbinado sugar once, and it was too high in minerals: the kefir grains did not like it!  

Try not to use straight tap water because it has chemicals like chlorine and flouride which can kill the grains. (I have used Britta water and it’s been fine,  however you could get spring water from Walmart, or from a spring). Also, try not to use metal utensils or tools when handling kefir grains; they don’t like metal and may be adversely affected if exposed to it.

Dissolve the sugar in some hot water (don't use more water than you need! ie if you are using 1/4 cup of grains, dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar in 1/4 cup of hot water and then add enough cold water so that you have 4 cups)…  Note that the sugar does dissolve more easily in hot water, but if you are impatient (like me) just add the sugar to room temperature (or cold) water and mix well.  If you are not using spring water, you may add a touch of sea salt or molasses or a piece of eggshell for minerals (you could rotate each time).

You can also use water kefir grains to make juice kefir using any fruit or vegetable juice. In this case, do not add extra sugar - there is already enough natural sugar in the juice. Try apple juice!

Put everything (sugar water, and grains) into a jar; a quart sized mason jar is perfect. Some people add ginger and lemon juice at this stage, I have not tried that. Cover the jar lightly with a coffee filter or cloth (which are both breathable) and an elastic to hold it – to keep out bugs and kids. Let it sit on a kitchen counter (where air circulates - as opposed to in a cupboard which will have less air circulation) for 48 hours (2 days). Temperature can speed this process up: the warmer it is inside your house the faster the fermentation process.

After 2 days (it can be pushed to 3 days if you are tired!), strain out the grains and start again with new sugar water and your grains. If the grains have multiplied, it will ferment faster, so you may want to measure them or pay attention to the quantity and put aside the extra grains in the fridge in some sugar water where fermentation will slow down from the cold.

Note: As with all cultured and fermented foods, a small amount of naturally occurring alcohol is typically present in the finished product. Although the amount will vary from batch to batch, the amount should be quite small (usually significantly less than 1% although it varies with the fermentation time). Using the standard ratio (1/4 cup sugar to 1 quart water) there is not enough sugar to result in an intoxicating drink. The exception to this general rule is when brewing 100% juice (rather than sugar water); the higher sugar content can result in a higher alcohol level. If you do not desire a higher alcohol level, I recommend keeping the fermentation period to 24 hours when working with straight fruit juice.

Note: If you leave your water kefir fermenting for a few days too long - it may taste a little like beer.

You can now drink your kefir right away, or refrigerate it for later, or do a second fermentation (which is highly recommended: The second fermentation results in a fruity, effervescent delicious drink):

I like to pour the kefir into empty flip-top bottles (dollar store or Kitchen Stuff Plus sells them), or even smaller bottles which I saved from store-bought Kombucha. Any bottle or jar with a tight lid will do, but a bottle with a narrow neck (such as a flip-top bottle) will result in a fizzier drink, while you will not get the same fizziness from using a wide-mouthed jar . 

Add any dried or fresh fruit or fruit juice (about 1/4 the amount of juice to the total amount of kefir) to the water kefir. You should either crush or chop the fruit prior to adding it to the bottle in order to maximize surface area. Raisins will make the final product taste like Dr. Pepper, strawberries will make it taste like pink champagne. Pineapple and ginger is nice, get creative! If you are using dried fruit – make sure it is organic and unsulphured. I like to mix strawberries or raspberries with lime juice. Another good combination is raspberries and lemon juice. 

Cover this tightly with the lid. Let it sit for another 2 days. It will get fruity and fizzy. After the 2 days, you should “burp” your bottle to allow for gases to escape; especially if you used dry fruit, because the carbonation can build up and jars may explode (it happens to most people at least once!)

Drink immediately or transfer to the fridge and drink whenever you want. (It's best if you drink it within 2 weeks).

You can now make this a part of your routine (Every 2 days). The grains are living things and they will live forever if you take care of them. If you want to take a “break”, just put them in the fridge in some sugar water.

In good health! Enjoy!