I post so rarely these days, although I’m often thinking of things I’d love to share. So when free time to blog is scarce, I must think about which morsel of information I reeeaally want to share. So, this is it – a delicious, fizzy probiotic drink that you can brew at home simply with sugar water and a starter culture. Water kefir is now “on tap” at our house, having been added to my other favorite beverages – kombucha and fresh spring water from the artesian spring here in Eden Prairie.
Let’s consider the whys for water kefir:
- As I already mentioned, water kefir is a probiotic drink. Although not as prolific in probiotics as its milk kefir counterpart, it contains far more than yogurt!
- As opposed to milk kefir or yogurt, water kefir has the advantage of being dairy free for those who need it. Also, regardless of how short you are on groceries, the cupboard likely contains at least a few tablespoons of sugar, which is all you need beyond water and the kefir “grains” (the starter).
- Making water kefir is super cheap. Once you have the kefir grains, they will proliferate and never need to be purchased/obtained again. Beyond that, it’s just sugar and water.
- It’s delicious! Plain water kefir has a mild taste and is easily flavored to preference. People who find kombucha to be too strong will easily be able to make a water kefir they like – whether that’s strawberry, raspberry, ginger, lemon (tastes like lemonade!), etc.
- Not only is water kefir easy to make, it’s also relatively quick. Whereas my kombucha takes a couple weeks to get where I like it, our water kefir is done in one week or less.
Want to get started? Here’s what you’ll need:
Water kefir grains. These are tiny, rubbery pearls formed by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Since they will proliferate when provided with sugar and water, it is easiest if you can get a friend to share some with you (that would be me for those of you I know!). Otherwise you can order them online or find them in some natural food stores. I even saw them at Hy-Vee once. If you purchase them, you will have to follow the instructions for rehydrating them before using, which will take three to four days.
Filtered water (or coconut water). I usually just use water (filtered from my fridge or fresh spring water), but you can also use coconut water for an extra health boost. If you do, it is recommended that you alternate coconut water with sugar water because the sugar water is easier for the bacteria and yeast to survive in. The directions below will assume you’re using sugar water, but feel free to substitute.
Sugar. Organic white sugar will create the best results and support the health of the kefir grains. If you decide to use coconut water instead, you will not need to add sugar.
- Create your sugar water using a ratio of 1/4 cup sugar to 1 quart (that’s 4 cups) water. The sugar will dissolve more easily if you heat a small amount of the water, mix the sugar in, and then top it off with cold water to total 1 quart. You do not want to add the grains to hot water!
- Add 1/4 cup of water kefir grains to the 1 quart of sugar water.
- Cover loosely – when fruit flies aren’t a problem, I just use the lid but screw it on loosely. Otherwise, cover with a coffee filter or paper towel and secure with a rubber band.
- Let sit on the countertop for 2-3 days. The temperature should be between 65°-85° F. The water will become cloudy and you may see small bubbles forming. These are signs of successful fermentation!
- Strain out the grains to use for your next batch of water kefir. You will need to place them in fresh sugar water. If you aren’t ready to make a new batch right away, put the jar into the fridge until you’re ready.
- At this point, the kefir is ready to drink, but if you’d like to flavor and carbonate your water kefir, you have a couple more steps:
- Pour the kefir into jars or bottles that can seal tightly. The flip-top lids work great, but you can also use recycled bottles from store bought kefir or kombucha.
- Add fresh fruit, juice or dried fruit to the water kefir – about 1/4 cup per quart.
- Seal and leave on the countertop for an additional 2-3 days. Use care when opening the jar! You can store the kefir in the fridge for several weeks.
You should now have a sweet, bubbly, healthy drink to enjoy! Regardless of how I flavor my water kefir, I find that I like it better with a bit of lemon or lime juice added when I drink it. The kefir grains produce a very mellow flavor and I like the extra crispness. Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can share some kefir grains with you! Enjoy!