Looking for for a fizzy drink that is….
Caffeine free, preservative free, all natural, good for you…
Is one of the best tasting beverages ever?
Impossible you say?
Nope, it’s actually a drink that has existed for centuries. One of the reasons you might not have heard of it is that it’s not easy to commercialize. Luckily, Water Kefir is super easy to make in your own kitchen.
What is Water Kefir?
Kefir is a group of cells that stick together forming a matrix (resembling grains or crumbs) made up of a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts (SCOBY). The kefir grains consume sugar and produce lactic acid and carbon dioxide. The lactic acid provides some of the nutrition in the form of probiotics, and the carbon dioxide provides the fizz. It’s a winning combination.
Ferments usually rely on either yeast OR bacteria–this is what makes it different than wine or beer. (You can learn more about the different kinds of ferments in episode four of the Self Reliant Living Show.)
You Only Need 3 Ingredients to Brew Water Kefir
Unlike Kombucha, that you can brew with a store-bought beverage and some sweet tea, you need starter Kefir grains to start brewing Water Kefir. If you used store-bought Water Kefir and added water to it, Kefir grains would not grow. Commercial Water Kefir is a different process and sometimes not really Water Kefir at all.
- Kefir Grains–¼ cup
- Water–32 ounces
- Sugar (from sugar cane)–¼ cup
If you want to make more Water Kefir because you have more grains you can use a gallon jar or container.
Heat ½ cup of the water – just enough to dissolve the sugar. Dissolve the sugar. Mix the sweetened water and the rest of the water in a 1 quart jar. Make sure the water has dropped to room temperature, then add the grains. Cover with a coffee filter or breathable cloth and wait 48 hours. Taste to see if fermentation is complete, and if so move on to the second ferment (see below). If your Water Kefir needs to ferment a little long replace the cover and check back in 24 hours.
Can I Use Juice Or Another Kind Of Sweetener?
You can use any kind of sugar made from sugar cane, so that would include white table sugar, brown sugar, evaporated cane juice, sucanat, turbinado, etc.
It is not recommended that you use honey, molasses or maple syrup. These sweeteners are really concentrated. If you’d like to use them for flavor then it’s recommended that you mix some sugar in with them.
Although Water Kefir grains do better when brewed with sugar water you can use juice and coconut water. It is recommend that if you decide to use something besides sugar water that you alternate brewing with sugar water and the other liquid. It may or may not give the Water Kefir brewed in sugar water an off taste. You would need to experiment. Alternatively, you can brew with juice or coconut water with your extra grains.
Fermenting coconut water with Kefir grains would make a great sports drink. If you want to use it for this purpose I would skip the second ferment.
How Do I Know My Water Kefir Is Done?
Your Water Kefir takes 48 to 72 hours to ferment and consume most of the sugar in the sugar water. If your house is warm it might go faster, and if your house is cold it might go slower. Your Water Kefir should have a mild, sweet, pleasant flavor. You can consume it as is or you can ferment it a second time.
The Second Ferment
Here is where the REAL fun begins. Now, it’s time for FLAVOR! You can use juice, fresh fruit, dried fruit, frozen fruit or candied fruit in any combination to make any flavor Water Kefir you like. You can even use homemade syrup!
You’ll need bottles with a tight fitting cap, like those that are sold for beer brewing. Fill the bottle with ¼ to ½ cup of juice or sugar water. Then add fruit and let sit for 24 to 48 hours. You don’t have to add juice or sugar water; you can just add the fruit for a low sugar drink.
Is It Normal For My Grains To Multiply?
A healthy colony will multiply. However, if your grains did not multiply it doesn’t mean your grains are bad. It could mean you’re not letting the grains ferment long enough, or you might need to add some minerals to your sugar water. If you’re using unprocessed sugar (and I hope you are) then your grains will get the needed amount of minerals.
Can I Make Milk Kefir From My Water Kefir Grains?
Not really, they are two different bacterial strains. However, there have been reports of people taking their Milk Kefir grains and brewing sugar water. It seems harder to go the other way and be successful in taking Water Kefir grains and making Milk Kefir.
Often people who have problems digesting dairy products prefer to drink Water Kefir because it doesn’t contain any dairy.
I don’t want to drink Water Kefir because I’m trying to cut back on sugar.
Let your Water Kefir ferment for a little longer than normal and then use something like stevia to sweeten. You can do this in the first or second ferment depending on when you like to drink it.
My grains are multiplying too fast – what can I do to stop them from growing so much?
Try using a little less sugar or a little less grains. You should use only ¼ of cup of grains per quart of sugar water.
What can I do with all the extra grains my Water Kefir is making?
Give them to a friend, store them in the fridge, feed them to your dog, or put them in the compost.
I’m tired of straining my Water Kefir, is there any way to keep them all together?
You can try using a muslin bag. Be sure to keep the bag submerged or it could mold.
What is your favorite flavor of Water Kefir?