Water kefir is a fantastic probiotic drink that’s easy to make at home and great for your gut health. You may have drank or heard of kombucha and jun which are other probiotic drinks although our family preference is water kefir as it’s not as tart as the others so my kids love drinking it. So instead of giving your kids juice, soda or other sugary drinks, try fruit flavored water kefir as a substitute. It’s safe to drink it daily and contains probiotics (healthy bacteria) and vitamins. My kids love the fizziness and the fruity flavor!
Items you need:
- 1/4 cup of water kefir grains
- 1/4 cup of organic sugar (cane sugar, brown, turbinado)
- 4 cups of chlorine free water
- glass jar at least a quart sized
- breathable cloth cover to keep bugs/dust out and rubber band
- wooden/plastic spoon, avoid metal
- mesh strainer (plastic or nylon), avoid metal
- Add ¼ cup of sugar to the glass jar
- Add 1 cup hot water to the jar
- Stir thoroughly to dissolve the sugar.
- Add remaining 3 cups of cool or room temperature water to the jar
- Add 1/4 cup of *kefir grains to the sweetened water
- Cover with a piece of cloth and rubber band
- Let sit for 24-48 hours, preferably in a cool area of your kitchen with no direct sunlight
- *You can also buy a 1/2 cup of organic, non-GMO kefir grains for $10 or it comes free if you sign up for a class.
Ready to Drink: The longer you allow it to ferment, the more fizzy and less sweet it will taste. Once you’re happy with the taste (shouldn’t be longer than 72 hours or the grains will begin to disintegrate), strain the kefir through a mesh strainer and it’s ready to drink. Make sure you rinse your grains in water for 20 minutes and strain them. You can choose to start the process again. If you prefer to store your grains, place them in a glass container and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.
Second Ferment: If you prefer to add fruit flavors or to prefer a tangier brew, do a second ferment of the water kefir in a bottle with a stopper lid to produce a deeper flavor. After you remove the grains, place the kefir water in a glass bottle and add a few pieces of organic fruit or fruit juice. I love adding fruit like passion fruit, pineapple and strawberries. Check out my favorite water kefir recipes or create your own. Let it sit for 24-48 hrs at room temperature making sure to burp it several times a day. Once it’s reached your desired taste/fizziness, place the bottle in the fridge and burp at least once a day.
*Fruit flavored water kefir can also be bought at $5/bottle (must provide a bottle with a stopper) or a monthly subscription of min 4 bottles at $4/bottle.
Some of you may be concerned at the amount of sugar that water kefir contains. Remember that most of the sugar has already been consumed by the kefir grains and the final sugar content is dependent upon how long you allow it to ferment. As it cultures, the grains consume the sugars and convert them to carbon dioxide (carbonation), acids, bacteria, and yeasts. If you are trying to avoid sugar, allow your water kefir to ferment until it is just a little bit sweet on the first fermentation. When bottled, it will still have enough sugar, with the addition of fruit or fruit juice, for carbonation but will have a lower sugar content once the second fermentation is complete. Just for comparison on average, fermented water kefir contains the same amount of sugar as in 1 green apple – just 3 grams. If you add fruit juice to your fermentation, then the sugar content goes up to 5 grams.
I have a water filtration system which eliminates chlorine but keeps beneficial minerals. Water kefir grains tend to do better with water that has a higher mineral content. Bottled spring water is preferred to tap water. If you are using tap water, make sure you filter it or at least boil it for 20 minutes or leave it out for 24 hrs for the chlorine to evaporate. The water should be room temperature before adding the grains. Avoid distilled water, reverse osmosis water, and water often have extremely low or non-existent mineral levels. Structured, alkalized, or pH-adjusted water is not appropriate for culturing water kefir. If you find your water kefir to be sluggish or inactive try adding 1/2 tsp of unsulfured blackstrap molasses, 1/8 tsp of unrefined sea salt or 1/4 tsp of baking soda to your recipe.