How to Make Water Kefir: Recipes for Amazing Health Benefits

how to make water kefir

What Is Water Kefir?

There are some people who might not have heard of water kefir before. Kefir, yes, but water kefir? In case you don’t know what it is, it is a super healthy, dairy-free probiotic beverage.

It’s not made with milk like the other kefir you might know, but with water grains. These water grains can be used to culture your sugar water, juice, or coconut water for instance.

The fantastic benefit of water kefir is that it is so easy to make and will benefit you because of all the health benefits.

What Are Kefir Grains Made Of?

Water kefir grains consist of yeast and bacteria so the word ‘kefir grains’ is more related to how the culture looks.  They also known as sugar grains, tibicos, tibi, or Japanese water crystals.

Water kefir doesn’t really contain any grains in it. The bacteria and yeasts clump together so kefir grains have gelatinous texture and are white, light brown or yellow.

If you plan to make your own water kefir, you need to buy water kefir grains or powdered kefir culture. There are three main difference between them:

  • Water kefir grains contain a larger number of probiotics than what the powdered starter culture kefir does. This organic brand is very high quality. It contains live culture and has fantastic reviews on Amazon. You can also try the dehydrated kefir grains but I much prefer the fresh live culture - as in my opinion - it grows faster and seems to be more "robust". Both brands can be reused (unlike the powdered culture) and the main features are outlined in the table below.
  • If you take care of your water kefir grains, you can use them indefinitely to make your water kefir. Unfortunately, the powdered starter culture can only be reused for a few batches before it stops culturing.
  • The powdered kefir starter culture might be cheaper initially than the water kefir grains are, but you have to continually buy new culture with the powdered kefir.

Live Organic Water Kefir Grains

  • Supply of 40+ strains for the rebuilding of your colon's flora that's been damaged by today’s fast food lifestyle
  • Fresh PREMIUM water kefir grains
  • Fast growing as they are fresh, not dehydrated
  • More maintenance required to store for future use
  • NON-Dairy, NON-GMO, gluten and soy free, European origin
  • Includes 4X6 BREWING BAG plus a downloadable file with recipes and care
  • More details HERE

Live but dehydrated water kefir grains

  • The live dehydrated water kefir grains are heirloom grains, meaning that they’ll not lose potency even if reused
  • Dehydrated water grains
  • Slower growing as they need to be activated first
  • Easier to store for future use as grains are dehydrated
  • GLUTEN-FREE, non-GMO AND THIRD PARTY TESTED
  •  Includes free access to downloadable
     155-page ebook with easy kefir recipes
  • More details HERE

How to Make Water Kefir?

The ingredients that go into making water kefir are water kefir grains, filtered water and raw or  organic sugar.  Then you can add fruit, juice or other ingredients to make it taste exactly like you want it to.

Water kefir has fewer strains of yeasts and bacteria than the milk kefir does. But on the other hand, the water kefir grains contain more bacteria and yeasts than buttermilk or some yogurts do, for instance. 

The probiotics can vary with each batch that you make with the water kefir grains. Look at the example of yeasts and bacteria that can be found in water kefir grains.

BACTERIA*

Species Lactobacillus
L. brevis
L. casei
L. hilgardii
L. hordei
L. nagelii


Species Leuconostoc
L. citreum
L. mesenteroides


Species Acetobacter
A. fabarum
A. orientalis

Species Acetobacter
A. fabarum
A. orientalis

YEASTS*

Hanseniaospora valbyensis
Lachancea fermentati
Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Zygotorulaspora florentinar


* Source:
www.ufrb.edu.br/kefirdoreconcavo/images/A_diversidade_microbiana_do_kefir_de_água.pdf

For some people who are allergic to dairy, the water kefir makes a good alternative. Water kefir doesn’t contain any dairy because it is grown in organic sugar and filtered water. Neither does water kefir contain any gluten.

The wonderful thing about water kefir - like dairy kefir - it is reusable. Once your batch of water kefir is finished culturing, you simply remove the water kefir grains (pour the liquid through a fine nylon mesh strainer) and place them in fresh sugar water.

If you care for your kefir properly the water kefir grains can last for a very long time; actually, an unlimited time period. They can be used repeatedly to make fresh batches of water kefir whenever you want.

The powdered kefir starter culture can be used too, but only a few times before you must buy more. 

For some people who are allergic to dairy, water kefir makes a good alternative.

If you are wondering if (instead of the sugar water) you can use organic juices or coconut water to make water kefir, you certainly can but only occasionally.

Even though water kefir is reusable, it is actually not really advised to use juices or coconut water all the time, because it could be a bit hard on the water kefir grains, especially if you only have one set of them. They really need pure water and quality raw sugar to thrive over a long period of time. Juices often have ingredients that are not necessary conducive to the growth of healthy water grains.

It is vital that the water is pure and chlorine-free and the sugar is not refined as the water grains will not thrive if there are chemicals (chlorine) in the water and the sugar has no minerals (like the white sugar).
It is also healthier for you if you don't use tap water or white sugar that is devoid of any beneficial minerals.

The water and the sugar you use to make your water kefir can definitely impact on the flavor and carbonation levels and can go so far as to affect the water kefir grains health. There are heaps of reasons too, why each batch of water kefir can be different; if it’s too sweet or too flat, it might need a different sugar.

If the water kefir grains don’t seem to be active, you might need different sugar and water combinations or a mineral supplementation.

What Water Needs to Be Used?

  • When making water kefir, people always ask, “Should I just use ordinary tap water to make water kefir”? But preferably use water that is as free from contaminants as it can possibly be, simply for the health of the water kefir grains.
  • The quality of municipal water will vary, as will the quality of well water and spring water. Water used for culturing water kefir will come from different sources. The home sources such as well water or municipal water could very possibly contain certain chlorine and fluorides in it.  Some well water is high in minerals which make it good for making water kefir. 

    Then you get spring water which comes out the ground and which is high in minerals. Tap water could even be glacier water, river water, or water that is collected in certain ways. You get “hard” water too, and “soft” water which can prove a problem for some cultures.
  • Bottled water that you get in plastic bottles is available everywhere, but you need to check the labels too because it can be spring water which has been bottled at the source or water that comes from streams or rivers; or even municipal tap water. Then there is distilled water too; completely purified water, containing no chemicals and no minerals. Distilled water or reverse osmosis water, have extremely low or non-existent mineral levels and it's not suitable for making water kefir.

Many of these different water sources might require that you treat the water, such as boiling it or aerating it before use. To make it simple, use spring water or filtered water. This will ensure that the water you use does not contain chorine or fluoride like tap water but it contains some minerals.

By the way, if you always wanted to get a water filtration system but found it expensive, check out this one!
The Waterdrop 320-Gallon Long-Lasting Water Faucet Filtration System is surprisingly inexpensive and has great reviews on Amazon.

What Is the Right Sugar To Use?

  • First of all, always read the label on the sugar when you make your water kefir.  Because some sugars will have anti-cake additives in or other ingredients that can easily affect the health of the water kefir grains. Choose plain sugar or raw sugar with no other ingredients for optimum results.

    I recommend this high quality raw sugar as it contains many minerals, it's unprocessed and does not contain additives. You can also alternate with this top rated organic sugar.  It's a good idea to feed your grains with different sugar types as they vary in nutritional content and this is often what your water grains will like.
  • Some people have been successful with using coconut sugar but I don't recommend using it all the time as it is too rich in nutrients. Use it occasionally and mix it it with regular sugar for best results.
  • When making your water kefir, there are different types of sugar that have been used to make it. It is not recommended that you use honey or molasses and even sugar substitutes like Splenda, monk fruit, stevia or agave, because they can damage the water kefir grains and not provide them with the right kind of ‘food’ needed for them to survive.
  • If you are making your water kefir using juice, you don’t need to add any sugar because there should be enough sugar in the juice for the water kefir grains to feed on.
  • When your water kefir has finished culturing for 48 hours or so, the remaining sugar water left will vary. This will depend on the ingredients that have been used as well as your culturing conditions. But it makes sense to say that water kefir that has been cultured for 48 hours will result in less sugar over than water kefir that has been cultured for 24 hours under similar conditions.

Top 7 Popular Water Kefir Recipes

There are many ways of flavouring water kefir. You can add all sorts of fruit or juice or even herbs and spices. Once you have tried a few popular recipes and know how to grow and maintain your water grains, you can try different options and choose what you and your family like best.

There is, for example, the ginger flavoured one which is very popular and any options with lemon juice are always a great choice. Children love fizzy drinks so go for lemon or orange based soda pop if you have a young family.

Remember that it is not recommended that you add the flavouring or fruit to the water kefir with the grains. Some of the fruits and flavourings could damage the water kefir grains.  Remove the grains, and then add fruit juice or fresh fruit.

There are some fruit juices, however, which can be used to make your water kefir. But then, using the water kefir grain in juices and then moving them over to the sugar water might end up in water kefir that tastes unpleasant. It is rather recommended that you maintain 2 sets of water kefir grains instead, one for the sugar water and one for the juices. Otherwise, you could use juice as a flavouring after the grains have been removed.

Coconut water is another popular flavor, used to make water kefir. Before you get started, make sure that the grains are completely hydrated and have been cultured in the sugar water for a minimum of 2-3 weeks before you use the coconut water. 

You can alternate sugar water batches with coconut water batches to keep the grains healthy. People have asked if using honey is OK for making water kefir, but it is not really recommended at all.

The following are the most popular and best water kefir recipes. Once you master them you can start experimenting with other options to make all sort of varieties of water kefir.

1. LEMON-GINGER WATER KEFIR

  • Make water kefir and remove the kefir grains
  • Mix 4 cups water kefir with 3 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • Slice/chop 1-inch piece of peeled ginger root
  • Pour the water kefir with lemon juice into swing top bottles, add ginger pieces
  • Cap the bottle and ferment for 1-3 days, depending on the desired level of carbonation and then place them in the fridge so you can serve chilled (“burp” the bottles every 6 hours or so to avoid excessive pressure build-up).

2. COCONUT WATER KEFIR

  • Make water kefir and remove the kefir grains (use coconut water instead of sugar water for this recipe) - this will take about 24-48 hours.
  • Place the grains in sugar water after making coconut water kefir, to keep them healthy

3. CRANBERRY JUICE WATER KEFIR

  • Add kefir grains to 2 quarts of organic cranberry juice and culture 24-48 hours
  • Place the grains in sugar water after making cranberry juice kefir, to keep them healthy

4. FRESH FRUIT WATER KEFIR

  • Make water kefir and remove the kefir grains
  • Add fresh fruit to the water kefir. You can use: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit and mango. Change the fruit once a day.
  • Culture the fruit and kefir for 2-3 days
  • Drink it withe last lot of fruit or remove it and drink just the liquid

5. CREAM SODA WATER KEFIR

  • Make water kefir and remove the kefir grains
  • Pour the water kefir into swing top bottles without adding any juice and leave on the kitchen bench for 2 days or so.  “Burp” the bottles every 6-8 hours or so to avoid excessive pressure build-up. After two days,  add vanilla extract before drinking — tastes like cream soda!

6. Chocolate Coconut Water Kefir Smoothie

  • Make water kefir and remove the kefir grains (use coconut water instead of sugar water for this recipe) - this will take about 24-48 hours.
  • Place the grains in sugar water after making coconut water kefir, to keep them healthy
  • Combine 1 cup of coconut Water Kefir with 1 Frozen Banana, ½ Avocado, 2 tbsp Raw Cacao powder and blend in a Nutribullet
  • Sprinkle with Raw Cocao Nibs

7. Orange Kefir Soda Pop

  • Make water kefir and remove the kefir grains
  • Combine 3 cups of water kefir with 1 cup of orange juice in a jug
  • Pour into into swing top bottles and let sit in a cool dark place for 2-3 days. Don't forget to "burp".
  • Place in the fridge when ready and enjoy

Making Water Kefir - Things to Remember

  • It is advisable that for the water kefir grains to thrive, you move them to fresh sugar water regularly (every few days). You shouldn’t go past four days because the grains will starve if they are not supplied with their fresh food. If you are not ready to make the next batch, store the grains in the fridge or freezer (read on for instructions).
  • If you buy dehydrated kefir grains like this brand, you need to rehydrate them first. This will take 48 hours or less. It is not recommended, that you drink the rehydration liquid because the water kefir grains need time to rehydrate and start growing and during that initial time they are not consuming much sugar.

    So if you drink the rehydration liquid, it’s going to contain a lot of sugar (not good for you). In any case, you might see that the sugar water taste is not that pleasant to drink because the whole rehydration process also involves the yeast and bacteria re-balancing.

    Keep in mind that you can totally eliminate the rehydration step but buying water grains that are fresh.
  • It will take around 24-48 hours to culture your water kefir grains. But the precise time will depend on things like the environmental factors and particularly the temperature at which your grains are being cultured in. However if you do allow your water kefir grains to culture for longer than 48 hours, you put them at risk of starving (as they run out of sugar), potentially even damaging them.
  • Some people wonder if their house is colder, will they still be able to culture water kefir. Many homes do maintain cooler temperatures, and particularly in winter time. If this is your situation, place the culture in a warmer place e.g. not far away from room heater, electrical appliances, oven or you can also use a heating pad, reptile mat or this seedling mat
  • If you have been successful in culturing your water kefir grains, you will notice that the resultant water might be lighter in colour, even look cloudy. Also, the flavor might not be as sweet and even have a kind of tangy, tart, sour type of flavour and aroma. This is what the liquid should taste like as the sugar is used-up by the grains. However if you think your water kefir doesn’t look good, or smell good and tastes ‘unacceptable’, it is not recommended that you consume it.
  • The taste of water kefir that is ready to be consumed will vary quite a lot. This will depend on the sugar that was used as well as the culturing time. It can be pretty sweet or may even have a flat taste unless you bottle it. Many people prefer to add some kind of flavouring/juice to their water kefir before they drink it.
  • Bottled water kefir needs to be refrigerated. This is how you will do it:
    - room temperature (68°-78°F or 20°-24°C): 3-4 days
    - refrigerator: 2-3 weeks
    - freezer: 1-2 months (can be a bit longer)
  • If you are wondering how much kefir grains you need to start culturing, then, say, 1-2 quarts of water kefir will need 3 or 4 tablespoons of hydrated water kefir grains. You don’t need to rinse the grains in-between making your new batches because in any case, if you did rinse regularly, it could be detrimental to their health.

    Every time you make a new batch of water kefir though, you need to have a clean container. It is not a good idea to use plastic bottles to store your kefir. It is recommended that you use glass when you work with starter cultures because often plastic bottles have the capacity to drawn in undesired chemicals and you don’t want that.

    I recommend that you use glass komucha jar like this one as it is designed for all sorts of fermenting purposes including kombucha and dairy-based kefir so you will get plenty use out of it.

Water Kefir Benefits

Even though these haven’t been fully documented, there are several sources that claim that water kefir helps with everything from obesity, eczema, and psoriasis, ulcers and more. Water kefir helps the intestinal flora to stabilize and metabolize foods even better.

It’s a Probiotic

First of all, it’s a probiotic and we all know that probiotics are good bacteria that help to keep your digestive system healthy. The digestive system must surely be one of the most important parts of your body because the body is desperate for good nutrients from food and drink in order to work properly and to keep you healthy.

The digestive system has the job of breaking all those nutrients into small enough parts so your body can absorb the nutrients for growth and cell repairs. Even though water kefir is not considered as strong as kombucha, nevertheless, it contains a bigger number of bacterial strains than kombucha does.

All the good bacteria found in water kefir will help you with digesting your food, preventing allergies, boosting your immune system, and generally keeping your body in good condition. All the probiotics found in fermented foods such as water kefir will boost your immune system no end. What that equates too is that you won’t get sick as much as you would have!

It’s Easy to Prepare

Not only is it easy to make but it’s such a cheap way of keeping healthy. You simply buy your water kefir grains once, and then use them time and time again. See how versatile that is – and it allows you to customize your flavors to suit what you and or family needs.

Lots of people who are addicted to soda drinks find that drinking water kefir has kicked them off the habit. Apart from producing dozens of healthy probiotic bacteria, gasses are also sent into the water, which carbonates the water, giving you the perfect base for your ‘soda’ drink, your healthy soda drink!

Allergies No More

Reports show that seasonal fall allergies seem to drop to almost zero when water kefir is drunk every day. You will soon notice how well it works for allergies when you leave it out of your diet on a daily basis!

Your Skin Benefits Too!

Some people have been heard to wash their faces in water kefir too. The results received are that of a smooth, glowing and soft skin.

You can say that all the wonderful health benefits that you receive from drinking organic yogurt, milk kefir, and kombucha – you can expect to receive from water kefir too.

Why Is Fermentation so Full of Health Benefits?

Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, cheese, and yogurt – these are just a few products that would not be what they are without fermentation. Fermentation is a natural chemical process, where sugar is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. 

This practice is thousands of years old. It allowed foodstuffs to be stored for months on end at room temperature, without the use of a refrigerator. One huge reason foods were fermented was because of health. When we eat ferment foods we ingest millions of healthy microorganisms.

It is because fermented foods offer aid to the stomach, protecting it from harmful bacteria. Lab studies prove that good bacteria from probiotics are what prevent animals contracting E. coli and salmonella. 

 When we eat fermented foods, we absorb nutrients better. Bear in mind that one is able to ingest heaps of nutrients, but unless our body can absorb them, they become useless to us, like cabbage – it is very rich in nutrients, but in its raw form, it is quite difficult to digest and can cause gas. But when it is fermented in the form of kimchi or sauerkraut, it becomes so much easier to digest, making it easy for us to assimilate all those vitamins, polyphenols, and antioxidants. 

Kefir, yogurt, and cheese also lose a lot of their lactose in fermentation, making for easier digestion.

Fermentation is active in creating and releasing nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, B complex vitamins, and immune system-enhancing beta glucans. A byproduct of fermentation is glutathione, a leading free radical scavenger for our brains and bodies.

Research around the world points out that fermented foods will help you to create a healthy microbiome which can be important in the prevention of many serious and chronic health conditions

By offering your gut healthy bacteria like L. acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidus, L. bulgaricus, your whole digestive system function improves. Something like water kefir will just continue to protect and reproduce in your intestinal walls long after you have consumed food. Conditions such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, might improve if you introduce healthy microorganisms contained in water kefir.

Today, commercially fermented foods lack healthy bacteria because they are highly processes, refined and contain sugar, as well as colourings and preservatives. Commercial products make use of commercial product ingredients, not natural, organic ones.

But you can tap into the real health benefits of fermented food by finding places that do use natural organic products or make your own fermented foods and beverages. Then your sourdough bread, your kefir, kombucha, and other fermented products will put your health in another league.

Your health depends on good bacteria and it is fermentation that puts fire to that bacteria. Create healthy microbiome. Start adding water kefir to fire up your life and health.

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