You’ve probably heard of milk kefir before, but have you heard of water kefir? Milk kefir and water kefir are made in a relatively similar way, but the main difference is in the liquid you’re brewing the kefir in and the kefir grains themselves. As you’ve probably already guessed by now, to make water kefir, you have to use water as your base liquid. I’ve never made milk kefir before or drank the stuff, but I can tell you for a fact that water kefir is easy to make, absolutely delicious, and super healthy for you!
What is water kefir?
“Water kefir is a lacto-fermented beverage made from sugar water, juice, or coconut water. Unlike its more famous cousin milk kefir, water kefir is a dairy-free beverage. The term lacto-fermentation refers not to lactose (milk sugar), but to the conversion of the sugar into lactic acid to support the beneficial yeast and bacteria.” – Cultures for Health
Water kefir grains are also known as the bacteria tibicos. I bought my grains from Cultures for Health and I love them! The grains are reusable, so you can make batch after batch after batch of water kefir.
I didn’t know what water kefir was until I watched a video I had access to through my GNOWFGLINS membership. Wardeh explained everything so clearly and from what I understood from watching the video, water kefir can be a little unpredictable. Your grains may or may not multiply every time you make a new batch. If you use water that doesn’t have enough minerals in it, your kefir may have a hard time culturing. Well water and spring water can be naturally high in mineral content and are ideal for making kefir. Also, water kefir gets less sweet the longer you let it culture, so I generally let mine culture for 2-4 days.
What You’ll Need:
From left to right: a gallon jar, water kefir grains, 1 gallon spring water, half of an eggshell (washed), a rubber band, unsulphured molassses, cheesecloth, and sugar water.
To make the sugar water, add 1 cup spring water to a saucepan. Add 3/4 cup unbleached pure cane sugar, rapadura/sucanat, or other sweetener of your choice (not honey), turn the heat to medium, and stir until dissolved.
Pour the sugar water into the gallon jar.
Next, fill the jar about halfway with spring water. This helps to ensure that the water won’t be too hot to place the grains in.
Measure out 1 scant tablespoon of molasses and pour it into the jar. The molasses is rich with minerals, so it helps to make a batch of water kefir using molasses every now and again. If you don’t really think you’ll like the flavor of the molasses (it isn’t that strong), feel free to leave it out, but take note that you are depriving your grains of some awesome minerals.
Give the mixture a good stir.
Now add in the most important part: the grains! Double check your water/molasses mixture to make sure it isn’t hot. High heat can damage or kill the grains!
Now add in half of a CLEAN eggshell. You do not want to put an eggshell in there that has not been rinsed. I really have noticed that adding an eggshell makes a difference in my final product. The grains love the minerals that the eggshell provides. You’re going to want to add the larger half of the eggshell if you can.
Add more water until it’s up to the shoulder of the jar.
Cut a piece of cheesecloth a good bit bigger than the mouth of the jar and secure it over the top of the jar with a rubber band.
After about 72 hours of culturing is when I like to transfer the finished kefir to another gallon jar or a glass pitcher. At this point you can do a second fermentation if you want, but my family usually likes it after the first fermentation. Sometimes we add lemon juice to taste and a drop of lime for a homemade Sprite soda, but when we do this, we don’t use kefir made with molasses in it (personal preference).
Here’s the recipe:
- ¼ cup hydrated water kefir grains
- 1 gallon spring water or well water
- ¾ cup unbleached pure can sugar or rapadura/sucanat
- ½ of an eggshell, optional but highly recommended
- 1 tablespoon molasses, optional
- Add 1 cup spring water to a saucepan. Add unbleached pure cane sugar, rapadura/sucanat, or other sweetener of your choice (not honey), turn the heat to medium, and stir until dissolved.
- Pour the sugar water into the gallon jar.
- Next, fill the jar about halfway with spring water. Measure out 1 scant tablespoon of molasses (if using) and pour it into the jar. Stir well.
- Add the water kefir grains and half of a clean eggshell to the jar.
- Add more water until it’s up to the shoulder of the jar. Cut a piece of cheesecloth a god bit bigger than the mouth of the jar and secure it over the top of the jar with a rubber band.
- Let sit in a room temperature spot away from other cultures for 2 to 5 days, or until it has reached the desired sweetness and fizzyness.
I found this FAQ from Cultures for Health to be very helpful in demystifying each and every aspect of water kefir. It’s a powerhouse of information!