There are many ways to make water kefir, but this is how a friend taught it to me (with a little tweaking, of course!).
First, you’ll need to start with Kefir Grains. You can purchase these online (search “water kefir grains”), or in some health food stores, or even better, you can get some from a friend who’s growing kefir! Place about 1/4 cup live kefir grains in a glass canning jar. To the grains in your jar, add a couple tablespoons (I use a 1/4 cup scoop, about half full) of sugar. You can use any kind of sugar – most people prefer organic raw sugars like sucanat. Currently we use white most of the time, frankly, because it’s cheaper and the kefir “eats” most of it up. In the photo below, the middle jar is fermenting with raw sugar (sucanat), and the jar on the right is coconut water and white sugar (see the raisins starting to float?! see below…)
Drop in 4-5 organic raisins.
Fill jar almost to top with water. We keep two jars of water on the counter overnight to allow chlorine to evaporate. Every 5-6 rotations, we use coconut water instead of regular water – it seems to really rejuvenate and “feed” the kefir grains. A friend also taught me to occasionally put in a piece of well-rinsed organic eggshell for the mineral content.
Over time, your grains will “grow” and expand (see how much “fuller” the grains look in the center jar? It’s time to divide them!). You can mix them into smoothies, gift some to a happy friend, or make more water kefir!
Cover jar with cloth (we use cut up men’s handkerchiefs) and a rubber band. This will keep out fruit flies – although we live in a warm climate and have never had any ourselves.
Allow your water kefir to ferment 12-24 hours. You’ll see bubbles, the raisins will bounce to the top, and if you slightly agitate the jar, you’ll notice the sugar has been “eaten up.” This is how you’ll know you’re ready for the next step.
Using a funnel, pour 10-20% (I use about half a cup) pure juice into a sealable bottle. You can even use a wine bottle with cork. Next, use a plastic strainer – kefir does not like metal – over your funnel to pour kefir water into bottle. Remove raisins and put the grains back into your first jar.
Seal the new bottle and allow to ferment – on your counter or in your fridge – for another 12-24 hours. Fermentation seems to take longer in the refrigerator. WATCH CLOSELY and “burp” your bottle as needed. Bottles WILL EXPLODE from excessive carbon dioxide buildup. We’ve never had this happen, but I have happy little “bottle burpers” in my house, and we use ours frequently.
If you ferment too long, you’ll notice a strong “beer-like” flavor (my a-girl says moldy). Shorter times it will be sweeter, but not as fizzy – that’s my favorite part – and I would assume the beneficial cultures will not be as pronounced. When we accidentally ferment past the point where it is palatable to us, we rinse the grains in pure water and start over with the sugar process.
Would you like more hints and recipes? Click the links below!
Cultures for Health – a wealth of knowledge and products for fermenting, as well.
Wellness Mama – recipes for making flavored kefir “soda”
Mother Earth News – article on water kefir
Mommypotamus – on making water kefir
Delicious Obsessions – water kefir “flavor guide”
Ready to try this yummy healthy “soda?” Let me know your flavor combinations!