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Water Kefir Basics

 water kefir

I first heard of water kefir last summer from my cousin.  I had mentioned my failed attempt at kombucha and she recommended I try kefir which has similar nutritional qualities but it easier to work with, less demanding and easily flavored to your liking.  I lost my grains when we the fire and so I hadn’t made any since last August.  This past week that same wonderful cousin gave me new grains and so began my kefir-making again.

What are Water Kefir Grains?

Water kefir grains known also as tibicos, is a culture of bacteria and yeast that is full of probiotics and enzymes.  If made in air-tight containers it can be fizzy like soda an is a great soda alternative.  Kefir is a cultured beverage similar to kobucha but I feel it’s easier to work with.  The bacteria and yeast grow into rough-shaped gelitnous globs we call grains.Water kefir grains having nothing to do with a traditional grain like wheat, spelt, etc.  Around here we call them grais; around the world they are call everything from ale nuts to Japanese beer seeds.

Water kefir grains thrive in and feed on sugar water.  When properly cared for, grains will grow (multiply) for years to come leaving you with plenty to give away to your friends and family.

Simply put when you make water kefir you’re making living water.  It is alive with enzymes and beneficial bacteria that are important for good gut health.

water kefir grains

How to Make Water Kefir

Making a batch of water kefir from grains is relatively easy. You’ll need the following:

1 Quart Crock or Glass Jar

Non-chlorinated Water

1/4 C Organic Sugar/Sweetener (see below for more details on what to use)

3 Tablespoons Hydrated Water Kefir Grains

Towel or Coffee Filter

Fine Strainer

First Fermentation

Add your sweetener to your jar and add enough hot water to dissolve the sugar.  Next, fill the jar almost full with cool water. Now, add your kefir grains.

Cover the jar with your towel or filter and allow the jar to sit 24-48 hours in a warm place (on top the refrigerator is usually a good place).

After your time passes.  Use a strainer to strain the grains from the liquid. **Don’t strain the liquid down the sink like I did once because I was multi-tasking!! The liquid is your water kefir!

Your grains are now ready to be used again as to start another batch.

This is the first fermentation of water kefir and quite honestly, it’s boring this way. I add the juice of one lemon to my water kefir and chill.  Now I have probiotic, fermented lemonade.  Much healthier than store bought lemonade!

For even more fun, you can ferment your water kefir a second time.  This time, being sure to use an air tight container and you can end up with a fizzy drink.

Second (Optional) Fermentaion

In the second fermentation you are allowing the probiotics in the water kefir to do the work without the actual grains.  They will feed on the sugars in the fruits you add to the water kefir.

What you need:

Fermented Water Kefir (from first fermentation)

unsulferated dried fruit (raisins, apples, ginger, etc)

Air-tight jar/glass bottle

Add the fruit to the water, cap and let sit another 24-48 hours.

At this point you’ll have a fizzy drink with more flavor than before.

Right now I’m only doing one fermentation because I have so little refrigerator space that I’m drinking what I am able to make rather quickly.  I can’t wait for a second fermentation.

A Word on Sugars

Any grain sugar (preferably organic) will do whether it’s organic white sugar, rapadura, SUCANAT or raw sugar.  Maple syrup can be used occasionally to add in beneficial minerals but honey should be avoided.  Honey is natural antibacterial and you’re dealing with bacteria so the last thing you want to do is introduce something that will kill your grains.

Storing Your Grains

Sometimes you need to take a break from making water kefir.  During those times, use enough fermented water kefir to cover your grains and store them in  your refrigerator. I’ve stored mine as long as two weeks without feeding them and they were fine.

water kefir grains

Here to Get Grains

I was lucky enough to get hydrated grains from my cousin but you can get grains online from Cultures for Health.  This is not a powdered culture, these are dehydrated grains that you re-hydrate with water and sugar before you make your first batch of water kefir.  Also! If you sign up for Cultures For Health’s newsletter you’ll get a Kefir Recipe Book that has 60+ recipes for using you kefir.

 

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Comments

  1. I have kefir but have yet to find a recipe I really like. I will have to try this recipe.

    • My personal favorite is Tropical water kefir, which is flavored with one whole banana (minus the peel) and peel and core of a fresh pineapple. I wash the pineapple, slice off the peel in sections and bag to be used to flavor my kefir water. I then remove the core and slice that into about 5 or more pieces and add that to the bag. When I want to flavor kefir water, I add a cup of sugar, 2 large sections of pineapple peel and a few sections of the pineapple core. I let it sit on the counter for 2 days and then it is nice and fizzy and ready to drink. The banana has something in it that the microscopic kefir grains love and it makes the water super carbonated! And yes, there are teeny tiny kefir grains in the water you pour off from your grains. They are just so tiny you can’t see them. But they eat on the banana and pineapple and the water has a very fruity, tropically flavor to it. So fragrant and flavorful!

      • Danielle says:

        Wow Roberta that sounds awesome! What a great summer beverage. I believe I will try a batch or two of this for our upcoming trip to Delaware.

        How much water kefir are you using with a whole banana and 5-ish chunks of pineapple?

    • Danielle says:

      Meghan see Roberta’s comment for another cool idea too and let me know what you think of them.

  2. Thank you for your post! I have been thinking more and more about trying kefir and Kamboch and things like that, but I haven’t taken that step yet. (part of it is getting the grains or scooby, so thanks for the link you posted as well.) I may put out an SOS on a Mom and Baby group I’m on and see if anyone there has those items.

    Thank you again for the info, I may have to take that next step soon. 🙂

    • Danielle says:

      Kefir, in my opinion, is simple and the results are quick (almost instant gratification). Please post how you make out and if you like it, I’d love to hear!

  3. Kirsten says:

    I have been doing water kefir for roughly a year & I LOVE it! I had previously successfully tried kombucha but due to limited storage containers wanted something that required less brewing time and more time consuming. 🙂 I wanted to mention that if you add a cleaned eggshell (from a trusted source, not the grocery store) to the first ferment the kefir grains will grow like crazy. They love the minerals in the shell and since I started adding in the eggshell my grains are do healthy that they more than double with each batch. Now my only dilemma is finding ways to use up all those extra grains.

    • Danielle says:

      No kidding Kristen. I did not know that! We have our own chickens so I think I’ll give this a try, maybe this week….

Trackbacks

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