Water kefir is not only easy to make, but it is also a delicious, probiotic-rich, dairy-free beverage your whole family will enjoy. It can be made with just water, sugar, and a culture. The resulting kefir has an effervescent fizz, a subtle sourness and sweetness, and an array of vitamins, minerals, and live bacteria.
But there are a few things you should know before making it so that your first batch goes smoothly. Our quick start guide gives you all the information you'll need to get started making kefir water.
Click to download our Water Kefir Guide, which comes with tips and tricks to know about how to make water kefir, from selecting the right ingredients to troubleshooting any problems you might encounter. Plus, you'll get access to our delicious water kefir recipes!
WHAT IS WATER KEFIR?
Water kefir is a traditional fermented beverage. It has been consumed for thousands of years. It's got a tart, refreshing taste and a bit of carbonation.
It’s made by adding a starter culture of bacteria and yeast (water kefir grains) to sugar water, which then ferments over a period of several days. The resulting beverage contains a variety of beneficial microorganisms, including Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, yeast, and many other strains of microorganisms.
Water kefir grains are known by many names, including tibicos, Japanese water crystals, and California bees. They’re what give water kefir its distinct flavor. They're live bacteria colonies that you're growing in your jar or other containers!
Plus, there are tons of health benefits of water kefir. It contains beneficial bacteria that can help improve your digestion and boost your immune system.
SPECIAL NOTE: Click to download our Water Kefir Guide, which comes with tips and tricks to learn about how to make water kefir, from selecting the right ingredients to troubleshooting any problems you might encounter. Plus, you'll get access to our delicious water kefir recipes!
HOW TO MAKE WATER KEFIR
Water kefir is super easy to make at home with just a few supplies.
NOTE:Our instructions utilize the traditional starter culture known as Water Kefir Grains. To use a powdered Kefir Starter Culture, consult our article on How to Make Kefir with Direct-set Starter Culture.
WATER KEFIR SUPPLIES
You'll need the following supplies to make water kefir, most of which can be found in the Water Kefir Starter Kit. For more information on what supplies work best (and what to avoid) read our tutorial: Choosing the Best Equipment for Making Water Kefir.
- A glass jar
- A plastic or wood stirring utensil
- A towel, butter muslin, or paper coffee filter to use as a covering for the jar
- A band to secure the covering, such as a rubber band or jar ring.
A fine mesh strainer for removing the grains from the finished water kefir
WATER KEFIR INGREDIENTS
- Rehydrated Water Kefir Grains
- 1/4 cup sugar per quart of water
- Water (free of chlorine and fluoride)
To learn more about other types of sugar you can use or ways to supplement your water, read our tutorial on Choosing Ingredients for Making Water Kefir.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING WATER KEFIR
- Pour 1/4 cup sugar into the jar.
- Add 1/2 cup hot water.
- Swirl to dissolve the sugar.
- Add 3 cups at room temperature or cool water.
- Check the liquid's temperature to ensure it's room temperature ( 68°-85°F.)
- Add the water kefir grains
- Cover the jar and place it in a warm spot, 68°-85°F, to culture for 24-48 hours.
- After culturing is complete, prepare a new batch of sugar water (steps 1-4 above).
- Separate kefir grains from the finished water kefir.
- Place kefir grains in the new batch of sugar water.
- The finished water kefir is now ready to consume, flavor, bottle, or store in the refrigerator.
MAKING LARGER BATCHES OF WATER KEFIR
To make larger batches, use up to 8 cups of water and use ¼ cup of cane sugar per quart of water.
Learn how to make water kefir and improve your health today! Download our Water Kefir Guide and Recipe Book today!
REMOVING WATER KEFIR GRAINS FROM FINISHED WATER KEFIR
OPTION #1: PLASTIC STRAINER
The best method for removing Water Kefir Grains from finished water kefir is to use a Plastic Mesh Strainer. Simply set the strainer on top of a clean jar and pour the entire batch of finished water kefir through the strainer into the jar, catching the grains. Transfer the grains immediately to the new batch of sugar water.
OPTION #2: STAINLESS STEEL STRAINER
A stainless steel strainer may be used for removing water kefir grains from finished water kefir. Avoid strainers made from other metals, which may react with the grains and damage them.
OPTION #3: CHEESECLOTH OR BUTTER MUSLIN
While not the easiest method, using Cheesecloth or Butter Muslin to separate the grains is also possible. If using cheesecloth, use at least a double layer to avoid losing the grains through the holes in the cloth.
HOW TO REST WATER KEFIR GRAINS
If there ever comes a time when you need to take a break from making water kefir, there are a few ways to put your grains on pause. Depending on the length of break you want, you can either refrigerate them or dry them. Just be sure that your grains have been actively culturing for 3 to 4 weeks before you do so.
FAQS ABOUT WATER KEFIR:
SHOULD YOU RINSE WATER KEFIR GRAINS?
No, you should never rinse kefir grains. In fact, rinsing grains damages them and washes off good bacteria, which are very important in order for the grains to reproduce and make good kefir. They often die or stop reproducing after they're rinsed.
HOW LONG DOES WATER KEFIR TAKE TO WORK?
It typically takes 24-48 hours to culture water kefir grains, though the exact time will vary depending on factors like temperature. If you let them culture for longer than 48 hours, you risk starving the grains and damaging them.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU LET WATER KEFIR FERMENT TOO LONG?
If you let water kefir ferment for too long, it can turn into a drink that is too sour to drink. This is because the bacteria that are responsible for the fermentation process have begun to break down the sugar into acids. The longer they ferment, the more concentrated those acids become.
HOW DO I KNOW KEFIR IS WORKING?
If you want to know if your kefir is working, look for a change in color, taste, and smell. As the bacteria and yeasts multiply, your kefir will develop a vibrant yellow tint. The liquid will become less sweet than the sugar water you began with. The taste of traditional kefir may vary from one culture to another, but most varieties will have a slightly tangy flavor, like vinegar.
WHAT TEMPERATURE KILLS WATER KEFIR?
The temperature at which water kefir dies varies slightly depending on the type of water kefir being made and the temperature of your climate. But, somewhere between 39⁰ F to 86⁰ F (4⁰ C to 30⁰ C) is generally considered safe. Anything above that can be damaging. In general, the warmer your water kefir gets, the faster it will ferment.
WHY DOES KEFIR TURN PINK?
When Kefir turns pink, red, orange, green, or black - it is usually a sign that your kefir has become contaminated and should be disposed of.
WHY IS MY WATER KEFIR SLIMY?
Slimy water kefir isn't an uncommon sight for new water kefir makers. This is because the grains—the bacteria and yeast—are alive and can be affected by many things. One common reason for slimy water kefir is stress caused by a sudden change in temperature or routine.
You can also get slimy water kefir if you've added too much or too little nutrients to your mixture. Another possible reason is the presence of Leuconostoc, a bacteria that uses sugar to create slimy substances.
SHOULD I ADD SALT TO THE WATER KEFIR?
Yes, adding sea salt to your water kefir is okay. As water kefir grains are living organisms, they require minerals to survive. Adding sea salt to your fermentation jar will give your grains a mineral boost and help them grow.
WHAT KIND OF SUGAR DO YOU USE FOR WATER KEFIR?
You can use refined white sugar, organic cane juice crystals, raw sugar, brown sugar, and many more. For best results, we recommend using plain sugar with no additives. To know more about the effects of different kinds of sugar on water kefir, consider reading our article, “Water Kefir Ingredients.”
HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU REUSE WATER KEFIR GRAINS?
The short answer is: as many times as you want. Water kefir grains are a living culture that will keep reproducing so long as they have food and water. This means that you can use your water kefir grains to make new batches of water kefir as long as you want, and they'll be just fine!