Making Kefir with Fruit Juice

A fun variation to water kefir (generally made with sugar water) is to use fruit juice.  Fruit juice kefir is a delicious containing the probiotic benefits of kefir.

Fruit juice kefir can be made with either water kefir grains, milk kefir grains or a powdered kefir starter culture.  We recommend using water kefir grains for two reasons.  Water kefir grains are accustomed to being used with sugar water which is more similar to juice than is milk.  Milk kefir grains can be converted to be used with fruit juice but be aware that once they are converted, you will not be able to return them to a milk-based medium.  Water kefir grains however can go back and forth between sugar water and juice given some time and adjustment (see below).  Kefir grains are also reusable to make batch after batch where as the powdered kefir starter culture has a more limited lifespan.

To make fruit juice kefir, add water kefir grains to the fruit juice (either 100% juice or a diluted juice).  We do recommend using organic juice whenever possible to avoid the chemicals present in commercial juice which could damage the kefir grains.  Allow the fruit juice kefir to ferment for 24-72 hours.  Keep in mind that the longer the juice ferments, the higher the alcohol content.  We do recommend that if you are making fruit juice kefir for children, fermentation should be limited to a 24-48 hour period.  If you are looking for a more “adult” beverage, a longer fermentation period may be desirable.  Once the fermentation period is complete, remove the kefir grains and place them in fresh juice or sugar water.

A couple of caveats: First, juice tends to be very hard on water kefir grains.  Although they can be used repeatedly in a juice medium, they should be returned to plain sugar water occasionally to revitalize them.  Keep in mind that kefir grains that have cultured in fruit juice and are then returned to sugar water make a very unpleasant tasting sugar water kefir for a period of time, so don’t plan on alternating batches of fruit juice and sugar water while still having delicious sugar water kefir to drink.  Also, it is highly unlikely that water kefir grains used with fruit juice will multiply and the fruit juice kefir grains will likely have a significant shorter lifespan than kefir grains cultured in sugar water.

We recommend whenever possible to keep two separate sets of water kefir grains: one for sugar water and one for juice (each set can be stored in sugar water in the fridge when not in use).  You can accomplish this by purchasing two sets of kefir grains or by waiting until your set of kefir grains multiplies to the point you can use 3 T. of kefir grains for sugar water and 3 T. of kefir grains for fruit juice.  This allows you to make both fruit juice kefir and sugar water kefir without interruption.

Julie Feickert

Julie Feickert

Julie Feickert started Cultures for Health in late 2008. She is the mother to three young children and enjoys cooking and reading. Her favorite cultured foods include water kefir and kombucha. Julie lives with her family in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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  1. says

    Very interesting. I’m always looking for new things to try. Fruits and fruit juices have so many benefits that most people don’t even know about. I’ve never heard of kefir.

  2. Cheryl says

    I’ve seen youtube videos where they remove the grains to a separate jar after the first 24 hrs and start a new batch, and to the liquid that has fermented, they add juice and then bottle it. They then let the bottled kefir with juice ferment another 24 hrs. I wonder since there are no grains in the juiced kefir water if it is actually fermenting and eating the natural sugars in the juice?

    • Julie FeickertJulie says

      Great question! Even with grains no longer present the water kefir is full of very active yeast and bacteria which are still capable of consuming sugar albeit at a much slower and less efficient rate when compared to the period when the kefir grains are present. While letting the juice sit in the kefir for a day or two (or longer) can facilitate the production of carbon dioxide making the drink more bubbly, you can also use juice just for flavor and add the juice just prior to drinking. Both work great.

    • Shaina says

      I’ve found that grape juice makes a very wine-y kefir, which can be quite pleasant depending on your tastes. I didn’t like it a whole lot, because it was very dry, but I do think it would appeal to many people. I haven’t tried apple kefir myself, but I can imagine it would taste pretty good.

  3. says

    how does it taste?
    I am drinking VitaV..and it really tastes good..
    but I’m curious ’bout this kefir.
    You know, I adore fruits and I usually make dishes and juices from them. Thanks! :)

    • Shaina says

      It tastes great! It has a similar taste to a light soda. If you add lemon juice, it has a really nice lemon soda flavor. Crystallized ginger added to kefir makes it taste like ginger ale, but without all the added preservatives!

  4. says

    I got the new K grains here. I use S. Pellegrino water with sugar for the first fermentation, after 48 hrs I pour it to another pitcher (then leave the grains with new sugar water or coconut water) and use that K water with soy milk, coconut milk or fruit juice for another 48 hrs and get nice results. The coconut milk kefir is more similar to the milk kefir.

  5. Shelley says

    I have a powered kefir starter culture. If I add it to juice and let it sit for 24-48 hours. How do I know if it is done fermenting? You mentioned taking out the grains if kids are going to drink this, but there aren’t any. Is this OK for my kids to drink?

  6. Sarah Caswell says

    Hi Julie,

    You mentioned that when one uses water Kefir grains with juice directly, they can produce bad tasting water kefir for a while when reverting back to using sugar water. I assume the bad taste eventually goes away (after several batches with sugar water) and the previous good taste returns?

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