Making Water Kefir

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Previously in this series:

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I became hooked on water kefir when I realized two things. First of all, it’s deliciously bubbly and makes us feel good. Secondly, and perhaps too important to ignore, was that I found it really easy to make.

It hits that sweet spot, as far as the time it takes to culture and the flexibility I have in not needing to feed it every day. It’s as simple as combining sugar and water and straining the finished product into airtight, carbonation-providing bottles. And it’s tasty enough to keep us coming back for more.

So, I realized right away that I’d be making water kefir for as long as these grains would have me, or until something awful occurred and my grains were no longer viable. When kombucha seems too much and yogurt feels overwhelming and milk kefir is just too needy; I have water kefir.

With one more toddler, another pregnancy, an off-grid homestead, and all of the other additions to the mix, I’m still finding water kefir to be the most doable cultured food for us right now.

And so I continue to make it, after a bit of a hiatus, and we are all the happier and healthier for it. Here’s how.

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Right now I am making a half-gallon of water kefir every couple of days, but since many start with a quart-sized batch let’s discuss the method for that amount.

To make a quart of water kefir:

  • Dissolve 1/4 cup sugar in a small amount of hot water. If making two quarts of water kefir, use 1/2 cup of sugar. Add enough cool water to almost fill the jar leaving 1 to 2 inches of headspace.
  • When the water has cooled to room temperature, add the kefir grains. Cover the jar tightly with a towel and rubber band to keep out fruit flies and ants.
  • Allow the kefir to culture for 24 to 48 hours. 24 hours will yield a sweeter water kefir. However, if you are sensitive to sugar, culture the kefir for 48 hours to give the grains a chance to consume a larger portion of the sugar. Do not let the kefir grains culture longer than 72 hours. As the kefir grains culture, you may notice tiny bubbles forming and traveling to the water surface. (Do not be concerned if no bubbles appear; see below.)
  • Once the kefir has cultured for the desired period of time, strain off the finished liquid into a separate container. (Use a fine mesh plastic strainer if possible; stainless steel is acceptable if necessary.)
  • Add the grains to a new batch of sugar water and proceed with your next batch.
  • Add flavoring to the kefir you’ve just strained from the grains, and cover the kefir with a tight lid. Let the flavored kefir sit at room temperature for another couple of days. Finished water kefir does not require refrigeration, but can be refrigerated if you desire a cold beverage.

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In making a double batch from the above recipe, we end up with four pint-sized bottles of water kefir. I am finding that we like a longer second fermentation for more carbonation less sweetness.

We’ve got more to cover in this series, but I’d like to hear from you. How do you make water kefir? Do you have any tips or questions to share?

Shannon

Shannon is a mama to three small children, homesteader, freelance writer, and picture-taker. She lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead where they make and eat kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables.

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Comments

  1. Brenda says

    I have 1.5 cups of water kefir grains. How much water and sugar are optimum for this much grains? Does your water kefir get a sulphury smell? Mine does and I can’t figure out why. It’s not very pleasant. I’m not using egg shells. I use unfiltered spring water from our spring and good sugar. My grains seem to be happy since they went from 1/3 cup to 1.5 cups in 2.5 weeks. Appreciate any help.

  2. says

    I started out using fruit juices but recently I’ve been using Creme de Coco. Yeah, that creamy coconut stuff you use when making a Pina Colada. I only use about a teaspoon to every pint of water kefir. It’s sweet and ferments nicely, and give the water kefir a nice coconut flavor.

  3. Kristin says

    My new water kefir grains are now in their third quart of sugar water. With the last batch I finally noticed a difference in taste, but I’m still not sure that it tastes the way it’s supposed to! My plan is to keep switching the grains to a fresh batch of sugar water every 48 hours. I hope they hit a groove soon and I’ll know they’re doing their thing right.

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