The Most Versatile Cultures in My Kitchen: Water Kefir and Kombucha


From the Editor: Please welcome Julie Feickert, Cultures for Health Founder and Cultured Kitchen Keeper.

I’m a big fan of both water kefir and kombucha. They are delicious, easy to make, and I can generally keep them going in my kitchen no matter how crazy life gets. I also love them both because they are incredibly versatile. Having a batch of either going at any one time not only means having a delicious probiotic beverage but also an ingredient or culture for any number of other foods.

Water Kefir

Water kefir can be used to make coconut milk kefir. Water kefir provides a super easy way to culture coconut milk. Simply combine ¼ cup water kefir and 1 can coconut milk in a glass jar. Cover with a towel and allow to culture overnight. As part of my nighttime routine I can set up the coconut milk to culture and in the morning it’s ready for our breakfast smoothie!

Water kefir can be used in place of whey to culture vegetables and condiments. I often use water kefir in place of whey in my cultured vegetable, fruit, and condiments. It’s a great dairy-free option to get a good set of bacteria into the ferment and I’ve had wonderful luck producing delicious cultured foods using this method. Simply substitute water kefir for the same amount of whey called for by the recipe.

Water kefir can be blended with fruit to make popsicles or granitas. When the weather calls for a cool cultured treat, water kefir popsicles or granitas are some of the simplest probiotic dessert options. Simply add the water kefir and fresh or frozen fruit to a blender and pulse until mostly combined (a few small chunks here and there are good). Pour into popsicle molds or click here for instructions for making granitas.



Kombucha can be used in place of vinegar when making salad dressings and marinades. Next time you have a batch of kombucha that cultures just a bit too long don’t toss it! Instead use it in place of vinegar in salad dressing and marinade recipes. I’ve found having a simple and flexible kombucha salad dressing recipe to be a wonderful way to create an array of tasty dressings.

Kombucha can be used to make cultured condiments. Kombucha mustard, kombucha ketchup, and kombucha BBQ sauce are just a few options! Any condiment recipe that normally calls for vinegar can be made with kombucha instead. The kombucha replaces any whey in the recipe as it will provide the appropriate culturing bacteria.

Kombucha can perk up plain old water. Even if you don’t want to drink a whole glass of kombucha you can still obtain many of the benefits even with a small amount in your water. Try adding just a tablespoon or two to a glass of water. A little goes a long way in terms of providing your body with a healthy dose of probiotics. As a bonus, the kombucha provides some flavoring to the water.

What are the most versatile cultures in your kitchen?



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. narf7 says

    I converted some milk kefir grains to non-dairy milk. I realised that its the sugar in the milk that they are predominately feeding from and so I started making homemade sesame seed milk and adding a good proportion of date paste (homemade) to the mix in order to satisfy the grains. I was a bit worried that they would die when I didn’t keep dunking them in dairy milk once a week but it has been 6 months now and they are still working away culturing my non-dairy milk so I use the finished results like you use water kefir with the same outcome. I like how I can use it to raise bread without additional yeast. It is possible to convert milk kefir grains, they don’t grow much any more though but I have some dehydrated in my fridge just in case. I also culture kombucha

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