Water Kefir tastes something like Kombucha but is made from an organism very like the one that makes milk kefir.
The end result (after the secondary fermentation) tastes like delicious soda and is full of healthy probiotics.
NO: tap water (unless left to sit overnight, or boiled uncovered for ten minutes and then cooled to room tempterature), distilled, reverse osmosis
YES: mineral, spring, well, de-chlorinated (as above) tap
1Tbps grains per 1 cup of water (1Tbsp per Liter in The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, p.156)
Note: the culture (also called “grains” though they are NOT made of any grain) reproduces quickly, so I usually have a LOT more culture than this calls for. That’s ok! The process will just go faster — keep tasting to check!
Preferably cane (most other sugar is GMO beet sugar)
Half white, the other half can be any combination of turbinado, demerara, brown etc.
Small quantity of maple syrup or and/or mollasses can be added
NO honey, stevia, artifical sweeteners
1 Tbsp sugar per 1 cup of water (or approximately the same volume of sugar as the amount of grains you have – just eyeball it)
- Small piece of eggshell (calcium; not necessary every time)
- tiny pinch (1/8 tsp) of baking soda (pH)
- a few grains of good quality salt (mineral)
- a few drops of liquid minerals (optional)
- Glass jar (1 quart/Liter, half gallon, or bigger)
- Wooden or plastic spoon for stirring (some people say to avoid metal, but my kefir doesn’t appear to mind)
- Funnel, if using bottles
- Coffee filter, cheesecloth or towel to cover jar (I use a Mason jar lid – I found the coffee filters got wet from the bubbling and attracted fruit flies – it should not be too tightly sealed though; it needs to vent)
- Rubber band (if using coffee filter or cheesecloth cover)
Dissolve the sugar in a small amount of hot water. Fill the jar with cool water, making sure the water overall is at room temp. Add the kefir grains (and other ingredients, if using).
Cover the jar with plastic lid OR towel/coffee filter/cheesecloth and secure with rubber band.
Leave in a warm place for about 48 hours (72 hours is often considered the maximum before the grains begin to starve). The longer you leave it, the more sugar ferments out.
When it tastes about right — just on the edge of not sweet — you are ready for the next step. (If it tastes perfect but you don’t have time for the next step that day, just add a bit more suger to extend things a day. Another option is to put the jar in the fridgerator until you are ready for the next step.)
Strain the water kefir grains, pouring the liquid into another container. The liquid is ready for consumption; however, in order to reduce sugar content, improve flavor and make a carbonated drink (Secondary Fermentation), you can pour the kefir into airtight jars or bottles, leaving as little airspace as possible. Close them tightly for a day or two, longer if refrigerated. You can also add a couple ounces of fruit juice (grape, raspberry, pomegranate, apple or cherry work well, citrus does not) and/or thin slices of ginger. Invent your own. (Apple ginger is inexpensive and works very well. Tart cherry is great as you only need to add a tiny amount.)
Once you’ve added the juice, close the jars/bottles tightly, leave in a warm place an additional day before refrigerating or drinking. Check for pressure build-up; release if necessary. Do NOT leave at room temperature for longer than one day, especially if using glass bottles. “Burp” (release pressure) regularly. Can be refrigerated for a couple months, but carbonation pressure will continue to slowly build up. Open with care, and exercise EXTREME CAUTION if using glass bottles.