Water kefir is a sweet, probiotic drink made using water kefir grains (or Tibicos), purified water and organic sugar. Once you culture up some water kefir, you can bottle it for a second round of fermentation that results in probiotic, flavorful fizzy drink. It is similar to the popular drink kombucha, but we prefer the microbial make up of water kefir! (we still do love kombucha, though!)
Water kefir grains do not contain any actual grain. They are just called grains because of their shape. The kefir grains are just symbiotic microbial communities living in a polysaccharide matrix. Most of the microbial species living in these little grain communities are probiotic. Lactobacillus brevis, Lacotbacillus casei, Lactobacillus hordei, Streptococcus lactis, leuconostoc mesenterodies, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae are just a few of the great microbes that live within water kefir grain communities.
The awesome thing about water kefir grains is that they are reusable forever, as long as you take care of them! They even multiply, so you can share some with friends!
First we will cover how to make water kefir, then directions and recipes for flavors and the second fermentation will follow.
- 1/4 cup of Activated Water Kefir Tibicos
- 1/4 cup of Organic Unrefined Cane Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt
- 3 1/2 cups of Purified Water
- 1 Quart Sized Mason Jar
- Prepare sugar water in a quart sized mason jar by adding 1/2 a cup of hot purified water to 1/4 cup of organic unrefined cane sugar and the 1/2 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt. Stir until the salt and sugar is dissolved. Add 3 cups of room temperature purified water. The total volume should be about 4 cups of water. Make sure the temperature is about 70 degrees F.
- Add activated Water Kefir grains to the sugar water. Most Water kefir grains come with instructions on how to activate them. Our favorite source of water kefir grains is Cultures for Health.
- Cover jar with a cheese cloth, and secure with twine.
- Allow kefir grains to ferment the sugar water for 24-48 hours.
- Strain the grains from the cultured water kefir, and pour liquid into a bale top bottle, or another quart sized mason jar. At this point you can chill and drink the water kefir or put it aside for second fermentation flavoring! If you choose to second ferment, be sure the jar you are using is free of cracks.
- Make a new batch of sugar water, as in step 1 and add to the water kefir grains to start fermenting your next batch!
Flavoring and Second Fermentation
Our two favorite flavors of water kefir are Lime & Thyme, and Rosemary Grapefruit. We flavor these two using fresh fruit and fresh herbs. During the second fermentation the kefir takes on the flavor of what is added, and the microbes present produced lots of carbon dioxide making the kefir wonderfully fizzy!
For Lime & Thyme: add one lime and three medium fresh thyme sprigs.
For the Rosemary Grapefruit: Use about 1/4 of a grapefruit and two rosemary sprigs.
Directions for the second fermentation:
1. Add flavor to the newly cultured water kefir that you just strained off from the water kefir grains. Flavors can be from fruits, fruit juices, syrups, spices and herbs.
2. Place the lid on the quart sized mason jar or the bale top bottle.
3. Allow to ferment for 24- 48 hours, then refrigerate and enjoy! Our recommendation is that the second fermentation does not exceed 48 hours.
Care for your Water kefir grains
To care for your kefir grains and continually make fresh water kefir, place them in a new batch of sugar water every 24-48 hours.
To hibernate them, make a fresh batch of sugar water, add the kefir grains, and refrigerate immediately. When hibernating your grains in the refrigerator you will need to put them in a fresh batch of sugar water every two weeks.