How to Make Water Kefir Update {VIDEO}

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While at my in-laws’ house I became hyper-aware of kitchen tasks and organization, since I was pondering my new kitchen and experiencing someone else’s on a daily basis. It was a great way to figure out priorities and make “rules” for the new place. One rule is:

If you do something often, put the things you’ll need for that process both

  1. easily accessible
  2. together in one place when possible

wwater kefir (2) (356x475)

Water kefir is something I make every 24-48 hours, and I realized I could streamline the process by making a few deliberate choices, such as:

  • putting the mineral drops by the sugar
  • leaving the appropriately sized measuring cup in the sugar
  • putting both of those at the front of a cupboard
  • storing the cherry juice concentrate I use every time (we’re boring here, no flavor changes) in the door of the refrigerator

I made a short video yesterday with the sole purpose of demonstrating how easy it is to make water kefir and how quickly I do it. I prepared no supplies before filming just to make it “the real thing.” Consequently I totally made a mess of my explanation of why I use a muslin bag for the kefir grains, so allow me to annotate the video below so it makes more sense!

If you can’t see the video, click HERE to view on You Tube.

Tips and Opinions on Water Kefir

My goal with water kefir is to have another cultured food in the house and to give my kids a choice of beverage other than just water that is not a compromise, since we don’t always have enough raw milk to offer “water or milk” at each meal.

pomegranate water kefir 3

  • While I know many folks mix the kefir with up to 1/3 juice, I try to use the least amount of “flavoring” possible that my kids still enjoy to be both frugal and keep the sugar content down.
  • We don’t mess around with real fruit or anything I’d have to strain out. Maybe I will someday, but for now, I use a small dollop of Montmorency & Balaton Red Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate by Cherry Ridge Juice. This may very well be a local only thing, as I see it’s distributed in a town 20 minutes from here and likely made with Michigan cherries. All the better for me, but probably not so easy to find for most of you! It’s pricey: $14-17/quart, but one bottle lasts about 4-8 months, depending on how generous my dollops are.
  • I use white sugar. Honestly, I figure since at least 80% of it is consumed by the organisms and not my family, I’m not going to pay a price premium for sucanat. Unrefined sugars really change the taste, too, and my kids and I don’t like it nearly as much.
  • Because white sugar doesn’t have minerals (or anything good at all about it), I add these mineral drops, about 5-8 drops, to keep the kefir grains healthy.
  • I do use a muslin bag, which may prevent the grains from multiplying, but it also speeds up the process considerably because I don’t have to get out a strainer and deal with loose grains all over the place. I also only own strainers that are either metal (a no-no with cultured thingys) or have holes that would let the grains slip through.
  • My kefir grains are the Cultures for Health brand, and I’ve been using the same ones for well over two years. It may seem expensive to buy them, but it’s an investment. With the cost of grain, juice concentrate, and mineral drops, I’m still making a super frugal drink in my opinion! You can purchase them at Cultures for Health.
  • I demonstrated city water with chlorine, but now I’ll be able to use my Berkey water, yesssssssss! Seriously, getting the water from the tap is the longest part of the whole task.

You can see a bit more about  how I used to make the water kefir right HERE and our family’s initial thoughts about water kefir as a substitute for soda pop, too!

What you must ignore about my amateur videography!

  • that I have neither a videographer to start the video nor the knowledge about how to edit it – pardon the uber-closeup of my chest at the start as I turned on the camera.
  • the fact that I look like I have a pregnant belly! That’s just Murphy’s Law of video and sweaters – it’s the sweater, promise. Winking smile
  • the bad light from the window in the background – mental note: I’ll close the blinds next video.
  • I didn’t put on makeup. Sorry about that. My status as an at-home mom trumped the status as a ultra-glamorous TV star. Mwah.
  • that my back ends up toward you, but the sink is where it is and it is kind of critical for this process. {My new kitchen does have a peninsula, so happily, I’ll be able to demonstrate most other recipes from there.}

Any Questions?

I’m happy to chat in the comments about making water kefir, since this is one fermented food I actually feel confident doing! If you were actually encouraged by my sloppy video Winking smile and want to start your own water kefir going, you can buy a starter from Cultures for Health.

Do you make any fermented beverages? Do share!

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Amazon so purchases there support KS without costing you an extra penny. Very cool! Cultures for Health sponsored this post but all opinions are my own. See my full disclosure statement here.

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131 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    Alright. I’m going to take the dive on this. I bought some dehydrated water kefir grains last spring ~ and they’ve been sitting since then. You make it look SOO easy. I have to give it a try.

    The stuff that you’ve added the cherry concentrate to & left on the counter, was that with or without a lid?

    And can someone give me a quick rundown on re-hydrating my dehydrated grains?

    • Katie says

      With a lid. Just don’t leave it for a week or it might explode from the bubbles! 😉

      I think my other water kefir post might talk about rehydrating…it’s been so long I don’t remember! :) Katie

  2. elaine says

    I really enjoyed the video — I am very visual and love to “see” how others are doing things :) and I thought you did a very good job! One thing I thought worth mentioning … you said you use regular white sugar. I used to use it for my water kefir and kombucha, too. But, when I realized that practically ALL white sugar is from GMO sugar beets I realized that switching to organic sugar for these two items seemed like the best idea. After all, I’m trying to do something positive for my health – so I don’t want to take away from the good benefits by having nasty GMO sugar in there. Just food for thought…

    • Katie says

      Oh, drat. Forgot about GMOs. That’s on my list to get serious about, but it remains one of those things I haven’t done much with…yet. Thanks for the reminder!
      :) Katie

      • elaine says

        I know – it’s always something, isn’t it!! :) I have been making slow, steady changes for over 10 years and paying attention to the GMO’s is just now hitting my radar screen. I still use white sugar occasionally but now I’m buying a 1# bag instead of the typical 10# bag of days-gone-by. I keep a small bag of organic sugar for the two ferments and am trying to use sucanat for other things. Slow and steady wins the race!

    • MaryEllen says

      Look for the words “pure cane sugar” on the package if you want white sugar that is not from beets. C&H brand is not beet sugar.

  3. megan says

    Thanks for the great post, Katie. I’ve just started making milk kefir. I am the only one that drinks it, so it ends up getting wasted. Do you know if you can use milk kefir grains to switch and start making water kefir? Thanks for the video…I’m definitely a visual learner, so I love when you do videos! : )

  4. Shelly Smith says

    Question about the metal and cultured things… Does that “rule” apply to sourdough starter as well?? I did not know about that rule and sometimes I place the starter in my metal kitchenaid bowl, the night before I am planning to use it! Otherwise, it stays in the glass jar where I feed it! Thanks for any advice…

    • Katie says

      You know, I make my sourdough bread in a stainless steel bowl…so good point. I think for sourdough at least, the “no metal” rule does not apply to stainless steel, but to other metals that might react with it. Perhaps it’s the same for kefir, but I just don’t know so I follow the rules! 😉 Katie

  5. Melinda says

    Other than the cherry juice concentrate, what else would you recommend to flavor the kefir that would be readily available in the supermarket/health food store of a large metro area?

  6. Heather via Facebook says

    This is so timely. I’m just about to order both kombucha and water kefir starters, so I’m looking for some clear (and easy) instructions. Thanks!

    • Katie says

      The white sugar has no minerals, and the minerals will keep the kefir organisms healthy and thriving (and helps the people, too). :) Katie

      • Amanda says

        If you use Sucanat as the sugar, do you still need to add the mineral drops? We also don’t have enough raw milk for my girls to have it all day long. I love the idea of Keifer for another option for them and for my oldest daughters lunch at school.

        • Katie says

          Not likely. I don’t know much about them, just learned of them from GNOWFGLINS, I believe. If your grains are culturing fine, you don’t need to add anything. Have fun with it! :) katie

  7. says


    We use 100% juice to flavor our water kefir. Sometimes we use fruit. You can also add lemon juice to make ‘lemonade’ or vanilla extract for a cream soda flavor. There are probably tons of recipes online if you google it. I bought my grains from Cultures for Health, too, and they sent a recipe card. So, you could also try their website.

  8. Rebecca Miller says

    Does anyone know if honey would work? My son is VERY allergic to sugar of all kinds but I would love to do this with honey.

    • Shelly Smith says

      Rebecca, the video from Cultures for Health (follow the link in Katie’s article to see it!) recommends NOT using homey because it has “anti-bacterial” qualities which works against the natural probiotics in the kefir!

    • Cheryl says

      Read about people using it successfully with kombucha. It is anti-bacterial, but not that strong, and so it will work, but might take a little bit longer to ferment.

  9. Amanda says

    I thought you have to put dried fruit and half a lemon in each time you start the fermentation process. Do the mineral drops take the place of this?

    • Katie says

      I’ve never heard of that – in fact, most people don’t add fruit for flavor until they take the grains out. ??? The mineral drops are just to ensure good grains health. :) Katie

  10. Sonia says

    I think you can convert them but won’t be able to convert them back. has a lot of information on both kefirs. I’m not sure if there is instructions on how to convert them but I’m sure you can just do a google search. I’ve seen instructions before but I can’t remember where.

    • megan says

      Thanks, Sonia. I saw your note up above. I’ll call Cultures for Health and ask them. That’s where I bought the grains!

  11. April F says

    What’s your ratio of water to sugar to grains? I think you’re using a quart of water to a 1/4 cup of sugar? And about how much grains do you have in the bag?

  12. Naomi says

    So I see you were rinsing your grains in the chlorinated tap water. I’m surprised that they weren’t damaged by that. I also have city tap water, and all I have to filter my water is a Brita filter pitcher. So I use that to make my water kefir, and I just strain my kefir off the grains, and then run some of my filtered water into the jar of grains and shake well then strain the water off the grains.

  13. Sandi in MN says

    Thanks for the referral to Cultures for Health! Super helpful! I’m definitely going to try kefir water and milk. My kids love kefir milk, now I can do it more economically than buying it! Just need to stop watching videos and go get my kids from school!

  14. says

    Leaving the measuring cup in the sugar is brilliant! We’re on GAPS so water kefir is literally the only thing I use sugar for. Now I can’t believe I’ve been washing that cup every two days for the last two years. Thanks for the great tip.

    • Dawn says

      Yes, but if your water is chlorinated, measure out the water and leave it out uncovered overnight for the chlorine to evaporate out. Otherwise it will suppress (or eventually kill) the grains.

        • Dawn says

          Evaporate might be the wrong choice of words. When I did my chlorine research about three years ago, I saw many articles that said “no,” you cannot boil out chlorine. This actually increases the concentration since you boil off H2O. But, do your own research. In the meantime, letting it sit out works. Look for advice from aquarium lovers. They do this so the fish don’t die.

        • Katie says

          Dawn is right about leaving it out, and you can also whiz it in the blender for 30 seconds or so. I just go the easy way….
          :) Katie

  15. Dawn says

    Great video! I love to learn from watching others. My grains came from Cultures for Health and have increased slightly… I think. I use 1/4 c. of 50/50 sucanat/white cane sugar, 1/8 t. Celtic sea salt and 4 c. Berkey-filtered water, putting the grains directly into the solution and quickly straining with a fine metal (gasp!) sieve. I too use a small amount of grape or lime juice with the kefir. I’ve been doing this about a year now and the only problem I’ve had was my second batch growing a spectacular colony of yeast. That’s when I added the salt, per CFH’s instructions. Apparently my Berkey is filtering out too many minerals, though the mineral scale is still building up. :)

  16. Sarah says

    Great video! Makes me want to give water kefir another go! I gave it up after 2 moves in one summer. Am making raw milk kefir again…which I love.

  17. Keisha via Facebook says

    I’d really like to give this a try… I love your homemade yogurt recipe, so easy, and made just the right amount… but I really don’t want to buy kefir grains only to discover I don’t like the stuff and it turns into a complete waste of money. Is there a product/brand of already made stuff I could taste? or do they sell small sample sizes or anything? Just curious!

  18. Zane says

    Katie and others —
    What do y’all know about the sugar that is not consumed by the bacteria? I’ve worked really hard to get all sugar out of our diets (I even try really hard to minimize honey & maple syrup, and I’m not sold on stevia yet), so while I’d love to get more easy ferments in, I’m just not sure about he sugar here… Thoughts? Advice?

  19. Heather says

    I’ve had my grains for about 5 months now and haven’t really seen much growth – although I know it’s working because after 48 hours the water is no longer sweet. Should my grains be multiplying at a faster rate?

      • cory says

        Really? Mine were going like gangbusters before the hot summer hit. Now they won’t multiply, but I have some nice, fat grains in there again. I think they were culturing so fast in the 90 deg. weather that I should have been making a batch every 12 hrs…it was hard on them.

    • Katie says

      I might have made that up…they just get slimy sometimes, so I feel like I need to clean them. Check the directions at CFH… :) Katie

  20. says

    Keisha Christensen Twitchell – I can totally relate! I have never seen water kefir in the stores though…poke around in your area to see if anyone you know makes it…

  21. Jessica says

    I really need to do this. My youngest has a severe dairy allergy and its hard to get enough probiotics in her. Question…is your water kefir fizzy? Or more like juice? I’m trying to decide if getting some of those glass soda bottles is really necessary.

    • says

      It’s just like juice (but with a fermented flavor that not everyone appreciates) the first day – if you do a “second ferment” by leaving the juice-mixed-into-kefir on the counter another day, it gets fizzier by the hour. After 2 days at room temp, my kids won’t drink it anymore b/c it’s too fizzy. I’d play with things before buying fancy bottles! :) Katie

  22. says

    Thank you, Katie! Like Diana, I bought some water kefir grains last fall, but I never have done anything with them. I think I was too intimidated, but I can see now that was a little silly – this looks so easy and fast! Nothing to be intimidated by :-)

    Thanks for taking the time to make this for us, so we can see how you do it.

    Best wishes!

  23. Willow via Facebook says

    I have a couple of questions after reading the blog spot on how to make this. Is the purpose of the water kefir to have flavored water alternative? I pick up raw kefir at our organic farm, thin with raw milk, smoothies, mix with homemade juice etc. But never heard of this. With the expense do you find it to be worth the cost? I am also wondering its benefits versus raw kefir. My solution to flavored water is to throw fruit into water, heat, stew, chill!!

  24. says

    Thanks for the video. I have tried making raw milk kefir but it wasn’t pleasant to my taste buds. I have been wanting to try the water kefir. Question, how long does that bottle of cherry juice last you? The price is kind of expensive but I am willing as long as it lasts a decent amount of time.

  25. Willow via Facebook says

    But aren’t you getting your probiotics from your yogurts, kefir etc. You only need so much for your body to run like a well oiled machine. Sorry about your raw milk deficit, there is so much here it is like everyone here drinks it and if you don’t, don’t know what your missing. Been doing all this for so so many years, seems funny to me for it to be a new thing!

  26. says

    Hi, I was watching your video and noticed that you didn’t dissolve the sugar like I’ve seen in other kefir videos. Do you leave that out to save time or have you noticed it doesn’t make a difference?

    I have water kefir but the way I’ve seen it done on other websites was just too time consuming to be practical on an ongoing basis. Yours seems much more user friendly!

    • Katie says

      I just figure if the kefir is still culturing, I won’t do extra work. ??? If I made Kool-Aid, I would just stir in the sugar. So I do the same here! It’s good to take the lazy way out sometimes….
      :) Katie

  27. cory says

    Hey! I was just wondering about the brown goobies in my water kefir! I thought it was yeast – the salt is a great tip!

  28. Ljen via Facebook says

    Thx for posting this..I spend so much $$ for these types of drinks @ the store, it’s ridiculous. Not anymore, it’s so easy! :)

  29. says

    I picked some water kefir grains up last year and had rehydrayed them right before your post, so it was perfect timing to get some tips on it! I put my grains in a bag as well (so much easier to transfer!!!), do you wash the bag or move them to another bag after awhile or anything? It already seems like the bag is slimy & I worry about it getting moldy.
    Thanks for sharing your successes & failures – it is sometimes overwhelming to see all that you are doing, but we all start somewhere, and it is nice to have such a wealth of knowledge to draw on – God bless!!

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      Sometimes it’s slimier than others, but I always just rinse with regular tap water and proceed. Scraping some off (just with my fingers) helps too – I don’t know if that’s okay, but so far, so good!

      And I’m so sorry it took me so long to respond…I got absolutely behind on comments when I released the second edition of the snacks book and truly have never caught up.

      :) Katie

  30. Naomi says

    I’ve been wondering about this too, cleaning the bag I mean. I don’t have filtered water in my tap so I’d have to swish the bag around in a bowl of water or something. Haven’t used the bag yet because I’m not sure of all the specifics.

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      I replied above, but basically I do exactly like the video, every time. Just a rinse in unfiltered tap water. (It’s not that I didn’t care to help you; I just didn’t catch your comments until now!) Sorry about that – Katie

  31. Leah Alexander says

    Katie, I’ve been making water kefir for a couple of years and love it, but recently stopped drinking it because I haven’t been able to easily find out if any alcohol is produced in the ferment. I am expecting my first (insert happy dance here!!!) and haven’t had the time to hunt down the info yet, so I’ve been playing it safe. Do you know anything about drinking it during pregnancy?

  32. Ashley says

    Help! I use a berkey to filter water. I did not add any trace minerals to the water but did use sugar in the raw. It has only set for 24 hours. I am the process of rehydrating them. Will they be ok or can I add some trace minerals and will they be ok?

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      Don’t worry! The little buggers are pretty resilient, or I would have killed them already a million times over. :)

      Berkey doesn’t remove all minerals anyway. I used white sugar and no mineral drops for over a year; I just added the drops to try to keep my grains healthier, but they were surviving w/o them. You’re doing fine! :) Katie

  33. Patti says

    Heather, I bought a bottle of plain, unflavored kombucha at whole foods. I left the unfinished bottle in the frig. and forgot about it. When I found it a few weeks later, it had formed a scoby. I have used that scoby successfully to brew other batches.

  34. Jenna via Facebook says

    Just curious…Did you buy special water kefir grains, or we’re you able to convert dairy grains? I have dairy kefir grains and would love to be able to use them for water kefir, if possible!

  35. says

    I have never heard of Water Kefir before and still a little puzzled but I will say a HUGE thank you. I could never find a homemade naturally made ‘flavored’ drink( for lack of better term) I’m sure the concentrate you use won’t be in R.I, so I’ll have to google that. I am curious about using fresh fruit:))) I am so grateful you posted this, though I no longer use sugar, I’m sure I will find how much NuNatural to use!

  36. says

    Nicole Picard – people use all sorts of things to flavor the kefir. If your NuNaturals is stevia, I don’t think it will work. The sugar is for the probiotic to consume as they multiply, not for sweetness. You’d need something with carbs, but the bacteria get rid of 80+% of it for you…

  37. Candace via Facebook says

    watch out, mine exploded when I opened it yesterday (after 2nd ferment with grape juice). it was everywhere.

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      The phone number is 1-800-322-7504. I don’t see a website on the bottle…

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