I can’t believe I’ve been making water kefir for over six years already!
That’s a long time!
I’ve changed my strategy a couple of times, and I wanted to make sure you had the fastest, easiest method for making this probiotic drink. (My water kefir grains are Cultures for Health brand, by the way, and have lasted for years!)
Watch me Make Water Kefir!
Here’s a video of how I make water kefir in 2 minutes or less:
If you can’t see the video above, click to see the how to make water kefir video on YouTube.
Video Notes on Making Water Kefir Quickly
I always include a few notes for those of you who don’t have time to watch videos (although this one is really short, just over 2 minutes):
- I used to use a bag to contain the “grains” and rinse it each time, but now I just pour off the finished kefir, leave the grains swimming (no strainer or rinsing) and add 1/4 c. sugar, some mineral drops, and de-chlorinated water.
- My Berkey takes the chlorine out; you can also just leave a jar on the counter, uncovered, for 24 hours to let it evaporate.
- I used to “season” it only with concentrated cherry juice (a local brand from Traverse City, MI) – now I alternate with organic lemon juice from Costco. It’s about $8 for two large bottles, which last months each, and there are zero added ingredients. I prefer the lemon; my daughter still loves the cherry. The cherry juice has the added benefit of a hefty dose of antioxidants.
- I do a “second ferment” on accident most of the time, since I leave the finished kefir on the counter and we don’t drink it all right away. That depletes the sugar content of the added juice even further. If you get swing top bottles, you can really get some fizz going! But they’re not required for success.
- GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals and Fermentation eCourses also have lots of ideas for other flavors.
- I recommend buying water kefir grains at Cultures for Health.
- An important note: When you don’t want to make kefir for a few days or are going on vacation, you can “hold” the grains in a bit of fresh (non-chlorinated) sugar water in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. You could also put the finished kefir with the grains in it right into the fridge if you’re short on time to transfer grains.
A Little Background on Kefir
Water kefir and milk kefir are both probiotic beverages, fermented drinks that deliver healthy bacteria to your system.
As it turns out, water kefir has a similar arsenal:
- 32 strains of bacteria from 5 different species
- 12 kinds of yeast from 5 different species
You can see a list of all of them HERE…Try fitting THAT on the side of a yogurt container!
A lot of people ask me, voices literally dripping with curiosity, “But what IS water kefir? What are “grains?”
Here’s the explanation from Cultures for Health:
Originating in Mexico, water kefir grains (also known as Sugar Kefir Grains) allow for the fermentation of sugar water or juice to create a carbonated lacto-fermented beverage.
I usually say, “It’s fermented water,” which gets me more quizzical looks. I have to add, “I add sugar to the water, which gives the bacteria something to consume, and they ferment the water by adding good probiotics. Then I can flavor it with juice.
It’s super easy – quicker than Kool-Aid!”
Health Benefits of Water Kefir
Ultimately, no matter how easy it is, WHY bother making kefir in the first place?
For us, it’s a way to offer choices other than “water or milk?” for our kids at mealtimes. Besides that, there are a lot of health benefits to water kefir source:
- probiotics – more than yogurt
- active yeast – which yogurt does not have and balances the system similarly to probiotics
- B vitamins
- folic acid
- may boost immunities
- may improve digestion
As far as “why are they called GRAINS,” I don’t know the answer, but they have nothing to do with grain, the food group, like wheat, oats, etc. The little globules are colonies of yeasts and bacteria. When I call them “the little guys” my friends kind of laugh uncomfortably, since it sounds like I am keeping pets in the kitchen. And I am, sort of. I feed them, they feed us!
What to Put in Kefir?
When I first started making kefir, I learned quickly that juice is the best (easiest, quickest) option.
A few people said that they put a cup of blueberry pomegranate juice in a quart of kefir. I thought, “I’ll never buy blueberry pomegranate juice. It sounds exotic and expensive.” Then I ran into some at Meijer. It WAS expensive, but it was on clearance, so I sprang for it. Nowadays though, I usually use lemon.
Other Ways to “Flavor” Water Kefir
If you don’t want to buy juice, you can also use whole foods to flavor the kefir. For all these options, add them in after the first ferment, then strain out after a day or two.
- sliced fresh ginger
- fresh strawberries
- fresh mint
- …really, just about any fresh or dried fruit you can think of! Chop it up so that it can infuse into the liquid most effectively.
Refined vs. Unrefined Sugar
In general, the less processed the sugar, the more fizz you’ll get. I bit the bullet and purchased my first “evaporated cane sugar” (that’s just organic white sugar) and “palm sugar” when I was learning to make kefir.
It felt like a serious commitment: whereas I could get 5 lbs. of white sugar for $2, this stuff was $3 and $5+ for a pound, respectively. Yikes.
But when I opened my first jug of kefir made with the unrefined sugar: “Psssssst!” It had some serious carbonation! The fizz is a LOT closer to soda pop. Admittedly, that’s pretty fun!
Are you ready to take the plunge yet? You can reuse the grains indefinitely, so in the long run, this is a pretty frugal investment and really stretches the juice, if your family drinks juice with breakfast anyway. Buy milk or water kefir grains at Cultures for Health. Here are CFH’s instructions to make water kefir, if you’d like a second (and different) method.
As part of a detox diet, pair kefir with bone broth for super duper health benefits.