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How I Make Water Kefir in 2 Minutes or Less {VIDEO}

How to Make Water Kefir quickly and easily

I can’t believe I’ve been making water kefir for over eight years already! That’s a long time! It’s pretty funny to think about those first experiments with how to make water kefir and testing it out on my family.

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 1/8 – 1/4 c. sugar, some mineral drops, and de-chlorinated water.
  • My Berkey takes the chlorine out; you can also just leave a jar of city water on the counter, uncovered, for 24 hours to let it evaporate OR boil it uncovered OR whiz it in a blender.
  • I used to “season” it only with concentrated cherry juice (ours is this local brand from Traverse City, MI cherries) – now I alternate with organic lemon juice from Costco (this brand). It’s not that much for two large bottles, which last months each, and there are zero added ingredients. Some of us prefer the lemon, others the cherry, and some just like to switch it up. 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! (Just add the juice, bottle it up, and leave for 24-48 hours on the countertop.) But they’re not required for success. Hint: I got mine for <$2 at ALDI because they were full of lemonade! 
  • You can use the kefir grains for a half gallon or a quart, either way.
  • Traditional Cooking School’s Fundamentals and Fermentation eCourses also have lots of ideas for other flavors.
  • I recommend buying water kefir grains from 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.
How to make water kefir for probiotics

My Early Water Kefir Experiments

The first time I made water kefir, I wasn’t totally sold.

It was ok, and I knew I could make myself drink it, but it wasn’t instant love. I was drinking it straight, on ice, with no other flavors! No wonder.

Once I started adding juice, we all liked it better, especially my kiddos. But not my husband…

I even tried making some water kefir with his favorite (at the time) Powerade. I thought I killed half of my kefir grains doing it too. They turned fluorescent yellow, yikes!

How to Make Water Kefir Video Plus Helpful Tips and Tricks
My bright yellow powerade kefir (powerfir) grains.

I asked guests to my house to try it, too, and got reactions like, “It smells terrible, but it doesn’t taste too bad,” and, “It’s not something I would order on purpose!”

That being said, many “healthy foods” take some getting used to. Shucks, a lot of people make themselves get used to things like beer and coffee after despising their first taste, so why not water kefir? It didn’t take too long to grow on me…

A Little Background on Kefir

Water kefir and milk kefir are both probiotic beverages, fermented drinks that deliver healthy bacteria to your system.

Kefir has quite a few more strains of probiotics than yogurt, which makes it a powerful tool for immune-boosting and digestive health.

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

How to Make Easy 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!

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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!

I’m not exactly sure how much of the sugar remains in kefir after a first or second ferment. Some say only 20% of what you put in, maybe even less – still more sugar than I’d consume in plain water, but a very tiny amount overall. The longer you ferment, the less sugar is left.

Ready to make kefir?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 juice or cherry concentrate (expensive but lasts a long time; I only use 1-2 Tbs. per quart of kefir).

How to Make Water Kefir - an easy probiotic drink!

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.

One reader recommended this long ago (for a 1/2 gallon):

  • 1/2 lemon (peeled if not organic, cut into chunks)
  • 2 Tbs. raisins
  • about 2-4 Tbs. chopped fresh ginger (not exactly sure of amount)
  • about 4 fresh apple mint leaves

I just don’t take a lot of time bothering to flavor mine, but apparently this tastes a bit like ginger ale.

Getting Into a Rhythm With Water Kefir

Something I learned early on was to get a simple rhythm set up in my day somewhere since kefir needs attention every day in some way or another. It’s short attention, but needed daily.

Water kefir jars in a row

This was my routine when I first got started:

  1. Leave a quart of water out overnight to let the chlorine evaporate. (I have city water.)  You could also whiz it in a blender or boil it, but I’m all about lazy.
  2. Add 1/4 cup sugar to the water, cap and shake until dissolved. (Again, you can use a bit of boiling water to dissolve the sugar, then add it to room temp water, but I choose simplicity.)  Sometimes I have to shake, then wait, then shake, but I’m always doing something else in the kitchen, so no big deal.
  3. Put kefir grains into the jar. If you can get a muslin bag to hold your grains, it is so much less work when it’s time to take them out.
  4. Cover with something breathable:  I use a coffee filter, but you could use cheesecloth or a cloth napkin or thin washcloth. Secure with a rubber band, or the ring of a canning jar.
  5. Leave at room temperature for 24-48 hours.
  6. The pic is my lineup, circa 2009!

Your Water Kefir Calendar

Copy this out if it helps you:

  • Day one: pour a jar of water (to give the chlorine time to evaporate)
  • Day two:  add sugar and kefir grains, pour a new jar of water
  • Day four:  move kefir grains to new sugar water, cap finished kefir, pour a new jar
  • Day five: move finished kefir to fridge (if there’s any left!)
  • Day six: repeat day four and so on!

I would recommend keeping a little checklist of the dates you start and finish the kefir. It starts to get confusing as to when the stuff is done!

Nowadays, I just have one jar as shown in the video, but it’s always good to see where I started! For example, here are our early reactions about whether water kefir would be a decent substitute for soda pop.

Your Turn to Get Started!

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 from Cultures for Health. Here are CFH’s instructions to make water kefir, if you’d like a second (and different) method.

Are you ready to take the plunge yet?

As part of a detox diet, pair kefir with bone broth for super duper health benefits.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.

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Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

43 thoughts on “How I Make Water Kefir in 2 Minutes or Less {VIDEO}”

  1. Very helpful video! Would you happen to have a recommendation for traveling by air with water kefir? I am going on a year long trip around the world. With a carry on backpack and one camera purse as my personal item. So space is limited as well as liquid amounts since I won’t be checking my bag. I’d love to use this when I reach southeast Asia to strengthen myself and avoid getting stomach bugs. I’m not quite sure how to do it though. Has anyone traveled with them before and has a good system? Thanks!

  2. I have to share how my family drinks kefir so fast. I’ve been drinking the water for a couple years but my family didn’t care for it unless I put it in a smoothie to disguise it. Everyone loves it as kefir pop. After the water kefir is done I mix the water with a juice concentrate then let the quart jars sit on the counter for 18 hours, then refrigerate it for a few hours. It becomes just like a pop with all the fizzy goodness. Maybe I’ve gotten used to it but I don’t smell or taste the yeast now. It’s delicious and a treat for the kids since we don’t drink pop.

  3. Katie, I know this is an older post, but I know you’ll have an answer to my question! I’m trying to incorporate kefir water and other cultured/fermented foods into my diet. Unfortunately, I can’t stand the taste of kefir water (even with flavorings). Do you have any suggestions for incorporating kefir water into other foods? I would think that heating/baking it would destroy its beneficial organisms. Can I use it to inoculate homemade yogurt (I’ve seen info about using milk kefir to make yogurt but I’ve just got water kefir grains)? Can you recommend any cold-prepared recipes that would benefit from water kefir? Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Susan,
      You’re right, you’d kill it if you bake with it. Some folks go as much as 1/3 or 1/2 juice, but I know, there’s still a certain taste to it. I really don’t know about the yogurt, but what about fermenting things like guacamole and mayo with it? A Tbs. in a batch should work, then 7-12 hours or so on the counter. Or honestly just incorporate it into a smoothie. I don’t think you’d be able to taste it there…? 🙂 Katie

  4. Hi Katie, Thank you for the video- this def makes the water kefir process much easier for me. I must be over thinking the process making it more complicated than it really is. I am ready to start culturing again after having the grains in the sugar water in the fridge for a very short time. Do I now dispose of the water they’ve been sitting in and culture them in a fresh batch of sugar water? When you add your water to the sugar covered grains, are you using room temp water? I have well water from the tap or filtered out of our fridge- what’s the best way to go? Thank you for baby stepping me ; )

    1. Caitlin,
      I’ve found the grains to be very resilient – for example, we just got home from a full 8 days away. I had made fresh sugar water and put it in the fridge the whole time, so I figure it’s probably at least half fermented. I’ll either just drink it or leave it at room temp overnight and then drink it – no need to toss the liquid. I use room temp water just because that’s always what I have, but I doubt the grains will mind either choice. Maybe try one for a week, then the other and pay attn to see if the fermenting is any different (although room temp may change a lot and impact it, too). Have fun with it and good luck! 🙂 katie

  5. Katie, I am working on my 2nd batch of water Kefir and am wondering I use Berkey water do I need to add minerals?
    I can’t find an answer anywhere:)

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Stephany,
      I don’t think you’d need them, no, but I ended up using some because I don’t always use sucanat, so the grains were happier. Berkey water should be fine for water kefir grains without additional minerals.
      🙂 Katie

  6. I have been making water kefir for almost a year now. My grain seem to be doing fine (and even survived a move). However I haven’t been able to get them to multiply. There is just a small batch sittin gin the bottom of the jar. I recently moved to making a half gallon at a time, 1) because we drink so much and 2) to see if that would encourage them to grow. Any suggestions?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      L,
      Mine never multiply either – water kefir grains don’t as much as dairy kefir, I understand. You might not be doing anything wrong! 🙂 Katie

  7. Katie,
    I really appreciate your blog and all the helpful information you provide and inspiration to move our families towards natural health, thank you!
    I just started my water kefir last week and have my second finished batch in the refridgerator. I was wondering if you have had any experience with (or your readers) with very stinky gas when starting kefir on an otherwise non-probiotic tummy? Thanks so much!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Heather,
      That’s very interesting…I would not have noticed on myself, BUT gas can be a sign of bacteria “die-off” which is actually a good thing, but a sign that your body is detoxing a little, which means you had/have some imbalance. Hopefully it won’t continue indefinitely though… 😉 Katie

  8. Lisa via Facebook

    oh, drat! was hemming and hawing, yes! the bone broth posts were enough to keep me overwhelmed as is! ; )

  9. I am starting water kefir this week! They are hydrating as I type! Can’t wait. We are a booch family so I am excited for a change.

  10. Hi Katie 🙂 Just curious, what minerals are you using, ie: what brand and where would I find them? Thanks!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Stefanie,
      I use the exact brand I linked to at Amazon, because that’s what Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS told me to use. 😉

      Right here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004AC07G6/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=kitchestewar-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B004AC07G6

      🙂 Katie

  11. I’ve made dairy keifr before but have yet to try water kefir. I definitely want to give it a try. Cultures for Health has great products so I think I’ll head over to do a little shopping!

  12. Hi Katie, thank you for another great post! I would like to know how long these grains last. Same for the dairy kefir grains. Thank you!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Wendy,
      Dairy kefir grains multiply, so you’ll have enough for you and your entire neighborhood for a really long time, maybe forever, as long as you take care of them. Water kefir grains can multiply but don’t always; I used the same ones for almost 3 years, then I think I killed them and just got some from a friend and started over. But with proper care, you’ve got a very long time on the same grains. 🙂 Katie

      1. Thanks, Katie. So what happens when you go on vacation? Do you have someone babysit your kefir grains?! 😉 I just got my package from Cultures for Health, but I’ll be going out of town soon. I think I’ll start making kefir drinks afterwards.

        1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

          Wendy,
          For a week, they stay in the fridge just fine, fed with sugar before leaving. Longer than that and I’m usually with family so they come along! 🙂 Katie

  13. Perfect timing! I got some dairy kefir grains from the farm we get our raw milk from (it helps that my bro who lives with us works there!), so I will be starting that tonight.
    I’ve been talking about trying water kefir for over a year now, but hadn’t taken the plunge yet… I got online to go find the website and saw your blog, so I was able to get the discount too. Yay!

  14. Hello,

    Does water kefir have little bits floating in it sometimes, like “baby grains”? My kefir is never clear there is always something floating around in it after the first day it is cloudy. Is this normal? Thanks!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Gabreial,
      Yes! You’re right, especially after that “second ferment” for 24 hours, there’s usually a film on the top. I think it’s just little pieces of kefir grains. Pretty typical in ferments of all kinds. 🙂 Katie

  15. I learned yesterday that the bucha at the farm market was much more vinegary than the “store bought” brands which are sweeter and would probably appeal to more people. We make water kefir at home and have for years. We drink a glass everyday with dinner. I don’t do much added flavorings but we fill a glass half full of kefir and top it off with sparkling waters.

  16. Dairy kefir doesn’t appeal to me at all, but water kefir does. Problem is that I have not been able to find the grains in Canada. Cultures for Health can’t ship them here. I’m not giving up hope yet, though.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Karen,
      I just had a reader from Australia email about this place: http://www.ebay.com/itm/WATER-KEFIR-GRAINS-ORGANIC-FREE-SHIP-/390520445057?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5aecd51881 because they would ship internationally. Worth a try! 🙂 Katie

  17. Was thinking about trying this. I would love to know how the taste compares to kombucha.
    Any comments?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Tina,
      I haven’t had a lot of kombucha, but there’s that undertone “fermented” that is similar, for sure. If you like kombucha, you’d def. like water kefir. If you don’t like kombucha, there’s still a chance you would like kefir, flavored the right way! 🙂 Katie

  18. We’ve been making and drinking water kefir daily for 2 years now. We have grown to love it au naturale…..no flavorings added. It’s as simple as can be that way and so refreshing. Even our 6 kids enjoy it without anything added. We like it so much that even when we travel…..we bring our kefir so we won’t have to go a day without it. 🙂

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      They’re totally, totally different beasts, for sure. I need to try making dairy kefir, even if every darn time I type it it turns out diary!! 😉 Katie

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