It’s a probiotic… it’s a carbonated drink… it’s water kefir!
I started making this as part of my mission to get more probiotics in our diet and it has worked like a charm! The kids love it and ask for it each morning.
Water Kefir Culture
You will need one unusual ingredient for this recipe: water kefir cultures (also called water kefir grains). They aren’t really grains, but are a symbiotic colony of beneficial bacteria that create probiotics and enzymes during the process of breaking down natural sugar.
I got my water kefir grains from this family-owned company. You’ll also need…
- Glass jar (1 quart or half gallon)
- Wooden spoon for stirring (avoid metal)
- Towel, cheesecloth, or coffee filter to cover jar
- Rubber band
How to Make Water Kefir Soda (Recipe)
- water kefir grains (hydrated)
- ¼ cup sugar (per quart of water, do not use honey)
- water (non-chlorinated and filtered)
- In a half gallon size glass jar, dissolve the sugar in a small amount of hot water. If you plan on making the full half gallon you will need ½ cup of sugar. If you are only filling the jar halfway then you only need ¼ cup of sugar.
- When the sugar is dissolved, fill the rest of the jar with cool filtered water and make sure the water is not warm. It must be at room temperature!
- Add the hydrated water kefir grains.
- Cover with a towel, cheesecloth, or coffee filter and rubber band to keep out insects and small children.
- Leave on the counter (preferably at 70-75°F) for 24-48 hours.
- After 48 hours, strain the water kefir grains through a bamboo or non-metal mesh strainer pouring the liquid into another container. I use a half gallon jar for the first process then strain into two quart size jars.
- Restart the process by dissolving more sugar in water, adding cool water, and adding the same kefir grains.
- To make the water kefir carbonated, pour a couple ounces of fruit juice such as grape, pomegranate, apple, or cherry into the water kefir you just strained. I don't recommend citrus for this part, as it makes stringy yeast-like things that are not tasty!
- Once you've added the juice, cover the jars tightly with an airtight lid and leave on the counter n additional 1-3 days before drinking or refrigerating.
- Repeat the process!
My Favorite Kefir Variations
- After the first fermentation, cap the water kefir without adding any juice and leave on the counter. After two days, put in refrigerator and add vanilla extract before drinking — tastes like cream soda!
- Add lemon juice and drink right after the first fermentation — tastes like lemonade!
- Do the second fermentation with grape, apple, cherry, or pomegranate for a fizzy fruit flavored soda.
- Add raisins or prune juice for the second fermentation — tastes like Dr. Pepper.
- Make a grape or berry flavored second fermentation and mix with iced herbal tea for a carbonated fruity iced tea drink.
- Add pineapple juice after the first fermentation, but drink right away — don’t allow to ferment or it gets slimy!
Water Kefir Recipe Video Tutorial
This video that explains this in more detail and gives step by step instructions. You can also check out Cultures for Health to find the supplies to make water kefir soda and other great fermented probiotic-rich foods and drinks!
Have you ever made water kefir? What’s your favorite flavor?
Discussion (336 Comments)
Does the acidity in kefir harm our teeth? How much kefir might be too much in a day? I have been making and drinking kefir made with milk and seem to be getting good results with my GERD issues. My sons won’t drink it because of the tartness. I think they may like this if I use the word “soda”!
From everything I’ve seen as long as you have good oral health this won’t harm your teeth at all… It actually isn’t very acidic either
I just discovered aqua kefir at Trader Joe’s last week and love it! I’ve been making kombucha for a couple years but recently got tired of trying to balance the “fermented” flavor. Sometimes I would get a strong flavor that I didn’t like and other times I didn’t.
I’m wondering if you have ever gotten that with this recipe? I could convince my whole family to drink this if it doesn’t have that flavor in it.
Also, how long can you use the same “grains”? Do they create more over time like the kombucha scoby? Or would I need to purchase them again every few months? Sooo many questions!
You can keep using the same batch, as long as it doesn’t starve for too long that it dies. I used mine for at least 2 years. It does multiply. And the fermented taste is not very strong, like it is in kombucha. My kids loved this soda!
Should you add lemon and other dried fruit for the first fermentation?
It can actually mess up the grains if used with them, but is fine after for the second ferment.
Hi, Kefir soda is an absolute godsend. I have a very imbalanced digestive system and the use of probiotics is life changing, I can’t stress that enough. Thank you very much for helping spread this knowledge to others! However, I’ve been making my own kefir soda and I have a problem… my latest batches (using the finest ingredients) aren’t carbonating! First I was using a simple Apricot nectar from a can plus some lemon juice. no preservatives but not organic and had added sugar. still, i got some carbonation. next i used an all natural, no preservative fruit punch of apple cherry pear and grape…a little fizzier but not as great. then i got an all organic, no added sugar, no preservative pomegranate cherry lime juice and…NO carbonation. wha? I always leave my 1st and 2nd ferments for 24-30 hours. should I try leaving them longer? are my grains dead? I’m confused! Thanks!!!
Sometimes the carbonation is just slow to come. I have noticed that if I add a bit (1 tsp per quart) of honey to the SECOND fermentation then it kicks the yeast in butt and says, “Wake up!” Also, if your house is < 70 degrees then you might have to let it ferment longer/ move it to a warmer spot. Another thing to think about is sealing the second fermentation tight. I usually let mine ferment for 24 hours unsealed and for 12-18 hours sealed tight, to lock in the bubbles. This makes an incredibly fizzy beverage, especially when paired with fresh berries or juice!
This is yeast based? Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of a probiotic? I thought yeast caused candida overgrowth?
Not all yeast are the same. Candida is a specific type of yeast.
I have been doing water kefir for about 6 months now and I have noticed some things and wondered if you had any thoughts on them. I really like it with lemon, but with the price of lemons and not wanting to go to the store so often with my 3 youngsters I bought some organic lemon juice. I feel good about the source and feel its an ok substitute, but I noticed my kefir doesn’t get bubbly with it. Is that bad? Do you think it’s killing the good stuff? I would really love to get your opion.
It is probably fine to use, especially if its organic. There is probably more available sugar in fresh juice, so that is why it gets bubblier. As long as you aren’t adding the juice to the ferment with the kefir grains, it should still be high in good bacteria…
Lemon is not used as a flavor, it is used to feed the grains. They get a lot of what they are after from the skin, that is why lemon juice is not as good.
Can I use black strap molasses in place of sugar?
You can add it but it doesn’t have quite the same chemical composition to completely replace the sugar…
It also tastes incredibly strong. I have used 1/4 Tbs. Molasses in conjunction with other sugar fuels, just for the mineral content.
You can add it but it doesn’t have quite the same chemical composition to completely replace the sugar…
I actually use 1/4 c sugar and 1 tsp molasses. Yummy!
where can I get the kefir grain at? What kind od store do I got to?
This is the only place I’ve ordered them https://wellnessmama.com/go/kefir/ I’ve never seen them locally…
You can also order it on amazon.
I found them from a wonderful company called Keysands and they delivered well. I have just begun my first batch.
Keysands is great! I lost my grains during a move – they had lasted for 2 years. I ordered again from Keysands. Customer Service is great and the grains are healthy.
Check Craigslist! People give it away or sell healthy fresh kefir grains for next to nothing- just bring a container… it’s part of “kefir culture” to share the good health with others. Vancouver BC CL has about 20 listings at the moment! It’s really caught on and it’s a great way to share your ever multiplying grains.
Just an FYI… I started drinking kefir water about two weeks ago and now have my first yeast infection in 5 years. Saw my chiro/nutritionist and kefir is the culprit. He said there are 700 types of probiotics and not all of us respond favorably to them. 🙁 Even “good” probiotics can mess up your flora. I just say this in case other woman experience the dame thing and don’t consider it might be the kefir cause it’s a probiotic.
Could that possibly be a ‘healing crisis’ or some kind of detox reaction/flare up? I have read that if you already have an imbalance you’re likely to feel worse before u feel better, it’s like the ‘bad’ bacteria is protesting =)
Wondering the same thing as it’s what happened to me also.
thinking that too- look up “candida die-off”
Interesting about your yeast infection. My first infection dragged on for 6 months until I discovered water kefir.
But you’re right, people are not one size fits all!
Can you add fresh fruit for second fermentation?
Kelly Dolan Glass
I’ve tried several batches of water kefir, but my kids don’t like it (and to be honest, neither do I). Mine tastes very alcoholic, like bad wine. Not at all like the fizzy fruit soda that I tried from the woman who gave me the grains. Any idea what I’m doing wrong?
Ivana Jiménez Juárez
If it tastes too alcoholic, you’re probably leaving them for too long (or it’s warmer there, as temperature accelerates the process). Try leaving the grains+sugar water for 24 hours at room temperature, then filtering the kefir grains out, adding fruit juice and putting it in the fridge (instead of outside) for a day.
We’ve been enjoying water kefir soda for a few months now, but I’ve never tried adding juice and doing a second ferment. We usually drink it with fresh lemon juice squeezed in, but a second ferment would certainly be more convenient. Thanks for the tips on what juices work best! Have you ever tried using strawberries/strawberry juice for the second ferment? Just curious as we’re swimming in strawberries from our garden right now.
I haven’t tried it because our strawberries aren’t producing yet, but
I’ve had friends who added in sliced strawberries or strawberry juice
and they said it was great!
Thanks! I’ll try it with the batch that is fermenting right now!
I’m wondering how much juice to add to the water keifer and also what is the difference between first and second fermentation?
Sorry, I just noticed your recipe says a couple of ounces for the fruit juice?
Can’t wait to try this! I’ve made water kefir before, but never using the method you describe. Thanks for sharing (found you at FBF). Blessings, ~Lisa
My friend has recently given me some kefir plant and now I am trying to grow it. But is seems to have died…..how can i tell if it is still alive.
Hi I’m not sure that this is the right place to post this comment??
I have been struggling to make kefir water for about 2 months now….I have traveled a lot.
But i have finally got to the point where i can see some new clear grains. But my drink does not seem to be carbonating at all or just a very little. why is that. Not even in the second fermentation. In our country we are now in winter. Could that be the cause?
Go to the cultures for health website for help. The kefir grains must be fed enough sugar water to be healthy….sometimes every 24 hours until they get healthy again. Read the information on that website and it will help you a lot.
I brew my water Keifer in a sealed canning jar (wire clamp kind 1 liter) and add dried cranberries. 2 days on the countertop then leaved sealed and place in refrige until needed. After I’m ready for it, I keep it in a wire clamped bottle to hold carbination.
I use swing top bottles for my second firementation and either a little bit of dried fruit (peaches or pineapple are our favorites), or one half can of nectar (like the soda cans) in each 34 oz bottle. It’s important if you use the swing too bottles to use bottles that are round in the bottom and not square, as the square ones have a tendency to explode.
In the recipe you say avoid metal strainer but…I can’t seem to find a mesh strainer that isn’t metal. I mean all the strainers I find are metal or plastic but as far as small strainers go there isn’t a mesh one that is not metal.
I started making kefir drink two ago. I checked everywhere to find a non-metal strainer, places like Macy’s, whole food, target, bath bed and beyond … But none of them has it. Finally, I went to a chinese store in Chinatown, Manhattan nyc. I found a pack of three plastic strainers with nylon nets, costed only $1.19. Their sizes are 3 1/4 , 4 1/2 and 6 inches.
I just placed a cheese cloth over my metal/mesh strainer and it hasn’t harmed the grains at all. Plus it makes transferring the grains easier.
I use a sprouting lid, works like a charm!
I found a set of three plastic mesh strainers (just cheap-y ones) at Walmart for under $2
Dollar General has a small plastic strainer that is perfect
Silicone works great. Bed Bath and Beyond has a small one with tiny holes (not as fine as metal, but works great).
Walmart has a set of three sizes for under $2
Try WalMart for mesh strainers.. They have a set of four mesh strainers small to large sizes
I use a plastic drain cover! lol
I use a cheesecloth to cover with a rubber band, and found just pouring it into another glass jar for the second fermentation works well. Then I take off cheesecloth (after tapping any grains down into original jar), add the sugar water to grains, move the cheesecloth to a dry part and put rubber band back onand repeat 🙂 saves me a step, once I lost my plastic strainer moving from Denver to Austin! 🙂