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)
I got my kefir grains and have been making the water kefir for a few weeks now. At first they worked great then they didn’t work so well for a few batches and I figured it was due to the tiny bit of real salt I added (for minerals). I switched back to the egg shell method and it was producing some great kefir soda, but this last batch I made smelled like feet. I have been cleaning the glass jar with water thinking the soap might leave a residue that would harm the kefir, but now I am wondering if I caused some kind of pathogen by not cleaning properly between batches?
Deanna Rolfe Dunn
You can clean with a white vinegar rinse…don’t use soap!
What is the egg shell method?
I’m a little confused, you say to cover with a breathable cover (towel, coffee filter) but the package of kefir grains (powder) I have says put in a jar with a lid. Which is better?
For the first ferment, a light cover like a towel, for the secondary to make it bubbly, a lid…
I like the fact that you “brew” your water without the added figs or raisins, but they can be added later. Recently I purchased some grains so I can make this water for my daughter who has a damaged liver due to prescribed medicines over many years, which took their toll on her liver. She cannot tolerate dairy and she refuses to drink my Kombucha tea which has helped me keep the swelling out of my legs and ankles. The water seems like something she can be comfortable with.
Thank you for your interesting site.
I want to start incorporating water kefir in our home, but I’m not sure how to start. How much water kefir do you start drinking each day and how much for the kids? I have an 8 and a 5 year old, and will have a newborn in February. I can’t find any info on quantities and would love your help. Love your website!!
We started with about half a cup each, including the kids, and now I just let everyone drink as much as they want…
I’m so glad you posted this. My son has digestive issues and kefir was recommended to us but he hates kefir milk. I never thought about kefir water soda. I’m definitely giving this a try. Thanks!
Catherine Peisher Knight
A couple of questions: the sucrose is converted to fructose. While this doesn’t impact blood sugar, isn’t fructose worse for you overall? Second, do you have an idea how much sugar might be left after a full fermentation time period? I am still in a weight-loss phase but I do want more ways of getting probiotics in my diet. (I also want more to drink than water) will drinking this hold back my efforts?
I think that both of those are addressed on the site with the cultures (link above)
Thanks!! Someone shared Kefir grains with me. It was raw milk based, now coconut milk based. Can I removea section & make it a water based Kefir?
Unfortunately they don’t switch from milk to water well at all…
i switched some to water and they work just fine. only thing is that they don’t grow. i think it’s the same with the coconut milk though also. i switched mine more than 6 months ago and they are still working just as well as at first. in fact, about 3 months ago i added more so i could make larger quantities of water kefir.
Do you reuse the same kefir grains or new each time?
As long as you take care of them, you can reuse them for years…
How do you best care for your kefir grains? Also, I’ve seen others suggest using honey, but you stated that it was “anti-bacterial” correct? I’ve just started using kefir grains and it doesn’t seem like there is much carbonation at all, though there is fermentation. I initially made the mistake of adding the sugar to the water without dissolving it in warm water first, before I found your video. Would that have affected the grains?
Katie - Wellness Mama
It should still be fine. To get carbonation, you have to do the second fermentation to get the carbonation.
I am a new kefir user, but a long-time kombucha user. Picking up on how to make kombucha seemed really easy for me, with no knowledge on the topic (except from a bottle, at the health food store) – and seemed to have great luck with it, to where I have multiple kombuchas and scobies, of varying degrees all over the house. I like the low-maintenance aspect of the kombucha process.
However, I am not having a good time with kefir, and want to give up. My water kefir was purchased from Amazon; they arrived in good health and began multiplying quickly after 1 full cycle. Everything seemed to go well: purified water, melted sweetener (1st attempt: molasses, 2nd attempt: brown sugar, 3rd attempt: organic raw sugar, 4th attempt: organic coconut sugar), left in rubber-band secured coffee filtered covered mason jars for 24 hours (with slight micro-bubbles erupting from bottom of jar, when kefir water is moved, and then more “sugar-water” of the using the type used for the initial 24 hour attempt, and then this solution separated from kefir and poured into “swing-top” glass bottles, and left out for another 24-48 hours. Every attempt has yielded an end result that smells – BAD. Thinking that my sensitive smell was causing me to be too picky, I forced myself to take a sip and IMMEDIATELY spat it out. It was horrible, and tasted like something that should not be consumed – like mold, with a faint hint of alcohol (this happened whether I waited 24 or 48 hours for the 2nd fermentation), and no carbonation.
If it matters, I live in northwest Florida. The kefir was kept in room temperatures between 70-75 degrees.
Since I have given up, I have put my kefir in the fridge, and occasionally add sugar to the kefir’s solution, and it is still multiplying nicely.
Based on what I hear others saying about their successful kefir, I want to try again – but don’t want to continue wasting money and product.
So, that being said:
1) What exactly am I doing wrong?
2) What should kefir taste like? What should my senses be experiencing when I taste a proper, successful kefir?
3) What are the things that I should be avoiding, or being sure is happening throughout the kefir soda process?
I appreciate any/all advice, input and/or recommendations. Thanks ahead of time.
Katie - Wellness Mama
Was the taste any different based on which sugar you used? I’ve had the best result with raw sugar and not coconut sugar or any other type. I found that using organic sugar and a tiny amount of molasses was a good mix. I’m wondering if the molasses in the first run gave too much sulfur and changed the taste. i’d try washing the grains carefully with clean water and making another batch with just the raw sugar. I’d discard that batch and then try to the second batch made the same way.
May sound like a silly question but when getting filtered water for these recipes, how to you know the filtered water doesn’t have chlorine or fluoride Does just buying the jugs of filtered water at the grocery store work, I don’t think they say on the labels? We have a water filter on our fridge but it doesn’t filter out these things. I don’t want reverse osmosis water because of lack of minerals. We are eventually going to get a full house filtration system to eliminate chlorine and fluoride but that might not be for a few months.
You could actually use distilled. We use reverse osmosis for the water kefir, etc since we have it, but any should work. The spring and drinking waters in the stores do have chlorine and fluoride though.
Chlorine is used in processing spring water, but is then later completely removed. Fluoride is still found in most RO water, dependent on the source, but is not commonly used in spring water. I find that spring water works best for water kefir due to the high mineral content.
We also have a reverse osmosis filter. I’m now thinking we should supplement our water with trace minerals. How do you do that? Do you have any brands you recommend? Thank you for your website and all the great information you share!
I use a brand called concentrace mineral. They are in a small bottle and are liquid. I got them locally from a healthfood store but I know you can get them online. I use them because of the RO water. Hope this helps!
I also have an R/O filter and was worried about having minerals stripped out of my body. I like that it’s clean – but I don’t want it to clean out my minerals! 🙂 Anyway, I used the drops at first, but I didn’t know exactly how much to do with each thing I was using (what if it was only a cup of water? I still wanted minerals but I couldn’t do half of a drop or less.), so I found a different mechanism for getting the minerals without me even having to think about it. I found a company based in California (I think) that has a remineralization filter that attaches to your R/O system – it works with all of them. The name of the company is called Vitev and the thing is called REMIN. I have been very happy with it. It is easy to put in, easy to change out. They have good customer support, too. I recommend them if you don’t want to do the drops. Anyway, just my $0.02!
I’ve been successfully using store-brand spring water sweetened with processed dark brown sugar to make my kefir for two years and have had no problems at all. Just have to remember to burp the second ferment.
I also cultured organic coconut water sweetened with raw sugar which caused the kefir grains to grow so rapidly (quadrupling in 2 days in my under-70-degree home) that I actually put it in the refrigerator to slow them down – and it did continue to culture in there!
For those unable to source kefir grains, either dairy or water, there is an international list of people willing to share their excess for local pickup, the cost of postage or maybe a little more at torontoadvisors.com/suppliers. There’s something about kefir that invites sharing. 🙂
Kristy Kelley – this is off topic but can you reference a good house system to remove chloride/fluoride for a water system? They are so darn expensive! RO I don’t like either due to lack of minerals.
Can you get rid of fluoride without RO? I didn’t think so. I think Dr. Mercola just adds Himalayan salt to his for minerals. That’s what we might do when we get ours.
You can get rid of fluoride with a Berkey filter.
Did you hear about Black Mica by Adya? I read about it yesterday in internet. The mineral was found by Japanese. It claims it can clarify fluoride Chloride and heavy metals in water and change them into something human bodies can expel them. I wonder if it can be trusted.
Can U tell me if the process eats up all the sugar? (after 1st ferment not after additions)
The great majority of it, but not 100%