The chances are high that you have already heard about water kefir. Fortunately, this beverage has become extremely popular during the last few years. Why fortunately? Well, it’s an amazing, tasty drink that is extremely healthy for you and it can be easily made at home!
If you are looking for the ultimate guide for making water kefir then you are at the right place. You probably can’t wait to get started and trust me you will need to get as much information about the product as you possibly can.
No worries, we have got you covered!
We are going to share with you not only the exact step-by-step water kefir recipe but also a lot of other useful information that will help you keep your grains alive, your kefir tasty and you healthy. After reading this piece, you will know the importance of the secondary fermentation and why on earth you might need a pH tester. Moreover, we are going to discuss the proper kefir making equipment and a lot of other things that will make your journey much easier and more pleasant.
Please remember that there is not only water but also milk kefir. Even though the majority of points covered in this article would be suitable for both types of beverage, there are still some vital differences between water and milk kefir. So, do make sure to follow the right instructions.
Without further ado, here is our ultimate step by step guide for making water kefir.
What Is Water Kefir?
First things first, let’s start from the actual definition of water kefir and make sure that we know the differences not only between water and milk kefir but also between kefir and kombucha, for example.
Water kefir is a fermented drink that is made with the help of yeast and bacterial grains (a symbiotic colony). These things turn simple water with the help of sugar into a healthy beverage. Now for the other type of kefir, in order to make milk kefir, you would be using (yes, you guessed it) milk and the grains. But bear in mind that the grains are different. The texture and the size of the grains for water and milk kefir are not the same. Moreover, milk kefir grains use the sugar from the milk as a food, while the grains for making water kefir ‘eat’ the sugar that you add to the ordinary water.
Water kefir grains can also be referred to as ‘sugary kefir grains’. They have a firm, translucent texture. Water kefir is a drink that is extremely beneficial for your overall health (even better than ordinary yogurt).
Of course, the textures and the taste of the actual beverage are different. Water kefir feels like lemonade and you can easily change the flavor of the drink. Milk kefir is a bit more yogurt-like.
Many people can’t see the difference between kombucha and water kefir, as these beverages have the same texture and sometimes similar tastes. However, it will take you so much longer to make kombucha at home. Moreover, you will be using a different source of bacteria and yeast (it looks a bit like a giant mushroom). Another important thing is that kombucha contains caffeine. This one will certainly help you with your digestion, but kombucha is not a probiotic drink.
So, in a nutshell, we would highly recommend water kefir as it’s an incredibly healthy beverage that can be ready in just a few days!
Why Is Water Kefir Healthy?
Water Kefir Is an Amazing Source of Probiotics
The most important part of the kefir is the mixture of yeasts and bacteria used to produce the drink. You might remember from school that our body is full of ‘good’ bacteria. Especially, our digestive tract. But in case there are too many ‘bad’ bacteria or if we fail to help the good bacteria thrive, various problems with our organism can emerge.
Water kefir is one of the best sources of probiotics. The grains contain so many different strains of bacteria (sometimes, up to 56 different types!). And that’s incredibly beneficial not only for your digestive system but also for practically every other system of your body.
Supports Weight Loss
We have already mentioned before that you need water and sugar to make water kefir. Moreover, the drink is fizzy and tastes like soda… Of course, some of you might assume that the sugar content in this beverage is too high for it to be called healthy. However, don’t be misled.
Basically, this sugar is not for you. It is food for the kefir grains! In the final product, there will be less sugar than in a green apple, but the thing will still taste amazing. Sounds like a miracle, right?
Due to this fact, water kefir is a great product for those who want to lose weight. Moreover, it is a beverage that is suitable for any diet! You might be afraid of milk kefir because you don’t consume lactose, but water kefir is a great option for those who have any kinds of dietary restrictions.
Water Kefir Helps Your Immune System (And Might Even Fight Cancer Cells!)
The truth is that probiotics help boost our immune system. That means that this beverage can protect you from various infections and even eczema. By the way, water kefir also has anti-inflammatory properties. That means that this magic potion helps fight allergies and all types of inflammations.
Because of the things mentioned above, water kefir can also help…fight cancer cells! We are enhancing the body’s immune response and decreasing the inflammation with water kefir. By the way, some in vitro studies managed to prove that kefir can reduce some types of cancer cells. How amazing is that?
How to Make Water Kefir at Home?
It looks like you can’t wait to get the process started and have a few bottles of fresh and fizzy water kefir in your fridge. In the following sections, you will find everything you need to know in order to actually make the water kefir with your own hands. And don’t worry, the whole process won’t require a lot of time, effort or money, we promise.
1. Where Can You Get Water Kefir Grains?
Of course, you might be asking yourself the question: what are the best water kefir grains to buy?
Fortunately, you can literally place an order online and get your hands on some water kefir grains in only a week or even a few days.
Did you know that these little grains come in three forms?
- Live Culture
Of course, getting a live culture is amazing. But due to the fact that your grains might be traveling for quite a while, the chances are high that you will be getting them either dehydrated or in powder form (however, you can find some live options that will be delivered in a special solution and that are ready for immediate use).
You might not want to get a powder form, in case you are planning on making quite a few batches of kefir. Even though powdered kefir grains can be stored for years and they are ready for use, you won’t be able to use the grains again as they will simply dissolve. In case you just want to give water kefir a try, this might be a great option.
The majority of water kefir grains comes dehydrated. They can also be stored for a prolonged period of time. But unlike powdered kefir grains, these little guys are ready to help you produce a lifetime supply of kefir. The main downside of this option is that you would have to spend a few days on activating the grains. In case you decide to use them straight away, the grains will simply fail to work.
You might want to order the water kefir grains online or get a few tablespoons from someone who is already into kefir making. Bear in mind that some places have strict regulations when it comes to various bacterial cultures.
If all of this sounds a bit confusing we made a separate guide on the best water kefir grains for making kefir at home.
2. How Do You Activate the Water Kefir Grains?
In case you decide to get a portion of dehydrated water kefir grains, you would have to activate the little fellows. It is extremely important to follow the instructions carefully during this process. Otherwise, you might fail to activate the grains and end up with nothing.
Fortunately, the actual process is quite simple. But you have to be patient.
What are the ingredients that you will need to have in order to rehydrate your water kefir grains?
- 4 cups of warm water (boiled)
- A half of a cup of sugar (make sure to check our section about the appropriate sugar for water kefir making)
- 1 tablespoon of water kefir grains
Water kefir activation (step by step guide):
- You will need a glass jar, a rubber band and a cloth of some sort to cover the vessel.
- Mix the sugar with the water in your glass jar and make sure that the sugar dissolves.
- After that, leave the water to cool down to room temperature. This is an important step as hot water can easily kill the grains. By the way, remember that the water has to be clean and fresh.
- Add your water kefir grains to the liquid.
- That’s pretty much it! Cover the jar with your cloth of choice and secure the thing with a rubber band. Don’t put a lid on the jar as your grains need to ‘breathe’.
- Now comes the hardest part as you would have to wait for around three days.
- After that, you would simply need to strain the grains. Don’t worry about the sugary water left from the rehydration process, it is practically tasteless and doesn’t have any beneficial properties, so simply throw it away. Now your water kefir grains are ready to get used for kefir production.
How to find out, if your grains are activated or not?
In 2 or 3 days the little fellows will become translucent and plump. In case you can’t see a difference, leave the grains in the sugar-water solution for an additional day.
By the way, the higher the temperature in the room, the faster the activation process will finish. However, the temperature shouldn’t go above 28 C (and below 20 C). 24-25 C is the optimal temperature for water kefir. If you manage to store the jar in such a temperature, your grains will most likely be rehydrated in only 2 days. You might even consider buying a thermometer to ensure that the temperature is just right.
Related: How To Activate Water Kefir Grains?
3. What Equipment Are You Going to Need?
Now that you have activated your water kefir grains, you are finally ready to start preparing this amazing beverage.
However, before proceeding any further, make sure that you have all the necessary equipment.
The great news is that you might already have all the suitable kefir making equipment in your kitchen. There are only a few important things that you have to take into consideration.
The equipment should always be clean and you will also be doing all the manipulations with clean hands. Remember that your grains are a living culture and they are extremely gentle and can easily get contaminated.
It is crucial to pick the utensils made from a suitable material. Glass is the perfect option. However, there are times when stainless steel or food-grade plastic can work as well. But those are great only for the equipment that doesn’t spend a lot of time ‘inside’ your water kefir. The containers in which the drink is fermented is best if it is made of glass because this is a 100% nonreactive material.
This is the equipment that you are going to need:
- A fermenting container (usually kefir lovers choose glass jars)
- A storage container or glass bottles
- A cover for the container and a rubber band
- A spoon for stirring the kefir (a wooden option will work perfectly well)
- A strainer to separate the grains from the kefir
4. What Sugar and Water Should You Use?
When it comes to the ingredients, as we have already mentioned, you are simply going to need sugar and water. However, it is important to choose the right type of these ingredients.
Let’s talk about water first. How on earth can you go wrong with this liquid?
It turns out that when it comes to water kefir, you can. You need to find water that is high in mineral content. Just like us, water kefir grains need minerals in order to thrive. Spring or well water is naturally high in these elements, so if you manage to find such water, it will be amazing. However, if you have to use distilled water, your grains might become sluggish and inactive. But that’s a reversible event.
Make sure to find the right mineral drops, so that the grains are getting enough elements. By the way, not only the mineral content but also the pH level is important for the wellbeing of the water kefir grains. If you are serious about the whole process, you might want to invest in a pH tester.
You will be surprised by how many different types of sugar are available on the market nowadays. You can totally use plain white sugar. However, this type does not contain any minerals so you would have to think about the mineral supplementation.
It is recommended to use brown sugar or rapadura for your water kefir. But you can always experiment with the type of this ingredient to get the right taste.
Using a different type of sugar will change the taste of your water kefir, try experimenting with different types until you find the one that you prefer the most.
5. What Does The Water Kefir Second Fermentation Mean?
Even kefir making has a few terms that some people might find difficult to understand. And one of those is the second fermentation.
To cut a long story short, primary fermentation is the process that happens when the kefir grains are left in the sugary water. During this phase, the whole fermentation goes extremely fast because there are a lot of living organisms present in the liquid.
Secondary fermentation takes place whenever you remove the grains from the liquid. Of course, you can always drink your kefir straight away, right after the first phase. But if you want the beverage to be more carbonated and to have a more intense flavor, then the secondary fermentation can help you with that.
There is still some bacterial cultures present in the liquid even after you remove all the water kefir grains. You can add more flavorings in the container and seal the vessel. Unlike primary fermentation, secondary fermentation does not need any oxygen. This way the carbonation will slowly build up.
You can leave the container with the second ferment for a couple of days at room temperature. If you prefer a more refreshing option, then you can always store the container in the fridge, but in such case, your drink will have less fizz.
A Detailed Step-by-Step Water Kefir Making Guide/Water Kefir Recipe
Finally, we are ready to proceed to the actual detailed step by step water kefir making guide!
Of course, there are a lot of various recipes for water kefir and you can find all of them online or in special books about water kefir.
The actual process of making water kefir resembles the grains rehydration instructions that we have mentioned earlier.
For this water kefir recipe, you will need a half of a cup of the water kefir grains, a half of a cup of sugar (of your choice) and six cups of clean water. Now follow our step by step guide for making water kefir at home:
Step 1: Heat up about a cup of water and pour it in your container. Make sure that the water is not boiling as your glass vessel might break.
Step 2: Add the sugar to the warm water and stir the thing using a spoon until the sugar fully dissolves.
Step 3: Add the rest of the water. The liquid in the container shouldn’t be cold, body temperature is fine.
Step 4: Carefully add your precious grains and let the little things settle at the bottom of the vessel. You don’t need to stir your future kefir at this point.
Step 5: Cover your container with a breathable cloth, secure the thing with a rubber band and place the vessel in a warm place.
Step 6: You can gently stir the baby kefir a few times per day to ensure that every little grain is getting enough food.
Step 7: In only 2 days your kefir will be ready. You can choose to pour the thing into the bottles or proceed to the secondary fermentation. However, don’t forget to separate the grains from the beverage with the help of a strainer.
Step 8: When it comes to the water kefir grains, you can simply rinse them and store in a solution until the next fermentation.
You can always choose to buy a ready to go water kefir starter kit if you simply want to give this amazing beverage a quick try.
The various flavorings (juices, vanilla extract, fruits) can be added during the water kefir second fermentation or right after you separate the kefir from the grains (before you drink the thing).
This was our ultimate guide for making water kefir at home.
We hope that we have managed to answer if not all, then certainly most of the questions that you might have had about water kefir.
Don’t forget to save this article and come back to the instructions whenever you feel like it.