What is Water Kefir & How to Make it?

The term water kefir comes from the Turkish word “keif”, which means well-being. This shows that water kefir is good and healthy for our bodies. Water kefir has many different names. It is related to the Japanese kombucha tea. Throughout the world, its name changed depending on the person’s nationality or the country in which they are producing it.

Now let’s talk about what is water kefir and later we are going to cover some recipes for making this wonderful beverage at home.

What is Water Kefir?

There are two types of kefir, water kefir and milk kefir. In this article, we are going to talk about water kefir. Water kefir is a healthy drink made by fermenting sugar and water using water kefir grains. Water kefir is a product with extravagant features and it is very hard to find in the stores. It is a mixture of yeasts and bacteria (mostly fungal) which cause fermentation in which lactose is converted into lactic acid, low alcohol, and carbonic acid. The yeast and bacteria are responsible for the fermentation process in the water kefir drink. Water kefir is also a fermentation zymogram in which a variety of beneficial bacteria and yeasts are made by combining their own polysaccharides. This symbiotic group has a stable growth habit.

Water kefir is mostly homemade probiotic and a carbonated fermented drink that is made using a kefir culture. It is based on the natural water, water kefir grains and natural sweetener that provides various benefits to the body suitable even for vegetarians or vegans. The drink has a sweet-sour taste and the appearance is sparkling refreshing drink (yellowish, cloudy). It certainly resembles a similar fermented drink called kombucha.

People use it as a delicious light traditional alternative to lemonade, probably the perfect refreshment for those who like sparkling drinks, but also prefer them without artificial flavors and additives. The sweet-sour, tingling taste reminiscent of sweet or bitter lemon made people fall in love with water kefir. Water kefir culture consists of so-called water kefir grains or crystals. They are almost transparent lumps in various shapes and sizes which viewed from close up, actually, look like mountain crystals or diamonds. If you are having trouble recognizing water kefir grains they are translucent white and break with a little force. Very like irregular crystals, taste very soft, a bit like shelled corn. They are like small pieces of cauliflower. They grow and reproduce very fast.

This drink is finding more and more followers due to its refreshing capability which is effective during the summer. It is slightly alcoholic due to its fermentation production process of the water kefir grains.

The whole process of the symbiosis of yeast cultures and lactic acid bacteria resembles a small power plant. Water kefir has probiotics lacto culture which is the most important and useful component of the drink. Since ages, water kefir was used to cure diseases and prevent aging.

You can flavor water kefir drink, for example with cinnamon and vanilla. Water kefir is anti-inflammatory and it has antibiotic properties. This drink contains millions of probiotics with good nutritive power enriched with fruits and spices. It is rich in enzymes, predigested nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and also it has a low-calorie count. When it comes to calories water kefir has immensely less calories than milk kefir.  Water kefir is a valuable enzyme, with easily digestible sugars, acids, and vitamins which is usually also made for diabetics. It is also a top 10 non-dairy fermented product loved by many. If you can’t consume milk products, then water kefir is the right beverage for you.

Making Water Kefir: A Simple Tutorial

Making water kefir is easy and anyone can do it. It can be prepared and flavored in different ways and if you love experimenting, you can make different flavors with a variety of ingredients.  The production of water kefir can be an exciting activity for many.

You can, for instance, allow the water kefir to ferment for a second time by adding more ingredients after completion of the first process.  Dried apples, for example, can be used to give a refreshing apple lemonade. You can also try ginger to get a ginger soda and lemon juice to get a sparkly lemonade.

These Are the Ingredients Necessary for Making Water Kefir:

  • At least 30 g of water kefir grains

This amount is enough to make one liter of water kefir. The water kefir crystals grow quickly, and you will end up with more than the initial 30 g. Here you can find the best water kefir grains to buy.

  • 80 g of sugar

When it comes to choosing the sugar that you will use for prepping the water kefir, you have lots of different choices. You can use brown sugar, white refined sugar, whole cane sugar or raw cane sugar.  Depending on the desired taste and duration of fermentation, you can use more or less sugar.

  • 30 g of dried fruits

Use at least 30 g of your favorite fruit, but only dry fruit. The kefir grains are greatly attracted to the nitrogen that is contained in dry fruits and they also require it for the fermentation process. Ensure that the fruit is dried and untreated to avoid antioxidants such as sulfur dioxide.

  • Two slices of lemon (optional)

For effective fermentation, you need untreated lemons. Ensure that you thoroughly wash the lemons with lukewarm water and then slice them. Depending on your preference, you can halve or quarter the slices again.  The function of the lemon in this process is to acidify the Japanese crystals to prevent any unwanted bacteria from settling in it. It also has a great taste that will bring a positive effect on the flavor of the drink.

  • One liter of water

You can choose to use tap water or mineral water but make sure that it has the best room temperature. While cold water may not harm the kefir crystals, it can slow down the fermentation process. There are people who prefer carbonated mineral water as it boosts the fermentation process. In order to improve the mineral content of the water, you can always implement mineral drops.

  • A fermentation vessel

The container you choose for the preparation of your water kefir should be made of ceramics, glass, plastic or stoneware. Avoid using metallic containers. Most preferably, use wire-bar glass. The advantage of using this glass is that you won’t require cling film or rubber rings.

  • Plastic sieve and spoon

Kefir gets damaged by metal, thus it is important to ensure that you use a plastic sieve to strain it. As for the spoon, you can also use a wooden one.

  • A Jar or Bottle

It is recommended that you store the finished water kefir drink in a jar or glass bottle.

Water Kefir Recipe: A Procedure for Preparing Water Kefir

1. Fill the fermentation container with 1-liter of water and dissolve 80 grams of sugar in it

First, make sure that you thoroughly clean the fermentation vessel to remove all residual detergents. Now pour the water and add sugar to it. You can choose to use white sugar, but a much better and almost explosive growth can be achieved if you use raw cane sugar or whole cane sugar. These two types of sugar contain natural molasses which are rich in minerals. It is essential for the kefir to contain trace elements such as calcium, potassium, and iron, copper, and phosphorus. These can all be found in the molasses.

2. Add the water kefir grains – 30g

Put the water kefir grains in the fermentation container. One liter of water kefir requires at least 30 g or two to three tablespoons of water kefir grains. Don’t use these liquids (if water kefir grains came with it), put only water kefir grains in the fermentation vessel.

3. Add the dried fruits and lemon slices in the jar

Add at least 30g of your favorite dried fruits to the water kefir grains in the sugar-water solution. For effective fermentation, use dried fruits as they contain nitrogen. You can use fruits like figs, dates, raisins, and strawberry among others. These fruits will eliminate any chances of antioxidants such as sulfur oxide. The fresh untreated lemons will acidify the water kefir grains in order to prevent settling of unwanted bacteria. It also adds flavor.

4. Close the fermentation vessel and leave some space for the resulting carbon dioxide to escape

If you have used a screw jar, close the lid slightly but not airtight, the excess carbon dioxide must escape. If you are using a cling film with a rubber ring, just fix the foil with a rubber ring on the jar. Despite the fact that the water kefir needs to be covered, you need to allow the excess carbon dioxide to escape.

5. Place the fermentation vessel in a warm place

For the fermentation process to develop fast you need to ensure that the water kefir grains remain warm. Place the vessel at a room temperature of between 23 and 25 degrees Celsius. Within a few minutes, the fermentation process will begin.

6. The drink is ready after 1-3 days

It takes only one to three days for the water kefir to be ready depending on the temperature, the amount of crystals used and other factors.  During the summer months, the process is quite fast but during the winter, it takes longer. To remove the residues, strain the contents of the fermentation vessel through the sieve and empty the juice into a bottle. The dried fruit, the lemon slices, and the crystals will be left in the sieve.

7. Rinse the water kefir grains with cold or lukewarm water

Separate the water kefir grains form any fruit grains that may be left in the sieve. Next, wash the crystals carefully with lukewarm water. You will notice that the number of water kefir grain has increased. With proper care, it is possible to use the water kefir grains for a period of up to a year.  When you are done with cleaning the grains, you can now clean the fermentation jar properly with detergent and hot water. After this, you can store your water kefir grains for later use.

The process of preparing water kefir is quite a simple one and anyone can make this healthy drink at home. With proper care of the water kefir grains, you can use them for as long as you can. If you are having trouble following this water kefir guide we have a more detailed guide with a different recipe for making water kefir. Maybe you will have more luck with that one.

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