Water Kefir Recipe
- 6 months +
- 32 ounces
- gluten free
This simple drink has many probiotic qualities that promote a healthy immune system, without dairy or salt. It is made with sweetener, but the beneficial bacteria metabolize the sugars, and the drink does not have the negative effects of a sugared drink. Water kefir has a wide variety of more than forty different bacteria and yeast, while the average supplement has only ten.
Water kefir starter is not the same as milk kefir starter. It is a white “grain” that resembles small chunks of gelatin and must be either purchased or shared by a friend when you make your first batch. The grains will grow, and they can then be saved and used indefinitely for repeated batches. The starter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks between batches.
Factors for Preparing Water Kefir Successfully
- Metal can react with the kefir culture, so use ceramic, glass, wood, silicone, or plastic utensils.
- Chlorine kills beneficial bacteria in tap water that are necessary for fermentation. Even filtered water can sometimes contain chlorine and fluoride, so boil and cool water before using.
- Because the minerals are distilled from filtered water, add either a piece of sea vegetable, an egg shell, or a small amount of sea salt to replace minerals.
- Fermentation causes expansion, so water kefir should not be covered with a tight lid, because the lid can burst.
- Water kefir needs sugar to activate the grains for fermentation. Maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and organic cane sugar are healthy options. Non-carbohydrate or artificial sweeteners will not ferment. Honey has antimicrobial properties that can affect the growth of kefir grains, so it is not recommended as a sweetener for fermentation.
You will need
- 4 cups water, boiled and cooled
- ¼ cup maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or organic sugar
- ½ lemon, cut cross-wise
- 1 tablespoon unsulfured raisins
- 1-inch square kombu or 1 teaspoon wakame flakes sea vegetable, or 1⁄8 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup water kefir starter grains
- Pour into a large glass or ceramic container, such as a quart glass jar with a screw-on lid.
- Mix in sweetener, lemon, raisins, and sea vegetable. Slowly add kefir grains.
- Make sure that there are at least 2 to 3 inches of space between the kefir mixture and the rim of the glass container.
- Cover the container with a loosely woven cotton cloth, using a rubber band to keep the cloth on. Contact with oxygen aids the beginning of the fermentation process.
- Keep out of sunlight, ideally at a temperature between 65º and 82ºF for 24 to 72 hours. Seal the container with a lid, and place in the refrigerator for another 24 to 48 hours.
- Strain the grains through a nonmetal strainer, such as cheesecloth or a nylon strainer. Discard the lemon and fruit, reserving kefir grains for a new batch.
- Transfer the strained mixture to bottles for drinking and refrigerate.
- To increase carbonation for older children, store strained mixture in airtight bottles at room temperature for two days to allow carbonation before refrigerating.
- Repeat the process with the grains to make a new batch of water kefir.
- Water kefir grains starter is also available in dehydrated form, which requires time for rehydrating. For maintaining kefir grains in between batches, they need added sweetener every two or three days to prevent them from turning to vinegar. It may take a few batches to get the starter grains completely activated, and they will grow with repeated use.