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Water Kefir Header Image

Water Kefir

A healthy and delicious alternative to soda and sugary sports drinks!

When I married my husband he was a Gatorade addict! He’d been drinking it his whole life and reasoned that it helped him meet his daily water quota. Bottom line? He didn’t enjoy drinking plain water. Ya’ll, I actually used to buy him the giant tubs of powdered neon-colored Gatorade from Costco (shudder)!

Once we began eliminating processed food from our diet and following a more “traditional” way of eating, he was stuck again with just water to drink. He did train himself to drink (and even like) kombucha, but there was still the desire for something “lemon-limey” and cold and refreshing to sip throughout the day.

In an attempt to up our probiotic game I bought some water kefir grains. I had never tasted water kefir before, so it really was a shot in the dark. After making our first batch I added a splash of organic lemonade and gave some to The Hubs to try…


Sayonara Gatorade! There’s a new kid in town! And it’s packed full of beneficial bacteria! Hello happy tummies!

Due to The Hub’s affection for Gatorade (and subsequently Gator Nation), we lovingly named our newest Kitchen Pet, Stokely*.


Although water kefir has fewer strains of bacteria than milk kefir, it still has more than other fermented products like yogurt or buttermilk. My general rule of thumb is to eat fermented foods with each meal, and to eat a variety of fermented foods to populate my gut with as many strains of the “good guys” as possible.

Furthermore, fermented beverages are said to be more beneficial to our bodies than plain water! Excess water puts unnecessary strain on our kidneys because it’s devoid of electrolytes. Our body will try to excrete it as quickly as possible (I’m sure you’ve experienced this when you increase your water consumption…#gottapee!). Too much water consumed close to, or during meals can also dilute stomach acid. This inhibits proper digestion and causes undue strain to our digestive process, upsetting a proper pH balance. However, sipping a fermented beverage during meals actually aids digestion by providing lactic acid and digestive enzymes.

14 Day Meal Plan Info Banner

Water kefir is simple to make, and only requires 24-48 hours to ferment. Water kefir grains will last indefinitely, making the only cost the initial purchase and a steady supply of sugar to keep them “fed”. As a thank you, the grains will consume the sugar creating a carbonated, very low calorie, lacto-fermented drink.

Furthermore, if you mix a 50/50 amount of kombucha and water kefir together, you will create an extremely delicious probiotic “Arnold Palmer”.

If you’ve been leery of giving kombucha a try, fearful everyone in your family will hate it, you might find you have successful results with water kefir.

*In 1967, the Florida Gators (fueled by the newly invented “Gator-aid”) beat favored Georgia Tech for the coveted Orange Bowl title…years later, my husband memorably recalls buying “Stokely’s” Gatorade as a young boy. (It’s times like this, when discussing sports history, I’m certain I make my hubby proud!)

…fizzy and sweet without the added sugar and chemicals. Your tummy will thank you for this treat!

Water Kefir Grains

Ingredients

1/4 cup Water Kefir Grains
7 cups filtered water
1/2 cup Organic Sugar
1 cup Organic Lemonade (optional)
1/2 gallon Glass Jar
Plastic Funnel/Strainer

Details

  • Hands On Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Hands Off Time: 24-48 hours
  • Yield: 1/2 gallon water kefir

Step 1: Add kefir grains, water and sugar into a clean 1/2 gallon glass jar.

Step 2: Stir gently (with a non-metallic spoon) to dissolve sugar.

Step 3: Cover jar with a coffee filter or paper towel and secure with a rubber band.

Step 4: Allow to sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours (ferments best between 68-85℉).

Step 5: Strain water kefir through plastic funnel and add 1 cup organic lemonade. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Step 6: Begin a fresh batch using the same grains following steps 1-5 again.

Lemonade just happens to be our favorite way to flavor water kefir, but we have tried many of these flavor options and most all were delicious!

*Update: My new favorite flavoring method is to toss half a frozen sliced peach into the jar before fermenting! The result tastes like a peach Italian soda! 

You can also double ferment water kefir (just like you would kombucha) in these Grolsh Style flip-top bottles. But consider yourself forewarned that they build carbonation much quicker than kombucha! The Hubs was the recipient of a kefir bath after I asked him to “check to see if the kefir ‘pops’ yet!” (It was like Old Faithful!) Use these chalkboard labels to help remind you how you flavored your kefir and when you started your second ferment!

If you need to take a break from making water kefir, you can let your grains “hibernate” in a quart of sugar water in the refrigerator. Be aware that they may take a little extra time to “wake up” once you start fermenting again.

Water kefir grains are known to grow and double in size over time. Share the love and gift some to your friends! Their tummies will thank you, too!

Have you ever tried water kefir? What’s your favorite way to flavor yours?

Showing 35 comments
  • Tami
    Reply

    Can you use raw honey as a sweetner? Also, does a fresh peach work in place of frozen? Does the fruit make the grains have the peach flavor for a while after making a batch? Just in case I want a different flavor! I havent made my first batch yet, and waking up the grains right now as described in package instructions. I also see on AMazon that there are grains that have never been dehydrated, is there an advantage to that? Sorry for the 21 questions;)

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Hi Tami! All great questions, and yay for your first batch of water kefir! You shouldn’t use honey to sweeten because it has naturally occurring bacteria that can actually kill your kefir grains. It’s best to stick with organic sugar, occasionally you can use something like coconut sugar because the grains like the extra minerals. You can definitely use fresh peaches, your grains won’t hold the flavor for the next batch. I can’t recommend the grains you’re talking about on Amazon because I’ve never ordered them. We trust Cultures for Health as our source, so that’s what we recommend. But there is the down side of having to wait for them to “wake up”. Best of luck!

  • Phyllis
    Reply

    I made water kefir for a year or so and am taking a break. I like to add cherry juice from Trader Joes to my kefir after the first ferment. It is delicious! I also add a little lemon or lime juice.

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Cherry juice would be so yummy! Great suggestion!

  • Billy
    Reply

    Does the acidity in the lemonade have any negative effect on the probiotics? Or is this just as healthy and gut friendly as drinking kefir? Thanks!

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Great question, Billy! The sugar in the lemonade actually feeds the probiotics! In fact, if you add lemonade to your finished kefir, bottle it up air tight (in grolsh style bottles) and let it sit for 24-48 hours, much of the sugar in the lemonade will be consumed and you’ll have a carbonated/fizzy beverage! 🙂

  • Susan
    Reply

    I’ve made about 3 batches of water keifer & done a 2nd ferment with lemon/ginger/mint, but I don’t have any carbonation?, any ideas

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Hi Susan! Hmm…could be many reasons. To have a better guess I’d need to know a few things: are you adding any sugar into your second ferment? Lemon juice doesn’t contain much, so you’ll want to add in about a teaspoon of sugar to “feed” the kefir for a second ferment. (It needs sugar to survive, so there’s a chance it’s starving!) Also, how many days are you leaving your second ferment? What’s the temperature in the room they’re in? What type of container are you using? Let me know and I’ll see if I can help you further!

      • Susan Rutherford
        Reply

        Not adding sugar to the 2nd ferment, will do with this next batch
        Only left it 1 day – I’m in Houston so it’s between 74 – 78+
        I’m using a glass container, sealed
        The other thing I was wondering is I’m using flitered water either from the fridge, or from the tap – would that take out the chlorine?

        • Kelsey Steffen
          Kelsey Steffen
          Reply

          Ok, yes try adding sugar to the next batch. Before doing a second ferment, are you seeing any bubbles in your kefir when you “bump” the jar? There’s a chance your grains aren’t very active and not actually fermenting your sugar water. Is this your first three batches with these grains (meaning are they brand new), or are they established kefir grains? If you’re using a glass container, like a mason jar with lid, it’s pretty difficult to get very much carbonation. We use grolsh style bottles with flip top lids, specifically designed for fermentation and pressure build up. And I’m not sure about the chlorine, that depends on the type of filter you’re using. To give your grains a boost, try adding a dash of sea salt to your next batch, or half a washed, pastured egg shell, or a date, or a tsp of molasses. This will give your grains a mineral boost, and they like that! 🙂 Hope it works out for you!

          • Susan

            Thank you so much for your help – Yes they are new, I’ll add some molasses to the batch that’s fermenting right now, I actually am using a Kerfirko fermenting jar – it’s designed to do milk/water keifer & that’s where I got the grains.

  • krista
    Reply

    Question about your plastic funnel to filter after the water is done fermenting…is it a funnel with a type of screen inside or just a regular funnel? Thank you, excited to try this 😊

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      YES, Krista! It’s a 3 piece funnel with a small filter that snaps inside! We love it! Plus, the two funnels have different width necks and the small one fits into our grolsh bottles for doing a second ferment. Hope you love it as much as we do!

  • Paula
    Reply

    I was told and do,boil the water and organic sugar let it cool then add to grains.I don’t have to do all that, just room temp water,sugar,grains,stir& thats it?

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Paula, either method is perfectly fine, however, to speed things up and help the sugar dissolve completely, I’ve been boiling about 2 cups water, then mixing in 1 cup sugar, stirring to dissolve, then filling my one gallon jar with water and adding my grains. Hope this helps!

  • Jennifer Price
    Reply

    Ordering water Kefir grains and bottles, I had never even heard of it! Hoping it will replace my husbands country time lemonade addiction! Will a metal strainer hurt the grains like with a scoby?

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Great question Jennifer! You do want to steer clear of metal because the kefir “grains” are a SCOBY. Here’s to no more powdered drink-like substances! 😉

    • Jason Steffen
      Jason Steffen
      Reply

      It completely took away my Gatorade obsession!

  • Tammy
    Reply

    Peach Italian Soda???? seriously???

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Yes!!! It’s so awesome! Plus, the peaches are super yummy after they’ve been fermenting too! I get two half-gallon batches of water kefir out of two large frozen peach slices (about half a peach). It’s a must try!

  • Tracey
    Reply

    How do you have enough room in your fridge for all this? Im running out of room:) Of course I still have my pitcher of decaf tea in my fridge (non organic) that I can’t seem to let go! Its decreased immensely but it’s still there!

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      There are definitely times when it’s a constant shuffle of jars in the fridge! That’s the main reason we got our chalk board labels and plastic lids! I always have to write what’s in the jar because you’ll open our fridge and see 8 jars of white! You’d never know if it was milk, kefir, yogurt or cream!

    • Angela H
      Reply

      Hi Kelsey! So you add you frozen peach to the second ferment? Do you leave it in while you ferment? Or how does it work? Thanks!! I have my first batch of water kefir ready to flavor 😃. I’m saving up to buy the bottles next!!

      • Kelsey Steffen
        Kelsey Steffen
        Reply

        Yes Angela…I’ve done it both ways! I find adding the peach to the first ferment makes it drinkable and yummy after just 24-48 hours (and my kids fight over who gets to eat the fizzy peach). Then, if you want to double ferment it to get carbonation, you can add another slice of a peach or just a little sugar while bottling.

        • Angela H
          Reply

          Thanks Kelsey! So, you can leave the peach in with the grains? Or do you just put it in with the sugar water before the grains are put in? Thanks!!!!

          • Kelsey Steffen
            Kelsey Steffen

            Yes! You can leave it in with the grains and sugar water. Take it out before it starts falling apart! Sometimes I get one batch of kefir out of the peach, sometimes it will flavor two batches! 🙂

  • Lauren
    Reply

    My kefir seems really weak and after reading this post I realized I prob don’t have a full quarter cup of grains yet… I made a new batch with less water this round. Do u think that could be my problem? How do u double ferment? Could you do the second ferment in the same 1/2gallon jar or is it a must to use smaller bottles?

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      That could be it. If you don’t quite have enough grains it will take them longer to eat up the sugar in the water. Using a smaller container until they grow would work. I’ve also had success speeding up my ferment and getting my grains to grow by using coconut sugar. I’ll sub 1-2 Tbs coconut sugar for my regular organic sugar and the grains seem to go crazy for it! I don’t care for the flavor it gives the kefir water, but every once in a while to help promote growth I’m fine with it. I’ve read that the grains like the minerals in molasses (which coconut sugar has a higher molasses content). You could just add a tsp of molasses if you don’t have any coconut sugar. You can also throw half a washed, pastured egg shell into the kefir water. I’ve done this but haven’t seen as much growth in my grains from this method.

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      As for the double ferment, I use the grolsh bottles because they’re air tight. You can try using mason jars (maybe adding a double layer of plastic wrap between the lid to help seal). I’ve used mason jars in the past with kombucha, but they never got very fizzy. Just use caution with mason jars as the glass isn’t as strong as grolsh bottles, making them more susceptible to explosion! You’ll want to check them daily for carbonation build up. Let us know if you have luck using this method!

  • Tammy
    Reply

    Thank you for the post and the link to the different flavors of kefir waters. I am going to try the orange zest one. Kelsey, could you also mention that you can put your kefir grains “to sleep”… in case you get overwhelmed with kefir water. 🙂
    Also, I highly recommend the chalk labels that you see pictured on Kelsey’s creations. I tried for awhile to go with out the convenience of the label…. and I would always forget when I started brewing or what “flavor” was in that particular bottle… so, go ahead and splurge on the labels. They will last longer than you think, and save a lot of guess work 🙂

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Yes! Chalk-labels to the rescue! If left to memory, I never remember when I started my second ferment. I have purchased the labels once and they have yet to come off any of my jars or bottles (which have been run through the dishwasher 50+ times since applying the stickers). I will edit the post to add the “hibernation” of the grains if you get overwhelmed! Will link to the chalk-labels in the post as well! Thanks for the reminder.

  • Beth
    Reply

    So where can we purchase water kefir grains?

    • Jason Steffen
      Jason Steffen
      Reply

      So glad you asked Beth! We try to make it as easy as possible to purchase what you’ll need for our recipes. To the right of all the ingredients lists, you’ll see “Buy From Amazon” and “Buy from Azure” columns. Links to the products are directly below these headings.

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