This Homemade Water Kefir is FULL of probiotics, so good for your gut and tastes amazing! Not to mention, way cheaper than buying store-bought!
So, let me tell you guys a story. We have some friends known as The Bainbridges. They were kind enough one night to invite us over to a delicious dinner with their family. They have 8 beautiful kiddos who are each so smart and kind in their own ways. We feasted that night with steak, chicken, Michelle made my creamy baked mac and cheese and I even brought my peanut butter oreo smores pie for dessert! That enough would’ve been one of the best dinners I’ve EVER had.
But no, Michelle, the beautiful matriarch of the family took it a step further and introduced Ben and I to Water Kefir. She had huge mason jars full of it fermenting in her kitchen. I was a bit apprehensive to try it at first. I had no idea what it would taste like – I just knew that it had been fermenting for a while. However, I do love kombucha so I figured it would have a similar flavor.
You guys. It was mind blowingly good. We probably went through 2 or 3 pitchers that night. Everyone was drinking it like regular water. It was amazing. So, once again, Michelle, being sweet that she is, GAVE US SOME KEFIR GRAINS! That meant we could take it home and try and make it ourselves! Yessss.
What is Water Kefir?
After some extensive Googling, (because how else do we really find out things as millenials?), I found that Water Kefir is a nutritional powerhouse drink. It contains tons of probiotics, actually more bacterial strains than kombucha does! Probiotics help to keep our digestive system on track, aid in strengthening our immune system and contribute to the overall health of our body.
What is is made from?
It’s made with kefir “grains” which are basically little beads full of bacteria and yeast. They look something like this:
It’s also made with the easiest thing in the world to make: sugar water! Although somehow, even though this is made with straight up sugar, the kefir grains EAT THE SUGAR during a fermentation process. If there isn’t enough sugar, the kefir grains starve and lose all of their nutritional value. I feel like this is straight out of a Jurassic Park movie or something. It’s amazing.
For the rest of the blog post, I’m going to let my best friend/husband Ben give you instructions on how to do it! He’s been the main one processing it since we got it so by now, he is an expert!
How to Make It by Ben:
Making kefir water is a two step fermentation process. The kefir ferments in a mason jar and then again in an air tight bottle. I recommend using quart sized mason jars, and then 750 ml glass bottles (or similar). This size difference seems to really fit with what we’re doing.
What You’ll Need:
- Quart sized Mason jars with lids
- 750 ml swing top bottles
- Cheese cloth (or a very thin tea towel – we got ours at the store for .99 cents)
- Kefir grains
- Fruit (of your choice)
When you first get your kefir grains , you must prepare it as soon as possible. Place enough kefir in the mason jar so that it fully covers the bottom of the mason jar. A little more is fine, you don’t want to throw any kefir out.
Then, boil some water. Boiling the water helps remove chemicals from the water (like chlorine) and kills whatever else may be in there. You need to boil one quart of water for every quart sized mason jar that you are using. Add 1/4 cup of white sugar per quart of water.
I keep 3 quart sized mason jars, so I boil 3 quarts of water and add three 1/4-cups of sugar (total of 3/4 cup of sugar).
Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool to close to room temperature. It can still be a little warm.
While the water is cooling, slice up some fruit and place it on top of the kefir in the mason jar. The fresh fruit adds additional sugar and minerals that the kefir need to thrive.
Once the sugar water is fully cooled, add it to the kefir grains and fruit in the mason jar. Seal and store in a room temperature area for 24 hours.
While waiting, you will see bubbles rising from the kefir grains. This is normal. You will also notice the fruit becoming discolored. The fruit is becoming discolored because the kefir is consuming the fruit! The fruit discoloration should look something like this:
After 24 hours of fermentation, your next step is to fill the 750 ml bottles with your kefir mixture. I recommend using one 750 ml bottle for each mason jar you are using. Again, I use three quart sized mason jars, so I have three 750 ml bottles. You can purchase these from IKEA or buy sparking lemonade from Aldi and re-use the bottles like we did. They look like this:
Using a funnel, I add a heaping teaspoon of sugar, (sometimes a bit more, since I can have a sweet tooth) and the juice of half a lemon (no pulp for me) to each bottle. Shake the bottle a little bit to help the sugar dissolve.
Using a spoon, remove all of the fruit from the mason jars. The fruit should have risen to the top of the jar, so it’s easy to remove. I use a large 4-cup measuring cup to collect the expired fruit in one batch. Once removed, place the fruit into your compost pile or in the trash.
Pour the remaining kefir water from the mason jar into the bottle. I use a cheese cloth and a funnel to filter the kefir water. Using the cheese cloth keeps the kefir out of the bottle, and allows you to use all of the water in the mason jar as needed.
There should be enough liquid in each mason jar for each bottle. The displacement of the fruit and kefir reduces the volume of the 1 quart mason jar to about 750 ml.
Lastly, replace the kefir grains back into the mason jars and start the entire process again.
After an additional 18-24 hours, your water kefir is ready to enjoy!
What Happens Next?
After your first batch, you can complete both steps at the same time. Here is how I do it to minimize my time spent preparing the kefir.
First, boil the water, dissolve the sugar and remove from heat. I usually do this an hour or two before hand to ensure that the water has cooled enough for me to use.
Next, add the sugar and lemon to each clean bottle. Every bottle should have sugar and lemon before you move on to the next step.
Remove all the fruit from all the mason jars and toss it.
Then, using your funnel and cheese cloth, pour your kefir water from the mason jars into your bottles. Seal the bottles and place to the side.
Lastly, add fresh fruit and the cooled sugar water to the kefir in the mason jar, and seal.
Tips and Tricks:
- Experiment with the types and amount of fruit. some of my favorites are plum, strawberry and grape.
- You can also experiment with the amount of sugar added. Be careful though, the sugar is the kefir’s food, so if you use less sugar, you might starve the kefir.
- BE CAREFUL when opening up your finished bottles. There can be a lot of pressure build up, similar to a champagne bottle. To reduce the pressure, “burp” the bottles once or twice a day aka quickly unlatch and relatch the swing tops.
- DON’T use any square bottles. Square bottles are not good at withstanding pressure.
- If you’re going on vacation, place the mason jars and bottles in your refrigerator, this causes the kefir to stop fermenting.
And there you have it, folks! In regards to where to buy kefir grains, try looking online! Ask around your friend group! You’d be surprised as to who might have some that they’re willing to share.
I promise it’s worth all of the work to put into it. Once everything is done, you’re able to have this amazingly healthy nutrition packed fizzy drink every single day. Cheers to gut health!
Easy Homemade Water Kefir
This Easy Homemade Water Kefir is FULL of probiotics, so good for your gut and tastes amazing! Not to mention, way cheaper than buying store-bought!
- 1 quart sized mason jar
- 1 750 ml swing top glass bottle
- cheese cloth (or tea towel)
- 1 quart boiled but cooled water
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup fruit of your choice (we like strawberry!)
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 extra heaping tablespoon of white sugar
Place enough kefir in the mason jar so that it fully covers the bottom of the mason jar. A little more is fine, you don’t want to throw any kefir out.
Then, boil your water. Add 1/4 cup of white sugar to the water. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool to close to room temperature. It can still be a little warm.
While the water is cooling, slice up your fruit and place it on top of the kefir grains in the mason jar. Once the sugar water is fully cooled, add it to the kefir grains and fruit in the mason jar. Seal and store in a room temperature area for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, your next step is to fill the 750 ml bottle with your kefir mixture.
Using a funnel, add a heaping teaspoon of sugar, and the juice of half a lemon to each bottle. Shake the bottle a little bit to help the sugar dissolve.
Using a spoon, remove all of the fruit from the mason jars. The fruit should have risen to the top of the jar, so it’s easy to remove.
Pour the remaining kefir water from the mason jar into the bottle. Use a cheese cloth and a funnel to filter the kefir water. The displacement of the fruit and kefir reduces the volume of the 1 quart mason jar to about 750 ml.
Lastly, replace the kefir grains back into the mason jars and start the entire process again.
After 18-24 hours of fermentation, your water kefir is ready to enjoy!
Caution: The Kefir Water builds up a LOT of pressure during the fermentation process. This can allow it to open like a bottle of champagne. To try to alleviate this, "burp" the kefir bottles 1-2 times a day aka latch and unlatch the swing tops of the 750 ml bottles.
Do NOT use square bottles. They are not good at withstanding pressure.