Water Kefir – Basic Recipe
This recipe is featured in Water kefir grains: what they are and how to use them to craft tasty and healthier homemade sodas
The method I use for making water kefir is quick and lazy! Some methods call for boiling water, adding sugar and cooling it. I have found that I can skip heating water and just shake the jar to dissolve the sugar. The easier I can make it, the better, as this culture needs to be fed pretty often. This method requires that you have good quality, filtered water. Some prefer to boil the water and cool it.
- Prep 2 minutes to prep
- Cook 2-5 days to ferment
- Servings Makes about 1 liter (1 quart)
- 1 liter (1 quart) jar with lid
- Tightly woven cloth with rubber band
- Measuring cup
- 1 liter (1 quart) filtered water
- ¼ cup whole or refined cane sugar
- 120-150 ml (4-5 tablespoons) water kefir grains
- Flavorings (optional, see below)
You can add flavours to the jar for the initial fermentation stage, or you can add pieces of fruit to the bottles for secondary fermentation and strain them out to serve. You can use whole, fresh or dried fruit flavours such as ginger or turmeric or try adding juices or syrups to the secondary fermentation in the bottle instead. Some water kefir flavour combinations to try:
- Banana: Surprisingly tasty and subtle, just add ¼ of a peeled banana. Add a slice of fresh turmeric for a pretty golden colour.
- Blackberry ginger: Add 120 ml (¼ cup) blackberries plus a few slices of ginger.
- Perry orchard: Tastes like pear cider. Sub apples for apple cider taste.
- Just add 2 or 3 slices of good eating pear or apple (with peel on).
- Love potion: Add 1 stalk of pink rhubarb and ¼ of a vanilla pod, split lengthwise.
- Figgy fruit-cake: Add one fig, split in half, or a couple of prunes. When adding dried fruit, be sure to use un-sulphured fruit. The taste of this is very subtle, but dried fruits add some depth of flavour to the otherwise tangy spritzer type of drink.
- Floral: Without adding extra sugar, you can infuse your bottled water kefir with rosewater or orange blossom water, or with a sprig of lavender. I recommend adding these to the bottles once you have poured the liquid off of the grains. About 5 ml (1 teaspoon) per 1 liter (1 quart) works for the rosewater and orange blossom water, or 1 sprig of lavender.
1) In a clean quart 1 liter (1 quart) jar, add sugar and water, screw the lid on tightly and shake to dissolve sugar. Add water kefir grains (and optional fruits/flavorings). Be sure to either loosen the lid; or take it off and replace with a tightly-woven cloth cover, secured with a rubber band instead.
Adding a piece of fruit or flavouring here is optional, but can add some subtle flavour and allows you to skip out on having to do a secondary flavouring later. The nutrients from the fruits can help the water kefir grains stay healthy. If you add fruit, it’s easiest to keep it in large pieces, so a good wedge of apple, a whole dried fig or prune, some thick chunks of banana, etc. Some brewers like to keep the fruit out of the equation until secondary fermentation (once you pour the liquid off of the grains) which keeps tidier-looking grains (you won’t have to dig around to remove lemon pits or blackberry seeds).
2) Fermenting the brew. Let the kefir sit at room temperature for 2-3 days. You may not notice any change during this period, but signs that fermentation has occurred are that there’s a slight acidic but fresh smell with a lemony taste and perhaps a slight effervescence. The grains may have noticeably increased in volume, but also may not have, both can result in healthy and tasty water kefir.
3) Bottling (optional). If you added fruit or other flavourings, skim from the top as best you can with a clean spoon. Compost or eat the fruit. Using a sieve and a funnel, strain mixture into a bottle, placing kefir grains in a clean jar, ready for next use. Cap the bottle. Keep the bottle at room temp for another 2 days or more. Check the fizziness by letting the pressure off of the bottles, listening for that release of gas. Once you are satisfied with the fizz factor, drink right away or refrigerate for up to a few weeks.
Want to add more flavour and fizz? You can add more sugar/fruit pieces or fruit purees to the bottle, just as with kombucha. Experiment by adding some mango puree, fruit syrup or fresh berries to the bottle.
Use grains for another batch immediately.