We love water kefir! I can see why people call it a natural soda. But it is better than soda! Not only does it give you all sorts of probiotic goodness, it is not as sweet and doesn’t leave you with a sickly sweet upset stomach. With proper care, the water kefir grains can probably last longer than you, making this a frugal — not to mention healthy — way to break a soda habit!
See also: What’s So Great About Water Kefir?
I have done a little experimenting with flavors, but I could use some more ideas. My family likes the plain water kefir best, with just a bit of vanilla added. I enjoy the lemon/ginger best.
Rehydrating the Grains
Unless someone shares grains with you, you’ll have to purchase water kefir grains. (We recommend getting them from Cultures for Health.) Rehydrate according to the package directions. It takes 3 to 5 days in sweet water to rehydrate them and get them going again. The package from Cultures for Health gives enough grains to make around 3/4 gallon of water kefir at a time.
After the grains are rehydrated, mix 3/4 gallon of water with 3/4 cups of sweetener in a gallon jar. The less refined the sweetener, the better – the water kefir grains love minerals!
For more information on water, sweeteners, and minerals, see also: What’s So Great About Water Kefir?
If using a dry sweetener (such as Rapadura or Sucanat — raw, unrefined sugar), it must be dissolved in hot water first. Bring the 3/4 cup Rapadura and 2 cups of water to a boil to dissolve the Rapadura. Let it cool a bit, then add 10 more cups of cold water to lower its temp. It should be comfortable to the touch, not hot at all, when using it with the water kefir grains. Add it to the jar.
Add a half (rinsed) pastured egg shell to the jar. Put the grains in the jar — either loose or in a little muslin fabric bag. Swirl it all around gently. Cover the jar with a paper towel or cloth napkin and secure it to the jar lip with a rubber band. Let it sit for 3 to 5 days until desired sweetness is left — the longer you go, the less sweet. It may or may not be bubbly.
Pour off the water kefir liquid into another gallon size jar or two half gallon jars. If not following the forthcoming directions for adding flavor during a second fermentation, add 1-1/2 tablespoons of vanilla per 3/4 gallon of water kefir to make a simple cream soda. Refrigerate and drink as is, or bottle. Use the grains to start a new batch of water kefir.
(The grains should be removed by this time.) Add fresh or dried fruit, or fruit juices to the jar. (See next for flavor ideas.) This second ferment should be done without air. Add a new half of a rinsed (pastured) egg shell. Cover the jar opening with plastic wrap and then the jar lid. Leave out at room temperature for 1 to 3 days. When you’re happy with the flavor, strain the liquid free from any bits of fruit and the egg shell. Refrigerate the soda or bottle it. I’ve never bottled it. I just put it in the fridge in a lidded pitcher and we drink it up quickly! The water kefir tends to get more bubbly during this stage. But, as I said before, it may or may not get bubbly.
The second ferment can be done in bottles, which will also increase fizz.
- 1/2 cup raisins plus 1-1/2 tablespoons of vanilla
- 1/2 cup chopped, pitted dates plus 1-1/2 tablespoons of vanilla
- 1/2 cup dried fig pieces plus 1-1/2 tablespoons of vanilla
- 1 cup organic grape juice
- 2 to 4 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus a splash of vanilla
- dried peach slices (a friend’s idea and I can’t remember how many she used – maybe 6?), plus splash of vanilla
So that’s my simple process for making water kefir, and some ideas for flavors. Now it’s your turn.
How do you flavor your water kefir? Do you make it differently? Is there some flavor combination you’d like to see?
For more information about water kefir, see our Lacto-Fermentation eCourse or eBook, both of which contain updated info, second fermentation instructions, bottling instructions, and other fermented beverage recipes.
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