What’s So Great About Water Kefir?

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What's So Great About Water Kefir? | Yesterday I shared a simple recipe for making water kefir, along with some flavoring ideas. That was putting the cart a bit before the horse, in that I didn't tell you much about what makes water kefir so great. But it should have gotten you excited to try it, based on the flavor possibilities and its being very soda-like! Let's talk now about what makes water kefir special. | GNOWFGLINS.com

Yesterday I shared a simple recipe for making water kefir, along with some flavoring ideas. That was putting the cart a bit before the horse, in that I didn’t tell you much about what makes water kefir so great. But it should have gotten you excited to try it, based on the flavor possibilities and its being very soda-like! Let’s talk now about what makes water kefir special.

Dairy Kefir v. Water Kefir

In the past I’ve written about dairy kefir, and this is different from water kefir. The mother cultures of each type of kefir, called “grains,” are colonies of bacteria and yeast living together symbiotically. Because the microbes vary in each type, the mother grains are different and they look different. The dairy kefir grains are a rubbery, whitish, cauliflower shaped clump of grains, while the water kefir grains resemble somewhat translucent crystals and remain separate from each other.

What's So Great About Water Kefir? | Yesterday I shared a simple recipe for making water kefir, along with some flavoring ideas. That was putting the cart a bit before the horse, in that I didn't tell you much about what makes water kefir so great. But it should have gotten you excited to try it, based on the flavor possibilities and its being very soda-like! Let's talk now about what makes water kefir special. | GNOWFGLINS.com

Many people successfully use dairy kefir grains to make water kefir. There is a conversion process. I believe, according to what I’ve read, that dairy kefir grains won’t go on indefinitely this way. But, dairy kefir grains grow like gangbusters in milk, so if you keep them going in milk on the side, you’ll have an endless supply without having to invest in water kefir grains.

With both types of kefir, the grains feed on sugar, leaving behind an acidic, fermented, slightly alcoholic (less than 1%, according to most sources), and probiotic rich beverage. Dairy kefir grains feed on lactose (milk sugar), while the water kefir grains feed on whatever sugar is used in the sugar-water base.

Water and Mineral Needs

What's So Great About Water Kefir? | Yesterday I shared a simple recipe for making water kefir, along with some flavoring ideas. That was putting the cart a bit before the horse, in that I didn't tell you much about what makes water kefir so great. But it should have gotten you excited to try it, based on the flavor possibilities and its being very soda-like! Let's talk now about what makes water kefir special. | GNOWFGLINS.com
Water kefir grains love minerals, so the best water to use is clean and pure spring water or well water. If using filtered water, definitely add half a (rinsed) pastured egg shell to each fermentation. Also, the less refined sweeteners have more minerals. Rapadura, which is unrefined sugar cane, is loaded with minerals – and water kefir grains love it!

If your only water choice is chlorinated water, boil it, allowing the chlorine to vaporize. Then let the water cool to room temperature before making water kefir. Another option is to use a blender and blend the water, for the aeration will encourage the chlorine to vaporize. Always add half a (rinsed) pastured eggshell.

See the Water Kefir recipe for more detailed instructions on making water kefir.

Summary of Benefits

  • dairy-free for those who cannot tolerate dairy
  • rich with probiotics to aid a healthy digestive system
  • quicker to brew than other beverages, such as Kombucha
  • soda alternative with versatility in flavor options

Where to Buy

You can purchase water kefir grains from Cultures for Health. Unfortunately, water kefir grains don’t multiply very fast, so it is harder to find them from friends or family.

Do you love water kefir? What does it do for you?

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.

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!

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Comments

  1. Jamie says

    Yesterday’s post DID get me excited to try water kefir, especially with my husband picking back up his soda habit. While I had heard about it before, never was it made to seem so easy that I wanted to give it a try!

  2. Tee says

    Your blog was one of very few I found when trying to learn about water kefir. Thanks for the information. I have been brewing it for about 2 months and absolutely love it. My favorite so far is just organic grape juice. I have 3 questions: If I decide to take a break from brewing, how do I store my grains? Also, does anyone know whether the secondary fermentation uses up some of the sugar from whatever juice is added? How is the word “kefir” supposed to be pronounced?

    • Liz says

      I realize this comment is several years late, but it may help someone else. :) Water kefir grains can be dehydrated (Very low temperature) or frozen for future use.

      I have dehydrated some grains, but have never needed to rehydrate, so I can’t tell anyone what to expect.

      I have ground them in a spice grinder and put a spoonful in smoothies, though. The powder does absorb quite a lot of liquid, so maybe it could be used in non-cooked recipes, dressings, desserts, etc. It has almost no taste, so it wouldn’t really add a flavor. Hmm, the ideas are coming!

  3. Tammy says

    I love water kefir!!!!! It is awesome!!!!! I’ve only been making it for about two weeks and I’m hooked. I love to experiment… and I’ve already done a bunch of it!

    I do have questions that I cannot seem to get an answer to.

    What are the comparisons of water Kefir and milk Kefir? Does Milk Kefir still have all the good qualities of the milk such as Vitamin D, calcium, etc… Surely milk kefir has more vitamins and nutrition than water kefir… since milk has so much more in it than water. If the answer is they are both the same, than what is the point of making milk kefir? I use whole raw milk. I pay $9.00 a gallon for this milk. It is senseless to use this for milk kefir if water (free) kefir has all the same nutrition.

    Any direction to find the answers on the above will be greatly appreciated!

    • says

      Tammy, that’s a great question. I will do some digging and write back. Feel free to remind me if I don’t get back here for awhile. :)

  4. Tammy says

    I got an answer!!!

    The only thing milk really loses during the culturing process is some of the lactose which is consumed by the culture. The vitamins remain in tact. Milk kefir is more nutritionally dense given that it has more calories, fat and vitamins (or at least different vitamins if you happen to be using juice to make water kefir) but the general probiotic profile is the same—water kefir is just a bit less concentrated so some people find they need to drink a larger quantity of it to get the same benefits.

    Think of it this way: by kefiring your raw milk you’re just making your raw milk better. If you like drinking kefir, using it in cooking, etc., then kefiring your raw milk just adds benefits to a beverage you would be consuming anyway. If you aren’t a huge fan of milk kefir but want the probiotics of kefir, then use water kefir for the beneficial yeast and bacteria and use straight raw milk for other things.

    Hopefully that makes sense, but let me know—we’re always happy to help!

    Julie at http://www.culturesforhealth.com gave me this info! Thank you Julie

  5. Booboo says

    Do you have to use raw milk to make dairy kefir? I am seriously thinking of trying water kefir, but I don’t know what it will taste like or where to get the kefir. Does it taste like wine? How much does the kefir cost?
    A friend of mine was making kefir in a large jar on the counter in her kitchen and it looked like it had a large mushroom in it. It totally grossed me out. Your version didn’t weird me out as much and I love pop though I’ve found out all the cornsyrup in it is terrible for us.

    • says

      Booboo – No, you don’t need to use raw milk for DAIRY kefir. Just don’t use ultra-pasteurized as it cannot support a culture.

      The water kefir tastes more like soda than wine, but if fermented long it can have a fermented flavor/smell also.

      Probably what you saw at your friend’s was Kombucha — the mother culture looks a big floating mushroom. :) Water kefir’s mother culture are grains, like small translucent pebbles.

  6. Anita says

    Hi Wardee,
    We’ve started using water kefir in our home and my 3-year-old son loves it. My favourite way to have it is slightly diluted with water, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. We’ve also experimented a bit and we really like adding some mandarin peel to the second fermentation, but found it got a bit bitter after a while, so a shorter period is better in our opinion :-) It gives it a lovely subtle mandarin flavour.
    We also found we had to acclimatise ourselves to it (to avoid… umm… a quick “cleanse” of the bowels!), starting with small amounts and gradually increasing as we got used to it.

  7. Jaimeis says

    Wardee

    Have you heard of water kefir grains getting a film or granular “slime” to them? My grains have been in use for almost 2 weeks, I only ferment for 48 hours and transfer them to another quart of water with sucanant. I keep them at room temperature, the resulting beverage still tastes the same, but I feel like my grains are smaller and I’m losing them.

    Thanks,

    Jaime

    • says

      Jaimieis – Yes, I have. Usually it means the grains aren’t thriving and the organism balance is off. You should rinse that slime off very well, and I would recommend adding minerals to your water kefir batches. I use these mineral drops and they saved my grains: liquimins. Give the grains a few batches to come round, rinsing them as necessary to remove the slime.

      Also – are you using a muslin bag? I have seen slime when using bags, too, as sometimes the grains get stifled and can’t circulate freely as they would like. I am a bag-user proponent for the sake of convenience, but I also recommend to get rid of it fast if you think for any reason that it is hampering the grains.

  8. Jenn Neddo says

    I have tons of water kefir grains to share if anyone is interested. email me at jneddo76 at yahoo dot com with your address. —Jenn

  9. Courtney says

    Unfortunately, water kefir grains don’t multiply very fast, so it is harder to find them from friends or family.
    LOL! I must be doing something wrong. I received both milk and water kefir grains (1/4 cup each) on the same day and exactly 3 weeks later I had 1 1/4 cups of milk kefir grains and 2 quarts of water kefir grains. Some batches of water kefir double daily, my milk kefir doubles weekly. I wonder what to do with the extra grians they are taking over.

  10. David says

    Hi… I was wondering as I have been making water kefir for awhile now, a few weeks. Love it. But want to play with the flavor. Im on low sugar diet, blood sugar issues, so I know that the grains eat the sugar made in the sugar water, so after the first round of fermentation, for a secondary ferment, if I wanted to add say orange juice fesh squeezed or any other fruits juice, will the bacteria consume the sugars in that as well? All of the sugars? Even with the grains removed?

    Also if one was to add orange juice, how much would you add? So I have 4 cups of water, that I use for the 1st round of fermentation with the grains in it, once I remove grains and want to add oj, how much actual oj goes into the jar to secondary ferment for 2 days?

    Thanks much

  11. Elisa says

    Do you have any idea how is water kefir called in Spanish? I live in Mexico and I’m interested in try it!

  12. Rhonda says

    Hello. Thank you for your post. I have kefir gains in small jar full of sugar water. I forgot about it and is still in refrigerator. The jar has been sitting in refrigerator for maybe 5 months. Is it too late?

    • says

      Hi Rhonda,

      You could try them. Maybe just make a quart (or less) to see if they work. I had some in the fridge for several months that I was able to revive. It did take three batches before the grains started working as well as they had.

      Millie
      GNOWFGLINS Support Team

      • rhonda says

        Thanks MIllie. If during three batches or wait for it to revive, do I drink them or toss them before it revive? Also, How can you tell if it has not revive?
        Thank you.

        • says

          Hi Rhonda,
          My revive batches went to the compost. In my case, the batches came out like syrup. The first was very thick and then the next less thick, but that isn’t always what happens. This troubleshooting article from Cultures for Health has some very helpful tips on what the final product should look like. And here is some information they have on rehabilitating grains. Cultures for Health is also an excellent source if your grains can’t be revived and you need to get new ones. :)

  13. Juliet says

    ?? My water kefir grains are multiplying quite quickly. I’ve had them about a month and am about to gift some starter grains to a second friend already. My favorite combination so far has been raspberry vanilla. So yummy!!

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