Fermented beverages aren’t just very tasty, they’re also very healthy, and easy to make at home. In an earlier blog post I discussed how to make Kombucha, so today I’ll be outlining how to make my other favourite fermented beverage, Water Kefir. Like Kombucha, Water Kefir is a probiotic rich liquid that is both delicious and healthy. And, Water Kefir is simpler to make than Kombucha: only water and sugar, plus some Water Kefir Grains, are needed.
Saucepan (needs to big enough to hold at least 1 litre)
Glass jar (about 1.5 litre capacity) (no lid required), plus a glass jar with lid for storage
Porous material (muslin, cheesecloth, paper towel, etc.) to cover the jar
Rubber band to secure the material
Note: I use a water filter to remove chlorine, as chlorine is inimical to the Water Kefir grains. Alternatively, you can use natural spring water as long as it’s not carbonated. Some people believe that boiling water removes chlorine, but after a bit of research, it appears it only removes volatile gases and not compounds like calcium chloride.
1 quart (1 litre) water
1/4 cup of raw, organic sugar
2 tablespoons of Water Kefir Grains.
Place your water in the saucepan, and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat, add the sugar, and dissolve. After the sugar water is cool, transfer it to the glass jar, add the water kefir grains, cover with the material and secure with the rubber band. Place the glass jar in a warm place out of direct sunlight. I put mine on the top of my fridge. Then leave to ferment for between 1 and 3 days.
Once it is ready, strain the grains, reserving the Water Kefir for a second fermentation if desired, then transfer the grains to a new batch of sugar water, and you can start the whole process again, or put it in the fridge until you decide to ferment a new batch. Similarly to Kombucha, Water Kefir can be given a second fermentation, which is a great way to increase the flavour, as unlike Kombucha, Water Kefir’s flavour is fairly neutral. To do a second fermentation, place whatever you want to ferment in a clean, glass jar with a lid, plus the Water Kefir. Leave for around 1 to 2 days, then strain the flavourings out, and transfer to a glass bottle or jar. I mainly use ginger or cinnamon, and have found many of the recipes within Meg Thompson’s book, Superfoods For Life: Cultured and Fermented Beverages, to be excellent and very flavourful. Actually, I find this an excellent guide to fermented beverages in general. After you have finished the second fermentation, your Water Kefir will keep for about a month in the fridge.
Always keep both your completed Water Kefir, and your actively fermenting Water Kefir in glass jars.
Water Kefir grains are living organisms. Never put your grains into hot, let alone boiling water. To help my grains thrive, every few batches I add 1/4 teaspoon of blackstrap molasses, thereby adding extra vitamins and minerals. You can also add a piece of organic dried fruit, fig is meant to be great, though don’t chop it up. Alternatively, place half a sterilised eggshell, as that’s a good way of also supplying minerals. To sterilise an eggshell, simply crack an egg and reserve. Then add the shell to boiling water, and boil for a few minutes. Then next time you’re making a batch, simply add the sterilised eggshell while you are fermenting the grains, ensuring the eggshell is cool before you add it.
I love Le Parfait glass jars, as I’ve found cheaper glass jars don’t have very good seals.
You can also ferment Coconut Water to make Coconut Water Kefir. To make this, simply omit the sugar from the preceding recipe, and substitute 1 litre/1 quart Coconut Water for the water. Leave at room temperature to ferment for around 24 to 48 hours. Then, strain the Water Kefir grains as normal. Like plain Water Kefir, Coconut Water Kefir can also be given a second fermentation, so see the preceding instructions.
If you’re looking to get some Water Kefir Grains, and you don’t have a friend who will give you one, there are lots of places to either be given one or buy one. In Australia, there is a culture sharing network on a site called Pink Farm. In the USA and Canada, there’s Cultures for Health. Worldwide, it is possible to purchase the grains from a range of sellers on eBay.
While there are many health benefits from drinking Water Kefir, I would caution you to start slowly, as it is possible to get reactions even from just a small amount. But, once your body has got used to it, it is great stuff.
So, I hope I have shown you how simple and easy it is to make Water Kefir. Plus, once you’ve started to make your own, there are so many different flavours to be enjoyed after giving your Water Kefir a second fermentation.
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