I kind of cheat on water kefir. Although most of the sugars are converted, it is still a pretty sweet drink which makes it an occasional treat in our house rather than an everyday ferment. (The sugars that are left are converted to fructose, which is why it’s still so sweet. I learned that on Cultures For Health.) I always have extra milk kefir grains floating around (pun intended) so rather than buy separate water kefir grains for my monthly water kefir batches, I just repurpose my milk kefir grains to make some bubbly, probiotic-rich, offbeat-flavored faux-soda for my husband.
I like to do it in a clear, sealable container. This allows me the fun of seeing the grains bubble up to the top and fall as fermentation takes place! Water kefir needs a little longer to ferment than milk kefir does, so be prepared to give your kefir at least 24 and up to 48 hours to complete fermentation.
Water kefir is very versatile, so I recommend experimenting with different sweeteners and flavors. I love using maple syrup, and I’ve done honey, although the experts say honey can damage your grains (since I’m using extras, I’ll take the risk for that flavor payoff). You can use any type of sweetener you like! Just make sure it is well-dissolved and mixed into the water before you add your grains.
A couple of notes: since these grains are intended for cow’s milk, you should put them back in cow’s milk and let them kefir before using them again in juice or sugar water. Think of them as bees; while they may survive off of sugar water, they will only thrive on the honey that nature intended for them.
If you have access to unpasteurized juice you can just throw the grains right into the juice. This is very satisfying and tasty, but I’ve had
limited success with store bought juices which are generally pasteurized.
As with most ferments, if your water smells chlorinated, chances are you don’t want it touching your grains. A good water filter can take care of the problem.
- Add 1/4 cup of preferred sweetener to preferred container (a quart jar works well). I’ve used molasses, maple syrup, white sugar, rapadura and honey.
- Add 2 3/4 cups of water and stir/shake thoroughly until sweetener is completely dissolved (if using granular sugars, you might want to heat a small amount of water to help dissolution. Just make sure the water is totally cooled before it gets anywhere near your kefir grains!)
- Rinse 1-2T milk kefir grains under filtered water to remove milk residue, add to container
- Close container and let mixture sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours, away from direct sunlight
- Once it’s kefired, I like to strain out my grains and pour the liquid into an airtight bottle. It will get bubblier in the fridge. Like I said, delicious, probiotic soda!
For suggestions on how to flavor water kefir, go here.