Water Kefir - The scrumdiddlyumptious traditional alternative to lemonade
Water Kefir Home Brewing –
How to Produce a Delicious Water Kefir Drink by Yourself
All you need for the production (of 1 liter of Water Kefir drink) is:
- About 3 TBSP Kefir grains (also known as “Japan Crystals”)
- 1 liter of water
- About 80g of sugar (about 5 TBSP)
- 20 to 30g of dried fruits (you name it: figs, raisins, plums, etc.)
- At least 1 or 2 slices of lemon (untreated or peeled beforehand)
- 1 fermentation container for 1 liter (e.g. screw top jar)
- 1 plastic strainer, 1 plastic spoon
- 1 bottle or glass for storing the finished Kefir drink in your fridge
Quick Starter Guide:
- Use 1 liter of water for your fermentation container and dissolve the sugar (80g) completely.
- Add about 3 TBSP Kefir grains (without the Water Kefir drink).
- Add about 20 to 30g of dried fruits, e.g. 2 or 3 figs or half a hand full raisins.
- Add at least 1 or 2 slices of lemon to your culture.
- Please seal your fermentation container in a way that carbon dioxide still may exit.
- Store your container in a warm place (21 to 25 degrees).
- Your Water Kefir drink is ready in about 1 to 3 days. Then, remove the dried fruits and the lemon slices.
- Use a strainer for bottling your finished drink.
- Briefly rinse your Water Kefir grains in a strainer under running cold or lukewarm water.
- Clean the fermentation container thoroughly. You are now ready to start all over again with point 1..
IMPORTANT! Please never let your Water Kefir grains get into touch with metal of any kind. Metal will harm your grains seriously. Therefore, use only plastic strainers and plastic spoons.
IMPORTANT! In the event of your finished drink smelling musty or showing a strange behavior at any stage please throw it away as a precaution. Take out the Water Kefir grains and thoroughly clean them in a plastic strainer under running water and start all over again with a new culture.
Workplace Hygiene and Cleanliness for Your Handling of Water Kefir Grains
- All devices that get into contact with the grains or the culture medium have to be cleaned thoroughly up-front. Please use hot water and dish detergent for cleaning. Finally, rinse off all detergent residues very carefully and make sure that all your devices are totally clean. The Water Kefir grains are very sensitive to chemicals and metals.
- Your hands also need to be clean and free of any soap before touching the grains although it is better not to touch them anyway - you should rather use plastic spoons whenever possible. This way, you can prevent contamination with other germs very effectively.
Detailed Instructions with Many Tips and Tricks
1. Use 1 liter of water for your fermentation container and dissolve the sugar (80g) completely.
- You can use tap water or still mineral water. The water should have room temperature. Colder water is also okay for your Kefir grains but fermentation will be delayed until when the water has warmed up.
- Some Water Kefir friends vow for carbonated water (soda) in general because it boosts the fermentation process notably - aside from that it is not mandatory to use soda.
- Our Japan crystals grow with no problems when using regular white sugar. However, you can achieve a much better growth, almost downright explosive, by using raw cane sugar or whole cane sugar because both sugars contain real molasses (so not only sugar but also the other valuable components of the plant sap). Whole cane sugar even contains the full scope of the natural components of the molasses. The mineral-rich molasses is produced through pressing of sugar cane. For refined white sugar, these are being removed completely. Obviously, Water Kefir loves the vital substances included in the molasses such as Potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorus, copper and chromium, and grows exceptionally well.
- In case you want to use white sugar for reasons of simplicity but do not want to forgo on the healthy molasses in your Water Kefir drink, you also have the option of adding pure liquid molasses additionally. (Adding about 1 level TSP per liter of your drink is fully ok.) Your Water Kefir grains will grow better and your finished drink will have a strong and slightly malty flavor.
- You can get whole cane sugar, raw cane sugar and pure liquid molasses, all of them from certified organic farming, for example in our online shop in the “Accessory” area.
- Water Kefir grains grow best when using 80g of sugar per liter. You may also try with less sugar (50 to 60g) but please make sure that your new friend is not starving. As a general rule for all experiments you may consider having one glass of a regular fermentation ready in the background as a security deposit in case your experiment fails.
2. Add the Water Kefir grains (about 2 to 3 TBSP, approx. 30g of grains) without the Water Kefir drink.
- Add your grains without the finished Water Kefir drink. Our finished drink from Wellness-Drinks serves only as a protection and transportation means for the Water Kefir grains whilst delivery. You can dispose it right away because it gets way too acidic due to transport.
- The Water Kefir medium box from Wellness-Drinks (with about 30g of grains) is sufficient enough for a culture with 1 liter. Usually the grains are growing very fast over time. In this case, you may add more Kefir grains per liter (up to about 6 TBSP); this will also speed up the production. If the grains get too many, just split the culture and or dispose the excess.
- Please make sure to briefly rinse off your Water Kefir grains in a strainer under cold water before you start a new culture.
3. Add about 20 to 30g of dried fruits, e.g. 2 or 3 figs or half a hand full raisins.
- Your Japan Crystals (Kefir grains) will need dried fruits as a source of nitrogen for their growth (just like its big brother, Kombucha, relies on nitrogen from tea). Cultivation without dried fruits may only work for a short period of time and should not be your long-term strategy. Besides, dried fruits give your drink a wonderful aroma you not want to miss.
- There is no limit to your creativity when shopping for dried fruits: raisins, figs, apricots, plums – whatever you like. Please only pay attention to that your dried fruits are not sulfurized and do not contain any chemical preservatives; that is how your Water Kefir grows best.
- It is often recommended to carve into larger dried fruits (figs, plums, etc.) several times in order to free more nitrogen. On the one hand this is true but on the other hand you may release fruit seed or other smaller grains which then mix up with your Kefir grains. This is not bad for any reason - it only looks messy and the grains are hard to separate again.
- Figs are usually the first choice for an optimal growth of your Kefir grains although the grains can be nurtured with any regular type of dried fruits. For variety in flavor, you may also want to try other exotic fruits.
- Many Kefir friends even go for fresh fruits and herbs (mint, thyme, rosemary, Agastache) but please bear in mind: having one glass of a regular fermentation ready in the background as a security deposit in case your experiment fails is always a good idea.
- Just visit our Water Kefir recipes page[GERMAN ONLY] for various tips and ideas.
4. Add at least 1 or 2 slices of lemon to your culture.
- Lemon slices acidify your culture and enrich its delicious flavor. This is very good to fight off unwanted bacteria efficiently. Lemons that are not sprayed just need to be cleaned under running water (you can clearly taste the lemon zest in your drink later on!) whereas chemically treated and waxed lemons also need to be peeled up-front in any case.
- You may also use lemon juice from the bottle instead of lemon slices but make sure that it is free of preservatives. Otherwise your Water Kefir might not like you anymore. In the end, “real” lemon slices do taste best though.
5. Please seal your fermentation container in a way that carbon dioxide still may exit.
- In case you use a screw top jar, you should never seal it completely air-tight. The excess carbon dioxide still needs to be able to exit, please only screw down gently therefore. For example, when you use a carafe or any other type of container for the production of Water Kefir, it is acceptable to cover it with cling wrap and then to use a rubber ring as fastener.
- In general, it is important to seal the Water Kefir container tightly (but not air-tight) so that the carbon dioxide can displace all air within the container. This makes it impossible for other bacteria and or germs to propagate.
6. Store your container in a warm place.
- The warmer you store your Water Kefir grains the faster fermentation starts. The grains are your perfect lemonade supplier at room temperature! It is best to have 21 to 25 degrees.
- It usually takes only a few minutes until you may witness a lively fermentation performance: bubbles of carbon dioxide show up and the grains may start to swim moving up and down. Indeed it is fun to watch the grains working! This action might not take place every time though because sometimes the grains need a few rounds of fermentation to get “into the groove”.
- Many Kefir friends pledge for storing their cultures in a bright place or even into direct sun light because this vastly boosts the fermentation process. However, caution is advised. When fermentation is too fast the risk of failure may also increase. Having that in mind please also have an additional fermentation ready in the background as your backup.
7. Your Water Kefir drink is ready in about 1 to 3 days. Then, remove the dried fruits and the lemon slices.
- Your Water Kefir drink is ready in about 1 to 3 days depending on ambient temperature, amount of Kefir grains and other parameters. It takes a shorter time in summer and a longer time in winter.
- Your taste sets the duration of fermentation. After one day, your Water Kefir will taste very sweet like lemonade with a slightly sour flavor (comparable to Bitter Lemon). After two days, sugar level will be already very low and your Water Kefir will feature a very balanced sweet-sour and slightly alcoholic nature - just like federweisser. On the third day, your drink will become markedly sour, alcoholic and slightly bitter. You should consider starting a new fermentation on day 4 or 5 the latest. At this time your drink will be very intense in flavor but many friends still like it then because they want to forgo on the high levels of sugar during the first days.
- You may want to squeeze the lemon juice from your lemon slices directly into your finished drink. The dried fruits from your drink are eatable, of course. And you can even use bigger fruits for two or three fermentations in a row. That usually works with no problems but please be careful and pay great attention to hygiene.
8. Use a strainer for bottling your finished drink.
- A short secondary fermentation in the bottle in your fridge positively enhances the taste of your drink. 1 or 2 days in your fridge make it even more sparkling and refreshing. At this time, you may also start adding herbs, fresh fruits or fruit teas for additional flavoring. Your Water Kefir tastes best when enjoyed cool. Especially in summer, it is a healthy and inexpensive alternative to regular industrial soft drinks which contain much more sugar.
- Please also make sure that excess carbon dioxide may still exit the bottles in your fridge.
9. Briefly rinse your Water Kefir grains in a strainer under running cold water. Clean the fermentation container with hot water. You are now ready to start all over again with point 1.
- Please move your strainer a little bit when rinsing off your grains under the cold water. Remove any fruit stones carefully with a plastic spoon.
- When your Kefir grains get too many, just split the culture and give it to your friends. With proper care, they will get a new friend for a lifetime, too, because the grains do not stop growing.
- In case your Water Kefir grains just grow very slowly, please try it with bottled mineral water since the tap water quality is not so good in some areas. In particular, Kefir grains do not like very soft water and do grow very slow by times.
- Water Kefir withstands a vacation of yours best in your fridge. On that account, please cover your grains with water and add 1 to 2 TBSP sugar. Cover them up loosely. When you want to start a new culture, pour away the old fluid and start anew. Bear in mind that it might take a few rounds of fermentation before your culture is as fit enough as it was before.
Note: All information and tips on our website have been selected and verified by us with great care. Nevertheless, we cannot guarantee for the currency, completeness and validity of the given data. We assume no liability for any damage and or accidents.
When following our recommendations, tips, and notes, please also use your own personal judgment and experience in the proper and safe handling of food.