Using Water Kefir Grains for Naturally Fizzy Soda

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Water Kefir Grains

I received water kefir grains (you can find them here) earlier this month and made coconut water kefir with the kids.  

Kefir, both dairy and water, is especially wonderful because it’s so easy, and the many strains of beneficial bacteria work to restore your inner ecology.

Water kefir is a non-dairy probiotic beverage that can use any sort of sugary-liquid to culture; juice, coconut water, sugar water, and I’m sure there are others.  The grains are, like kombucha, symbiotic colonies of beneficial organisms.  When the grains are put in the sugary water, they grow and multiply, eating up the sugar in the liquid and leaving behind a tart taste, fizz, and probiotics!

Fascinating, isn’t it?

I especially love that kefir is so easy to make. You mix your sugar water or set out your juice, put in the grains, ignore for 24-48 hours, strain out the grains, and then it’s ready!

You can second-culture the kefir soda by bottling it, then allowing  it to sit, sealed, for another 24-48 hours.  During this time it becomes more carbonated as the lingering beneficial organisms continue to give off gas as a byproduct of metabolizing the sugar present in the liquid.

How does it taste?

It’s an acquired taste for sure, so was kombucha, but I was quickly hooked on that!  You can add dried fruit and/or fruit juice to the water kefir before letting it rest the second time to sweeten and flavor.

Are you sure it’s safe?

Kelly talked about the possible alcohol content in water kefir. I am not an expert at all in alchol, but I would think there will be a small amount present in most fermented items.  We wouldn’t want to drink excessive amounts of the water kefir, but I would guess that the probiotic benefits outweigh any alcohol risks associated with the kefir.  Kefir is a traditional food, which means that it has been used for thousands of years.

Personally, I very rarely drink alcohol- just a couple times a year I’ll have half a glass of wine or half a beer or so.  I prefer to not be affected by alcohol, and I have no problem with drinking a small glass of water kefir a day, especially mixed with fruit juice and with a meal.

Your opinions will vary, and I wanted to present this information to you so you could make your own opinion. I personally think that water kefir is a great soda alternative for our family!

How we made our first batch

To make our first batch of water kefir, we used the water from coconuts. I had been wanting to try making our own coconut milk (more on that coming next week) and I thought it would be fun to use the coconut water to make our first batch of water kefir.

When we received the water kefir grains they were dehydrated, we re-constituted them in sugar water for 3 days.  You see my kombucha scoby sitting under a napkin as well- as advised to prevent mixing the cultures we do our kefir and kombucha at opposite sides of the kitchen.

First we poked holes in the eyes of coconuts and let the milk drain out. After reading, I read that these lighter colored coconuts likely had been treated with fungicide! Yuck!  So I scrubbed them, especially around the eyes, too.  Next time I’ll try to find organic coconuts, or at least ones that are a nice coconutty brown.

We drained the now reconstituted water kefir grains and placed them in a quart of coconut water (5 coconuts were required for one quart of water- sugar water or juice is a much simpler way to culture!).  The sugar present in the coconut water is enough for the water kefir to culture with.  At this stage we just cover the jar with a cloth.

After 24 hours we removed the grains and set the water kefir out for another 24 hours, this time sealed, to become carbonated.

We have enjoyed the water kefir mixed with fruit in our smoothies.

I’ve also been reading The Body Ecology Diet, which has been reminding me of the amazing benefits of fermented foods like kefir have in the human body, something, sadly, our culture has gotten away from in the last few decades.  I’ll have a book review as soon as I’m done.

If you have food allergies or chronic health problems that may be due to food allergies that you haven’t found out about yet, check out the Reversing Food Allergies Class- a new online class by Ann Marie of CHEESESLAVE!  I have had success using the GAPS diet to get rid of a diary allergy, so I know it can be possible!

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Comments

  1. Cara, did yours fizz at all? mine has not. I read somewhere to add a pinch of baking soda. do you know anything about that, like when to add it (with the grains)?

    • Mine fizzed, but not as much as regular soda, after the second ferment. I hadn’t heard about the baking soda, maybe someone else will know more!

  2. Kombucha has been recalled from its original form b/c of its “alcohol” content. It had a .5% alcohol contend. This is the same exact amount that an over ripe banana has. Just to put it into perspective. Also, vanilla has an 8%-35% v/v alcohol content. This is not to sway someone one way or the other. This is just to add information to the conversation.

    • Thanks Kari,
      I had no idea that an over ripe banana had alcohol. I think the alcohol that comes from traditional and whole foods is entirely different than the commercially prepared stuff that is produced with the sole purpose of getting people drunk!

      I did get somewhat drunk off of homemade kombucha once, though, so I try to stick a warning in there for people (like me) who might not realize it’s possible.

      • Err. Except that it’s still ethanol (C2H5OH)… Perhaps you meant it was morally or aesthetically different though?

  3. I’ve been making kefir for a couple of months and just read about the baking soda idea. I am trying that this week. My question/frustration is: My grains grew very well at first. Now, they seem to not be growing…more like shrinking. I’ve been researching and have seen some people only add a few tablespoons of grains to sugar water. What do you do? How much grains do you put in? I have use sucanat and organic evaporated cane sugar. The cane sugar is a bigger hit here. Also, how much fruit do you add? I’ve only experimented with juice and lemons so far.

    Thanks,
    Melody

  4. Charlotte says:

    Hi Cara, thanks for making your posts so print friendly. i often print and keep.

    Does anyone have any views/experience of Kefir made from a starter (eg the Donna Gates product which comes as sachets of dried powder) versus using the grains?

    I have only used the starter but more people seem to use grains which look preferable to me and can be used indefinately i think?

  5. I just got my grains from kefirlady on March 5th, but they were a lively bunch and went right to work! I am going to try coconut water one of these days, but the cost, Wow!

    I have a family addicted to Mtn Dew, which is the worst thing! My husband is considering cutting back and replacing tibi (water kefir) for some of his consumption. He is waiting to see what happens to me after drinking it for a few weeks. He said if I don’t die he “might” try it. He smelled some of the oj blend I had last night, he didn’t like it. The lemon and ginger that is on its second ferment smelled better to him. Maybe just maybe.

    I explained to him and to my kids that soda pop is just poison provided by the multinational corporations to keep us enslaved and buy their addicting poisons. They have heard me say that before, but now I have come up with a bubbly alternative that is healthy and balances our body ecology. My daughter is leery of the kefir, but has started to take an interest in its process. She asked me yesterday if it would be useful in HIV patients. I explained that coconut milk kefir has so much positive stuff in it with the high amount of laurine and the probiotics that it is used for help in cell regeneration and immunity building for those infected.
    She is even more intrigued. This should be interesting!
    I really think purchasing or being gifted with grains that are quite fresh is the way to go. Mine arrived in a Priority Mail book sized box in a plastic bag. It was -0.4 on the day they arrived and it only took an overnight in 2 cups water (she sent over a quarter cup of grains!) some sucanat with a couple dates and they were bubbly and rising and falling in the jar. My research has led me to believe that the powdered starters are not actual grains, but a dried form of kefir that cultures only a few batches and has to be replaced.

  6. If you haven’t already read through this site, do so! So much information… http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/Makekefir.html#Kefir-d-acqua

    The only draw back is that Dom is in Australia, I believe, so you unless you are local, buying grains from him are terribly expensive. At least that is what he told me.

  7. The site mentioned in Australia, Dom’s in-site, is a FABULOUS resource for water kefir and milk kefir. He also started a Yahoo forum, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Kefir_making/ … you will find a very active group on the forum, many offer excess grains for just shipping, & a wealth of resources. If you have a kefir question, that group is your place to go.

    My basic water kefir recipe is:

    Put the following in a 4-6 cup glass jar with a lid. If the lid is metal, line it with plastic wrap. Use spring water, hard well water, or mineral water. Make sure any dried fruit is sulphur free.

    3 cups water
    1/4 cup white sugar
    1/4-1/2 cup kefir grains
    1 dried fig or 6-8 raisins or 1/4 cup apple juice
    1 tsp fresh grated ginger
    pinch of calcium powder from a ground calcium tablet

    Cover and let it sit in a cupboard for 1-3 days. Don’t seal it too tight as pressure will build up as the solution ferments.

    Each day you may taste it. If it is too sweet, you may ferment longer. If you like it, spoon off the fruit/ginger. Strain out the kefir grains using a fine mesh strainer (preferably nylon). Bottle and store the liquid water kefir in the refrigerator. Grolsh style bottles work great. Repeat the process with the kefir grains in fresh sugar water solution each day or two.

    Secondary Fermentation

    This involves adding juices or flavors to the kefir beverage AFTER the grains have been removed. Bottle the kefir beverage. Add any flavors or juices to the Kefir beverage and let it ferment out of the refrigerator for about 12 hours with the lid on. Then place it in the refrigerator.

    Possible additions:
    ¼ cup of any frozen fruit juice concentrate
    ¼ cup lemon or lime juice for delicious lemonade or limeade
    1 cup bottled fruit juice (cranberry, grape, orange, peach, mango, pomegranate, apple, raspberry, etc.)
    ginger
    Experiment with dried fruit (raisins, apricots, cranberries, figs, blueberries,etc)

    Many of these additions would hinder the kefir grain growth if used in the first fermentation but are great once the grains have been removed.

    If you find your grains are not growing, give them a day or two in a sugar spa:
    For 1/4 cup grains I add 2 cups water, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp molasses, 1/2 an eggshell or 2 pinches baking soda. Let them hangout for 48hr. The grains may take on a tan color, but that is okay…they will go back to a translucent appearance once you start using granulated sugar, if you choose to do that.

    Check out Dom’s site and his yahoo group! Enjoy!!

  8. Just wondering how long to ferment it for in order to use up the sugar to make it gaps legal? Do you have to do the secondary ferment to achieve that, or would 48hours be enough?

    • I think it’s 24 hours, or you could just use juice instead of sugar water and you wouldn’t have to worry about it :)

  9. Is water kefir considered GAPS legal? At what stage would you introduce it? And I’m guessing you’d want to do a skin test on the fruits you use before making the kefir? So new to this whole process!

    • Yes, you can have water kefir, I’d just wait until you’ve introduced freshly pressed juices with fruit in it. Watch for die off if you’re sensitive :)

  10. If you want Water Kefir grains, & you’re in Australia, send me a message
    gamgo (AT) optusnet (DOT)com (DOT) au
    replace caps.

  11. the lighter coconuts are young coconuts and have more water and normally thinner coconut meat the brown coconuts are called dry coconuts and have less water and thicker coconut meat inside they sometimes dehusk the coconuts if they still had the husks the light colored ones would be green the darker ones husk would be brown

  12. Matthew Kennedy says:

    Well you should not be using a metal strainer. It causes a acid reacting with the grains and water witch kills the yeast and probiotics. Use a plastic one.

  13. I’m currently on an autoimmune protocol diet and need to exclude grains, dairy etc. are the kefir grains ok to use to make coconut water kefir?

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