How to Make Water Kefir, a Probiotic Powerhouse – Photo Tutorial

Water kefir has become a staple in our house. Full of beneficial bacteria and yeasts, it’s a probiotic powerhouse!

I am thrilled that my children drink it and love it.

To be honest, I began by giving them 1/2 kefir 1/2 juice, but now they are just drinking the kefir straight. Hooray!

My husband, although diabetic, drinks this all the time without a spike in blood sugar. The beneficial bacteria and yeasts in the kefir grains consume the sugar, making lactic acid bacteria and causing the glucose and pH to drop. I have tested my kefir with these glucose strips and have shown zero glucose by the end of 3-4 days, and a very very small amount by day 2.

There are other ways to make water kefir, but this is how I do mine. I am told my kefir grains are awesome (thank you, Fido!), so you might want to take notes :)

In the photos below, you will see I am making this for a 5L Fido. However, I will note other measurements for you so you can figure it out for other jars.

Just a note before we get started: some of you may ask: are you sure it’s okay to make water kefir in a Fido? Won’t the jar explode? And to answer that question, I would direct you to the YouTube videos we did so you can see for yourself: Do Fido jars explode? Let’s find out…

Making Water Kefir – the First Ferment

I have heated about 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. The amount of water doesn’t matter so much, as long as it’s enough for the sugar to dissolve in. Here I am dumping in 1 cup sucanat (I buy this sucanat from amazon).

Remember, this is for a 5L Fido. If you have a 2L Fido (or 1/2 gallon mason jar), use 1/2 cup sucanat; for 1L (or 1 quart) quart, use 1/4 cup.

I use my mini spiral whisk to stir the sucanat until dissolved.

Here you can see the richness of the sucanat – rich with minerals that kefir grains love :)

While the sugar water cools slightly, I cover the bottom of my jar with ice to lessen the risk of shocking the jar with the hot water.

After pouring the hot sucanat water over the ice, I fill my Fido to the shoulder with my mineral-rich well water.

If you have city water, I suggest purchasing bottled water, or using a filter on your water. Chlorine and other chemicals added to city water could kill the grains.

After filling you add the grains6 TBSP for the 5L (3 TBSP for 2L or 1/2 gallon; 1-2 TBSP for 1L or 1 quart).

Let sit for 2 days, longer (3-4) if diabetic or otherwise don’t want any sugar left.

In order to get my grains for the final first ferment step I just mentioned, I first have to drain my previous first ferment that I have already let sit a few days – my grains are on the bottom of that jar. So we will jump into…

Making Water Kefir – the Second Ferment

Below you can see my 3L Fido that I am about to fill with “first ferment” kefir water. I also have a 2L beside it. I will pour the 5L first ferment into these two jars and top them off with two different juices for the second ferment.

Here is the set-up I used at the time I took these photos: a strainer balanced on a wide-mouth mason jar funnel. I have now upgraded to this wide-mouth funnel with silicone insert. It catches the grains wonderfully without fear of spilling the grains.

Note: it’s been said you can’t use metal with kefir – more specifically, you should not use a reactive metal. Stainless steel is perfectly acceptable (my grains are flourishing), but you can alternately use this mesh strainer.

Here are all the grains I got after pouring the kefir into the two jars I had prepared. Looks like they doubled nicely (about 1 cup).

Here you can see I have filled both jars almost to the shoulder with the first ferment kefir water.

Below you can see I have added juice (we like grape, pomegranate, and cherry – not together ;) ), beginning the “second ferment.” This second ferment not only adds a pleasant flavor, but boosts probiotic activity. I add about 1 or 1-1/2 cups juice per jar (roughly 1/2 cup per liter or quart). These jars are ready to cap and put on the shelf for another 2-4 days.

Note: you can also use fresh or frozen fruit instead of juice. I haven’t tried this yet, but I have heard it should be swapped out after 24 hours. Just a FYI :)

Next you will see the jar we started with, after I added the kefir grains. You can see some ice is still floating on the top, and the grains have settled on the bottom. I leave it here like this 2-4 days before straining the grains and starting a second ferment.

Here they are in my fermenting corner cab :)

L-R: 2L then 3L Fido’s on their second ferment, then a 5L in the back beginning its first ferment.

Tip: Here is a photo of the first ferment after it has been sitting 2-4 days. It turns from a dark brown to a golden honey and is a nice visual cue that it is ready. The “W” indicates I started the batch on Wednesday (it’s easy to loose track of how many days it’s been there!).

Finally, after using 6 TBSP kefir grains for the new ferment, I still have about that much left. What do I do with the extra kefir grains? Toss them in a snack baggy and freeze them. I keep them for backup or to share with friends. I have about a gallon now so I really need to just….feed them to my animals!

Where can I find kefir grains?

Although you can purchase water kefir grains on amazon, or from Culture’s for Health, there is a lovely group on Facebook where you can request kefir grains from others willing to ship them to you free or just for the cost of shipping. Here is the link: Share or find kefir grains, kombucha, sourdough, etc…

Another Facebook group I like is: I Love Water Kefir!

And of course you are free to join my Fido Fermentation group :)

Where can I find Fido jars?

The best prices are if you can find them locally: Christmas Tree Shoppe, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Ross, and The Container Store.

You can also get them online. Best prices online are from Sur la Table and Crate and Barrel. You can also find Fido jars on amazon.

The big question is: does it taste better when made in a Fido with a cobalt blue lid?

I haven’t been able to prove it scientifically, but I am positive they do :D ;)

Blue-lidded Fido’s on amazon
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Lea Harris founded Nourishing Treasures in 2006. A mom passionate about her family's health and well-being, Lea believes education is power. Encouraging others to take baby steps in the right direction of health for their families, Lea's goal is to raise awareness of what goes into our mouths and on our bodies, providing natural alternative information that promotes health and prevents disease by using traditional foods and nature's medicine.

Lea is a Certified Health Coach graduate from Beyond Organic University, and a Certified Aromatherapist graduate from Aromahead Institute.

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How to Make Water Kefir, a Probiotic Powerhouse – Photo Tutorial — 34 Comments

  1. I have always used plastic strainers and funnels because the metal ones can hurt the grains, much like city water can. Otherwise, we make water kefir much the same way. Man other exception: I use one to one and a half cups of grains per 5 liter Fido jar. Maybe I will try it your way and cut back on the grains. Bon appetite !

      • Hi Lea. Got your grains in the mail today. Thanks so much!!!

        After blessing them, I followed your instructions except I used Rapunzel sugar and Crystal Geyser bottled water. I froze the leftover grains.

        Did you say in another post that the fermenting kefir should be left in the dark (covered with a cloth or put in a cabinet)?

        After the second ferment, how long can the kefir last in the fridge (after straining out the grains and putting into a smaller bottle) if I don’t want to drink it every day? Should I open a bottle to let out some gas every day or so?

        Thanks so much for the grains!

        • Hooray! Glad they made it safe and sound.

          I don’t bother covering mine, but I do have them in my corner cab (no door) and they don’t get a lot of light. They aren’t light-sensitive like a ferment can be that you leave a while on your counter.

          As for storage, mine hasn’t lasted more than a week in the fridge. Sometimes I will store extras in a mason jar with a baggy pulled over and a white lid screwed on. I never burp it. I store the currently used kefir in a refrigerator jug like this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000DE9B5/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0000DE9B5&linkCode=as2&tag=nourishtreasure-20 but it’s not a requirement. I just got tired of the mason jar causing spills :)

          You’re welcome – and enjoy!

          • I’ve made my first batch and am onto the second. I used fresh organic oj for my juice because it’s what I had on-hand. I did the first ferment for four days, and the second for two days. It came out mildly orangy and slightly fizzy, sort of like a weak sparkling wine. I didn’t want it super sweet.

            My grains didn’t double or seem to increase in number at all.

            My second batch brewing, I used Thai coconut sugar and goofed and put in freshly juiced grape juice on the first ferment. My science experiment. I’m going to do the first ferment for two days. Maybe it’ll all come out great without doing the second ferment. Still glad I froze half of the grains you sent me.

            Thanks for sharing your grains with me, Lea. I feel like a probiotic vintner now.

  2. Hi Lea, I have been working with my water kefir grains for a long time. They are healthy and prolific but even if I do the first ferment for 4 days, and then a second ferment for another few days, it still tastes like a very sweet drink. I have candida overgrowth and if I drink any, my candida gets worse. What am I doing wrong that I can’t seem to get the sugar content down?

  3. When first starting out drinking water kefir, is it ok to drink a big glass of it? I know with kombucha, you have to start out with small amounts. Do I need to do the same with water kefir?

    • I dove right in, personally, and didn’t see any ill effects from it. I think it depends on the person. Go with your gut on this one :) If you feel liking drinking a big glass, it may just be what your body needs.

  4. Thanks for linking up the share group! :)

    I wanted to ask you, how can I test the glucose in my water kefir? I would love to do that. I am drinking it anyway, but knowing how to brew the as close to ‘perfect’ as I can get batch sugar-free, would be amazing. :)

    Thanks Lea!

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  6. Congratulations – you are one of this week’s featured posts on Wildcrafting Wednesday – http://www.commonsensehome.com/joe-pye-weed/

    I appreciate that you discussed the use of stainless steel.

    I found that when I started making water kefir, it took some experimenting to get my grains to grow. They didn’t like my well water, and RO water with egg shells and baking soda didn’t cut it, but RO water with Trace Minerals has finally made them happy.

  7. Can you offer advise? :) I got some water kefir grains from a friend. Now I’ve never made water kefir before or even tasted it. So basically I’m wondering, what should it taste like? After 2 batches that were very plain tasting, like lightly sweetened water, the next batch had a distinct smell and taste. Sort of yeasty, but definately a smell and taste difference from the first 2 batches. I’ve been following the directions on the Cultures for Health website about resting the grains. So they’ve (the grains) have been in the fridge “resting” all weekend, and then I plan to start them up Monday. Have you had any problems with smell/taste? And what should they actually smell and taste like? So that I have some standard to go off of.

  8. Thank you for this post. I lost my water kefir grains a few months back. I was using distilled water and I think I killed the grain due to lack of minerals. This post was most helpful. I would like to be added to your list to get some kefir grains please. Just let me know the cost. Thanks again.

  9. I am extremely new to this, and had been looking at Milk Kefir, but I am much more interested in Water Kefir now, thanks to your excellent article, it really explained things beautifully, even to someone who had no idea what you were talking about when they first started reading it. Thank you for your hard work! Now, I was wondering, you said you can use any kind of sugar, could you use honey instead of sugar? If so since the honey would count as a liquid how would that change things up, as far as the recipe itself goes? Any help you could offer would be wonderful!

    Also, may I please request to be added to your Kefir Grains waiting list? This is a wonderful community service that you do, it is really generous of you! Thank you for that!

  10. Lea help! I have been trying the water kefir for about 2 months now and I cannot get it to taste right! My kefir grains have quadrupled but my water kefir is either syrupy or smells like stinky feet! I have used organic plain sugar, sucanat and I have even added in a little molasses to add more minerals. I have “rested” my grains in the fridge and tried again and the first batch came out right but after that they are back to smelling bad. The longest I have fermented them is 48 hours because it was still too sweet but the extra day they got to smelling bad. I use spring water to ferment them in. I really want to have water kefir for my kids but I am ready to give it up because I am so disgusted with the turnout and I am wasting money on buying the water and sugar. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

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