This post comes from our contributor Kristen Hedges.
Water kefir is one of the things, along with jars of strange kombucha mothers and bubbling kraut, that makes my kitchen look like a science lab. Making your own fermented drinks can seem difficult and unfamiliar at first, but don’t let the fizz & the squishy grains fool you – it’s honestly quite easy, & the benefits are totally worth it.
Water kefir is one of the easiest & quickest fermented drinks that you can make at home. The little grains, which can be either purchased online, or snagged from a friend (they duplicate like crazy!) are clusters of beneficial bacteria and yeast. In only 24 hours, they can turn sugar water into a deliciously fizzy soda alternative that’s bubbling over with probiotics (which, as we learned a couple of weeks ago, helps with the health of your digestive & immune system).
Things you’ll need:
A couple of clean, quart sized jars with lids
Cheese cloth or a thin handkerchief
A rubber band
A plastic strainer (or you can just use a bit of clean cloth)
¼ cup of water kefir grains
¼ cup organic sugar
A bit of dried fruit, or ¼ tsp of blackstrap molasses
Water (filtered is best)
Stick the sugar at the bottom of the jar, & fill about an inch from the top with filtered water. Stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. Don’t worry too much about the sugar content – it really just acts as food for the bacteria, so the sugar content of your finished product will be a lot lower. Drop in the dried fruit (I use dates), or stir in your molasses. Add your kefir grains, and secure two layers of cheese cloth over the mouth of the jar with a rubber band.
Keep the jar on your counter, out of direct sunlight, for 24-48 hours, depending on how warm your home is. Kefir grains love temperatures between 75-80 degrees. If your room is warmer, it might ferment quicker.
Afterwards, you can use your strainer to strain the finished kefir into another clean jar. You can reuse your lovely little grains in another batch of sugar water.
A lot of folks choose to do a second fermentation, as plain water kefir doesn’t taste very exciting. I like adding fresh fruit, fruit juice, herbs and spices to my water kefir immediately after straining, and then leaving it out on the counter for another 24 hours or so, this time with a tight fitting lid. The other day, I used a couple tablespoons of pomegranate juice and a few hunks of candied ginger in my second fermentation, and it was totally amazing. Play around with flavors, experiment, & enjoy the lovely health benefits!