Here we are! Part 2 of water kefir and I can’t wait to share the rest of the fun information. We left off with me closing out the water kefir article with a history of water kefir, as well as the benefits of drinking water kefir. Today we will finish up with water kefir production education. I will direct you as to where to purchase water kefir grains. You will receive my phone number to call me day or night with burning water kefir questions- umm… NO! Ha, that was just a little test to see if you’re on reading autopilot. Good thing you caught that. I knew my readers are sharp people. But seriously, I will tell you where you can get the swing bottles and materials for brewing and storing your water kefir. As well as tips and tricks.
Amazon Is Your Friend
Here is a list of items you will need:
- Water kefir grains
- HIC, Nylon mesh strainer 4 inch
- Swing top glass bottles 16oz
- 17-inch long bottle brush
- Organic Sugar or Brown Sugar (I have used either, good results for both)
- Water filtering pitcher (at Amazon) Pur or Zero water (or Walmart)
- Gallon size jars, 2- I use old olive jars (I really like olives)
- Wooden or plastic stirring spoon (NEVER USE METAL! It will kill the kefir grains)
- Paper towel and large rubber band
- 4 cup glass measuring bowl
Being computer savvy will aid you in your water kefir pursuits. Let’s start with going to Amazon.com. If you don’t have an account, you will need to set one up- phone a friend if this is beyond you. Once you have set up your account you can look up water kefir grains in the Amazon search bar, but you are specifically looking for 1/4 cup Live Organic Water Kefir Grains (Tibicos) Natural probiotics by Florida Sun Kefir.
Homemade Water Kefir
Go ahead and add one to your cart. You will receive 1/4 cup of water kefir grains, a 4×6 brewing bag (this is for flavoring your water with cut-up fresh or dried fruit), a business card from Florida Sun Kefir and a handy directions card. (NOTE: these water kefir grains are sensitive to cold, they are lovers of warmth. Unless your regional temperature is above 25 F, I would wait to order them, especially if you have an outdoor mailbox). Florida Sun Kefir has 4.6 stars out of 5. They are very prompt with sending out the order and always answer my questions about water kefir. They also will provide you with a website you can go to, to download a water kefir tutorial pdf.
Next item on your list to get is the swing top glass bottles 16oz., these are for the carbonating and storage of the water kefir. Then you will need a 4-inch nylon mesh strainer, this aids in the straining of your kefir grains from the kefir water brew. A 17-inch bottle brush if you do not have one. The rest of the items, brown sugar, plastic/wood stirring spoon, brown sugar or organic, gallon size jars, paper towel, and rubber band, should all be common items in your home.
Water Kefir 101
You just got a notification that your water kefir grains have arrived! Your heart is pounding as you rush to the mailbox. Grabbing the package like an NFL quarterback grabbing a football, you tuck and run making it in record time to your kitchen. Everything is set up and ready to go in the kitchen. Carefully you open the package and remove the little container of water kefir grains. Aww… those little grains are so cute and they smell yeasty (that’s good!). They look like little globs of jelly, all bouncy and looking happy.
You begin by warming 4 cups of filtered or spring water.
- IMPORTANT: Not using spring water or filtered water will aid in draining them of important nutrients. Adding the organic sugar or brown sugar to the warm water you stir the water with a plastic or wooden spoon to help dissolve the sugar.
- IMPORTANT: The sugar MUST BE DISSOLVED completely. If not, the whole sugar grain will actually make the kefir grains sick and eventually die. NEVER NEVER use a metal spoon to stir your water and sugar
With the sugar dissolved and water at room temperature, you pour it into the gallon size glass container. Following that, take the water kefir grains and gently drop them into the glass jar with brown sugar water. The grains will peacefully settle to the bottom. Take a paper towel and place it over the mouth of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. This will prevent dust and debris from falling into your water kefir brew as it ferments. Next, place the jar in a warm room (70-85 F, 76 F is the sweet spot) out of direct sunlight.
- IMPORTANT: Direct sunlight will KILL your kefir grains.
Sweet or Tart
With your jar of water kefir grains fermenting in the sugar water, you must decide if you want sweet kefir or tart kefir. For sweet water kefir, you will ferment just one day. For more tart (acidic) water kefir you will ferment for two days. Before I continue on, let’s tackle the issue of alcohol percentage in water kefir. According to an article, I read online from The Water Kefir People,
“water kefir is classified as a non-alcoholic beverage” and “federal law classifies non-alcoholic beverage as having less than .5% ABV”.
Obviously the longer you leave it to ferment, the more alcohol it will begin to contain. Most people don’t ferment beyond two days. I like my water kefir a bit more acidic, so I let it ferment two days.
Now that the water kefir has fermented, strain the grains and kefir water through the nylon strainer into a gallon size glass jar.
- IMPORTANT: NEVER use a metal strainer. The metal will kill your kefir grains.
Set aside the nylon strainer with the water kefir grains and take the gallon jar with the water kefir brew and pour it into the swing top 16 oz glass bottle using a funnel. Fill the swing top bottle up to the shoulder (once 4 cup recipe will yield 2-16 oz swing bottles) and then take your fruit juice of choice (I like Welch’s Grape Juice) and fill it up to the neck, leaving “headroom” just like you would in canning.
Oh So Good
Place the two swing bottles on the cupboard counter for the carbonating or “second fermentation” for 12 to 24 hours. After which you will place them in the refrigerator to chill and then you may drink! AH! Tastes so good and good for you!
- IMPORTANT: BE VERY CAREFUL when opening the swing top bottles. The carbonating can put lots of pressure in the bottle so take your bottle over the sink and slowly release the pressure by “burping” your bottle. We have had many “eruptions” from super carbonated kefir brews. Which require mopping the floor and wiping down the cupboards.
As you continue to build your confidence in water kefir brewing you can experiment with a variety of juices, adding fresh or dried fruit to the first fermentation, as well as different methods of brewing with just plain canning jars with plastic lids, or any glass jar that can be sealed without a metal lid. It’s fun to have hobbies that are inexpensive, fun and beneficial to your health.
Let’s Wrap This Up
On occasion, you will notice that your water kefir brew isn’t very carbonated, or the taste is lackluster. Should that be the case, you will need to give your water kefir grains a rest and feed them. This is easily done by hard boiling two eggs. Remove the eggs from the shell, and take the shells and place them in a gallon glass jar with water kefir grains and the sugar water. This is the same sugar water you would make to start your brew. Let them feed in a warm, shady place for a day or two. Then strain the grains from the water and pick out the eggshells. Then proceed as normal and resume your usual brewing routine.
If you have to go out of town be sure to feed your water kefir grains. Make up the normal sugar water for brewing and add that to a glass jar with your kefir grains into the refrigerator. Then upon your return revive them with the feeding of eggshells and resume your normal brewing routine. Please note that as you brew with your grains they will grow. So keep in mind that you may no longer have a 1/4 cup of kefir grains- this will affect your recipe. If your grains grow you’ll need to separate them and share the love of water kefir with your friends. Just like the Amish Friendship Bread starter!
Lastly, sometimes your kefir grains just “die out” so from time to time you’ll need to reorder a new batch of grains. That’s it my friends! As always, here is to good food, good friends and a good life.
Michele Bruxvoort is sure to draw you in with her delightful sense of humor and love for living life. She enjoys reading, repurposing, as well as remodeling the family home with her husband. Drawing from her life experience as wife, mom, and follower of Jesus, Michele brings you a very honest and real perspective on life. When you don’t find her writing, you can find her mowing lawns, stocking shelves, taking care of her grandbaby and tackling her latest life adventure.
Wisconsin native and empty-nester, she now makes her home with her husband of 27 years in the South West Prairie plains of Minnesota.