Instructables
Picture of How to Make Authentic Water Kefir
Water Kefir (pronounced keh-FEER) is not as well known as milk kefir. But it is the same concept - symbiotic grains of bacteria and yeast that ferment a specific liquid - in this case, a sugar-water-fruit liquid. It produces a mild, light and refreshing, slightly carbonated beverage. The basic flavor is likened to a weak cola or apple cider, but most people add molasses, fruit, vanilla beans or other flavors. With so many options the final flavor is really up to you (our favorites being lemon-ginger, dark cherry and concord grape).

What's the difference between water kefir and kombucha? Both have excellent probiotic value, but water kefir has a much faster ferment and more mild flavor. Just like kombucha, it can be bottled to increase carbonation, and flavored. Kombucha takes about 5-14 days to ferment, whereas water kefir is ready within a day or two.

Water kefir is simply sugar-water that is fermented at room temperature with kefir grains for about 24-48 hours. It has many wonderful health benefits and can be better tolerated than a soda for diabetics because of its lower GL (due to its acidic nature). It's a wonderful alternative for those who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to casein in dairy. Water kefir is full of probiotics and can have just as many (if not different) benefits than traditional yogurt or milk kefir. The affordability of sugar and water makes it not only healthier than most beverages, but cheaper too. The reusable, sustainable grains also make it more economical.

Kefir has gained in popularity lately, due to interest in local, economical and responsible eating, combined with a greater awareness of the health benefits of probiotics.

But with that popularity has come a load of misinformation and deceiving products on the web. Authentic kefir can only be made by real kefir grains, not from any kind of packet or powder. Kefir available at the stores are simply imitations. This is due to regulations to ensure consistent products, ingredients, bottling procedures and to comply with packaging and shipping standards. As with most nutritious foods, real kefir can only be made and experienced at home.

Water Kefir's origins are a bit obscure, pointing towards either Mexico or Tibet (or possibly even Russia). Regardless, it has been around for centuries and has gone by many names including Tibicos, California Bees, and Japanese Water Crystals, amongst others. An old popular beverage in Mexico called Tepache is traditionally made with 'Tibi' (ie water kefir grains), pineapple and cinnamon.  If you have more questions you can check out Yemoos Nourishing Cultures to see photos, FAQ's, health benefits and other information on water kefir.

Now, lets get started!
 
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jestick1 year ago
There is a cheap simple solution to the chlorine/chlorame problem. Adding a small quantity of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to tap water reacts with the chloramine in with a half life of about 4 minutes. It is employed in dialysis processes for this purpose. I have used it on my own water kefir grains and have seen a ten-fold increase in grain volume. This confirms that the technique not only works, but produces no observable suppression of colony growth over time.
yoyology4 years ago
In the interest of, as you say, "local, economical and responsible eating", I'd like to try and find Kefir grains here in Tulsa. We have a number of Indian groceries and a large Asian market. Am I likely to find them available in these kinds of places? It sounds like the process is very similar to how I make ginger ale at home. I'm excited to try making this new drink!
gk1651 yoyology2 years ago
Fresh Kefir grains can be bought on eBay from reputable sellers who are not commercial companies and probably 'sharers'. Be sure they are selling fresh not dried. I am trying out my first batch and everything looks as should according to the long list of tips and recipes that came with the product. Good luck with yours.
Yemoos (author)  yoyology4 years ago
Hi yoyology, I would check out kefir_making yahoo group. In their files section they have a database of users by location who are willing to share their grains (many are out-dated, but you can try posting and asking around on the forum, too!). I am sure you will find someone in Tulsa willing to share.
Chanio2 years ago
I am trying something similar that would be healthy for diabetic patients...

Without using sugar and without using kefir...

I boil in water some dried prunes. and a bunch of stevia leaves. Stevia leaves are a natural sugar substitute. But with an added feature: it seems to transform the sugar in the fruits or any other sugar into alcohol and because of that, to carbonate the drink in a week or so.

The drink I gues should be considered inside the same spectrum as this beatifully exposed by you.
I never knew that kefir could be used in such a fashion!

Thank you!
Alberto
killerian3 years ago
Mexican tepache do not uses kefir (or tibicos, as we call them here). it is made usually by leaving pineapple (normally leftovers, like center and skin) in water with brown sugar (called piloncillo when comes in cone shaped chunks).

Another comment is that the kefir water tastes like a very soft tepache, while made from very different sources.
keastes4 years ago
where did you find your resealable drinking bottles?
Yemoos (author)  keastes4 years ago
You can find these by googling 'flip cap bottles' - Amazon and other major online retailors have many choices. You can sometimes find them locally too at specialty wine and beer shops, or sometimes even kitchen supply stores.