Water kefir is a superfast fermented drink made using a starter culture or “grains”. These grains are essentially a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). These cultures convert sugar water into a probiotic, enzyme-rich refreshing drink filled with friendly microorganisms that can help bring balance to your microbiome. It’s very easy to make at home and at its most basic it’s just fermented sugar and water, ready to drink in just a couple of days!
80g (3 1/4oz) water kefir grains
2-4 tablespoons (2 1/2 – 5 American tablespoons) organic sugar - the less sugar you add the quicker it will take to ferment
2 organic apricots or equivalent of other dried fruit - such as figs, dates, prunes, raisins
1 litre (1 3/4 pints/scant 4 1/2 cups) of water - filtered or dechlorinated
slice of organic unwaxed lemon or lime
1 x 1 1/2 litre (2 1/2 pints/6 1/4 cups) Kilner jar
Making Water Kefir for the first time
Put the sugar into the 1.5 litre Kilner jar. Pour in the filtered or dechlorinated water and stir well with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved into the water.
Now strain your starter jar of water kefir, catching the grains in a sieve and discard the liquid they have been in.
Tip these grains into the sugar water in the Kilner jar. Add the dried fruit and slice of lemon and secure the lid.
Leave out on a countertop to ferment at room temperature for 2-4 days. After day 2 start to taste the kefir to see if it’s to your liking - you decide when it’s ready - the longer it ferments, the less sweet it will be, the sugar being converted into beneficial organic acids.
When the kefir acquires the flavour that suits you, lift out the dried fruit and lemon (which should be floating on the surface). Strain the liquid through a sieve, catching the kefir grains in the sieve. Pour the liquid into a bottle - secure with a lid and store in the fridge - it will carbonate nicely in the fridge - just be careful when opening! The kefir can be enjoyed as is or you might choose to flavour it - we call this the second fermentation - see below.
Now make your next batch.
Water kefir wants to be made over and over again. You have your grains in a sieve so just put more sugar into the 1.5 litre Kilner jar and add 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) of filtered/dechlorinated water. Stir once again until the sugar has dissolved into the water and add grains to jar. Add a new slice of lemon and 2 pieces of dried fruit. Secure the lid and leave to ferment once again on the countertop for 2-4 days, tasting each day until it’s to your liking.
Grains might gradually multiply over time. You can divide them and give some away or you can make larger quantities of water kefir in larger jar.
If you want to take a break from making water kefir you can feed the grains extra sugar- perhaps double the amount you usually add and then it can be left on the counter for a week - maybe two. Some people put the jar into the fridge to really slow down fermentation but I would suggest that a week in the fridge is the most you should do cos the grains will become too dormant and difficult to revive.
After transferring your water kefir into a bottle add a handful of one of the following to your taste.
fresh or frozen raspberries/blackberries
fresh or frozen strawberries
mango, pineapple and lime
3-4 small pieces of Crystallised Ginger sliced thinly
several crushed mint leaves and juice of 1 lemon
splash of rosewater and some crushed cardamom seeds
1/2 tablespoon (3/4 American tablespoons) elderberries, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) rosehips and zest from 1 orange
1 vanilla pod (which can be reused many times)