Water Kefir – Nature’s Probiotic
Water Kefir is an amazing home made probiotic that tastes a bit like soft drink; it’s fizzy but no where near as sweet… and it’s GOOD for you!
Many of the kefir grains claim to contain 33 different strains of Probiotic bacteria, but a 2010 study found 289 strains of bacteria and 129 yeasts, while another study found 453 strains. They both revealed an emphasis on Lactobacillus species, and also contained the highly beneficial Saccharomyces cerevisiae; the parent strain of S.boulardii, which builds sIgA, and can protect against Candida, and many other health conditions. Water kefir can be bought as “grains”, which are actually symbiotic cultures of good bacteria & yeasts protected by a polysaccharide matrix, which multiply under the right fermentation conditions. This is essentially a kick-start to the process; providing a “mother”, with already well established bacterial and yeast strains. Many of the high-density probiotic supplements only contain 10 different strains, so kefir can be EXTREMELY therapeutic. They also contain digestive enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.
Kefir is made really simply; by combining the grains with clean water, and sugar. The sugar is used for fermentation purposes, which creates the grain polysaccharides, and is completely converted to ethanol, and lactic acid within 24 hours. The sugar provides fuel for the bacterial and yeast species to grow and multiply, increasing their concentration during every batch.
It can be flavoured during a secondary fermentation, giving it a ginger beer, lemonade, raspberry, passionfruit, or mango flavour. The options are only limited by your creativity! It’s very safe during pregnancy, and kids love it!
Benefits of Kefir
Kefir has a long history of improving health. Studies show that kefir can protect against gastrointestinal diseases, improves lactose digestion in lactose intolerant people, and can protect against Salmonella, Helicobacter, Shigella, Staphylococcus, E.Coli, Candida albicans, and other potentially harmful species.  Kefir is also antifungal, antibacterial, immunomodulating, and has anti-tumour activity.
Water kefir is extremely good for anyone who has ever had antibiotics, it is great for digestive issues; bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, and promotes regular bowel use. It’s very helpful for the liver & gall bladder, inflammatory diseases, leaky gut, dysbiosis, and helps brain fog & depression…there are literally hundreds of benefits. The grains can even be blended with some water, and used as a retention enema to increase microbial colonies in the lower bowel.
A story of healing
Danielle discovered the benefits 6 years ago, and was able to help heal her leaky gut, which was a consequence of Hashimoto’s Disease. She was so astounded by the benefits, that she established her own Water Kefir business! She has named her strain “FrankenKefir” due to the way they multiply in volume. Have a look at her Facebook page for more information. She posts her grains all over the world. A starter pack contains information, YouTube links and detailed instructions for less than $25.
Water Kefir Instructions
- 1/4 cup water kefir grains, 1/4 cup sugar per quart of water (Rapadura or organic raw sugar) Do not use honey!! Non-chlorinated filtered water (If you use reverse osmosis, consider adding a few drops of trace minerals back in or sticking a rinsed pastured egg shell in for minerals) If you just have tap water, boil it to remove chlorine and cool before using.
- Dissolve the sugar in small amount of hot water.
- When sugar is dissolved, fill the rest of the jar with cool filtered water to a total volume of 1 litre, and make sure the water is not warm- it must be at room temp! Add the hydrated water kefir grains
- Cover with towel, cheesecloth, or coffee filter and rubber band to keep out insects. Leave on the counter (preferably at 70-75 degrees) for 24-48 hours. The longer you leave it, the more sugar ferments out, so if you ware limiting carbs, I recommend 48 hours. Don’t leave longer than this! It can starve the grains!
- After 48 hours, strain the water kefir grains through a bamboo or mesh strainer (don’t use metal if you can help it!) pouring the liquid into another container.
- Restart the process by dissolving more sugar in water, adding cool water and adding Water Kefir Grains.
- To make the Water Kefir carbonated, pour about 40ml of fruit juice into the strained water kefir you just strained. I’ve found Grape, Pomegranate, Apple and Cherry to work the best. I don’t recommend citrus for this part, as it makes stringy yeast like things that are not tasty! Once you’ve added the juice, cover the jars tightly with an air tight lid and leave on the counter an additional 1-3 days before drinking or refrigerating. Repeat the process!
Secondary Ferment – Flavours
Water Kefir Lemonade
Make water kefir and remove the kefir grains. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice to each litre of water kefir. Serve cold.
Orange Zest Water Kefir
Add the kefir grains and several strips of organic orange zest (not the juice) to a standard batch of sugar water. It is important to use an organic orange to avoid exposing the kefir grains to pesticides. Allow the water kefir grains to culture 24 to 48 hours. Remove and discard the orange zest. Remove the kefir grains and serve the kefir cold.
Cream Soda Water Kefir
Make water kefir and remove the kefir grains. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons quality alcohol-free vanilla extract per litre of water kefir.
Raspberry Juice Water Kefir
Add kefir grains to 1 to 2 quarts of organic raspberry juice. Allow the juice to culture for 24 to 48 hours. Please note, a longer fermentation period will yield a higher alcohol content due to the amount of sugar in the juice. Please use good judgment if serving kefired juice to children.
Fruit Flavored Water Kefir
Make water kefir and remove the kefir grains. Add fresh or dried fruit to the water kefir. If using fresh fruit, change the fruit out every 24 hours; dried fruit can be changed out as infrequently as once a week. Allow the fruit and kefir to sit for 1 to 7 days. Remove and discard the fruit. Avoid adding fruits to the water kefir with the grains, as some fruits may be damaging to the grains. Slices of organic lemon or organic raisins with no added oil are the only exceptions, and may be added to the initial ferment with the grains.
Grape Juice Water Kefir
Add kefir grains to 1 to 2 quarts of organic grape juice. Allow the juice to culture for 24 to 48 hours. Please note: a longer fermentation period will yield a higher alcohol content due to the amount of sugar in the juice. Please use good judgment if serving kefired juice to children. Variation: Use organic apple juice.
Water Kefir “Soda”
Make water kefir and remove the kefir grains. Combine four parts water kefir and one part fruit juice in a truly air-tight bottle such as a Grolsch-style flip-cap bottle or an old wine bottle with a new cork. Allow the mixture to sit for several days at room temperature before refrigerating. Adding the juice continues to feed the live yeast and bacteria in the water kefir (even though the kefir grains themselves have been removed). This process creates gas and normally some level of carbonation. Use caution when opening the bottle! Variation: Use water kefir made with fruit juice and bottle as directed above.
Coconut Water Kefir
Add the kefir grains to 1 to 2 litres coconut water. Culture for 24 to 48 hours before removing the kefir grains. Refresh the grains in a batch of sugar water after making coconut water kefir, to keep them healthy.
Herbal Infusion Water Kefir
Mix one part finished water kefir (kefir grains removed) with one part herbal infusion (e.g., nettle leaf, red raspberry leaf, etc.). Herbal infusions can be made by combining a handful of fresh or dried herbs with one quart boiling water. Allow the herb and water mixture to sit for 6+ hours. Be sure the herbal infusion is completely cooled prior to mixing it with the finished water kefir.