Fizzy, delicious, and full of probiotics, water kefir is a wonderful way to nourish your gut and build your immune system. Learn how to make basic water kefir, plus delicious paleo ways to use it!
The first time I heard of kefir, I was living in Far East Russia with a German missionary for a roommate. She drank it every morning with her breakfast… even though she thought it was nasty. “The Russians say kefir makes you healthy,” she said.
It was a yogurty drink with a tangy taste and weird texture. I wasn’t a fan either. But years later when living in the United States I just happened to be Facebook when the leader of the WAPF chapter in my city posted that she had some extra water kefir grains to give away. While I wasn’t sure what the difference was between those and what we’d had in Russia, I was up for trying! So I jumped at the opportunity, and two days later my first batch was fermenting.
In case you’re freaking out about me using grain to make a drink, chill yo. Kefir grains aren’t actually from any grain, but are rather bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship. They are only called grains because of the way they look.
While water kefir contains fewer strains of bacteria and yeasts than milk kefir, it does have far more than other cultured products, like yogurt or buttermilk. Dairy-free-ers rejoice!
Basic water kefir.
Now, let it be known, I am not a huge fan of milk kefir (it being make from milk and all), but I am SO glad I gave its watery counterpart a try. While milk kefir is more like a drinkable yogurt, water kefir is more like a champagne. But like each other, they can both be flavored however you want.
After the initial ferment you can add fruit, or just drink it straight. My hubby likes it mixed with lemon juice for a fizzy lemonade.
I love that water kefir not only tastes great, but it’s also filled with TONS of beneficial bacterias. And let me not forget to mention it’s soooo easy to make. Just set the grains in a jar of sugary water on your counter for a couple days, strain and bottle and you have a delicious, healthy drink in your hand!
Water kefir is one of the best dietary sources of probiotics available, making it a great drink for gut health and perfect for those looking to boost their immune system. While I have had people who suffer with candida overgrowth be concerned about drinking it, there’s no need to worry. Water kefir is actually beneficial for people on an anti-candida diet, as the probiotics it produces fight the yeast overgrowth.
As for the sugar used in making the drink, the grains eat it up, so there isn’t any left in the final product. If you’re worried about any traces, there are pH strips you can buy online (I don’t have a link for those, sorry) that will test it for you.
Though my family enjoys water kefir plain, there are a ton of delicious ways you can dress it up after the first ferment. If you’re not into drinking carbonated beverages, but you still want the health benefits, you can even use it in delicious things like fruit snacks and gummies!
- Elderberry Water Kefir
- Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir
- Cranberry Kefir Fruit Snacks
- Strawberry Water Kefir
- Homemade Mango Soda
- Grapefruit Gummies
- Water Kefir Ice Cream Float
- Fizzy Ginger Lemonade
- Probiotic Blackberry Gummies
Note: if you’re wondering how to pronounce this funny looking word, it’s pronounced “keh-fear,” with the emphasis on “fear.” And no, this isn’t just the way *I* pronounce it. It is originally a Russian drink and this is how Russians pronounce it.
In the recipe card I’ve linked to some of the products from my affiliate partners that I like to use. Purchasing through these links won’t cost you anything extra. Thanks!
How to Make Basic Water Kefir
Free from grain, gluten, eggs, and dairy.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons hydrated water kefir grains
- 2 tablespoons organic cane juice, rapadura (do NOT use honey)
- 1 pint filtered water
- a few organic raisins (optional)
- pint or quart sized glass jars (for first ferment)
- flip-top bottles (for second ferment)
- plastic mesh strainer (metal can mess with the grains)
In a glass jar, combine sugar and water.
Add in the grains and raisins.
Cover with a cloth (cheesecloth or old t-shirt) and set on the counter in a warm spot for 1-3 days. (Depending on the temperature of your house it will ferment faster or slower. I add raisins to help me gauge when it’s ready. Just add a couple to the first ferment and when they float the water kefir is ready for the second ferment!)
Strain out the grains and pour the water kefir into the flip top bottles.
Add flavoring, if desired, and ferment for another day or two on the counter before refrigerating.
Repeat the process with new water and sugar and the same grains.
After the initial fermentation and straining you can add fruit and ferment again for a day or so for a “natural soda” type beverage.
You can also double, triple, whatever the batch if you have more than 1 1/2 tablespoons of grains. The ratio is about 2 tablespoons of grains to two tablespoons of sugar to 2 cups water.
If you’re having trouble with your water kefir, or need to purchase grains, here are some links that may help you…
Composition of bacteria and yeast.
Thanks for sharing this on Wellness Wednesday! I'm featuring this tomorrow as one of my favourite posts of the month(:
Thanks Elsie! I'm glad you enjoyed it. : )
I am just starting to read about kefir, thank you for this article. How do you get the kefir grains? Than you for taking the time to help me!
Hey Melissa! I got my grains from my local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation. You can do a Facebook search to see if there’s one in your area. You could also ask around at your local farmer’s market to see if somebody has some. Or you can purchase them online from Cultures for Health. Hope that helps!
I have shied away from most sweeteners due to Candida. I would be interested in trying this, but am concerned about the sugar. Any thoughts?
Thanks for asking, Joy. Kefir is actually beneficial for people on an anti-candida diet, as the probiotics it produces fight the yeast overgrowth. You can read this article for more info. As for the sugar used in making the drink, the grains eat it up, so there isn’t any left in the final product. If you’re worried about any traces, there are pH strips you can buy online (I don’t have a link for those, sorry), that will test it for you.
Hi, I’m really confused. the GAPS book says that no sugar is allowed except honey, yet I see you and several other bloggers recommending water keffir on the GAPS diet, even in the intro phase, yet it’s made with sugar (and evapourated cane sugar, rapadura and coconut are all still sugars even if they are not refined ones). What is it about water keffir that brings you to believe it’s okay on GAPS and won’t sustain the bad bacteria we’re trying to kill?
I understand the confusion, Helen! The reason we allow kefir is that, even though you feed it some sort of sugar, then grains eat the sugar and use it to produce the gut-friendly bacteria. So the end product of kefir actually don’t contain sugar. You can go here to see what bacteria and yeasts are in kefir, if you want. I hope that helps! 🙂
Ah! I’m new to this, so forgive me! I am just loving your website. Where does one get kefir grains and if there was the best type/form of sugar to use, what would it be? I avoid sugar due to Candida, but I understand the grains eat it up. Just curious!
Hey Stephanie! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipes! I usually purchase my kefir grains online from Cultures for Health (here’s a link), but you could contact your local Weston A. Price Foundation (just look them up on Facebook) and see if any local crunchy peeps have some to give. As for the sugars, you can use coconut sugar, organic cane sugar, organic sugar, or even molasses (though that will definitely change the taste some). I usually use organic cane sugar.
Thank you for this! How many times can I re use the same grains before having to toss them and start fresh?
Pretty much indefinitely, as long as you take care of them well! I’ve had my current batch for about 5 years now…
If you are not wanting to ‘use’ the grains for a few weeks because you are going on vacation, etc. “Where” do you put them? In a mason jar, in the fridge? on the counter? Just not sure what to do with them so they remain good.
I have put them in a fresh batch of sugar water and stuck them in the fridge. Then when I get home I discard what they were sitting in and feed them right away. Though I’ve also taken them on trips with me, and given them to friends to “babysit.” 🙂
All I need now is to find me a kefir grains. Thanks for this. I am going to make it once i get the grains
Yay! I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does, Zuzana!
Hi…i just ordered some from Amazon, Florida Sun…had good reviews. Hoping it will be beneficial for my gut issues.
Offered a small amount, trying that first & hope it grows.
I hope you find it helpful, Dawn!
I’ve never heard of this before. Thanks for walking me through the process. Looks like a healthy addition to our daily routine.
It is! So nutritious, and delicious too!
Same as you I love milk kefir I buy it very often and I even cook with it. But had no idea there was water kefir. There is no doubt we learn something new every day.
I hope you get a chance to enjoy it, Adriana! It’s so yummy!
Kefir is so good for you but I never thought of making my own. I like that you give other flavors to try.
It’s so easy, Julie, and will save you so much money to make yourself! 🙂
I have never heard of kefir before, but I am always curious to try learning about healthy food and drink. I’m bookmarking this and will go do some further research. This sounds like a super refreshing drink for summer too. 🙂
It’s definitely perfect for summer! I hope you get to give it a try, Anita!
I’ve heard a lot about this recently. Looking forward to trying it.
I hope you get to enjoy it, Krissy. 🙂
Thank you so much Raia for this post. A few days ago, I got free kefir grains from a neighbor. I was given very general details on how to brew it. When I searched online, I came across many recipes but with so many variations. Your post is one of the best ones. I appreciate the simplicity of it and I am following these steps instead. I do have a question though, my neighbor mentioned that about every 2-3 fermentations, I should replenish the grains by placing them in water with baking soda for about 20min. Is that something that you normally do? Also what kind of water is preferred, some people say tap is better, others to stay away from it. I confused about that.
I’m so glad you find this post helpful, Daniela! Thank you for letting me know. 🙂
I have never ever soaked my grains in baking soda water, and I’ve been making water kefir for at least 7 years, now. 🙂
As far as the water, I usually use regular filtered water. I have never used tap water, mostly because I’m concerned about the chemicals in it affecting the grains.