|overwhelm other flavors that you may wish to add later when |
bottling. We recommend using white cane sugar for at least
approx. half of the sugar and, if desired, supplement the rest
with a form of less refined sugar such as whole cane sugar or
blackstrap molasses for additional mineral support. We have
found that the grains do best with access to dense sugar (white)
supplemented with a smaller portion of high mineral (less refined)
sugars and/or dried unsulphured fruits.
4. Add 2 cups of spring or mineral water. Be sure to allow
some space at the top (don’t fill to the brim). Cold, cool or room
temperature is best (never hot). Stir with a wooden or plastic
utensil until the sugar is mostly dissolved. If you are adding a
lemon wedge, its easier to do so after stirring.
- Pint or larger jar
- Wood or plastic spoon/spatula
- Plastic/nylon or stainless steel strainer
- Another pint-size or larger non-metal
container to store the finished kefir in (clean
pop, juice, vinegar or oil bottles work great).
- For these items and other personally
recommended products, view our Water
Kefir Recommendations page.
*When your package arrives, we recommend putting it
directly in your fridge temporarily, until you're ready to
feed the grains (preferably the same day, or within 24 hours).
5. At this point, you can add a lemon wedge (anywhere from 1/8 of a
lemon to a half lemon). If you're unsure what may be on the lemon
(wax, chemicals, etc), simply peel the skin off. It's not necessary to
squeeze the lemon, but you can do this at the end when you are ready
to drink, if you prefer a stronger lemon flavor.
6. Cover the top of the jar with a cloth, paper towel or parchment
paper held by elastic. This is so your kefir grains can breathe while at
the same time protecting it from contamination.
LID: Putting a tight lid can cause the jar to explode due to the natural
carbonation process taking place. Believe us, this does happen!
7. Time to let them rest and do their thing! Find a place for your
grains out of direct sunlight. A cupboard is just fine. You can
shake/stir them once in awhile as they ferment (helps redistribute
nutrients). Don’t worry if you forget – although helpful, its not
completely necessary. Check back on them in about 48 hours!
TEMPERATURE: Temperature can greatly affect the speed of
fermentation (it can take half as much time during the summer).
Experiment and see what tastes right (and digests right) for you. They
will not die if they're ready at 24 hours, but you strain at 48, so don't
worry too much!
FIRST FERMENTS: Occasionally,
the first batch or two will have an
“off “odor. Although generally safe,
you may want to discard the first few
batches. Although usually fine upon
arrival, its good to let your grains
acclimate to your home, water source
and sugars and become fully balanced
before regular consumption. If it has a
strong 'nail polish' odor, wait until
they balance. If it persists, rest your
grains in clean water in the fridge for
a couple of days, changing out the
water daily. For other tips and info on
water kefir visit our FAQ.
8. When the kefir is ready, you need to separate the
water kefir from the kefir grains. Set a plastic or
stainless steel strainer over a jar or bowl and pour
everything in. Pick out any fruit or lemon. You can eat
these, discard, or even keep in your bottled water kefir.
You can also re-use fruit for one more ferment if
desired. If you used lemon, you can squeeze it into your
strained kefir for a stronger lemon flavor if desired.
SURFACE: It's normal to see some grains, the dried
fruit, foam and occasionally some 'scum' floating near
the top (especially when using less refined sugars and/or
dried fruits). It's also normal to see a perfectly clear
surface, too. Sometimes this can indicate inactivity
though - taste to see if it still tastes like flat, sweet
sugar water - this indicates the grains did not convert
much of the sugar.
FLAVOR: Water kefir is milder than kombucha, but
should still have a noticeable flavor change - like a weak
apple cider. Carbonation is very subtle but will increase
when bottled (more on this below).
10. Now simply repeat! That’s it! Congratulations
on your first home-made water kefir! It really is a
fool-proof process and the grains are quite resilient,
so don’t worry too much, people have been making
this for centuries! Have fun, experiment and enjoy!
Important Note Before Drinking Kefir:
Kefir contains very large amounts of good bacteria and
yeast as well as being acidic (from the high amounts of
healthful lactic acid)- for a few people's bodies it can
be a little bit of a shock. Everybody reacts to it
differently, so we always recommend starting out slow
to see how your body takes to it. The majority of
people do not have any adverse reaction, but if you do,
usually it's just a matter of starting out slow and
slowing increasing over time. Start with a tablespoon
and go from there. If you are sensitive to sugar and
tiny amounts of alcohol, it is generally tolerated
better on a full, rather than empty stomach.
NOTE: When people say they are drinking kefir, they
are referring to the liquid created. However, it is fine
to eat small amounts of the grains themselves, too,
which are of course an excellent source of probiotics.
CHLORINE: Chlorine can damage the kefir grains, which is sometimes found in high amounts in tap. Please refer
to the section above on water under 'Ingredients'.
INACTIVITY: If your grains are not doing well, they most likely need more mineral support. We recommend
adding at least 1/2 tablespoon of whole cane sugar or using a nutrient dense dried fruit like apricots or dates. You
can also try adding about 1/16 teaspoon (per pint) of baking soda, sea salt, or calcium carbonate to see if that
HONEY: You can try honey but it is cautioned that due to its
antibacterial properties (especially raw), and different ratios
of sugars (higher amounts of fructose than sugar) it may
weaken the grains. We highly recommend experimenting, there
are SO many sugar and dried fruit options. But, we stress
waiting to do so until you have enough extra grains to
experiment in a separate jar. Check out our section on sugar
types in our Water Kefir FAQ for more sugar ideas and info.
METAL: If using a metal strainer, stainless steel is considered safe for brief contact. Acids from cultures can
interact with and leach metals (though mostly through prolonged contact), which could disrupt or harm the grains.
9. Now its time to bottle your strained water kefir and put the
grains back into their jar. Measure out 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) of
grains and place them back in your jar (does not need to be washed
each time), or a clean jar. In the 'Extra Grains & Storage' section
below you'll find ideas for what to do with extra grain growth. Now
pour your strained water kefir into another jar to store. Clean pop,
juice, vinegar or oil bottles work great. Glass is the preferred
storage material. Plastic and metal tend to leach when in contact
with acidic liquids. You can drink it right away or chill it. Water
kefir tastes best (in our opinion) within 48 hours of being chilled,
and begins to diminish in flavor past a week (continues to convert to
a more acidic, higher alcohol beverage).
ACTIVITY: Good signs
of activity include
floating grains (carbon
dioxide bubbles trapped
within the matrix of the
grain) and tiny bubbles
that raise to the
surface when you tap
the bottom of the jar.
FLAVORING: Half the fun of water kefir is flavoring.
When you've got it strained and bottled, you can
experiment with many different flavors and techniques.
Add in some of your favorite fruit juice, veggie juice, or
squeeze in some fresh lemon, lime or orange. You can
even add fresh or dried fruit. Raspberries are delicious.
A teaspoon of vanilla extract (per 1-2 cups), a stick of
cinnamon, or some fresh slices of ginger are excellent as
well. Grape juice is outstanding and gets it quite fizzy,
too. Let the flavors meld, we like to let ours chill up to 2
days for maximum impact! Sometimes this process is
called the '2nd Ferment' because it is without the
grains, where you are adding in more sugar and/or fruit
and flavors, and letting it further ferment a day or two.
You can let it rest at room temperature or in the fridge
for this process (just make sure to 'burp' the bottles,
especially if left out of the fridge. For special bottles
like the one above, view our water kefir
Optional items: (as shown in green square above)
- Muslin bag: to hold your grains or dried fruit
in during the ferment. This is convenient for
keeping the grains seperate from the fruit,
but isn't necessary. Keep in mind it can
sometimes hinder the grains access to
nutrients a bit, too. This functions best for
holding small fruits, or fruits that shred as
they hydrate (like dates) herbs or loose leaf
teas that you may eventually experiment with
in your water kefir.
- Lemon: organic is best, washed well, if non-
organic or unsure of cleanliness, just peel the
rind off (which contains waxes, chemicals etc).
Some people like the flavor this lends, some
don't. Sometimes it can help with the ph of
the ferment as well, depending on your water
and other ingredients you're using.
- Dried unsulphured fruit: Fruit adds to the flavor and
nutritional dimension of the beverage. They are
especially helpful if you're using only white sugar, as
the dried fruit supplies minerals that processed sugar
lacks. Avoid sulphured fruit (a preservative added to
many dried fruit that can suppress or even harm the
grains). A half handful of dried fruit per pint (2 cups) is
good. Pictured below is a full handful for a quart.
Amount of fruit:
You can visually get
an idea here of
about how much a
'handful' is. You
can get by with
less than this, too.
pictured work well
with water kefir,
either by helping
nourish the grains,
lending a great
flavor, and in many
NOTE: We have found some fruits like dried strawberries just don't do much for the flavor or the grains.
Raspberries on the other hand, work very well for flavor. Keep in mind some of these fruit will dye your grains a
bit! Banana can be ok, but is sometimes a bit 'oily' and doesn't lend as much flavor as you'd think.
If you need any further help beyond this guide, feel free to email us
at any time at email@example.com.
EXPLOSIONS: When storing, try to keep the lid on a tad loose, to
prevent explosion. If you're aiming for more carbonation, fill the
bottle within 1/4" of the top, and put the lid on tight, but 'burp' it
each day (open the lid, then close back up) - this prevents explosions
but still allows carbonation to build up.
Extra Grains and Storage
Copyright © 2010 Yemoos Nourishing Cultures. All rights reserved.
After your first few batches:
As you continue to make kefir, your grains will grow. At that point, you can either add more sugar-water if you want more kefir, eat them
or store them (it’s always a good idea to have some back-up grains on hand!). They also are a good addition to a compost pile! :)
Eating the grains is another way to get a mega dose of probiotics. Start with a very small amount of balanced, healthy grains and see
how your body responds. Unlike milk kefir grains, these are rather bland and flavorless. We still like eating them ourselves once in
awhile (as does one of our dogs!). You can also blend them in with your kefir or kefir smoothies (throw in some bananas and
strawberries for fun!). Everyone is different and some people may be sensitive or not quite use to the sheer number of good bacteria
and yeast contained in the grains. As with all things, listen first to your body.
How to store your extra grains:
Freezing - best for medium to long term storage
Freezing is probably not the best option for water kefir, but if you prefer, here is what to do! To freeze, rinse your grains if you wish with
water (no chlorine, no heat) and then gently pat them dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. You can take them directly out of a finished
batch of kefir and just pat them dry of kefir (they will be more sticky, but rinsing is not absolutely necessary).They will still be damp, now
take them and roll them in a bowl of sugar until well coated. Then fill a freezer bag or jar with a generous amount of sugar and bury
them in it (to protect them from air, moisture and freezer burn). You can also try freezing them directly in their water kefir jar, but it is
more damaging, since the water expands as it freezes. If you want to freeze multiple batches of kefir grains in water kefir, simply place
a few grains in each cube of an ice cube tray, fill with kefir and let freeze on a flat surface. Then pop them out into a freezer bag within a
day or two and store for about 3 months. Dom, a kefir-guru recommends grains spend no longer than six months in the freezer.
However, some have had success reconstituting frozen grains after more than 2 years (though we can't say what the quality or health
of the grains were at this point!).
If you have a self-defrosting freezer, you can try freeze-drying your grains at home. Try to start with small grains of uniform size (gently
separate larger grains with your fingers to make smaller if necessary). Place your grains on a porous, non-metal surface, such as
some nylon suspended above a cookie sheet. Allow them to freeze openly in your freezer for about 3-5 days. This will only work in a
self-defrosting freezer that is able to wick away moisture as they freeze, allowing them to dry. When they are dry, store them buried in
sugar in the freezer (in a jar or bag) or in a vacuum-sealed bag.
Dehydrating - best for long term, convenient and/or transportable storage
1. Pat your kefir grains dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. You may rinse them ahead of time if you wish In chlorine-free water.
3. Lay out on a clean surface. A cloth or paper towel works well for non-fan drying, a plate, wax paper or any clean surface (non-metal)
works fine for forced air drying. Skip to step 6 if you have a fan or dehydrator.
4. If you don't have a fan, cover loosely with paper towel to protect them as they dry, this will take about 2-5 days, depending on room
temperature and humidity.
5. Check them as they are drying, flipping them around half-way to expose the damp parts near the bottom.
6. If you have a fan, lay them out as mentioned in step 1 and angle a low or medium force of air towards them (just be careful not to
blow them away!). If you have a dehydrator that can do 75°F or less, than this is an acceptable method as well. They will dry in about 12-
48 hours, depending on room temperature and humidity.
7. You can stop the drying when they appear almost dry but are still barely squishy if you are storing them for a short period of time
(such as a week or two). They are slightly more active and fresh in this state. Otherwise proceed to step 8.
8. When the grains are completely dry (hard, small, yellowish) put them into a plastic bag or jar with cotton balls (to absorb excess
moisture) and store them at room temperature or in the refrigerator. You can also store them in a paper envelope, inside a jar OR
coated in sugar in a bag or jar. Dehydrated grains can successfully be reconstituted after a year or more.
Refrigerating - best for temporary storage
If you need to store them temporarily, you can always put them either in their own kefir or in a little plain water in the fridge. The colder
temperature will greatly slow the fermentation process. This is the best method of storage if you're planning to take a break of about a
month or less. It may take a batch or two to fully reactive them. If you're taking a longer break, dehydrating is recommended.
Visit our new recipe section for flavoring ideas such as turning
your kefir into tasty smoothies, italian sodas, sparkling juice
drinks and even using it as a leavener in bread and pizza!
Concerning the lemon: After the first couple batches, you can omit the lemon if you don't like it and instead,
just use the 2-4 tablespoons of the previous batch’s strained water kefir, which naturally has a low ph (3-4.5,
similar to a lemon). Other fruits can and have successfully been used in the 'primary ferment' (with the grains)
but it's best to experiment with back-up grains first. Unbleached cheese cloth or a muslin bag is helpful to hold
these extra ingredients if they are tiny or likely to disintegrate (to avoid the difficulty of picking out the
pieces amidst the grains when straining).
Concerning secondary flavoring: To avoid harming the grains, a majority of flavoring is done in a ’secondary
ferment’. This is after the grains have been taken out and you are bottling. You can add whatever flavors you
want at this point, without any worries as to harming your grains. Remember that adding fruit juice or sugar only
temporarily increases the sugar content, and after leaving it for a day or two a portion of the juice or sugar will
be converted (even without the grains, water kefir is full of probiotics able to metabolize sugars. Be sure to
keep the lid on a bit loose to avoid explosion. You can also just stick it in the fridge, the flavor will slowly infuse
the liquid, even when cold. There are limitless combinations you can try with this! Included at the end of this
guide are just some of the delicious combinations you can try in our Recipes section!