Commercial Water Kefir vs Home

What are the reasons behind all the recommendations to use genuine water kefir grains to make home-made kefir, vs buying it at the store?

• Like most things in life, a good thing just cannot be packaged or processed. It always ends up taking away some portion of the quality or essence of the food when creating something 'safe' and with a shelf life. Although Commercial Water Kefir is rare to even find at the store, we believe some specialty grocers do carry it. From what we have read, commercial water kefir is produced from a combination of selected bacteria and yeast that mimic the flavor of traditional water kefir. This leaves you with a product that while good, does not offer the variety of probiotics, amount of probiotics, or quality of nutrients that traditional home-made water kefir from water kefir grains because it is not made from the grains themselves.

• Although most all of the commercial kefir contains live probiotics, the companies have limitations as to how they can process kefir so that it can be 'standardized' and regulated. Some companies have a 'mother batch' with live grains, which they then take kefir from, to use as the starter (instead of the grains), to make their kefir. Others combine carefully chosen strains of bacteria and yeast to
mimic the flavor of genuine kefir. While both are still healthy choices, you are not getting the full spectrum at the full potency (some brands advertise 10 strains, genuine kefir has upwards of 40 strains) that home-made kefir with kefir grains will give.

• You may notice that most
store-bought water kefir is produced one way. While with home-made water kefir you have the option of easily creating a flat, mild water kefir, extra fizzy kefir, extra sweet kefir, or extra tangy kefir (and a myriad of flavoring options).

• Popular Kefir starter packets, while nice, do not produce genuine kefir and
do not offer the same qualities that exist in genuine water kefir made by water kefir grains. These packets are often mistaken as genuine but only live kefir grains produce the traditional genuine kefir. Kefir packets do not offer the same probiotic content (only 7 strains of probiotics, genuine kefir has around 40+ strains), acid contents, certain polysaccharides formed by the grains and many of the other natural healthful by-products that occur specifically during fermentation from the live grains.

• Unlike packets or store-bought kefir, kefir grains are
self-sustainable, since they actually grow and make new grains at a rate of 10-400% each time they're fed. If this was the case with commercial, they would go out of business over-night

• You
know what is going in it - forget about worrying about what they use to preserve, thicken or flavor it with - this can be quite the ordeal when on a special diet or if you have allergies. No citric acid or yellow #5 involved here! Just sugar, water and the occasional dried fruit and lemon!

• The cost you will be
saving is enormous. Commercial water kefir is still quite rare and is pricey. Learning how to make your own beverages at home will save you a bundle in the long run.

• If you were to go through two or three store-bought 16-oz water kefir bottles a week, that would total between approx.
$415-$622 a year. On the other hand, the cost of the sugar, dried fruit and lemon needed to make this same amount at home will cost you far less, coming out to only around $3-$43 a year for the same amount (32-48 oz a week).

• That is a substantial savings of around
88-99%! You can still easily come out ahead even after investing in some exotic and fun flavorings to add to your water kefir with that kind of savings.

To break that down, if you want to make 32 oz (4 cups, or a quart) of water kefir a week, you will spend approx. $5 for sugar (10 lb bag) which has enough sugar for 90 uses. That's just shy of 2 years' worth of sugar (or roughly $2.50 a year). For a year's worth of bulk organic raisins, the cost comes out to about 0.23/oz or less, making it approximately $3.60 a year or less. The cost for a wedge (1/4) of lemon (at an average of $0.70 a lemon) for a year comes to about $36.40 - which is not even a necessary ingredient.This totals around $43 a year. If you use just sugar like some people, it may only cost around $2.50 With the average price range of commercial water kefir at $3.99 a bottle you will spend a minimum of $415 a year if you purchase two 16-oz bottles a week or a maximum of $622 a year when purchasing three 16-oz bottles a week. Of course, if you bought one at the store every day, you'd be spending upwards of $875 to $1,456 a year. Calculations do not include the cost of water as that can vary widely from tap to store-bought, though the total would be very small for the 13 gallons needed a year at 4 quarts a week.


• Homemade kefir is one of the easiest ferments to do. You get to choose the type of water (tap, mineral, spring) and simply pour it over the grains, then just add the sugar and fruit, no incubating or other tricky steps. Toss in some of your favorite fruit juice at the end (grape is good!) and bottle it for some more fizz and you've got a dynamite home soda with probiotics in every sip.

• You are able to
choose your own flavoring or other additional supplements to put in. Typically the easiest and most delicious way is to add your favorite fresh or frozen fruit, juice, beverage syrup or tea to it!

• You are able to tweak it to
satisfy your tastes and dietary needs, making it less or more sweet as needed (even after its done - its such a flexible culture to work with). This is great for diabetics or anyone concerned with the sugar content involved. You can have one bottle sweetened with sugar and another plain - each person in your family can create their own custom kefir. You can also choose between different dried fruits (if you don't like raisins, just try apricots or coconut instead!).

• You can even
experiment with other liquids such as grape juice (kefir d'uva) and coconut water which have proven to culture successfully for many people.

• You will have
excess water kefir grains to do whatever you want with - eat (they are good for you - check out our health section for more detail on this) share, dry, give to your pets, etc. Some people have even found medicinal use from taping grains to their feet or blending them into mush to treat foot or nail fungus, etc. Kefir and kefir grains also make excellent additions to any garden compost, or to acidify/lower the ph in your soil. 

• You can
dry the grains and make your own probiotic supplemental powder to fill into capsules for you and your family, sprinkle over your plants and garden as (excellent for composting too), or sprinkle on your food or salad to add probiotic value (has a flavorful mild tang).

• You
can use the liquid as a starter for making bread (like sourdough). It contains the natural yeasts and bacteria needed to raise dough (you can do this with milk kefir, too)!

Learn More About Water Kefir: