When you woke up this morning, I bet the first thing you thought was, “I’m so excited about yeasty bacteria!”
Okay. Opposite that.
But excited about yeasty bacteria is what you’re about to become. And then tomorrow morning will be another story.
This is water kefir. This is the yeasty bacteria that’s about to get you all fired up:
Now, don’t fret if you don’t have water kefir grains – or if you haven’t even ever heard of water kefir grains before this moment. At the end, there’s going to be an opportunity for SIX of you to receive them for free – compliments of yours truly and the community share plan (and also a link to a store to buy them, if you’re so inclined).
(I had a bet with myself that I knew you guys so well to know that: 70% of you have heard of kefir before, 40% of you have heard of water kefir, and 1% of you already have kefir grains. Am I right? We’ll never know. But we should just assume I am. Life is easier that way.)
So. Water kefir. Let’s learn.
Water kefir is, in fact, a bacterial yeast culture (that looks like little odd-shaped jelly-pearls) that converts sugar into fructose and imparts incredible probiotic goodness into the water you keep it in.
Think of it as yogurt on steroids that masquerades as carbonated, healthy soda.
You see, water kefir grains – which aren’t actually grain; they’re just called that to confuse you – eat up sugars, in addition to producing dozens of strains of healthy probiotic bacteria. As this happens, it sends gasses into the water, which carbonates it.
I’m happy to report, I’ve completely kicked my soda habit with water kefir. Now, when I stop by the store and think, “Diet Dr Pepper? Sure! I deserve one.” Instead, I think “I have water kefir at home, and it would feel sooo bad if I cheated on it.”
I have several favorite ways to prepare and flavor my water kefir, which I’ll share in a moment, but my current obsession is fermenting it a second time with dried apples. It’s like fresh apple soda with a kick:
Health Benefits of Water Kefir
These aren’t documented fully, but I’ve found several sources that claim water kefir helps with everything from obesity (by helping the intestinal flora stabilize and metabolize foods better) to eczema and psoriasis to ulcers and more.
One thing I can tell you, from my personal experience, is that my digestion is improved beyond measure – and my seasonal fall allergies are almost nil when I drink water kefir on a daily basis. When I forget for a day or two, the difference is overwhelming.
As a whole, though, all the health benefits you expect from yogurt, milk kefir, and kombucha, you can expect from water kefir, as well.
You can even wash your face with it! When I have, the results have been smooth, soft, and glowing. But, I gotta be honest with y’all – it’s so delicious and I go through it so quickly, I can’t bring myself to put it ON my face.
How to Prepare Water Kefir for the First Fermentation
- In a very clean one-quart jar, pour in 1/4 c. sugar (you can use refined, unrefined, rapidura, sucanat – any kind of sugar, but my favorite is 1/8 c. raw organic sugar and 1/8 c. sucanat or rapidura). Just don’t use honey – it will kill the kefir.
- Pour in 1/2 c. very hot water and swish the jar around until the sugar is completely dissolved. (Some sources say don’t use tap water – because of the chlorine – some say not to use filtered water- because it doesn’t contain the minerals kefir loves. I get by with filtered using molasses every once in a while to supplement the minerals.)
- Fill the jar almost all the way to the top with cool to cold water (make sure the resulting sugar water is at least room temperature to cool to the touch).
- Add in your kefir grains (about 3 Tbsp kefir grains work well with this recipe, and is standard in kefir starter kits)
- Place a coffee filter over the top of the jar and let it sit and ferment for 24-48 hours.
- Strain the kefir grains from the kefir water and start the process all over again for a brand new batch of kefir.