Making Water Kefir

Rehydrated Water Kefir Grains

Water Kefir Grains Delivered Anywhere in Canada and The United States

(and instructions on how to make water kefir below,,,)

If you live in Canada and wish to order water kefir grains, you may choose between regular grains and dehydrated grains. Either option will allow you to brew your own healthful, delicious, probiotic water kefir. The difference is that dehydrated grains take a couple of brews to become fully reconstituted (rehydrated). The regular grains are fully hydrated, and will arrive wet. You must begin brewing your grains as soon as you can after they arrive as they are hungry after the long trip. 

If you can not begin brewing your water kefir immediately when you receive your grains and you ordered hydrated grains, then set them in the refrigerator where they should be safe for another day or two.

I prefer to ship dehydrated grains. They are not going to be affected by swings in temperature that can happen with our Canadian climate. However, if you prefer live grains I will certainly send them to you.

Water Kefir grains grow, and you can use grains from each batch to make the next batch, so you only ever have to buy them once. Properly cared for, they will serve you for life!  

Rehydrated Water Kefir Grains
Rehydrated Water Kefir Grains

Instructions for Making Water Kefir

The following instructions are for wet grains. With only slight modification, dehydrated grains are handled in much the same way.

Making Water Kefir is so easy. In fact, of all the recipes I use in my healthy kitchen, this probiotic drink is by far the easiest! 

First you need to order your Water Kefir grains

While you are waiting for your grains to arrive, make sure you have all of the equipment and ingredients that you need to begin immediately when your grains arrive. The equipment and ingredients I use to make a basic water kefir are as follows:

Equipment:

  • 1 Quart (4 cup) mason jars
  • small plastic mesh strainer
  • coffee filter or paper towels
  • elastic band
  • Ingredients:

  • 1/4 C Sugar
  • 1 tsp Black Strap Molasses (not procesed or fancy!!)
  • 3C water (well water or spring water) I use well water or Nestle Pur Life bottled water. 
  • squirt of minerals (if water is filtered)
  • slice of lemon (peeled if not organic)
  • 1 apricot (unsulphured, organic) can use raisins, figs etc (UNSULPHURED is important. Sulphur from dried fruit will kill your grains.) NOTE: Updated to say I can no longer recommend figs. Too many people have their kefir go unbalanced and syrupy after using figs. I think the preservative must not always be listed on the label- so NO more figs for me!)
  • 3TBSP water kefir grains (approx 1TBSP per C/water)

A NOTE ABOUT WATER: If you are using bottled water you absolutely must read the ingredients on the back label. Just because it is called "Spring Water", that does not mean nothing has been added. Natural spring water will have minerals, and may have a slight amount of naturally occurring fluoride. It should not have any chlorine. 

Do NOT use ozonated water. Ozone is added to kill bacteria. See here for reference.

Do NOT use alkaline water (kangen water etc). We add lemon or lime to give the water a slight acidic edge. The act of fermentation increases the acidity of the brew. An alkaline environment will encourage an imbalance of bacterial growth and you could end up with some nasty bacterial contamination! 

Method:

Add ingredients to mason jar. Cover with coffee filter or paper towel secured by an elastic. Set in cupboard 24-48 hours. (I always let mine go 48 hours) If you see little bubbles rising, it is working. The first one could take a little longer (or you may have to make 2 or 3 batches to get your best kefir water) as the grains will sometimes be a little sluggish from being in the fridge. 

After 24-48 hours (48 hours for me), strain off the liquid to drink as is, OR put the strained liquid into another bottle or jar sealed tight and let ferment another 24 hours or so. You can add juice, ginger, berries etc for the second ferment to create different flavors. Will get slightly fizzy.

Then refrigerate for up to several months, or drink immediately.

Use your strained grains to start the process again.

Please also see Water Kefir Instructions in Pictures using live grains.

Tips:

(NOTE: You can experiment with any kind of white or brown sugars, or juices etc. These are what I prefer. If you do decide to experiment, always have some backup grains in case you need them)

If your grains are dehydrated, the process is the same, but discard the first ferment. May take up to a week to fully hydrate the grains.

Water kefir grains will often double in size each week or so. If yours are not, they may still be making wonderful kefir, but something could be perfected. 

Do not use water that is chlorinated or fluoridated (Britta filter works… or buy spring water) 

Do not use honey in place of sugar. Honey is a natural antibiotic and could damage grains.

The finished product smells slightly yeasty or beery. If it smells like vinegar or otherwise off, your grains need some rehab. Don't drink kefir water that smells rancid or too sour. 

Water Kefir gets very fizzy. A build up of gases could cause botle explosion. If you are going to keep water kefir longer than a few days, store in bottles designed for brewing. Open your bottles over a sink in case the liquid fizzes up and out of the bottle when opening. 

If you ordered live kefir grains and they arrive frozen in the winter, simply allow them to defrost at room temperature, and then follow instructions. 🙂

How Do You Know Kefir Grains Are Working?

First time brewers of water kefir often are worried that their brew is not going to work. During your first, and subsequent brews there are several indications that things are progressing as they should:

  1. Tiny bubbles are rising from the grains and/or gathering next to the glass on top of the liquid- The fermenting process releases carbon dioxide. Some of the grains may float and sink for the same reason. This is a good sign that things are going well. 
  2. The color is lightening- The grains consume the sugars in the brew. If you have used brown sugar and/or molasses the dark color will begin to lighten.
  3. It develops a pleasant yeasty odor- Kefir water smells fresh ands lightly yeasty or beery with some fruity notes. It should never smell rancid or "off" in any way.
  4. It is not as sweet- because the grains are eating the sugar, the brew should begin to taste less sweet and becoming more acidic.
  5. The grains are growing

The following video is NOT mine. It does give a good general overview of how to make water kefir.

46 thoughts on “Making Water Kefir”

  1. Hello there Kefir nurse. Thank you for this detailed article. I am a newbie to Kefir. With 2very young children, I’m determined to give them a great gut start. I hope you can help me. Just today, I used Nestle Pure Life bottled with my water kefir based on your recommendation. I also added a slice of peeled lemon. I was re-reading your instructions only to see that I should not have used ozonated water. The Nestle pure life I bought from Sobeys is ozonated! Are my water kefir grains dead now 🙁 thank you in advance

    1. Hello Ola Kefir grains are pretty resillient. If the nestle purlife is now ozonated (it wasn’t when I wrote the article) just switch your grains to different water as soon as possible. 🙂

      Kefir Nurse

      1. Thank you very much Kefir nurse for taking the time to respond. Please will Brita-filtered tap water be good enough or should I buy bottled mineral water from the shop? Thank you again

        1. Hi Ola I have heard of people using Brita water with success. But Brita says on their own website that their filter can’t remove all of the chlorine. So I guess it is a judgement call. I might buy some water until my grains grow, and then split them and do a test with the Brita. That way you have a backup of grains if something goes wrong. 

          Kefir Nurse

  2. Hi I am thinking of getting the water kefir but I need to know how it affects diabetes I am type 2 but I do take insulin, thanks for your help with this.

    Shane

    1. Hi Shane I’ve written a couple of articles on diabetes and kefir. Here is one http://waterkefir.ca/increase-fermented-dairy-product-intake-slashes-diabetes-risk/ The studies I have read have been done on milk kefir. Water kefir is made with sugar. at the end of a 2 day fermentation, 80% of the sugar is consumed by the growing bacteria, but that still leaves some sugar. If I were diabetic I would make sure and take it after a low carbohydrate meal, to slow the sugar’s entry to the bloodstream, or try milk kefir instead.

      Kefir Nurse

  3. Can one use the raisins after the process is complete? e.g. in baking – I was going to put them in my sourdough hot cross buns but wasn’t sure if any nutritional goodness left. Jst seems a pity to throw them out…

  4. If I only have limes, do I use only one slice as per the recipe above? Also my water kefir never seems to taste great plain, I always have to mix it with juice or yogurt. The first time I tasted plain water kefir, it was kind of like apple soda. It had no flavorings and I am using the same type of sugar.
    For a second ferment should I add more sugar? Mine kefir always tastes quite sour.

    1. Hi Renee Yes lemons and limes are interchangeable. For the second ferment, I don’t add more sugar (you can if you like more though), but it is possible that you actually need to add more water or less grains for the first ferment, if it is too sour! 

      Kefir Nurse

    1. Milk kefir grains live on lactose (milk sugar) while water kefir grains live on sucrose (table or fruit sugar). The two are not interchangable. Having said that, you may be able to get a fermentation once in sugar/water but they would have to go right back in milk. Truthfully I would not risk it. Buying water kefir grains is a small investment considering you only have to but them once and they live forever! 

      Kefir Nurse

  5. I have milk kefir and now I also have water kefir what do i do with the water kefir grains if say I don’t want to make it for awhile say a month or so?

    1. Hi Emanuela Thanks for the email. You could put your water kefir in a jar with just enough water to cover and 2 spoons of white sugar. Then cover tightly and place in the refrigerator. They will be fine lying dormant until you are ready to begin again. This is a short term storage for 3 month max.

      Kefir Nurse

  6. Just wanted to tell you I bought some water kefir grains from you in April and with your perfect instructions I have had great success! Thanks!! 😎

  7. Dear kefir nurse, I have started rehydrating my grains….. I changed the liquid ( recipe as per your card) every 3 days. What do I do next??? do I keep growing them this way??? Do you eat the grains or drink the water??? Do I always have to have the same recipe brew to continue growing??? Sorry for all the questions I’m very new to this

    1. Hi Mary Hey No worries about questions! That’s why I started this site! Just go to the recipe for making kefir with live grains. Once they are rehydrated they are “live”. You should find the answers to your questions there. Also search the blog. There is lots of info on the kinds of info you are looking for.

      Kefir Nurse. 

  8. My house is too cold; even with the temp outside at 25C (77F) and the A/C off, it’s only 15C (60F) inside. I think this is why my first batch has done nothing in over 48 hours. I have two questions. 1) Is it ok to put my jar outside in a warm spot wrapped in a towel to avoid direct sunlight? 2) once I put it outside, can I just start the clock again with this batch or should I mix up a new batch first and then put that outside? Thanks!

    1. Hi Heather Kefir will even work in the refrigerator. It just takes longer. There is no need to put it outside. Just change the sugar/water solution every 2 or 3 days instead of 24 hours. It is normal for it not to do anything in 24 -48 hours. Your grains could take a week to 10 days to get used to your water/recipe/environment. You can try it outside too I guess. I’ve never done it that way but as long as it is protected from sunlight and covered from bugs and pathogens I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Let us know! 🙂

       

      kefir Nurse

      1. The outdoor experiment was a success! After two days in my chilly house, I put it outside for another day wrapped in a towel. Then I strained out the grains and added one part grape juice for three parts kefir and left it (sealed and wrapped in the towel) for another 48 hours. Tastes great and is nice and fizzy. http://instagram.com/p/pEJjwzuy5b/

        1. Heather That’s fantastic! I am so glad it worked out for you, and now I have new knowledge to share too! Thank you so much!

          Kefir Nurse

  9. Hi is there anything I can use in place of sugar..I am on a anti-candida diet and would like an alternative. Also do we have to use Black molasses? Many thanks.

    1. Hi Jen Thanks for your questions. There is no alternative to sugar for water kefir. The kefir grains work by fermenting sugar. The good news is that after a 24hour ferment only 20-30% of the sugar is even left. The bacteria in Kefir (both water kefir and milk kefir) help control Candida Albicans which is the particular candida strain that causes problems in most of us when it get’s out of control. You may want to read http://waterkefir.ca/can-kefir-help-candida-albicans-overgrowth/ 

      As far as molasses, Blackstrap mollasses is mineral rich. If you are using it, then that is the only kind to use. If you do not wish to use it, use an alternative form of mineral replacement as I have mentioned. 

      Kefir Nurse

  10. Hi, I got the water Kefir that you mailed for me today! 😀
    Your cute little card with all the instructions helped me out a lot when I was hurriedly preparing them in the jar. ^.^
    Thank you so much for mailing it to me in such a nice condition.
    Have a wonderful day~~

    1. Aw I am so happy they arrived and glad you found the instructions helpful. It is much harder to carry the computer into the kitchen! hehe Let me know how you love your kefir! 

      Blessings,

      Kefir Nurse

  11. Hi, I just ordered water kefir grains and I want to make sure that I have the right type of water before they arrive. What about the water that comes in the big blue refillable bottles? The machine that we use to refill our bottles calls it ‘reverse osmosis’. We live on a farm and have well water, but I can’t stand the taste of it, so I’m worried that I won’t like the taste of the water kefir if made with it.

    1. Hi Brianne You can use reverse osmosis water. I would get the Concentrace minerals though, and not rely on molasses to add back mineral, as reverse osmosis water is stripped. Additionally some reverse osmosis filters do not remove chlorine. If the chlorine remains in your water, you need to boil it. Generally speaking, if you can not smell the chlorine then your grains will “probably” be fine but I can not guarantee it. 🙂

      1. I received my grains (not dehydrated) and they’ve been through three 48 hour ferments so far but they don’t seem to be doing anything to the water. I picked up bottled water from three different locations and chose the one that had no smell to the water at all. I’ve been adding 10 organic raisins, 1/4 cup organic cane sugar, a small slice of organic lemon, and mineral drops. I didn’t find any unsulphured blackstrap molasses so I haven’t been adding it, I have to wait until my next trip to the city to buy it. I tried adding 2 cups of water to the last batch instead of 3 to see if maybe they couldn’t ferment that much and I tried boiling it first, but it didn’t change anything. The water stays the same color and it just tastes like very sweet, slightly lemony water. No bubbles when I move the jar. I don’t close it tightly, I cover it with a coffee filter and elastic. I’m not sure what else to try changing? Do the grains take a while to get going?

        1. Hi Brianne Glad you got your kefir grains safe and sound! Here are some generic tips since I am not right there…. make sure the water is not too warm. Room temp is best. Are you leaving them out on the counter to ferment? Or putting them in the fridge? Don’t trust your nose for the water… read the label. I have used Nestle Pur bottled water in the past so I know that it is good. when all else fails go to that, since we know it works. Make sure you are not using reactive metals. Sometimes the strainer can be the issue… people think they have stainless when in fact it could be tin or aluminum. Check the ingredients on the raisins. If there is any other ingredient besides raisins, stop using them. (often there is sunflower oil added, or a preservative). You won’t find unsulphured black strap mollases. The sulphur is not the problem as in dried fruit. Dried fruit issue is actually sulphates or sulphites (preservatives which kill bacteria) not sulphur. Mineral drops… only a few drops (3 or so)… too many minerals can be a problem too. 

          You say the brew after 24 hours is sweet, slightly lemony… what does it smell like? 

          That’s all for now… I will wait to hear back

          Kefir Nurse

          oh and the grains CAN take a while to get going but the live grains usually only take a couple of brews,. I would have expected them to be working now for sure.

          1. Hi, Even after 48 hours it tastes sweet and slightly lemony. It smells like lemon. I saw a few bubbles come up when I disturbed the jar, but it has no fizzy or fermented taste at all. I have been making kombucha for a long time, so I use only plastic spoons and everything is cleaned well. I have only plastic strainers. I’m using cold water. I boiled it and left it covered overnight. I leave the water kefir on my counter covered with a coffee filter and elastic. The raisins do have oil in the ingredient list so I didn’t put any in this time. They are the only organic raisins sold in my town, so I won’t be able to get different ones immediately. I was using five drops of the minerals, this time I put in three. I will pick up that brand of water and switch them into it.

          2. Dear kefir nurse,
            Just to let others know I found unsulphured blackstrap molasses at the local Bulk Barn

          3. That’s wonderful MAry! Thanks for letting me know! I get my molasses at bulk barn too! 

            Kefir Nurse

  12. Hi, I just did my first batch of water kefir and I have a couple of questions. My grains aren’t in clumps like the pictures show, they’re like a pulpy mush. I used unsulphered blackstrap molasses in mine (and by the way, your ingredients list above makes it sound like we should have both minerals and molasses; whereas in your answer to Mary Jane you specify molasses OR liquid minerals OR egg shell) but my initial water mixture looks much much darker than your example. (should I use less than a tsp of molasses?) My finished product on this first batch has a very nice fresh taste if you can get by the strong taste of molasses.

    1. Hi Heidi Thanks for your email. I do indeed use a teaspoon of molasses and a few drops of minerals. The grains love minerals. Some people want to cut costs, or not buy both things so there are other options. The best thing to do is follow the recipe until you have extras and then set aside some as a backup and experiment with the extra. You will have LOTS of extra in a weeks time! :- )   

      I don’t know what “pulpy mush” looks like, but when I pack them I have to squish them flat so they will ship in the padded envelopes. If your brew tastes fresh then they are fine. The one thing I find myself urging people again is to have patience with the grains, and see how they look in a few days to a week. They’s just made a stressful trip, and need time to adjust to a new environment. 

      Let me know how you are making out in a few days! 

      Thanks again,

      Kefir Nurse

    1. Hi Olivia Thank you for your question. Both are recommended for best results. The lemon is more important than the dried fruit. Kefir needs to reach a certain acidity. This is how it suppresses nasty bacteria and fungii while encouraging helper species. Adding the slice of lemon, or other citrus piece gives it a wee boost. For safety I recommend it, although it might be fine without if you are willing to take the chance. The dried fruit aids in the fermentation and lots of people make water kefir without it! 🙂 

      The recipe I put on the site is the one the grains you receive have been thriving in so I always recommend you follow it until your grains grow enough to have a “back up” then use the excess grains and experiment to your heart’s content. That’s how I learned too! :-/) That way you don’t need to buy more if something doesn’t work out! 

    1. Hi Mary Jane I am very excited for you! :- )  Products are sent by mail and can take a week to ten days to get to you (although most packages arrive in 4-5 business days).

      Kefir Nurse

    1. Hello Mary Jane Thanks for your question. You can use purified water but will probably need to add back minerals. Do this by using Black Strap molasses (1 teaspoon per 3 cups water), or a piece of clean egg shell (approx 1/4 small egg shell), or liquid minerals such as Concentrace. 

      Do not use alkaline water. The kefir needs to get to an acidic state fairly quickly to suppress bad bacteria. This is why we add a piece of lemon or lime. 

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