Water kefir “grains” are actually not grains at all, but SCOBYs (symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeasts), like tiny kombucha mothers or milk kefir grains. They are a mix of lactobacillus, streptococcus, pediococcus, and leuconostoc bacteria along with yeasts from saccharomyces, candida, and kloeckera held together by a polysaccharide matrix. They feed on sugar from dried fruit to produce lactic acid, alcohol (just a little), and carbon dioxide. When they’re done, you get a refreshingly tart, lightly carbonated, mildly fruit flavored probiotic beverage that kids love!
It’s also fun to experiment with different combinations of dried fruits. So far, apricot, peach, and fig have all worked the best.
You can either obtain water kefir grains from a friend or you can buy them on Amazon or Cultures for Health. The cheapest option is to find someone in your community with grains to share and barter for them.
Water Kefir makes 1 quart
1 T water kefir grains
3 pieces dried fruit (figs, peaches, and apricots or a combination all work very well)
Filtered or spring water
Several drops of trace minerals
- Place kefir grains and fruit in a quart Mason jar.
- Add water to 2 inches from the top of the jar.
- Add several drops of the trace minerals.
- Cap loosely, cover with a towel, and let sit in a warm place (no more than 80 degrees F) for 24 hours. In warmer weather, the ferment will go faster and you’ll have to check on it sooner.
- Taste. It should be very lightly carbonated and pleasantly sour. Let sit longer if you want a more sour beverage, but not too long or it becomes alcoholic and nasty!
- When the kefir is to your liking, remove the fruit and either eat it, feed it to the chickens, or compost it. Decant the water kefir into a clean quart jar, leaving the grains behind in the original jar.
- If you want more carbonation, tightly cap the decanted kefir and let it sit on the counter for another day. Don’t let it sit too long, though, or your jar may explode!
- Start over at step 2!
Note: If you want to take a break from making water kefir, simply place the grains in some fresh water with a couple of pieces of dried fruit in the fridge. They’ll be happy for a couple of weeks or maybe months (I haven’t pushed them that far yet). Water kefir grains are one of the harder SCOBYs to kill.
This post is part of the Probiotic Food Challenge on Real Food Forager!