I was curious about how to make water kefir but first I had to tackle how to grow water kefir grains. Did you know you can ferment water? It’s mind blowing, I know! My fermenting adventures have taken me from raw sauerkraut to kombucha (post coming soon) and now to water kefir. To make water kefir you need grains. Gasp, not those grains silly…water kefir grains not to be confused with kefir grains that are white in appearance and used with dairy kefir experiments.
Where Do I Get Water Kefir Grains?
I used Google to find my supplier. Many people have too many grains and would be happy to give them to you for free. Find free water kefir grains on sites like Kijiji and fermenting groups on Facebook. You can purchase water kefir grains on Amazon; here is a supplier: water kefir grain supplier. I found a local supplier in Toronto who charges $10 for their grains and that price includes shipping and directions. My grains arrived in an envelope sealed in a Ziploc bag. I needed at least ½ cup of grains before I could attempt to make anything. My first task was growing these babies.
How to Grow Water Kefir Grains
The process is rather simple. Much simpler and faster than growing a scoby (which took me 6 weeks! – grrr Canadian weather). You take the grains which look like clear stones with the texture of a gummy bear (fyi – they don’t taste like gummy bears….I was curious….don’t judge me), put the water kefir grains in a glass jar (never ferment in plastic) that is large enough to hold 2 cups of liquid, wider is better than taller. Pour 2 cups of room temperature water in the jar and add 2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar (get organic cane sugar here). You can try other sugars too but NEVER use raw honey. The amazing proprieties of raw honey will kill your precious water kefir grains. Add minerals to the mixture by adding a pinch of baking soda and my instructions also recommend adding a part of an egg shell for an extra boost in minerals – it wasn’t necessary. Stir the mixture, add a breathable cover (think cloth, paper towel etc.) to keep out the bugs and dust. Wait…
Wait 4 days, stirring the mixture each day. My grains grew from 3 tablespoons to ½ cup in one week. I tried making a full batch of water kefir and it didn’t ferment. I figured I needed more grains. I’m working on growing more and then attempting again.
How Do I Know My Water Kefir Grains are Fermenting?
If you have any experience fermenting stuff you know to check for air bubbles. I also notice “that fermenting smell“. As you are growing your grains look for bubbles after a day of fermenting. Do you see those bubbles at the top of the jar? Sorry my picture is out of focus – I was still trying to learn how to use my new camera. There are lots of books that can help a beginner with fermenting like these books.
How Do You Continue to Grow Water Kefir Grains?
After 4 days, repeat the process. You can dump all of the kefir water or reserve some (like a cup of liquid) and add the liquid to your new batch. So 1 cup of the previous batch’s liquid + 1 cup of water + 2 tablespoons of sugar + pinch of baking soda+all your grains in the same jar (don’t wash the jar). Keep repeating the 4 day process until you have enough grains to make a batch of water kefir to drink – which uses a different recipe. My water kefir supplier recommended having 1/2 – 1.5 cups of grains before attempting to make a batch.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Do not use a sugar substitute instead of sugar. The grains feed on the sugar. Use a sugar that is minimally processed like organic cane sugar.
- If your water is not “pure” aka there is bleach and other chemicals in your water. Boil your water with the lid off and then add the cooled to room temperature water to the water kefir grains.
- When you figure out how to do things you can experiment with different flavours and second ferments to get the fizziness in your drink. I’ll post more on that as I experiment with water kefir.
I found this book very helpful for learning how to ferment various foods. Real Food Fermentation (found here on Amazon) focuses on a beginners guide to fermenting vegetables, fruits, drinks and meat. If you want to learn more about how to ferment foods you should look into Nourished Kitchen’s course, Get Cultured. Click here for more information.