Do You Miss Cherry Limeades?
Or are you looking for a healthy alternative to soft drinks for your kids? Homemade soda pop to the rescue! Not only is it delicious, water kefir is rich in beneficial bacteria that support digestion and healthy immune function.
The best part? It only takes about five-minutes of hands-on time to make, and kids love it.
How To Make Water Kefir (Video Tutorial)
- ¼ - ⅓ cup rapadura/sucanat or organic white sugar - avoid honey because it does not have the right composition of sugars to feed the kefir grains (where to buy rapadura, where to buy organic cane sugar)
- 3 cups purified water - no fluoride or chlorine - these will kill the grains. I've had success with water from a Berkey filter, spring water and reverse osmosis water with minerals added back in
- 2-3 tablespoons kefir grains (Where to buy kefir grains)
- 1 squirt Concentrace minerals or unsulphured blackstracp molasses - optional. Water kefir tends to do better in mineral rich water. Both of these are good sources of minerals, but I'm not a fan of the flavor of molasses in my kefir. (where to buy Concentrace minerals, where to buy blackstrap molasses)
- A few slices of ginger - I've found this makes my kefir extra fizzy for some reason
- ½ lime and fresh mint - so refreshing!
- 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract for a creamy soda experience
- Dried fruits like mango or pineapple - make sure they aren't preserved with sulphur
- You can find recipes for cherry limeade, mango colada, blackberry lavender and more here
- Dissolve Sugar In A Small Amount Of Hot Water
Add ⅓ cup sucanat/sucanat to a quart-sized mason jar. Place ⅔ cup of water in a pan and heat until warm enough to dissolve the sucanat/sugar, then pour the water in the jar and stir until fully dissolved. (Or if you prefer, add the sugar to the pan and dissolve before transferring to the jar.)
Add the remaining 2⅓ cup water. Make sure the water is cooled to room temp before continuing to the next step.
- Strain Kefir Grains
Whether your gathering your grains from a previous batch (as shown in the photo above) or using new grains recently hydrated in sugar water (instructions will be included when you order from the source above), you're going to need to strain them. My favorite method is to place my mesh strainer over a measuring cup and pour. As the cup fills I pour it into swing top bottles for the second fermentation, which I'll cover later in this tutorial. Make sure to use a plastic mesh strainer as metal can harm the kefir grains.
Here's what they look like up close:
- Add Grains To Your Sugar Water Mixture
Boy do these things love converting sugar into probiotic goodness! Pictured on the right is a brand new batch of kefir that hasn't fermented yet. On the left is a finished batch - the color tends to lighten when they've done their magic.
Cover your new batch with a cloth secured by a rubber band. Place in a warm area of your kitchen (away from direct sunlight) and allow to ferment for 24-48 hours.
After one or two days, strain your kefir. Drink it right away, place in the fridge for later, or go on to add flavoring or ferment a second time to create a bubbly, soda-like fizz. Details below!
- Optional Step: Add Flavorings To Water Kefir
If desired, now is the time to make your soda a cherry limeade, cream soda, mango colada, etc. You can add the flavorings to your finished (single ferment) kefir and let them infuse in the fridge, or add them and ferment for a second time to create carbonated, bubbly goodness. See above in the ingredient section for a link to flavoring ideas.
- Optional Step: Ferment A Second Time For Extra Fizziness
In order for your water kefir to become carbonated you need to place it in tightly sealed bottles. As the beneficial bacteria and yeasts continue to consume the sugar they release gases which carbonate the drink. As a side benefit, this kind of carbonation benefits digestion!
I let mine sit for 1-3 days, depending on the temperature of my kitchen. Personally, I like to allow most of the sugar to be converted before serving, but you can pour a glass whenever the flavor develops to your preference!
Make sure to check on your bottles often while you’re getting a feel for how quickly the fermentation process goes in your environment, because if the pressure builds up you may end up spraying fizz all over yourself and your kitchen. Not that I would know that from personal experience or anything.
Also, it is possible to ferment with freshly pressed juices, but they yield a higher alcohol content than regular kefir, which contains a tiny amount. Please use caution when serving them to children, perhaps by fermenting them for a shorter amount of time. Also, second ferments are not recommended with juice kefir – pressure may build up very quickly, causing the bottle to burst.