Video: Homemade Kefir Soda

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist May 6, 2010

A few weeks ago, I video blogged about how to make homemade milk kefir.     Today’s videoblog shows you how to make delicious, bubbly water kefir sodas!    Water kefir grains look different and grow much faster than milk kefir grains.    You should be able to procure some within your local community by asking around amongst your health conscious friends or at the healthfood store and farmers markets.  If you still cannot find any locally, you can order some from Cultures for Health.

Water kefir grains produce many beneficial strains of bacteria and yeasts that aggressively recolonize the gut by destroying pathogenic strains that may have gained dominance over the years through the use of antibiotics, other drugs, and a diet of processed foods.   To make, add 1/4 cup water kefir grains to 1 quart of filtered water mixed with 1/4 cup of sucanat, rapadura, or maple sugar.    Leave on the counter for 48 hours minimum.    Taste after 48 hours and if it is too sweet, leave for another 24 hours.   Repeat for up to 5 days until the a fermented, apple cider type flavor with minimal sweetness has been achieved.  You may now strain out and refrigerate the liquid (no metal please), clean the mason jar, and repeat the process for a new batch of water kefir.   You will have approximately double the kefir grains as they grow rapidly with each batch.  You can give them away, eat them as a live probiotic, or make a larger batch.
To add variety, you may also reduce the sugar to 1/8 cup, reduce the water to 3 cups, and add 1 cup of fresh fruit juice.  Juice from the store is almost always pasteurized and as such, is not recommended as it significantly increases the risk of mold.   Fresh juice has minimal mold issues when fermented and is much more nutritious, and is therefore best to use.    If using fresh lemon or lime juice, keep the sugar at 1/4 cup and only use 1/2 cup fresh juice.
After fermenting, you may bottle the liquid to achieve soda pop carbonation if desired.   See the video for the types of bottles I use.    Only fill the bottles to the bottom of the neck and leave on the counter for 24-48 hours.    Chill well and open slowly over the sink as the level of carbonation is quite surprising!    To store your culture, place up to 1/2 cup water kefir grains in 1 quart of filtered water mixed with 1/4 cup sucanat, rapadura, or maple sugar and refrigerate until you are ready to use again.
Please comment with any unique recipes you have developed yourself and any questions you may have.

What a treat with summer just around the corner!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

 

Comments (77)

  1. Hi Sarah!
    Thanks for this video. Finally! I always wondered what water kefir was all about! I have three questions. Have you even made it in larger amounts? One little jar won't go far in my house : ) Can you bottle it in regular canning jars with screw tops when you extend the brew time? What happens to the sugar? Is it used up?

    Reply
  2. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist May 7, 2010 at 1:11 am

    Hi Holly, yes – I usually make water kefir by the half gallon so just increase the amounts accordingly to match the size batch you desire to make. I am not sure if canning jars would work for carbonating the fermented water kefir. Give it a try and post back if it works. The sugar is fermented and used up by the culture just like with kombucha and other fermented beverages.

    Reply
  3. Holly, I make enough for 9 people everyday and what I do is I make 3 batches each consisting of 1/2 cup water kefir grains, 1/2 cup organic sugar, 1 tsp unsulfered black strap molasses and 1/8 tsp of Bobs Red Mill baking soda. My grains grow so fast that I have a whole nursery of them in the fridge. My kids and I love water kefir, really cold especially on a hot day after a long day of work in the garden.

    Reply
  4. Hey Sarah,
    I tripled your recipe and after about 19 hours, there is no sweetness at all and the kefir is very brown and cloudy, almost no fizz and bland in flavor. The grain reproduced A LOT.

    I used rapadura for the sugar.

    Any advice?
    Thanks
    Rick

    Reply
  5. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist May 8, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Hi Rick, I have a couple ideas for you. First of all, where did you get the grains? Perhaps they were a bit weak to start with if they hadn't been used in awhile. The water kefir does not produce much effervescence which is why I show you how to bottle it if you like more. The color doesn't change much as you can see on the video, so brown and cloudy is not a problem unless the color did not change at all which can indicate weak grains. You may wish to try it with some fruit juice, vanilla or some of the other variations to produce more flavor.

    Reply
  6. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist May 12, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    The grains and water can be right out of the refrigerator or room temperature. If you start the batch with cold water, it will take a few hours or even a day longer for the fermentation to take place.

    Reply
  7. I love your video. Thanks for sharing. I really want to try this. Wondering if any one has tried to make rootbeer?

    Reply
  8. I was so excited to finally use my kefir grains dormant in the fridge since I bought them on ebay and had one failed attempt…well I had high hopes this time….BUT I messed up again. I tasted after 2 days. It tasted a little like beer. So I let it go longer….it kept tasting like beer…and now I am at day 7 and dumped the beer…more sour smelling now. Did I miss the window of opportunity?

    -
    Jennifer

    Reply
  9. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist May 23, 2010 at 1:35 am

    Hi Jennifer, 7 days is too long. 2 or 3 days is usually sufficient. If you don't like the taste of the kefir water on its own, try some of the variations I mention in the blog. You might like the one with fruit juice. Try also bottling it to add fizziness.

    Reply
  10. Hi Sarah,
    Will using a small amount of pasteurized juice work, adding it after bottling to flavor while sitting it out room temp. for the carbonation process?

    Reply
  11. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist May 24, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Hi Joyce, a bit of pasteurized juice may be ok, just know that your risk of mold goes up when you do not use fresh juice.

    Reply
  12. Sarah, I have a question. I made the water kefir and it came out just as you said. I added vanilla powder to it so it would be like cream soda and bottled it. I left it on the counter for two days and tested it but it was not more bubbly. I left it another day and although delicious to the taste, does not have the effervescence that you described. How can I get it to get more bubbly? I keep my house at 77 degrees during the day and 75 at night. I leave my bottled Kombucha soda on the counter for a week. Do you think I need to leave the water kefir soda that long too?
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Reply
  13. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist May 25, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Dorsey, what kind of bottle did you use? If you don't use a bottle like I showed on the video, it probably won't work.

    Reply
  14. I used the brown beer bottles with the caps like you did after you showed the one with the hinge top.

    As to Rick's problem higher up on the comments…….I recently read somewhere that Rapadura is not the best choice. The person recommended sucanat. It was something in the rapadura that can possibly hinder the proper fermentation, I think. I can't remember exactly as I usually use Sucanat so didn't let it sink in I guess. Have you heard this before? Maybe that was his problem?

    Reply
  15. Stephanie B. Cornais August 11, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    My friend gave me a bottle of her keifer water and I didn't like the taste ( I am used to bottled kombucha from our co-op that is fruit flavored) so I added some organic pomegranate juice to it. Is there a reason not to flavor it after its been made and bottled?

    Reply
  16. Sarah, we were making lots of wter kefir – my husband was thrilled with the healthy alternative to soda! However, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (weight-related) which is now pretty well under control (he's finally "on board" with what I've been doing, lots of healthy fats and proteins, lower carbs) – however, everything I find online indicates that water kefir is not okay for diabetics. What say you?

    Reply
  17. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist August 18, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Cindy, the sugar is fermented away, so water kefir properly made should be absolutely fine especially since he has his diabetes under control by eating lower carbs in general. Just be sure not to overdo. Anything consumed to excess can be a problem even if a healthy drink like water kefir.

    Reply
  18. gearedtowardssuccess September 17, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    This is so nice! I have been wanting to make my own fermented soda for awhile now. Thanks for clearing everything up! :) Since fall is just around the corner, I wonder if there is a way to make a fermented apple cidery type drink.

    Reply
  19. I have been making water kefir for a while, but did it a little differently. I add dried unsulphered fruit and an organic lemon wedge to the mix. then ferment as you do. A slight fruity flavor remains. I love the stuff!! Thanks for posting!

    Reply
  20. I watched this video when you first put it out and just got my grains from cultures for health (they were dried). I am on my second try and it just tastes like sugar water. I am only at 24 hours for this batch, so I am going to let it go another 24 and then taste it. Do you think the grains just need to "wake up"? How long/how many tries does that usually take?

    Bethany

    Reply
  21. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist October 6, 2010 at 2:59 am

    Yes, dehydrated grains take a few small batches to get going from what I understand. I have not personally worked with dehydrated grains before, but have been told this by those who have. I would contact Cultures for Health with your questions since you purchased the culture from there.

    Reply
  22. Is water kefir appropriate to drink on GAPS? I'm assuming that, like kombucha, all of the sugar is consumed if it brews long enough. I've had some water kefir grains in the fridge for probably 2 years that a friend gave me. I'll see if they still work!

    Reply
  23. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist October 18, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Hi Sarah, we drank it on GAPS, but it may not work for everyone if they have severe autoimmune issues. I doubt those grains are still active, though. I would get some fresh ones.

    Reply
  24. I started making water kefir several weeks ago, just love the stuff. I don't mess with the recipe by adding juice or vanilla just to be safe. After it ferments for 48hours I pour off and add fresh lemon or lime juice or 1 vanilla bean. I am up to making 1 gallon at a time.

    Reply
  25. I started the water kefir as a healthy alternative to milk kefir with pasteurized & homogenized milk. I need to do a bit more research on the sugars however, is turbinado sugar a good choice? Also if one has refrigerated the kefir is it ok to put it back on the counter for more carbonation?

    Reply
  26. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist November 12, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Turbinado sugar is not as processed as white sugar but sucanat or rapadura would be a more whole food based choice. Yes – you can take the kefir back to the counter for a little more fermentation once refrigerated if desired.

    Reply
  27. Is water kefir like the kombucha in that you need to start drinking a little at a time, so when your family or friends come over and you offer them a soda alternative they don’t get sick from it if they drink more than, say, 4 to 6 ounces?

    Reply
  28. Hi Sarah!
    I have a question, is it safe to drink kefir soda while I am nursing a 4 month old?. I have never drink it before, I am new to the weston price diet, however, my older son is autistic and I know he could benefit from it, especially coconut kefir, I just need to know if it is okay for me to drink it as well. I hve looked on the internet and have found some say yes, some say no, so I am very confused.
    Thanks,

    Reply
  29. I use canning jars for my kefir water and it works great for me. They don’t close quite tight enough and around the second day you can hear air escaping but it is still really fizzy. I use rapdura and it make my grains quadruple in size with each batch. I cant find enough people to give them away to!! My favorite 2 so far have been adding blueberries after the first fermentation or adding some apple juice (not pasteurized or concentrated) to the first fermentation.

    Reply
  30. Hi Sarah, Love what you do. Excellent work.

    I made some kefir water but it comes out very thick and gelatinous. Almost like a maple syrup consistency and jello-y. Shouldn’t be thinner? I think I am putting too much sugar in? It has a slight sugary taste to it. I just got the grains and I don’t have too many of them. What is the proper ratio of grains-to-sugar so you have the right balance? In your video, I think its a 1:1 ratio of grains to sugar? What should I do with the thick kefir? Do I keep it on the shelf to ferment longer? Do I thin it out with more water? Do I start over?

    Thanks for all your help, Frustrated on fermentation.

    Reply
  31. Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for your wonderful blog and videos, I have been learning so much. I just got my first water kefir grains and am fermenting my first batch now, per your video. My question is – can you drink it without bottling it? I mean, after the initial 48 hours, just strain, refrigerate and drink? I don’t have access to the types of bottles stated, and don’t actually care for all the fizz anyway :) Also, as per questioned above, how much is safe to drink the first time around? THANK YOU!
    God Bless.
    Shellie
    Shellie\’s last post: Time

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Shellie, absolutely you can drink it without bottling it! In fact, this is how my family drinks it most of the time! If you put the finished kefir water in the fridge and leave it for a week or two, the flavor improves into a beautiful apple cider type of flavor. Fantastic! We then drink it with a bit of seltzer water and it is nice and bubbly. When you first starting drinking, it just start with a couple of ounces and see how it goes, increasing slowly as you observe how you feel using it.

      Reply
  32. I started making Kombucha about 3 weeks ago after viewing your video, my husband and I love it as well as a visiting relative who took the information and a culture back home with her to make it herself. I wanted you to know how much I appreciate the effort you put out to help those looking for a healthier way to eat and the videos are really great! I am trying to make the water kefir presently. It has been on the kitchen counter for about 24 hours and I am wondering if I will see the kefir grains multiplying in the jar, there doesn’t seem to be much activity yet, or will they grow more as time passes? Also will they grow on the bottom of the jar or float at the top. I do see a couple of grains floating at the top. Thank you so much for the information you provide.

    Reply
  33. I used white sugar for my first brew. Will it be ruined? Why not white sugar as in the way kombucha is made? Thanks so much!

    Reply
  34. Hi Sarah! I wanted to know the “shelf life” of the kefir water once it is finished. If we’re not able to drink it all in a day or two, will it last a while in the refrigerator? Also, when you strain out the kefir grains, do they need to be washed or can they go right into refrigerator for storage? Thank you!!

    Reply
  35. Hi Sarah. I’m confused about the difference between rapidura and sucanat. I think I have rapidura, which is the dry, somewhat caramel colored crystals, yes? I use it in all my baking and plan to use it for the water kefir too. I was told that sucanat is a moist version, sort of like brown sugar. Is this correct, or do I have them reversed? I’d like to stick with the type I have.

    Also, I was concerned about the sugar content and the amounts that are considered acceptable, both for kombucha AND kefir. If you drink one, should you avoid the other? I don’t want to overdo anything. I’m really working on this.

    Thanks for any clarification you can provide. Oh, and one more thing, I ferment my kombucha in mason jars on the counter after it’s done ‘brewing’ and they come out nice and fizzy. I’m a soda water drinker, so I like the bubbles! But I noticed that I get new little scoby’s even in those jars!

    Reply
  36. hi sarah,
    can you please explain why metal should not touch the kefir grains? i can’t find a non-metal sieve that’s small enough to strain the grains when i pour them out. any suggestions?
    thanks!

    Reply
    • Felicia,
      I have never tried any of this yet (hope to soon), but I would imagine cheese cloth would act as a wonderful non-metal strainer.

      Reply
  37. Hi Sarah! i got my kefir from a friend.. and we drank it after 3 days.. it was a bit syrup in consistancy esp. at the bottom and very sweet and no bubbly… did she doing somethign wrong? she says she uses maple sugar.. I drank it and that night got a yeast infection (could have been a combo of other things too, bite of choc cake, recent surgery, pregnant) but i restarted it with organic sugar.. (what i had on hand).. should i expect anything different?

    Reply
  38. Sarah, I have been making water kefir soda for amount 2 months. The last few weeks the soda is cloudier and smells sort of like sour milk. Can the probiotics get bad in any way? Margaret

    Reply
  39. hi sarah,
    I am seeing the amount of kefir grains one ferment produces in your finished product.
    mine do not so that! at first they multiplied nicely and quickly, but now they slowed dramaitaclly and I figured that was normal..I’ve had it for a few months and do not have enough to give away.
    I heat my water (about a cup), add my sugar, dissolve it, then add cold cool it, and then add it to cold water and then the grains.
    the flavor is great, and it is super fizzy, I’ve had a few blow up on me, so I put them directly in the fridge now.
    I don’t screw a lid on it tho, I put a coffee filter and band. I only let it ferment for 24 hours, or else the flavor is awful . wondering, does screwing a lid on allow for a longer ferment process and more grain growth?
    also, I have little cloudy pieces, that at first I thought were baby grains forming, but they don’t get bigger, then I thougt they were risidual sugar pieces bc I don’t dissolve it completely, but you out yours in cold water, and you can’t possibly be all the way disssolved, so that must not be the problem..help! i want more grains!
    I use egg shells every now and again, a pinch of salt, this makes a nice fizz, but no grains.
    I do the same with my milk kefir also, it doesn’t grow either. ( i don’t rinse them )

    Reply
    • As I understood it, water kefir grains need to be fed minerals. I’m only on my first batch right now but I noticed Cultures for Life sells a kit with mineral drops to feed the grains with. I’ve read on other blogs that you can use a clean, free range egg shell to feed the grains minerals. One lady even said her grains almost completely dissolve the egg shell they are so active. A dollop of good molassas is supposed to feed them the minerals they need as well, but can leave an undesirable taste. Sucanat contains minerals but if the grains aren’t multiplying, maybe try feeding them an egg shell and see if they strengthen.

      My grains more than doubled in amount in the 4 days I soaked them from their dehydrated state. From one dried packet I now have a full cups worth of them! I’m guessing the dried ones do take awhile to wake up since the water after 4 days was almost as sweet as it started out.

      Reply
  40. Is water kefir safe for someone dealing with severe intestinal bacterial/fungal infections, or would this make it worse?

    I worry about the sugar…. I read on a couple sites that water kefir still has a significant amount of sugar left over after fermentation. Is this true? I am on a sugar-free/low carb/grain-free diet.

    Reply
  41. Hi sarah, I have been successful at making water kefir with my grains (I think I am successful, since the final result is not sweet), however my grains do not reproduce. Any explanation why this happens? I would like to have more of them or just know for sure that they are still alive. I have made the mistake at the beginning of putting the grains in the fridge for storage in a glass jar without any sugar water…
    Thanks so much for all your wonderful work!!

    Reply
  42. Hi Sarah,
    Just curious, is it that vital to use filtered water over tap? I don’t have a water filter, but I can buy bottled spring water at the store, if that would be a better option.
    Which minerals/substances are you avoiding by not using tap water?
    Thanks so much for the video =)
    Maria

    Reply
    • Hi, Maria.

      By not using tab water, you’re avoiding chlorine and fluoride and other contaminants found in city water supplies. If you have good well water, you don’t have to filter it. You also don’t want distilled water because there aren’t any minerals left in it, which, apparently, are good for the grains.

      Reply
  43. I have a question regarding the sweetness of the finished product. I’ve done several batches and after 3-4 days the water is still almost as sweet as it started out with no obvious change in color or cloudiness to the water, yet the grains are multiplying like crazy. In your video you say it should not be sweet once it’s finished. Culturesforhealth says the grains turn the glucose into fructose which is sweeter than glucose. Well, I thought any more than a small dose of fructose wasn’t good for you, also I wonder why the company told me it’s normal (because of the created fructose) to taste pretty sweet–? It makes sense to me that it shouldn’t be sweet if left long enough, as my milk kefir looses it’s original sweetness. I do use the correct water/sugar/grains ratio. The grains are pretty new so probably will improve with time, but I’m more curious about the response from the company when I called them.

    Thanks for any input you can provide!

    Reply
  44. Hi Erin, I was wondering about that too. I thought fructose was bad for you and cultures for health says it should still taste sweet and not to let it ferment longer than 48 hours?

    Reply
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  46. Pingback: Beginning a Water Kefir Adventure

  47. Hello all the way from Malaysia. Thanks for all your videos. Over here we too use water kefir grains and have tried strawberry flavour (need to remove the seeds) lemon and mango. But for acidic type of fruits, we only add it to the second fermentation process whereby the grains have been removed as I find that my grains can deteriorate. Keep up the great work.

    Reply
  48. Hi Sarah. I realize this is an old post but it is sure a good one. I hadn’t heard about water kefir before and it sounds a lot easier than creating a fermentation liquid out of ginger. I clicked on the product link you provided and it goes to an Amazon page supposedly for the company Cultures for Health and their product is only about 7 dollars. Luckily I looked at the reviews. Turns out this is not Cultures for Health and their product is inferior. The real Cultures for Health web site sells their product for 16.99 at the moment. I’ll order directly from them. Thanks for all the wonderful videos. I’m new to the WP diet and already losing my excess weight and feeling better.

    Reply
  49. Shelly, I don’t know the answer for sure but I’m going to guess yes for a couple of reasons. First, I have a lot of those jars that I use for fermented vegetables and while they are fermenting I need to make sure I crack the jar occasionally to make sure the gas doesn’t build up and break the jar. Second, the recommended bottles have the same closure mechanism as these jars which would indicate they have a good seal.

    Now all that said I wouldn’t try using the jars. They are much larger in volume and therefore would build up more pressure. With the large flat expanses of glass on those jars I doubt they were intended to take that kind of pressure. The smaller bottles are rounded and built to take some pressure. Just my opinion for what it is worth.

    Reply
  50. Help! I started making water kefir the end of July and everything was great for months. I only added natural cane sugar and a little baking soda for some added minerals but now I’m continuing to have kefir water that seems a little thickish. I’ve stopped with baking soda but it’s still thickish. I’ve tried a few online remedies but things haven’t improved. What is going on?

    Reply
  51. Just received my water kefir grains. Took three weeks to get here and after a long wait I am so disappointed. I was supposed to receive this beautiful dehydrated culture and all I got was this disgusting looking water with just a couple of kefir grains in it. Yuck

    Reply
  52. I’m planning to start making kefir, but am wondering should I make both water and milk kefir? Or is one better than the other for health and nutrition value? I have been making yogurt and Kombucha, and plan to continue.

    Reply
  53. Hi Sarah,

    I want to know more about your water filter and the reasons for a water filter. I have looked for information to see if you have ever blogged about this but cannot find one. Can you please discuss the benefits of filtered water, as well as brands of water filters you recommend?

    Reply
  54. Hi Sarah,
    I want to start making water kifer and you had a few suggestions for sugars in the brew. We sweeten (almost) everything with honey. If I decide to ferment the grains in honey, how much should I use instead of the 1/4 cup of sugar?
    Thank you! :-)

    Reply
  55. Hello, I love the water kefir idea. I used to dabble in homemade cheeses, and I learned about milk kefir at that time, but never have had a chance to try it. I never knew about water kefir until I saw this video. Thank you for the helpful info. :)

    Reply
  56. Hi Sarah

    I’ve just recently started watching you on You-Tube. Love all your videos, very informative, educational and inspiring.

    As a probiotic drink which would say is superior, Kombucha or Water Kefir.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  57. I’ve been making “grape soda” for about 8 months now. I make my “sugar water”, put my kefir grains in and let them sit on the counter for 1 to 1 1/2 days. I then filter out the grains and bottle the liquid into grolsch-type bottles with about 1/4 cup organic grape juice and let them sit on the counter for another day or so. The kids love it! And I do too! ; )

    Reply
  58. Pingback: Kefir for Beginners | Soundness of Body & Mind

  59. Hi Sarah,

    I have been diagnosed with a few food allergies such as bakers and brewers yeast. I know the kefir produces yeast to eat the sugar. Having an allergy to yeast would this affect me when I drink it? Is any yeast left in the beverage?

    Thanks for all of your videos. They are great information.

    Reply

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