I was first introduced to water kefir three or four years ago, at one of our Philly Food Swaps. One of my fellow swappers included several sets of grains in their collection of swappable goods. She told me they were easy to use and produced a fizzy, pro-biotic beverage that she liked better than kombucha. At the end of the night, one of those jars of water kefir grains went home with me.
I’d like to tell you that I still have grains from that food swap, but sadly, that would be false. I did end up making my own water kefir for a period of months after that initial introduction and liked it very much. Sadly, they ended up getting shoved to the back of the fridge and then thrown out during a no-holds-barred cleaning spree.
Happily, thanks to my friends at Masontops, I’m back making my own water kefir and am delighted with it once again. Several weeks ago, they sent me a set of their Rocky Mountain Water Kefir grains. Using my trusty Kefirko (Masontops sells this useful devise, though I bought mine during the Kefirko Kickstarter nearly two years ago), it is incredibly easy to hydrate dried water kefir grains and then keep them happy and productive.
In order to start making water kefir, you need a set of grains, four cups of filtered water, 1/4 cup of sugar, and a vessel like a Kefirko in which to combine them all (if you don’t have a Kefirko, a quart-sized mason jar will also work).
First, you dissolve the sugar into the water. You can do this by heating it and then bringing it back down to room temperature. Or a couple hours before you want to start your kefir, add the sugar to the water and stir it vigorously. Come back and give it a good stir every half hour or so. The sugar will eventually dissolve into the water.
Put the dried water kefir grains into the bottom of your vessel and add the sugar water. If you’re using a Kefirko, screw the lid down loosely, so that there’s still a bit of air flow. If you’re using a mason jar, put a small kitchen towel, paper towel, or coffee filter on top of the jar and use a rubber band to keep it in place.
Let the grains spend three or four days rehydrating before you try to use them.
Once the grains are nice and plump, they are ready to use. Drain off the initial liquid (this is super easy using a Kefirko. If you don’t have one, make sure to use a nylon mesh strainer rather than a metal one, as the grains aren’t fans of metal). Then mix up another batch of sugar water and add it to the grains.
I typically let my batches of water kefir ferment for two days (though I let it go for a little less during really hot weather) before straining the grains and starting another batch. Sometimes I drink it plain and chilled for a light, fizzy pro-biotic drink (and despite what you might think, it’s not super sweet. The sugar serves as a food source for the grains that is transformed into the bright, tangy element in the water).
Other times, I do a second ferment, in which I combine the water kefir with chopped fruit, or even a bit of plain fruit juice. Either way, it’s refreshing and good for the gut!