Published on March 2nd, 2013 | by Andrea Bertoli
Tiny Bubbles: Homemade Vegan Water Kefir, Step by Step!
Awhile ago I wrote about the joy of my first homemade fermentation experiments with Water Kefir. Here is a thorough step-by-step process for how to make your own homemade (vegan) water kefir for your fizzy drinking pleasure.
Why might you want to drink kefir? Well, it’s loaded with probiotics and healthy acids. It’s bubbly and tastes great, and is a low-sugar alternative to sodas. That, and it’s infinitely customizable depending on what fruits and herbs you might have on hand!
How to make Water Kefir!
What you will need for Primary Fermentation:
- Kefir cultures/grains
- Filtered water
- Sugar (turbinado is best)
- A few raisins
- Slice of lemon, lime, or orange
- Drain and rinse ‘grains’ (culture) with tap water. Set aside in a clean bowl/cup.
- Add 3-4 Tablespoons sugar to your quart jar and shake with some filtered water to dissolve the sugar. Add a few raisins and the slice of citrus to your jar, along with cultures. Fill with filtered water and cap. Leave on the counter in a not-sunny place for as long as you want.
- After a few days you should see some bubbles coming from the cultures and at the top of the water. Three days seemed to create a good amount of fizz, but I’ve also let it sit for as long as a week with no problems. You can drink this Kefir as is, or do a secondary fermentation for more flavor and more fizz!
- You might need to do this step a few times as the cultures might need a bit of time to begin fermenting properly in their new homes. If there is little or no fizz after a few days, simply drain the liquid and start over with a fresh batch of sugar, citrus, raisins.
What you will need for Secondary Fermentation:
- Already fermented Kefir (see above!)
- Handful of fresh, dried, or frozen fruit
- Dried herbs (lavender, hibiscus, vanilla, etc)
- Drain the cultures from the Kefir and rinse in tap water. Set the cultures aside.
- Add the Kefir to a jar along with fruits and/or herbs. This can also ferment for three days or up to a week. The longer you wait the fizzier it will be.
- After the Kefir has reached a good flavor, drain fruits/herbs and store in fridge. I’ve found that after about a week it loses some fizz, but still tastes great. Be sure to swirl gently before drinking to get all the probiotic stuff from the bottom of the jar.
- Every type of fruit worked (except frozen apples)! The best flavors were starfruit + vanilla bean, apple + vanilla like in the photo above, frozen berries + dried lavender, apples, dates, and straight citrus. I am partial to any fruit that makes my Kefir pink, like raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries!
- Here’s the thing with sugar: these cultures need cane sugar to do their thing. I tried a few different types of sugar and had not-awesome results. But Swell Vegan had good results with coconut sugar, so it’s definitely worth a try, but note she does recommend returning to cane sugar periodically to keep the cultures viable. And it took me awhile to figure out exactly how to make my perfect kefir, so you should practice with more sugar, citrus, longer/shorter fermentation times to find what works best for you. Every once in awhile I would get a very sour batch, or a very sweet batch, even if I was following the same recipe for all my bottles.
- Apparently you can use these water Kefir cultures in coconut milk, soymilk, and other non-dairy beverages. The dairy kefir is a different culture, so don’t use dairy milk.
- Your kefir grains should continue to multiply, which you can then divide and make many more batches to share with everyone!
- Any questions? Don’t hesitate to email! Good luck with your own fermentation fun!