Fermented drinks are my jam. Kombucha? You betcha! Tepache? Why not, eh? Kvass? Okay, maybe not kvass. I mean: beets. Only problem? Fermented drinks are expensive, y'all. It's definitely time to roll up my sleeves and try making this stuff myself. First up: how to make water kefir! Here are two recipes that make me wonder why I waited so long to make my own (yes, it's really that easy!).
How To Make Water Kefir For Major Gut Health Benefits
Research over the last few decades has revealed that the health of our gut microbiome has a far-reaching and profound impact on our overall health. One way (of many!) to foster a happy gut microbiome is to eat fermented foods.
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, beneficial gut bacteria that can be highly nutritious additions to your diet because they support digestive health, immunity, detoxification, and overall well-being [source].
Fermented foods are beneficial because they contain bacteria that:
1. Predigest foods - making their nutrients more bioavailable
2. Generate additional nutrients (B vitamins, amino acids) and remove anti-nutrients from foods (phytates, oxalic acid)
3. Detoxify - helping the body clear damaging compounds
There are multitudes of fermented foods and beverages to choose from. Almost every culture around the world has at least one! Some of the common ones you may have come across are sourdough bread, miso, tempeh, poi, sauerkraut, kimchi, kvass, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir—just to name a few!
What Is Water Kefir?
You may have heard of kefir, which is a dairy-based beverage traditionally made with cow’s milk [source], but water kefir is completely dairy-free. It is typically made using sugar water, coconut water, or fruit juice.
One of my favorite ferments is water kefir. It’s a probiotic beverage made using water kefir grains or a kefir starter culture [source]. The culture consists primarily of lactic acid-producing bacteria and some beneficial yeasts [source] that help to balance your gut microbes [source]. Water kefir is also rich in amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, so having a small cup each day is a delicious way to boost gut health [source]!
Making Homemade Water Kefir - 2 Ways
The simplest water kefir recipe is to mix ½ cup of sugar in 4 cups of lukewarm water into a mason jar, along with some (optional) fresh or dried fruit. Add the kefir grains or kefir starter culture and let ferment for 1 to 2 days.
You can drink kefir on its own or even add it to a detox probiotic smoothie. Or you can take things up a notch and add fruit and herb infusions. Here are two ways to make tasty water kefir that your body will thank you for.
1. Ginger Turmeric Coconut Water Kefir
While basic kefir is simple yet delicious and beneficial, below is a coconut water kefir recipe that takes the health benefits to new heights with the addition of two powerhouse anti-inflammatory ingredients: ginger and turmeric.
Ginger Turmeric Coconut Water Kefir Recipe
—3 cups raw coconut water
—½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
—1 tablespoon peeled and freshly grated ginger root
—1 tablespoon peeled and freshly grated turmeric root or 1-½ teaspoons ground turmeric
—1 packet water kefir starter
Step 1 | Ferment
Add the coconut water and orange juice to a saucepan and very gently heat to lukewarm, or about 90°F.
Into a quart-sized mason jar, add the coconut water and orange juice mixture, along with the contents of one foil packet of kefir starter.
Add the grated ginger and turmeric. Stir to mix well. Put the lid on the mason jar—and make sure it is airtight!
Let this mixture ferment at room temperature (72–75°F) for 24 hours.
Remove the lid and taste. For a tangier drink, let it sit for another 12–24 hours.
Step 2 | Bottle
When you’re happy with the flavor, strain out the solids and transfer to a clean bottle. Or, you can also keep the infusion ingredients in and just put the lid back on.
Step 3 | Drink up
Store your kefir in the fridge to slow the fermentation process and enjoy cold. Drink your kefir within 2 to 3 weeks.
2. Strawberry Thyme Water Kefir
Once you've brewed your first water kefir, try adding additional ingredients for flavor and let the mixture undergo a secondary fermentation. For this recipe, it's strawberries and fresh thyme, which is pretty much the perfect summer elixir if you ask me.
This recipe comes courtesy of Felicity Evans' Fermented Probiotic Drinks at Home. It's an encyclopedic resource on how to brew your own fizzy probiotic drinks, and it's also beautifully photographed and full of imaginative flavor combinations.
Instead of coconut water and juice, this recipe uses filtered water and sugar to start the fermenting process.
Strawberry Thyme Water Kefir Recipe
—¼ cup raw sugar
—¼ cup hot water
—1 quart filtered water
—Pinch sea salt
—1 dried fig
—1 dried date
—10 golden raisins
—¼ teaspoon molasses
—¼ cup water kefir grains
—handful of strawberries
—3 thyme sprigs
Step 1 | Primary fermentation (basic water kefir)
Put the sugar in a 6-cup (1.5 liter) wide-mouth glass jar. Add the hot water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the filtered water, sea salt, dried fruit and molasses and stir well to combine.
Add the water kefir grains to the jar. Cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band.
Place the jar out of direct sunlight at room temperature and leave the liquid to ferment for 1 to 3 days, depending on the temperature.
Step 2 | Bottle
Scoop out and discard the dried fruit from the liquid.
Put a funnel in the opening of a 1-quart (1 liter) glass bottle with a tight-fitting lid and put a strainer on top of the funnel. Pour the water kefir liquid into the bottle through the strainer. Set aside the water kefir grains in the strainer to reuse or rest.
Purée or chop the strawberries and add them to the bottle with the thyme sprigs.
Step 3 | Second Fermentation
Tightly seal the bottle lid and leave the bottle in a warm place to build carbonation. This could take anywhere from 12 to 72 hours, depending on the temperature. “Burp” the water kefir daily to release some pressure by opening the lid slightly and then tightening it again.
When the water kefir is as fizzy as you like (this could range from a small spritz to a ferocious fizz) transfer to the refrigerator and drink in 2-3 weeks.
How To Make More Water Kefir
The great thing about water kefir is that you can keep it going and going. One packet of kefir starter can be used an average of 7 times.
After you’ve made your initial batch and are getting toward the end of your jar, reserve 6 tablespoons of water kefir, which can be used to ferment 1 quart of liquid for your next batch. You can use the same recipe as above or try something new.
Have fun and good luck! Don’t worry—it’s almost impossible to mess this up!
Ginger Turmeric Water Kefir
- Quart-size mason jar with lid
- 3 cups raw coconut water (I use Harmless Harvest.)
- ½ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and freshly grated
- 1 tablespoon turmeric root, peeled and freshly grated
- 1 packet water kefir starter
- Add the coconut water and orange juice to a saucepan and very gently heat to lukewarm, or about 90ºF.
- Into a quart-sized mason jar, add the coconut water and orange juice mixture together with the contents of one foil packet of kefir starter.
- Add ginger and turmeric.
- Stir to mix well. Put the lid on the mason jar. Make sure the lid is airtight!
- Let this mixture ferment at room temperature (72–75ºF) for 24 hours.
- Remove the lid and taste. For a tangier drink, let it sit for another 12–24 hours.
- When you’re happy with the flavor, stir again, put on the lid, and place it into the refrigerator.
Strawberry and Thyme Water Kefir
- 1.5 liter wide-mouth glass jar
- Rubber band
- 1 liter glass battle (for secondary ferment)
- 1 recipe basic water kefir see below
- 1 handful fresh strawberries
- 3 thyme sprigs
Basic Water Kefir
- ¼ cup raw sugar
- ¼ cup hot water
- 1 quart filtered water or spring water
- pinch sea salt
- 1 dried fig
- 1 dried date
- 10 golden raisins
- ¼ teaspoon molasses
- ¼ cup water kefir grains
PRIMARY FERMENTATION (BASIC WATER KEFIR)
- Put the sugar in a 6-cup (1.5 liter) wide-mouth glass jar. Add the hot water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the filtered water, sea salt, dried fruit and molasses and stir well to combine.
- Add the water kefir grains to the jar. Cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band.
- Place the jar out of direct sunlight at room temperature and leave the liquid to ferment for 1 to 3 days, depending on the temperature.
- Scoop out and discard the dried fruit from the liquid.
- Put a funnel in the opening of a 1-quart (1 liter) glass bottle with a tight-fitting lid and put a strainer on top of the funnel. Pour the water kefir liquid into the bottle through the strainer. Set aside the water kefir grains in the strainer to reuse or rest.
- Purée or chop the strawberries and add them to the bottle with the thyme sprigs.
- Tightly seal the bottle lid and leave the bottle in a warm place to build carbonation. This could take anywhere from 12 to 72 hours, depending on the temperature. “Burp” the water kefir daily to release some pressure by opening the lid slightly and then tightening it again.
- When the water kefir is as fizzy as you like (this could range from a small spritz to a ferocious fizz), store it in the fridge to slow the fermentation process, and enjoy cold.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Amy Shah, a double board-certified MD who specializes in helping busy people repair their microbiome and reduce inflammation. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor. All fermented products present potential health risks. Individuals are responsible for assessing the safety of consuming fermented foods.498
Very informative, thank you!!
Thanks for this post.
Adam Cole says
The Color looks very refreshing for the eyes
Do My Assignment | primeassignment.com says
If you wanna get fancy, wedge in some beet wedges on top. All the wedging keeps things in place, preventing floaters. Then, after a five day ferment, you'll wind up with carrot spears that are gingery up from the bottom and have pretty color seeped down from the top. We inoculate them with whey.
I love ginger for its healthy properties and savory taste. I collect all sorts of recipes with it.
Brandon Brown says
Hello Stephanie and thank you for the recipe.
Is it possible to use Tumeric and Ginger essential oils to the recipe instead of fresh Tumeric & Ginger ?
I think GINGER TURMERIC WATER KEFIR remove dirt and oil from face.
Deborah Johnson says
I love tumeric and ginger so will these work for inflammation. And where do I get the complete recipe for the orange juice ginger and tumeric
great recipe for getting healthy doses or tumeric and ginger, thank you, and a non-dairy alternative is even better!
I wonder if Ginger and Turmeric could be added after the regular fermentation process, after the grains are removed, or perhaps it is valuable to ferment it in water?