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Recipe for natural probiotic – water kefir

Recipe for natural probiotic – water kefir

As summer is approaching, there are few things as refreshing as an ice cold glass of kefir. Perhaps lesser known than the milk kefir version, water kefir (tibicos) is a fermented drink packed with probiotics, typically including a mix of Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus and Leuconostoc bacteria with yeasts from Saccharomyces, Candida and Kloeckera (see this wiki page for more info). Water kefir is somewhat lighter – and in our humble opinion – more palatable than milk kefir.

Variations of water kefir are endless, and you can experiment with countless flavours. Below we’ve listed our basic recipe, but have fun adapting this to your own taste. It’s quick and easy to make… the hardest part is waiting for the fermentation to complete.

We usually do a double fermentation, as it adds a little kick and a few more bubbles to the finished product, but this is not required. For a milder version, you can drink it after the first fermentation. (Our suggestion is to try some after the initial fermentation, and then decide whether or not – or how much to – double ferment.)

Here is our basic recipe:

5L water
200g organic cane / coconut sugar (a little extra for second fermentation)
2 tbsp water kefir grains (this is the culture; make sure you buy / obtain WATER kefir grains, not milk kefir)
5 – 6 organic, unwaxed lemons, juiced
3cm piece organic ginger, grated or thinly sliced
4 – 5 raisins (or berries, a couple of figs, un-sulphured apricots)

Large swing top glass fermentation jar (like this)
Swing top bottles (like these)

First fermentation
Add all the ingredients to a large fermentation jar.  (Do not use hot water as it will damage the culture.)
Allow to ferment for 3-4 days (weather depending), until all the sugar has dissolved.
Strain and save 1 cup of the kefir, including the strained grains – see below.*  

Second fermentation
Bottle the remainder of the kefir into 500ml swing top bottles.  Add 1 – 2 teaspoons of sugar to each bottle and allow to ferment for another 3-4 days.  (The longer you leave it, the drier it will get.)  When the desired level of dryness is reached, place in the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process.  Serve chilled.

*Save 1 cup of the first fermentation, including the grains, for your next batch. Store in a jar and place in the fridge until the next use. Feed your culture with 1 teaspoon of sugar every 2 weeks.

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