What Is Water Kefir? How to Make It and Why Drink It

Have you ever seen kefir in the refrigerated section of your grocery store—or better yet, given it a taste? Kefir is a sour, yogurt-like drink that contains a healthy dose of probiotics. Kefir grains, which look a bit like cottage cheese, are actually colonies of bacteria and yeast that quickly ferment milk.

If you can’t tolerate dairy, however, there’s still a way to get these beneficial bacteria into your system. The answer is water kefir.

How to Make Water Kefir

Water kefir recipes vary, but the principle is the same: place water kefir grains in a jar of sugar water or juice, cover with a lid, and let sit in a warm room for a day or two. When the water or juice becomes cloudy and less sweet, you’ll know it’s time to strain out the grains and enjoy the finished kefir (or store it in the fridge). You can place the grains in a fresh jar of sugar water and repeat the process for a continuous supply of kefir.

It’s important to note that milk kefir grains and water kefir grains are not the same thing, and they won’t work interchangeably. The easiest way to get water kefir grains is to buy them online. Cultures for Health is a reputable source and they have a wealth of instructional videos and FAQs to help.

Worried about drinking sugar? Allow me to explain! The kefir grains break down the sugar, and this process is what produces the probiotic-rich properties. You can use organic white, raw or rapadura sugar. The sugar content will decrease as the probiotics and enzymes develop.

Once you’ve made water kefir a few times, you’ll find the process quite easy. There really isn’t much to do besides let the grains sit in the sugar water and do their work!

Take It Further

Water kefir recipes are less popular than milk kefir recipes, but they’re gaining popularity as more people discover they can get the same probiotics without the dairy. After your water kefir has finished fermenting, you can do a second ferment with fresh berries or other fruit. Simply place the chopped fruit back in the finished kefir and let sit for another day or two. The result will be a fizzy drink similar to soda—but far healthier, of course!

Curious to learn more about fermentation? I contributed an entire chapter of gut-healing recipes to The Secret Life of Your Microbiome by Susan L. Prescott, MD, PhD and Alan C. Logan, MD. These life-changing recipes were an integral part of my health and wellness journey, and I’m thrilled to share them with you. The book is out in September, but you can reserve your copy on Amazon today!