Water Kefir Recipe

Water Kefir is a fermented beverage shrouded in mystery and ancient folklore. Some think Kefir may have been the legendary Manna from ancient times. According to legend, it was a gift from the Gods that fell from the skies to feed the Israelites on their 40 day journey through the desert. Kefir has a refreshing effervescent flavour and is packed full of beneficial bacteria for gut health.

Water kefir grains are called many different names. The most common is Tibicos. They’re also known as Japanese water crystals, California bees, Australian Bees, African Bees, Ginger Bees, Ginger Beer Plant, Sea Rice or Aqua Gems, to name a few. In Germany they are called Piltz; in Italy; Kefir di Frutta; and in France, Graines Vivantes. It is hard to tell where the Water Kefir grains actually originated. One clue lies in Mexico where the Tibicos culture forms on the pads of the Opuntia cactus as hard granules that can be reconstituted in a sugar-water solution as propagating tibicos. There is documentation from the late 1800s of water kefir grains being used in fermented drink made from the sweetened juice of the prickly pear cactus in Mexico. Their use has also been recorded in Tibet, the Caucasus Mountains, and the southern peninsula of theUkraine. While the origins remain a mystery it’s safe to say that they have been in use for many centuries.

Making Kefir is much the same as making Kombucha. Kefir Grains form the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of beneficial bacteria and yeasts). These grains are small crystallised granules of bacteria and yeast living in a symbiotic relationship and held together by a polysaccharide (dextran) produced by Lactobacillus brevis. The grains are cultured in sugar water where the bacteria and yeast in the Kefir grains metabolise the sugars.This produces an array of beneficial acids, microorganisms, B vitamins and enzymes. The process of fermentation does reduce the sugar content and because it is a fermented drink, lactic acid, carbon dioxide and a small amount of ethanol is produced. Alcohol levels are typically around 0.5%-0.75%There are two types of Kefir (and they are two different compositions of bacteria) i.e. Milk Kefir and Water Kefir. Milk Kefir grains require milk for the bacteria to reproduce. You can occasionally use non-dairy liquids (like coconut milk, sugar water, sweetened infusions,etc.) with milk kefir grains, but you should return them to milk within a few days to ensure they remain healthy. Water kefir grains, similarly, should be kept only for culturing water kefir.


To brew Water Kefir, you’ll need a large glass jar that can be covered by cheesecloth. When it comes time for bottling, the secondary fermentation creates the fizz so the safest option is to use plastic Mineral Water bottles just in case you get too much fizz.

Ingredients (makes about 2 litres) for Initial Fermentation.

· 1/4 cup water kefir grains

· 1/4 cup organic cane sugar. We’ve been using Rice Syrup lately which seems to be working well. Some other alternatives are coconut sugar, molasses, Rapadura or date sugar. Kefir does need a regular supply of minerals to keep healthy so the unrefined sugars are often best as they have a higher mineral content. After a while the unrefined sugars can make the brew taste a bit like syrup though so you might want to change to refined sugar occasionally or alternatively rest them in filtered water for a week in the fridge.

· 2 dried, unsulphured figs

· 1 lemon, cut in half

For the Secondary Fermentation

· 1/2 cup fruit juice OR 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar


1. Bring about 6 cups of filtered water to the boil, then stir in the sugar. Continue stirring the sugar into the hot water until it dissolves, then allow it to cool to room temperature.

2. Place the water kefir grains into a 2 litre jar, Pour in the sugar water, and drop in the figs and lemon. Cover the jar with cheesecloth and secure with twine or a rubber band. Allow the water kefir to ferment for 2 to 3 days. The longer it ferments, the stronger its flavour will become.

3. When your happy with the flavour strain into the plastic bottle for the second fermentation. The Kefir can be enjoyed after the first fermentation. In the second stage however, you can add some more flavours. The brew also gets fizzier with the increase in Carbon Dioxide, which results in a very refreshing drink. You can now discard the used lemons and set aside the water kefir grains for the next brew. The grains can be stored in water in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Bottling for the second fermentation

You can either add 1 more tablespoon of sugar or add 1 litre of fruit juice to 1 litre of kefir for different flavours. Some great juices to use are Red Grapefruit, Lemon and Ginger, Mandarin, Orange, Pineapple or Apple and mint. Make sure you don’t fill all the way to the top of the bottle to allow for gas build up. Cap the bottles, and leave in a warm spot for around18 to 24 hours before moving to the fridge to set the bubbles for another three days. Then your ready to pop the top! Watch out because it might go everywhere before you get a chance to fill your glass. But enjoy nonetheless!


Some things to avoid in your Kefir are:

  • Chlorine in tap water can damage the grains
  • Preservatives added to dried fruit or sprayed on conventional fruits
  • Distilled water for long periods of time as it is void of minerals. However adding liquid mineral supplements such as Floradix can fix this problem