Water Kefir: Probiotics and Playtime


s I’ve mentioned before, the last year has been a journey through the nutritional jungle, full of local this and grass-fed that.  One of the more exotic stops along the way has been in kefir-making.

When I first heard of people fermenting milk on their counter-tops, I was torn between intrigue and a gag.

However, after learning about the importance of a healthy balance of bacteria in the GI tract to overall immune health, I began to appreciate this relatively simple and cheap way to boost our immune systems.

I started with the traditional milk kefir, taking the grains and “feeding” them milk as needed.  However, the whole gag factor never went away.  Even masked in a smoothie, I was not a huge fan.

Then a friend introduced me to water kefir.

On the left: fermenting water kefir...On the right: water kefir with a splash of juice, ready to enjoy
On the left: fermenting water kefir…On the right: water kefir with a splash of juice, ready to enjoy

Water Kefir 411

What is it?

Water + kefir “grains” + some kind of sugar + 2 days on your counter = water kefir, a fizzy, slightly sweet brew of probiotic goodness that may be mixed (or fermented a second time) with fruit juice for extra flavor.

You’re still fermenting something on your counter-top, but to me, the taste (and look) is infinitely preferable to milk kefir.

After fermenting, you can drink it straight, but I find that it tastes a bit like beer. I’m not a huge beer fan, so I like to add a little juice. My favorite combo as of late is a splash of lemon and grape.

Then it tastes more like a cross between a beer and an Izze. Emphasis on the Izze.

(Just to clarify, despite all this beer talk, I am not giving my kids an alcoholic beverage. Kelly proves that here. And she’s pretty much a kefir expert in my book).

What’s up with those grains?

Well, they aren’t actually grains at all. They’re basically a combination of a variety of beneficial bacteria and yeast that produce lactic acid, carbon dioxide (hence the bubbles), and ethanol as they “eat” the sugar.

Water Kefir "Grains"
Water Kefir “Grains”

What’s So Great About It?

It’s a cheap, relatively easy way to get a nice daily shot of probiotics in an easily digestible form (it’s easier for the body to digest than a pill).  And it doesn’t taste half bad.  If you’ve got a soda habit you’re trying to kick, this might prove a reasonable substitute.

This is one healthy treat that’s gotten a big thumbs up from Hubs and Bun.  Buckaroo just likes to dismantle his sippies and pour out the contents, so I couldn’t say for sure about him.

Two bonuses: 

1.) The grains multiply like crazy, making for excellent house-warming gifts (kidding…so far) and loads of fun on the kitchen floor for my three-year-old.

2.) Hearing your three-year-old ask for kefir (especially if they say it the traditional way: “kuh-feer”) is pretty awesome. Kind of like during the Olympics when we’d ask her to say the names of countries just because we thought a toddler saying “Ser-bee-ah” was adorable.

Happily growing fine motor skills by scooping kefir grains ;)...Hey, cold spring days call for innovative activities.
Happily growing fine motor skills by scooping kefir grains.  Hey, cold spring days call for innovative activities.

Come back next time and we’ll talk logistics: how to make it, store it, and keep those grains alive.

Have you tried water kefir? Would you? 😉

About Jenn

Jenn is a mommy of three and wife to her best friend. She enjoys good books, dinner guests, elevenses, and proper apostrophe use.

  • Ok Jenn. I love you. I love your blog. I love your go green eco hug a tree ideas. (I have tried some of them) … but honestly.. Kefir? I am not convinced.. why go through the trouble? Why not just buy probiotic yogurt?

    • Good questions. 🙂

      1.) Kefir has many more different strains of probiotics than yogurt. Yogurt containers at the store will boast “billions of active cultures” but that’s quantity, not type.
      2.) It’s waay cheaper to feed a family of 4 water kefir than it is store-bought anything. I haven’t done the math, but my grains were free from a friend and I use 6 T of sugar/sucanat per 2qu of kefir (so whatever 6T of sugar costs is the total cost). Two quarts of organic plain yogurt costs $7.58.

      We do buy yogurt/make yogurt too, but I like to have the kefir around for my Coke-addict Hubs 🙂 and to give the kids a healthy treat. It doesn’t take much time to make either.
      All that being said, it’s not for everyone. 🙂

  • Ooo, I have been curious about kefir for awhile. I will definitely have to try it now. Can’t wait for the next post so I can figure out how!

    • 🙂 Will post next week! Was going to post it all at once, but I about had a kefir novel on my hands.

  • Okay I’ll give you that. 🙂 Lol. Naughty coke addiction Ry! Hmm despite the 1.6 exchange rate.. there are a few things that are much nicer/cheaper in the UK.. and I think yogurt is one of them..

    Mayyybbbe one day I’ll try.. though I love my yogurts..

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