Homemade Sodas: Water Kefir Drink Recipes

A week or two ago I reported that a study found alcoholic drinks such as tequila as high in antioxidants. I suggested we make our own brew to boost the antioxidants in our diet. My preferred “brew” is a drink called water kefir. Missy asked about my water kefir process.
The trick is going to be finding the grains. There are internet communities where people share them.

Water kefir instructions: Innoculating the Water
(1) Dissolve 1/3 cup sugar with warm water in a clean glass jar.
(2) Add one quart of water. (See instructions below on adding juice or fruit as well.)
(3) Add grains.
(4) Place in cupboard or other spot out of direct sunlight.
(5) Cover jar with a clean dish towel.
(6) Let sit for 24 hours
(7) Strain grains from liquid
(8) Add juice, reuse grains. Go back to step 1 with grains.

In the steps above, if you add no fruit or juice, you will have sugar water with beneficial bacteria. It’s not too tasty. To get some flavor, you have a couple of options:
One-step kefir soda (uses dry fruit)
• 1/3 cup of sugar dissolved in 1 quart water
• Add grains when water has cooled
• Add 1-3 pieces of dried fruit (e.g., pineapple, apricot, papaya, mango)
• Ferment for 24 hours or until it reaches desired sweetness. (A longer fermentation process will reduce the sugar content and raise the alcohol content, though this recipe will not turn into “hooch.” There is not enough sugar.)
• Strain grains, start new batch, drink soda.
Two-step kefir soda (uses fruit juice)
• 1/3 cup of sugar dissolved in 1 quart water
• Add grains when water has cooled
• Ferment for 24 hours or until it reaches desired sweetness. (A longer fermentation process will reduce the sugar content and raise the alcohol content, though this recipe will not turn into “hooch.” There is not enough sugar.)
• Strain grains, start new batch.
• Add 1-2 cups of fruit juice to kefir water. Ferment for another 24 hours or until desired sweetness.
Note: Juice can be added initially to the grains to make it a “one-step” process, but grains will take on the color of the juice. It may also be difficult to remove all of the fruit pulp when straining the grains.
Use the two-step kefir approach. Instead of 1-2 cups of fruit juice, add the juice of one lemon. Let the drink ferment to your desired sweetness. Left another day or two to ferment, this is a very low-sugar, satisfying drink for active days in the sun.
Kefir “Grains”: What they are and where to get them
Just to clarify since a lot of comments have asked about “grains.” The grains are not at all what you are thinking about when you hear the word “grain.” Water kefir grains are in the jar in the picture above. They are a symbiotic mass of bacteria and they reproduce. What you need to do is find someone with grains to share with you. There is a Yahoo group on kefir where you can post and you can usually find someone to send them to you for the cost of shipping.
~~More Reading~~
Fermented nettle tea: An iron booster
Making dairy-based kefir at home
Food science on grass fed meat and dairy
Mom’s ideas for kefir smoothies
Omega 3 and B vitamins for brain health

46 Responses to Homemade Sodas: Water Kefir Drink Recipes
  1. Missy`

    What does it end up tasting like? Sort of like a wine cooler? I’m in the process of making it now.

  2. Missy,
    It’s not really alcoholic, just a bit bubbly (if you use water grains). It also just depends on how sweet you drink it. I let mine sit for a while until it is approaching vinegar. It has almost no sugar, which I prefer. I give my son a batch that hasn’t brewed as long which is a bit sweeter.
    Post back about your batch!

  3. Missy`

    I just finished making it today. It smells like a wine cooler to me and is very bubbly like that too. The taste really reminds me of a wine cooler. Is this normal? It has that fermented fruity smell to it. I wonder if it’s somewhat an acquired taste? I thought it was ok and could probably learn to love it, but my hubby didn’t really care for it. I guess I’ll give it to my kids next and see what they think. I think I’ll give the lemon version a try next.
    Thanks for your great instructions!

  4. It probably is an acquired taste, Missy. Most people who drink mine like it, but some think it tastes like rotten fruit.

  5. Missy`

    Then I think it must have turned out exactly right! :) It’s just hard to know when it’s something you’ve never tasted before. Thanks!

  6. Are you getting used to it? Does anyone there like it yet? :)

  7. Barbara

    By grains, do you mean barley, rye, etc.?

  8. Barbara,
    No, the grains are not like the grains you are thinking about. They really need another name. The are in the jar in the picture and look like little clear blobs.

  9. R-M

    Question: I have some kefir starter grains for milk – can I use those? Or are water kefir grains something different?

  10. R-M

    Question: I have some kefir starter grains for milk – can I use those? Or are water kefir grains something different?

  11. R-M — You can use milk grains but I would alternate them back into the milk because they do need the milk to stay well-nourished. There is a different type of grain just for water kefir — look at the picture of the jar and you can see that they are more translucent than the milk grains

  12. Angela

    Amanda, where or how can I get my hands on these grains. What exactly is milk grains

  13. Angela

    Amanda, where or who can I get these grains from.

  14. Angela — The “grains” are pictured in the post. The milk grains are more white — those in the picture are water grains. Probably the best place to find them now is the yahoo group with members who share them. They multiply, so friends give them to friends. There are lots of “friends” on the Yahoo group.

  15. Trisha

    I have made this drink for years using organic grape juice and my own kefir. I have a goat herd and make my own raw kefir. Instead of buying the “grains” (I believe they are called water grains as they are “rinse-able” but kefir is NOT), you can substitute kefir from the health food store (Kroger carries it also). Just put a tablespoon or two in it and proceed. It is called “kefir duva” if you want to do more searching on the internet. Kefir is fermented as is this drink and delivers 1% alcohol or more, depending on the recipe! Kefir has CURED my stomach issues by the way! I am also a big Kombucha fan and have some great unorthodox ways to make it. Thanks and I hope this was helpful to someone. I have never shared over the net so this is a new experience.

  16. sgbold

    Trisha, would you please post your kombucha recipes.
    Many thanks,

  17. Susan Brott

    I too would like ther Kombucha receipe/It agrees with me, and actually I enjoy the taste. Grape taste will be even better!
    They (health food stores) flavor it with cranberry or grape.
    I await your posting of your receipe.
    Thank you so very much.

  18. I’m interested too Trisha! Post away! We haven’t had kombucha around here in a long time, but I would track down a scoby and try it.

  19. Fermented Nettle Tea: An Iron Booster

    I made passing mention of this tea idea in my ebook on iron-rich foods. Nettle tea is a traditional remedy for low iron levels but it is interesting that nettle is also fairly high in tannins which bind iron. My…

  20. I have water kefir and milk kefir grains if anyone is still interested. Check out my store. http://www.fotvn.com/store

  21. Raw milk generosity

    Back in September of 2006, California agencies began a recall of Organic Pastures raw dairy products. I was a big supporter of the dairy at the time, kept drinking the milk we had in the house, and *still* have…

  22. Wow thank you for your kefir recipes. I’m now at indonesia, it’s hard for me to find grains. But soon I have, i will make it like what you said. Oya there is other source about how to make kefir more quickly and healthy, just check this out: http://www.howtomakekefir.com

  23. Amy

    Any one have an extra water grains?
    I am looking to get some..just let me know how much it would be to ship them!!

  24. Lance

    Hey everyone,
    Just wanted to say thanks for all the info on kefir.
    I just got some from a friend yesterday and have already made a smoothie from it. It was DELICIOUS!
    Thanks again!

  25. jo

    Thank you! You have been very informative. :) I appreciate it.

  26. Deb Jacobs

    how much grains do you use in the basic recipe?

  27. john s

    I think I have an allergic reaction to Kefir water, am I doing something wrong? An hour or so after I drink aeight ounces or so my forearms start to itch and I see tiny little white spots like pimples develop. If I scratch very much the white spots bleed. Anyone else experience this?

    • NORMA W

      I am having a similar reaction. Almost like an eczema, and I have never had anything like it before. It is worst just below my elbows and worse on my left side. I have been drinking about 4 oz two times a day. I am going to stop for a few days and see if it goes away, and then try to restart to confirm that the kefir is the problem. Curious to know if you have had other replies with the same issue.

      • Powen

        Same here. After I started drinking the water Kefir, my shoulders, neck & face started to develop these eczema-like bright pink, dry and itchy rashes for the next few days. I’m still not sure if this is caused by the water Kefir and that’s why I’m here doing some research to see if the other experiencing the same as I am.

    • Sandy B, Michigan

      john s and all,
      When I first started using milk kefir, I had a skin reaction too, but it was like very hard pimples, white in color, that appeared mostly on my face. Just a couple appeared, then that stopped. So, I think it’s toxins being cleansed from your body.
      Note: I have combined milk kefir with the Flax Oil and Cottage Cheese protocol, and have gotten rid of an acid reflux/GERD problem. I am now considering just using kefir alone, as the yahoo.com group has members that used kefir alone to cure GERD. DO NOT use the “purple pill” or other prescribed medicines (toxins) to try and “cure” acid reflux. It will make it worse, and a naturopath told me that, continued use of these medications will cause stomach and other digestive tract cancers. Stick with the natural way of healing. You’ll live a lot longer and stay healthier.

    • Seana

      You are probably having die off or herxheimer reaction. It is also often referred to as a healing crisis, a detox reaction, or die-off syndrome You’ll want to introduce Kefir slowly. Lay off the Kefir for a few days or drink less. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water spread out over the time you’re awake. ie: If you weigh 100lbs, you’d drink 50 ounces. It doesn’t feel like it, but it’s a good thing. It means the bad stuff is leaving your body. It’s just that there’s too much bad stuff to leave in an orderly fashion. It also means that your Kefir has lots of good probiotics! :-)

      Here’s some more info:
      Herxheimer Reaction – Healing Crisis, Die-Off Reaction

  28. John,
    I have never heard of that sort of reaction. Anyone else? I sure would hate to be the one to suggest you try it again and have you end up with a worse reaction. You may have some bug in your brew your body doesn’t like.

  29. Oshe Feldman

    If anyone need milk kefir grains or water grains, I sell them on my website – kefirgrainstore.com

  30. Crystal

    The reaction is likely your body ridding itself of toxins. I’ve heard of that happening because of the cultures (kefir is actually a group of beneficial bacteria similar to what’s in yogurt) are actually cleaning out your digestive system and encouraging your body to rid itself of gunk.

  31. I haven’t heard of water kefir but I think now I’ll have to try it.

  32. Liliana

    that is a detox reaction, your body ridding itself of toxins like crystal said. if you havent detoxed recently, you should start with only drinking water kefir a few times a week and slowly work your way up, to avoid that reaction because then it will detox you slower.

  33. Water kefir is new to me, but I’ll try it.

  34. Dee

    Anybody have any recipes for uses of water (or milk) kefir besides in drinks? To me the water kefir tastes like apple cider vinegar, I used it in a bean salad, but don’t know many uses for apple cider vinegar either. Besides to sip 1 tsp apple cider vinegar in a glass o water throughout the day is also a health benefit, I think also for digestion. I’ve heard milk kefir is good for fluffy baking. I enjoy using it like sour cream on perogies or in a pita, in potato salad, or with cucumbers and salt. But does baking destroy some/all the health benefits? thanks for any info

    • Amanda Rose

      Milk kefir is great to use in bread recipes that require milk. The kefir will help break down inhibitors in the dough. You’re right, that the beneficial bacteria then get cooked out, but they’ve done some good before getting cooked.

      As for other recipes, I have fermented other foods in water kefir, like fruit (compote-like). Maybe people will post with creative ideas


  35. sansea

    The itch from Kefir is more common than most people realize. Kefir is a fermented product which creates histamine and it’s the histamine that makes the itch. Many people who do not have or understand the issue arbitrarily attribute the itch to something positive — which it may not be in some cases.

    There are so many excellent reasons to drink Kefir that I would recommend to anyone that itches from it to slow down the intake — but not cut it out entirely until 2 weeks of daily intake — if you can handle it. If the itch is unbearable then stop — you are not someone that can tolerate the histamine reaction — if after two weeks you find you can handle it then up the intake slowly over the next couple of weeks. With good luck you may find your initial histamine reaction passes and you can drink it safely.

    The thing to always remember is that just because it is good for so many does not mean it is good, or even safe, for everyone. Some people will always have a histamine reaction and those people should listen to their body because in those cases it is not a ‘healing crisis’ it is a histamine attack. Some people are missing key genes to properly process the histamine and nothing short of gene therapy will fix them.

    I have a tough time with histamine and take antihistamines 4×24/7 but I stuck with the Kefir hoping my body would tolerate it (I am atopic my issues are different than those I just described). While I still have the occasional reaction with insane itchy sensations or a deep spreading heaviness and exhaustion, for the most part I can now drink it comfortably and it has removed my dependence on topical steroids to relieve what was very bad all over eczema which I have had all my life! This is nothing short of miraculous in our household — I keep looking at and stroking my arms, marveling how they look and feel normal.

    My favourite batch it to use water 4T kefir grains with 2Q coconut water and 1/2c dissolved unprocessed sugar. Let it sit on the counter for a 24 hour 1st ferment, then bottle and sit out for another 12 hours at room temp, then I refrigerate it. Delicious, a wine cooler is a good description of the taste. With coconut water we can make a pseudo ‘champagne’ which is nice with fresh OJ on the weekends. The health benefits are quite unbelievable and I mean the ones I can see and feel. I could never (ever) take (any and all brands of) probiotics because they make me instantly vomit and I have a terrible stomach with a unbelievably long list of food allergies (I am atopic) and so much systemic intractable inflammation I sleep with 6 ice packs every night. The Kefir is the first thing that has made a difference other than steroids, which have created so many problems I did not know how I could proceed to old age with any quality of life. The steroids and ABX had also destroyed my eco system — but now I have hope. I love Kefir.

    Sorry for the long post!

    • Dave

      I tried milk kefir for some time, but kept getting asthma type symptoms. I’m fine with water kefir though and luckily it tastes a lot better.

      There’s some kefir recipes at foodferret.com, have a look here.

    • Renae

      Sansea – Thank you for your long post! =0) I have started my son (and my family) on water kefir. He too has atopic/eczema problems, and since starting him on the kefir, his problems have seemed to worsten, but not to unbearable as of yet. I have him on antihistamines, and have lessened his intake daily. You say that about 2 weeks is what it takes to turn a corner? How have you seen improvement exactly. I am very curious to discuss this with someone, as I have done endless searches about this exact thing! Have you tried using it topically also? Thanks for any info that you can share! Renae

  36. Dee

    Thanks Amanda! Another thing I am now wondering is, how long can you keep milk kefir at room temp (or warmer) without the grains? It was in my car in the afternoon, then I accidentally left it out overnight inside, so nearly 24 hrs. It looks mostly the same except for some small bubbles. It smells somewhat different though – more vinegary than doughy/yeasty now – should I be concerned? Water kefir seems to be more tolerant of staying room temp without the grains, at least I haven’t noticed a difference.

    • Amanda Rose

      It totally depends on the room temperature. In the winter mine isn’t even vinegar-like after a week

  37. Sansea thank you for that explanation! I have had allergies all of my life, and have recently been experiencing a swollen throat after drinking my water kefir. There are two other possible reactions going on–had strep two weeks ago, and just acquired two guinea pigs in our home–so I’m going to start testing a bit to see which one of the three is the culprit. But it seems that my throat is worse after drinking the kefir, and I do have a mold allergy, so I’m suspecting it is the kefir. I hope not, because I’ve been enjoying my homemade pomegranate kefir!

  38. DarnCrisp

    Thanks for all the great advice. Do kefir grains ever ‘go bad’? Is there only a certain number of batches you do before you have to start over with fresh ones?

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