Water Kefir – A Delicious Probiotic Elixir

Water Kefir grains AuroraIf you are looking for a fun, easy, delicious and inexpensive way to add fresh, home-cultured probiotics to your diet, water kefir may be just for you. Water kefir grains, also known as tibicos, are a culture of healthy bacteria and yeasts held together in the gelatinous polysaccharide matrix which they produce in a symbiotic relationship. The kefir “grains” ferment in sugar water to produce a fizzy, probiotic beverage which can be flavoured in a multitude of delicious and creative ways. The taste resembles that of kombucha tea – mildly sweet and mildly sour, with some nose-tickling effervescence.

I probably don’t need to write an entire essay about the health benefits of cultured foods / probiotics because it has already been overdone all over the internet. However, I will include a few point-form notes about cultured foods in general…

Health benefits of homemade cultured foods:

  • an excellent source of fresh probiotics or “good bacteria”

  • helps to balance the gut flora (the gut plays a huge role in immune system function)

  • boost immunity and therefore overall health and healing

  • easier to digest because they have been partially broken down by healthy bacteria and yeasts

  • improve digestion and reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

  • fermentation naturally preserves foods

  • healthy skin

  • source of vitamins and minerals

  • making your own means that you can control the ingredients (you can use organic ingredients, avoid fillers, preservatives, artificial flavours and artificial colours)

More about water kefir:

Water kefir is one of many possible options for a homemade probiotic. Other fermented foods include, yogurt, milk kefir, kombucha tea, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, miso and many others. Water kefir is a great probiotic alternative for those who are allergic or sensitive to dairy. Water kefir is also a great way to ween oneself off soda pop. Water kefir can also be used as a starter culture for homemade fermented vegetables.

Sounds great, Dr. Liz! How do I get started?”

First, you need to find a source of water kefir grains. Once you have grains, you can produce your own water kefir indefinitely. The grains will multiply which means that you can share them with family and friends. There are several websites that sell dehydrated grains. Or you can do what I did and find a local source of fresh, live grains on kijiji.

You will need:

  • some quart sized mason jars with plastic lids

  • a fine mesh sieve

  • jars for bottling

  • a funnel


  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar

  • 3-4 cups water (chlorine and fluoride free)

  • water kefir grains

  • your choice of flavouring option (such as chopped fruit, chopped fresh ginger, hibiscus, lemon etc)


  1. Add 1/4 cup organic cane sugar to bottom of sterile mason jar

  2. Add ~1/2 cup boiling water and swoosh it around until the sugar dissolves

  3. Fill the mason jar most of the way up with the remaining cold water (leaving space for the grains)

  4. Check to make sure the temperature is not too hot or too cold. It should be approximately room temperature. If not, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes.

  5. Add the water kefir grains.

  6. Set the lid on the mason jar lightly so that fermentation can take place in the presence of oxygen. Alternatively, you can secure a coffee filter or cloth on the top of the mason jar with an elastic band. Make sure there is no access to fruit flies or other insects that like sugar!

  7. Allow the gains to ferment in the sugar water for 24-48 hours out of direct sunlight.Water Kefir Jar

  8. When it is ready (determined by taste), use the sieve to filter the grains out while pouring the fermented liquid into bottles.filter water kefir grains

  1. The grains are ready to ferment a new batch (repeat steps 1 through 8).

  2. Add your choice of flavour to the bottles then secure the lid on tightly for a “second fermentation.” In this example, I used some goji berries, rose buds and hibiscus. This is where you can be creative. You could also use chopped organic fruit, a lemon wedge, chopped fresh ginger or dried fruit.flavourign water kefir

  1. Allow the kefir to ferment for another 24-48 hours with the flavouring added. The second fermentation is when the kefir gets fizzy.

  2. Chill before serving and enjoy!

So there you have it – easy, fun, healthy and delicious! Cheers! :)

Now for just a few words of caution… If it looks weird, smells weird, tastes weird – when in doubt, throw it out and start from scratch again. Mould or bugs? Throw it out! Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding – there is a small amount of alcohol produced during the second fermentation (sources suggest between 1 – 3%). Avoid if you are diabetic – while the culture consumes a lot of the sugar, there is still some left in the end product. Those with other health problems should consult their primary care provider.

Dr. Elisabeth Miron

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