Water Kefir

moonshine madam
Hooch drinkin Madam

Did you know that Moonshine was originally named during prohibition when it was made under the “moon shine” so to be hidden at night.

That’s NOT what kefir hooch is… at all!  And, I think I may be the only one that calls water kefir juice “Hooch”.  Myself and a dear friend shared a giddy and sober camping trip, drank the bubbly grape water-kefir-hooch out of plastic wine glasses… classy!  That was when it became the hooch.

bitter beer face
Anybody else remember this?

Water kefir is less like beer and more like kombucha. Water kefir is fizzy, like kombucha and unlike kombucha it tastes a bit like beer.  Kombucha is sour and tart while kefir is tangy and bitter (…beer face).

Again like Kombucha, water kefir is thriving with probiotic cultures that contribute to a healthy gut, glowing skin, better digestion, dental hygiene, immune power, and even so much more!

When I make water kefir for delicate taste buds I add juice and it is transformed into an amazing fizzy soda; it IS fizzy just like kombucha and I find kefir easier to make with a quick 48 hour turn over (Kombucha can take up to 3 weeks to get a sour fizzy brew)

Water kefir starter is brewing, lemonade hooch is in the jug.

Water kefir is also called “Butterfly Juice”  by some web gurus from Australia… Such a beautiful name! (especially compared to hooch) 🙂

To make the hooch, you will first need to score some water kefir grains to make a STARTER.  Order from me, The Herbal Mama if you live near Edmonton, AB or find your local WAPF chapter: www.westonapricefoundation.org.

 Then follow this recipe using your newly acquired kefir grains:

    • 2 Tbsp live water kefir grains
    • 1-4 tbsp raw, unrefined cane sugar (Succanat, cane sugar, rapadura, Panela. NOT: coconut or palm… although some use it with success!?! Coconut sugar is slightly anti-bacterial so it seems counter-intuitive to use i)
  • 3 cups spring water

Inside a 1 litre glass jar, mix those ingredients together with a wooden or plastic stick/ spoon (some metals may damage the probiotic bacteria).  I know the sugar amount is a giant range… I have varied that amount, when the grains are BIG and plump I start cutting down the sugar; you want to see marble sized grains that produce fizzy bubbles, then you know you are feeding them enough.

Let this mixture sit in a dark, room temperature place with a closed lid for 24 – 48, up to a maximum of 72 hours.  You should start seeing bubbles and hear a hissing sound, when you do they are pretty much done! You can also taste the starter liquid to see if the sweetness has disappeared and more of a bitter beer taste is preferred.

If you do not notice this within 72 hours, toss the water out and start the recipe again (adding more sugar, molasses, spring water, egg shells or mineral drops this time) until the grains are active and bubbly!  When you have achieved a bubbly result, strain off the water kefir grains with a nylon, silicone or plastic sieve (remember: the water kefir grains SHALL NOT PASS by metal).  you-shall-not-pass

Plop those grains back into some clean sugared water and allow to ferment again or rest the grains in the fridge until you are ready sta
rt another batch.

The slightly fizzy or not fizzy at all… sour-sweet water that you strained off, my friend, is your STARTER (This is also what I was referring to as the “Butterfly Juice”, because now you can begin the synergistic butterfly effect to make a 2nd fermented juice, tea, coconut water, pop, etc…..).

The so-called water kefir “grains” are not actually made from a wheat grain, nor are they dairy based… they are a form of SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast).  Where did they come from? Nobody knows; deep in a cavernous mountain, fallen from angels in heaven, from our ancient alien ancestors… a bit of a mystery as far as I can tell!

Making a 2nd Ferment:

Here is a delicious Water Kefir Juice-Hooch recipe that I make regularly:

    • 1/4 cup to 2 cups of sour-sweet water kefir starter
    • 2- 3 Litres of Concord Grape juice or an apple-grape blend (grrapple!!) add more water to dilute the juice based on your preferred concentration.
    • Dried herbs such as: elderberry, black currant, rose petals, nettles, rooibos, juniper and red clover.  1 Tbsp total herb blend per litre of liquid.
  • Frozen or fresh fruit (strawberries are my favourite).

Let this fruity-herbal blend ferment at room temperature for another 24 to 48 hours (the longer it sits the more beer tasting it will be and the more alcohol will be produced, they say 7 day ferment with water kefir for approx. 1-2 % alcohol).

After you have fermented this brew for your desired time, strain off all the fruit and herbs.

Best to strain off any fresh or frozen fruit after 24 hours!  After that it gets a funky taste!  Dried fruit or herbs can ferment for up to 36 hours… then it too will create a funky not so pleasant taste.

Store the juice in the fridge which significantly slows down the fermentation process.  I recommend drinking this within 1-2 weeks, or you will notice that it starts to taste like beer (Ke-beer).

Coconut Water Kefir

This recipe is great for hydration and cleansing.  The Body Ecology Diet has a “Cocobiotic” drink that they will send as part of many of their detox kits!  Let’s make our own shall we?

  • 1 litre of coconut water
  • 2 Tablespoons – 1 cup of water kefir starter (no grains)

Mix ingredients together in a glass container, let sit on the counter to ferment for 12 -48 hours with a tight lid, the longer it sits the more effervescent it becomes. Store in the fridge and consume within 1-2 weeks.

Some people “train” their water kefir grains to ferment in coconut water directly.  I would watch the performance, fizz, reproduction of the grains to gauge when to feed them with sugar water again and allow them to “rest”.


Print or save this PDF for your own step-by-step Water Kefir making recipe and care sheet:

Common questions & feedback from everyday people like you!

“I’m following your instructions and your awesome recipe and made some delish Kefir pop (yay! So exciting!)”
1. Should I be rinsing the grains off each time after I strain them before adding more sugar water to them? I haven’t actually been rinsing them.

The Herbal Mama: No need to rinse I never rinse them.

2. What should I do with my grains while I drink up all the pop I’ve made? I may not be ready for another three or four days to make it again. For example, let them ferment again in the sugar water before putting in fridge or add them to fresh sugar water and put in fridge right away?

The Herbal Mama: I stash the grains in the fridge when I’m not using them, that’s how you “store” any ferment. Either way feed them in the fridge or feed them, ferment them, then store in the fridge, no matter-either way works.

3. Do they ever get “tired” of “eating” and stop working or go bad?

The Herbal Mama: They may get tired and need a rest, just rest them in the fridge or give them a mineral boost with molasses or mineral rich water (trace mineral drops). I don’t believe they will ever die! All starters (SCOBYs) have been known through history to be passed down generation after generation. I think the most common mistake when people think they “killed” their SCOBY is that it just needed a “rest” and to be fed some boosters (molasses, mineral drops, egg shells, etc).

References: www.culturesforhealth.com, “Art of Fermentation” Book by Sandor Katz

6 Replies to “Water Kefir”

    1. Hello Jill! I offer water kefir kits at workshops generally, but I can arrange a private sale. Is pick-up best for you downtown or Southside Edmonton? They are $20 for the kit.

      1. Elaine! My apologies, I didn’t see this response, but then I found you anyway that the Waldorf school! I bought from you yesterday. Just checking your excellent website about care of grains. Thanks so much!


  1. Hi Elaine,
    I finally made it to your website, as the water kefir I got from my friend Joi was just sweet and not fermented even after a week. Now I followed your great advice and will start over. Great website!
    And I see my very good friend and long-time neighbour Jill found you too. 😊

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