Kefir: Non-dairy Water Kefir- Easy, Simple Directions

Grolsch bottles, or these blue bottles from Amazon work great for kefir’s second ferment, creating an awesome, healthy “soda”. It should only take a day or two for the second ferment (in the clasping bottle) to build up fermentation. But… I suggest you “burp” the bottle every day or so while it’s sitting out, so it doesn’t build up TOO much pressure… (a friend had her bottle burst–not what you want.)

My absolute favorite “soda” recipe for water kefir is this Orange Kefir Recipe. Though I’ve tried just about every possible flavor/juice/etc. for water kefir, the orange recipe is the most successful for extra fizz and deliciousness. Oh, plus there are extra nutrients in orange rind, so… yeah!

Grateful-Table-Probiotic-BrewGet some grains from a friend, or buy some water kefir grains from Amazon. Just don’t use milk-kefir grains. These are NOT the same thing!

Spring water is best—chlorine will slow down (or kill) your grains. Also, don’t use honey. It is anti-bacterial, so it can slow the culture down (or stop it dead in its tracks).

I tried palm sugar, but I thought it turned out weird.

I tried organic raw sugar, but killed the grains (after using the raw sugar for a month). I had to get some grains back from a friend I’d given some to. Luckily, she hadn’t killed hers!

I tried using a friend’s old grains, after mine died. She had put her jar in the fridge months ago, and the grains had multiplied to practically fill the whole jar with grains. Apparently, in that time, the grains ate through every last bit o’ sugar/molasses that the water contained. But then… they died. They looked all right, but they had essentially gotten preserved in that jar like pickled brains or something. Looking prolific, but… dead!

Oh, and never add fresh pineapple to the first ferment; one woman posted that her grains got irreparably altered, in a bad way. Maybe it’s the extra enzymes in the pineapple? I’m not going to use pineapple.

But what can you do? This is a fairly easy process, though it will take a little maintenance every few days. The kefir grains will “eat through” their food supply, depending on how much sugar/molasses is dissolved into the water. Within one or two days, you’ll want to rinse them (I use regular tap water for rinsing), and add them to a fresh jar of sugar/molasses water. You can tell by tasting it after the first 24-48 hours–if the brew still tastes sweet, you can let it ferment for another day or two, before bottling it for the second ferment.

Kefir Management: When I’m getting bogged down with extra kefir, I throw out all but few tablespoons of the grains. It takes longer for fewer grains to eat through the sugar water. (The more grains you have, the more quickly they eat through a new batch of sugar water.)

Vacation time? You can also slow the kefir process down by refrigerating the jar of grains, sugar, molasses and water. Put twice the amount of sugar and molasses in, if leaving for a week or so. That buys some time! To get the grains active again, bring the jar out of the fridge. Drain off the old liquid into a fermenting bottle, and give the grains some fresh sugar-water to liven them back up.

The grains multiply; put the extras in the compost pile, or give to a friend (or even eat them?), or just throw ’em out. More will be created!


  • 1/4 c. sugar (regular white sugar’s been best for me- not raw)
  • 1 tsp. molasses (I recommend organic for this-  doesn’t affect kefir, but will have less potential pesticide residue)
  • 1 slice lemon (if available)
  • 4 c. Spring water (non-chlorinated)
  • Kefir grains (a half cup, more or less)


1. Fill a quart jar with: > 1/3 c. white sugar > 1 tsp. molasses > (Optional) 1 slice lemon > 3-4 c. spring water (leaving space at the top for adding the grains)

2. Add lid and shake jar vigorously until sugar and molasses are mixed in.

3. Add rinsed kefir grains, cover with a lid.

4. Let mixture brew for 1-3 days, until not-so-sweet, but fermented.

5. For a second ferment, where carbonation will build up, making it like soda, drain brew into bottles with ceramic stoppers. See below for “Preparation for 2nd Ferment”.

6. Rinse grains under tap water (best with non-metal strainer), then add to fresh jar of sugar water, repeat steps. (As grains multiply, discard some as necessary, or give to friends.)


  • Handful of dried fruit (raisins or other), or fresh fruits or juices
  • Other spices if desired (fresh sliced ginger, organic orange peel, vanilla, tamarind, etc.)
  • Optional: Favorite fruit juice concentrates


1. Into a clean 32-oz. bottle (or jar), decant the brewed kefir water, straining out the kefir grains, leaving space for other ingredients.

2. Add a small handful of favorite dried fruits (or experiment with fresh fruits), or use a cup or so of juice.

3. Optional: Add other flavorings if desired ( fresh ginger, organic orange peel, etc.),

4. Optional: If you add non-sweet flavorings like ginger, vanilla, or orange peel, you can actually add honey (or sugar) to this mix to give the kefir something to feed on, to make the brew extra tasty and extra fizzy. Although I don’t add honey to the kefir grains in the first ferment, it seems to work in the second ferment. Use organic honey if possible!

4. Let ferment another day or two, with lid or cap on. Check the bottle after a day or so (if you have the Grolsch-type bottle with resealable cap), to see if it’s fizzy enough. Refrigerate after about two days. Will keep for a couple weeks, refrigerated. Remove lid with care, as it may become quite bubbly!

5. Certain glass bottles can be reused (if they’re the kind you use a bottle-opener on); just get this to hold in the fizz. Or buy something like Grolsch beer, with its ceramic/rubber seal stopper, and reuse that. My fave are these Cobalt Blue 32 oz. Bottles; they’re sturdy, and are “family-size”, which is nice! (Some note that the blue glass protects against fluorescent rays also, which may/may not be an issue…)

I’ve linked this post to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s “Real Food Wednesdays”; check out the other great links she’s listed, HERE!

I’ve also linked this post to My Humble Kitchen. Check out Diana’s page, “Simple Lives Thursday“, for more great ideas.

PS You might want to print up this simplified copy of the directions, below.


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