Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What in the world is Water Kefir?

Water Kefir is a cultured/fermented product that can easily be made in one's kitchen. I use it to kickstart the bacterial/yeast activity in my gluten-free sourdough starters. The natural acidity in the water kefir also protects the starter from spoilage. (I had a lot of spoiled starters when I began experimenting with gluten-free sourdough starters, water kefir prevents spoilage)

Water Kefir is loaded with natural probiotics and is used by many people as a tasty tonic to strengthen the digestive system. Examples of other cultured/fermented products are yogurt, milk kefir, cheese, beer, wine and sourdough bread.

Photo, top: Water Kefir Cultures
Photo, middle: Ingredients to make water kefir liquid. (water not shown)
Photo, bottom: Finished water kefir liquid. Notice the raisins are floating due to the natural carbonation!

I use water kefir in my gluten-free breads because I am sensitive to all dairy products and water kefir is free of dairy.

You can order water kefir culture from: Cultures for Health.
They carry an excellent product at an excellent price.

Here is my water kefir recipe:

Water Kefir for Boosted Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
(water kefir is the booster for Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Fermentation time: 2-3 days

2-3 tablespoons Water Kefir grains
2 tablespoons sugar (I find organic dark sugar works the best, but any sugar works)
20 raisins (or a comparable amount of figs or prunes)
1 quart of filtered or spring water
1 slice of lemon

Nearly fill a wide mouth quart jar with water.
Add 2 tablespoons sugar, stirring to dissolve, 20 raisins and a slice of lemon or lime.
Add the water kefir grains to the jar.
Cover with a paper towel or cloth and secure with a rubber band.
When raisins float to the top, after around 24-48 hours, use a nonmetal tool and scoop the raisins and the lemon slice out and discard.
Ferment the water kefir for 6-12 more hours on the counter with the paper towel.
Then store, covered, in fridge and use as needed.

To replenish:
When you have used the liquid down to about an inch in the jar start a new batch in a new jar, with water, sugar, raisins and lemon. Then pour the water kefir grains plus the remaining small amount of liquid right into the new jar, cover with paper towel or cloth and ferment.
Stays potent in the fridge 2-4 weeks.

Resources: Water Kefir Grains from www.culturesforhealth.com


  1. Great post. Isn't kefir amazing!? We make water and milk kefir and have just been given a kombucha mushroom also. I had read about using water kefir in bread making, but had never looked into it more. I'm really excited about coming across your blog, I eat wheat-free (mostly gluten-free) and find yeast a bit of a problem too...Your story sounds very similar to mine actually. Looking foward to trying out your recipes! Cheers.

  2. Hi Emma,
    Thanks for your comment! Yes, kefir and kombucha, as well are amazing. These potent tonics have greatly improved my health. They work wonders preserving the delicate gluten-free starters. They made my gluten-free sourdough technique possible!
    Eat Well,

  3. I find your blog interesting. I am also using milk kefir to leaven bread, pizza and bagels. So far the results are very good.

  4. Thanks, learning pizza maker!
    I find the kefir adds so much to the entire sourdough technique. It thickens, it "poufs" and I've been able to eliminate the use of xanthan/guar gums and baking powder/soda which for me is a good thing because I'm trying to only use pure food ingredients. The kefir and sourdough makes this possible.

    Some day I will try bagels. Do you boil yours?