Water Kefir is one of the easiest cultured drinks to make. In addition to the grains, all you need are two to three ingredients:
- Minerals (only needed if your water is lacking)
The good sugars:
Cane sugar/organic cane juice crystals/organic evaporated cane juice crystals – by far the best and our favorite for water kefir. It will make a sweet drink, so for a little less sweetness, in our kitchen we do a blend of mostly white cane sugar + a little rapadura.
White cane sugar – a great sugar for water kefir. But, because it’s refined/processed, there are no minerals in it. If you find your Water Kefir Grains are not quite thriving, they might need some mineral supplementation (see below). Your kefir will turn out pretty sweet using this sugar.
Rapadura, Sucanat, muscovado, turbinado or “raw” sugar – Water kefir tends to love these less processed sugars, but the taste will be very molasses-y or “strong.” Because it’s naturally high in minerals, if you find your grains start to break down or disappear, discontinue the use of this sugar and start using white cane sugar or evaporated cane juice crystals. Turbinado or “raw” sugar is a bit more processed than rapadura/Sucanat, so those will be easier for the grains to utilize.
The “bad” sugars:
Brown sugar (as in for baking) is tricky because you don’t know how much molasses has been added to the original white cane sugar…it’s best to simply use ¼ cup cane sugar and ½ tsp molasses to make your own brown sugar.
Honey, palm sugar, stevia, agave, artificial sweeteners, maple syrup, sorghum syrup, coconut sugar, beet sugar, corn based sweeteners, powdered sugars, and invert sugars - Even though some of these are natural sweeteners, stay away from them. They just don’t have what your little grains need.
Your water must be pure. No exceptions. You are nourishing living bacteria, so give them the best!
The water must be free of chlorine, chloramine, fluoride and contaminants.
Fridge and pitcher-style (i.e. Brita) filters are usually not good enough. In fact, Brita was ranked the worst performing filter on http://waterfilterlabs.com/.
Always contact the manufacturer or go on their website to read the list of contaminants and additives that are eliminated from the water using their filter.
The best water is water you can filter yourself. http://waterfilterlabs.com/ ranked the Berkey Water Filter as the top system. I’ve owned one for at least 8 years. It rocks, and was truly an investment worth making.
As for bottled water, your best bet is PLAIN spring water (never sparkling or enhanced) or “drinking” water. Spring water is high in minerals, and Water Kefir Grains love that. Pass on by the fancy and expensive water that’s alkalinized, sparkling, ozonated, extra mineralized or whatever marketing terms the water companies slap on labels to get you to buy their water.
Well water is another great option so long as you have had it tested for contaminants recently, and the minerals are balanced. Water Kefir Grains love the high and natural mineral content!
If you are using white sugar, you may need to supplement with minerals. Or, if you find your grains are not quite thriving, you may need to supplement. If you are using a darker colored cane sugar (i.e. rapadura), never use minerals as you will OVER-mineralize them and cause damage.
For every quart of water you use, you can choose ONE of the following:
- Pinch of sea salt
- Pinch of baking soda
- ½ tsp molasses per ¼ cup sugar
- Trace minerals (read the label for how much per quart of water)
Remember that you really only need one source of minerals. Here are the three formulas:
High mineral water + low mineral sugar
Low mineral water + high mineral sugar
Low mineral water + low mineral sugar + mineral supplement
Making sure your water kefir stays vibrant is not hard! But if you need help or reassurance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at NWFerments. We’re here to help you GET FERMENTED!