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Coconut Kefir & Water Kefir
Water kefir (“keh-fear”) grains — also called sugar kefir, tibicos, tibi, Japanese water crystals — are similar to kefir grains, which are used in dairy milk to make a fermented dairy drink.
In this article I’ll be giving you a recipe for coconut water kefir and water kefir. The first is one you make with coconut water from a young coconut, the second is one you make with filtered water.
Dairy kefir uses different grains (which are not grains like wheat grains – the word is used as it is in a grain of sand) to water kefir. If you want to make the type of coconut kefir that uses the meat from the coconut too, which results in a white kefir, rather than a translucent kefir, I’ll will be adding a video and recipe for that shortly (I’m writing this in April 2019).
Water kefir grains tend to be translucent, whereas milk kefir grains will be whiter, looking a little bit like cauliflower. Because water kefir grains tend to be used in a variety of liquids, they will sometimes appear different colours, depending on the colour of the liquid. So in the video for fizzy coconut kefir below, I use dark molasses and coconut sugar, which turns them brown. If you use white sugar, they’ll turn white.
No two batches of water kefir drink or grains are exactly the same in their bacterial makeup. This also means that you may find some variance in taste between two batches that you make, even with the same grains.
Like kefir grains, water kefir grains are a mix of bacteria and yeasts, which feed on the sugar in many different sugary liquids to produce lactic acid, very small amounts of ethanol (alcohol), and carbon dioxide, which carbonates the drink on the second stage fermentation, as I show in the video.
The main benefit of this process is that probiotics are produced in the final drink. It’s thought these are beneficial to the human intestines, creating an environment that aids digestion.
Growing Water Kefir Grains
Water kefir grains cannot be grown from scratch; they have to come from a donor. The good news is that you only need a very small amount to start growing them from that first batch. It seems there is an abundance of kefir grains for sale on eBay. You’ll only get very small amounts, but that’s all you need to start them multiplying.
Here are the instructions for growing kefir grains. The grains need a high amount of sugar to feed on.
For making water kefir and growing more grains
6 cups spring water
1/4 cup water kefir grains
1/2 cup coconut sugar or white sugar
1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (optional)
1/8 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate
- Place all ingredients in a glass jar and cover with a breathable tight mesh material, such as a nut milk bag.
- Allow to stand at room temperature for up to 48 hours.
- Strain the liquid and reserve the grains.
- The resulting water can be drunk as is or added to smoothies for an extra boost of probiotics. You can also add fruit juice for a second stage fermentation (see recipe below).
- You should notice an increase in the volume of the kefir grains that came out, compared to when you started.
- Repeat this process until you have enough grains to keep this process going and also make coconut kefir.
- Young coconut water doesn’t seem to make the kefir grains grow very fast, which I assume is because it doesn’t have much sugar beyond being able to make the coconut water ferment into kefir.
So I like to use the growing kefir grains recipe, then alternate it with the coconut kefir recipe, back and forth each batch. When you team up growing the grains with the recipe on how to make the actual kefir, you should be able to provide your daily kefir requirements on an ongoing basis.