Recipe: Kelli Walker’s Water Kefir

This fizzy beverage contains probiotics similar to kombucha and switchel. 

Recipe: Kelli Walker

Time to make: 5 minutes
Time to ferment: 1-2 weeks
Makes: 2 litres

This is a very fizzy, slightly sweet, tangy drink. Instead of the thick, pancake-like scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) used to ferment kombucha, you use kefir grains. These are a different mix of bacteria and yeasts which look similar to grains.

“The grains float and dance and play,” says Kelli. “And it doesn’t use tea, like kombucha does.”

Once you have water kefir grains, you can keep re-using them indefinitely if you feed them. You can buy them online, on Trade Me, and from health food stores.


• Don’t leave bottled water kefir in your fridge for weeks as it may explode. Drink within 2-3 weeks of making it.
• Like kombucha, a small amount of alcohol is produced during the fermentation process.


2 litres of water
4-6 tbsp water kefir grains
½ cup raw sugar
slices of lemon and ginger
1 piece of dried fruit, eg fig, apple, sultanas


1. Place the grains, water and sugar into a glass jar, give it a gentle stir, then secure with a lid to create an anaerobic environment. Taste the mix so you know the flavour.

2. Place your jar somewhere with a steady 18-21°C temperature for 48 hours. Don’t place in direct sunlight. If you’re fermenting in cold weather, it may take slightly longer than 48 hours; if it’s really hot, it may take less time. You’re looking for the flavour to become less sweet, and more sour.

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3. Strain out the grains* – use a plastic mesh strainer, not metal.

4. Pour the liquid into your storage container or bottle, then add any flavours. Kelli recommends a thumb-size piece of ginger and a lemon (sliced), both unpeeled. You can also try fresh, sliced fruit, fruit juice (about 4 tbsp or 60ml), or a fruit tea bag.

5. Make sure the lid is tightly screwed in place to help it carbonate. Leave to ferment for another 24 hours.

6. Strain out the lemon, ginger and fruit through a plastic mesh strainer. You can reuse the ginger and fruit for 2-3 batches.

7. Store your water kefir in the fridge in a bottle with a screwtop lid – be aware it will be very fizzy. Use within 2-3 weeks. The longer you leave it, the less sweet and the more sour it will become.

* add the strained grains to a new batch of sugar and water, and place back in your 18-21°C storage area. To keep the grains alive, change the sugar/water every 3-4 days. You can add a pinch of baking soda and a 1/4 teaspoon of molasses occasionally if the grains start to look stressed (eg, if they go slimy, or start to reduce in size).


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