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Water Kefir Soda

Soda.  Pop.  Soda pop.  “Coke”.  It’s known by many names across the country.  In my house we call it crap I no longer buy because my husband has a severe and expensive addiction.  It’s disgusting how addicted he is to the bubbly stuff.  I rarely bought it because he would guzzle it and just crave it.
That all changed for good when I decided to start making my own.  I read a post on some blog (forgive me for not remembering the name) about making water kefir soda.  I was intrigued.  Then I did a bit of research and found that I liked what I saw.
Water kefir is make with kefir “grains” (it isn’t really a grain and does not contain gluten) which are chock-full of probiotics and good bacteria for a happy and calm tummy.  And it can be used to make a soda with the same, if not more benefits than yogurt.  I thought to myself, “hmmm…this could fit in to my house”.
I ordered a water kefir starter kit from Cultures for Health.  Their customer service rocked, and the low price shipping was super fast.  I also ordered 1 of their flip top bottles, but later found bottles twice the size at half the price at a local brewing supply store.
When the grains arrived, I rehydrated them according to instructions.  After a few days, I got to work making some soda!
Mix 1/4 cup of organic evaporated cane juice (Costco!) in with a few cups of water.  I microwave it for 90 seconds to let the sugar dissolve. You’ll want 1/4 cup of sugar per quart of water.  Add the dissolved sugar water to a glass jar – canning jars seems to work great.  My cool cousin Kori gave me a few half-quart Mason jars that she found at Goodwill.  I like these because I can make enough for 2 big bottles of soda at one time.  Once you’ve added the sugar water to the jar, fill the rest of the jar with cold water.  Once the water in the jar is room temperature, cover with a towel and rubberband.  Let sit on your counter for 24-48 hours.
Grains at the bottom
Once it’s had a chance to “brew”, strain the grains out using a plastic mesh strainer (included in the starter kit).
Pour about 1-1.5 cups of your favorite juice in a flip-top style bottle.  Pour in the liquid that the kefir grains have been sitting in.
Leave the flip-top style bottles on the counter top for 24-48 hours.  The longer it sits, the fizzier it gets.  After 24-48 hours, open and enjoy!
My family thinks that water kefir soda is SUPER good.
A few tips that I’ve gathered over the last 2 months:
1) some people recommend you use sugar alternatives (date palm sugar, Rapadura or Succant) in the first step of the process.  Or if you don’t have those sweeteners (or can’t afford them!), they recommend using organic sugar with a splash of molasses.  Let me tell you what happens when you do that.  You take a big drink of that soda, and think “why did someone put donkey piss in my glass”?  Do yourself a favor, and just stick with plain old organic evaporated cane juice.  The kefir grains will “eat” most of the sugar during the process, so 1/4 cup isn’t going to kill you.
2) Purple juices seem to work the best for us.  We prefer grape or pomegranate/blueberry (Trader Joes) to any other flavor I’ve made.  Cherry soda?  Barf.  Homemade cream soda?  Tasted like Sasqwatches nutsack sweat.  Anything other than the purple flavoring has led us to just ignore the soda and not drink it.  I’m not making this stuff just to waste it.
3) Don’t let your grains sit in the sugar bath for more than 48 hours.  Don’t let the soda sit in the bottle for longer than 7 days.  A few reasons for that:
        a)  It can get pretty explosive.  Ask my sister-in-law, my back, my hair, and my kitchen ceiling how I know that…(I’ve learned to open the bottles outside).
        b)  It can get a little boozy.  For someone who doesn’t drink, the batch that got forgotten about in the fridge for a week knocked me on my ass.  But I may or may not have continued to drink a small glass at bedtime for another few days after getting the best night of sleep in years…but I digress.

4) Get creative and enjoy!  Remember, there is just a little bit of sugar in this, and the cultures “eat” most of it.  It’s not bad for you, and in-fact can aid your digestive health.  I’m a bit of a juice nazi with Jack, but I’ll let him have some of this in a sippy cup.

5) I’m a busy working momma and was hesitant to add ONE MORE thing to my routine.  But all in all, this takes about 5-10 minutes every 2 days.

Cost – the starter kit cost me $25 including shipping.  As long as you follow the directions, the grains last indefinitely.  At that point, you’re only paying for 1-1.5 cups of juice per batch, and 1/4 or 1/2 cup of organic sugar.  I also paied $2.50 each for 5 large flip top style bottles at the local brewing supply store.  It makes it a very cost effective alternative to soda pop.

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45 comments on “Water Kefir Soda”

  1. All About Us – I would encourage you to give it a try even with all the canning stuff you have going on. The grains do best at 62 degrees or warmer, so come fall/winter it might be tricky to get the results you’re looking for.

    I’ve heard about the ginger option, but it doesn’t interest me right now. I drank so much natural ginger ale while pregnant (I was disgustingly sick for more than half of my pregnancy), that the thought of it doesn’t appearl to me. 😀

  2. I have been wanting to try this and Lacto-fermentation. When I read about Laura at Heavenly Homemakers making it I figured I should give it a try. Now you tried it too! I have read a few blogs where people lacto-ferment ginger for homemade ginger ale. Have you ever tried it? I might have to save this for a “winter experiment” though…canning season is just starting for me. I am addicted to diet Sunkist and diet Coke Lime. I really think it is all about the fizz for me, so this would be great. Thanks!

  3. Do you know why you have to use flip top bottles? I always have glass bottles left over from Pellegrino, and am wondering if I can use those.

  4. Rebecca, you want an air-tight bottle to help make it become carbonated. Try it with the Pellegrino first since you have it on hand!

  5. Love this post! Your descriptions of various flavors…LOL…although I have to wonder just how you know Sasquatch so intimately! Anyway, just wanted to share some info I learned. In my water kefir group on Facebook (I Love Water Kefir!), one of our members tested her wk (made with grains I sent her) with a hydrometer to test for alcohol. She didn’t test it after 7 days, but did find that there was very little to no alcohol at the various stages she tested. I have found that if I guzzle a glass of it, regardless of how long it has fermented, I get to feeling a little “boozy”…VERY relaxed. It intrigued me very much…why was I feeling this way if there’s no alcohol in it? Or at least not enough to elicit a “buzz” from just one glass? Then it hit me that wk has magnesium and calcium in it, both of which can have a relaxing effect on the body. Of course, any time you’re fermenting something with sugar or juice, there’s the chance it can become alcoholic for sure. I’ll have to have her check it afte 7 days and see what it’s like. So, now even though I LOVE LOVE LOVE wk and just want to chug it, I slowly drink it over a span of an hour or so and it doesn’t knock me out so much. Thanks for this great post…love your sense of humor and I’m sharing it with the group (O:

  6. You crack me up! Aaannd your cheap/frugal. Loving this site, thanks!

  7. cracking me up about the Sasqwatches nutsack sweat! I had to read it to my husband.

  8. O Em Gee…I happened onto your site about 30 mins ago and I will be coming back for not only your delicious recipes and how to’s but for comic relief as well. This entry alone had me literally LOL so loud I woke up the hubs. Your sense of humor is right up my alley!!

  9. Can water kefir be purchased or do i have to make it?

    • Do you mean the finished product? I’ve never seen it in a store before, but that doesn’t mean it probably doesn’t exist. It’s a product that gets more combustible as it ages, so I’m guessing it’s not a common thing in stores.

  10. I love water kefir! I make it by the gallon. For me, myself and I or the ocational friend. I’ve been too cheap so far to by flip top bottles so I store it in glass kombucha bottles that I buy a couple times a year. I brew my own kombucha too but somtimes when I’ve been away from home for awhile I will buy one to get all that good bacteria in my body again.

    You can buy water kefir in glass bottles at some stores but the only kind I have tried taste awfull.

    Wonderful post!

  11. we as well make water Kefir by the gallon. where did you find the swing top bottles as I have had a hard time finding them at a reasonable price. Going have to try the
    juice as we always just drink it plain.
    great post

  12. I’m giving this a go right now. I started with dehydrated grains so my stuff is a bit under-powered so far. I’m not getting much carbonation with letting the bottles sit on the counter for 2 days. I’m letting the grain sit out for two days also. I eventually hope to have multiple batches going at once so every day I get a couple of bottles.

    I was able to get the bottles cheaper at my local brew store, but for the size I’m preferring to reuse Grolsh beer bottles. They fit in my refrigerator better. My Fred Meyer has a four-pack on sale for $9. That is cheaper than the $2.50 a bottle AND they come filled with beer! If you don’t want to drink the beer you can always cook with it or use it as a slug trap in your garden.

    Once my “soda” is up to snuff I’ll post pictures on my blog.

  13. You might also like Kombucha. I hear the SCOBY is less fuss than than the kefir grains, but I don’t have any experience with kefir. I do have experience with Kombucha, and it’s just easy.

  14. Thank you for this post – awesome!
    Little persnickety thing but you should have your links open up in a new tab so traffic isn’t directed away from your blog 😉

  15. I have never actually sat down and read a blog, thought about it, just didn’t. Lucky for me I stumble upon yours 🙂 Love it! I’ve never even heard of water kefir, but you can bet I’ll be trying to find where to buy it tomorrow. Love your ideas, really love your writing. Starting the OCM also, very interested in that and will be making the vicks shower disc! THank you!….and all this time I didn’t think Sasquatch really exists..he must!! lol

  16. Of course, love your blog or I wouldn’t be here………..your links open in your blog fine for me – use firefox also
    I drink some tart cherry juice for my arthritis and its melatonin everyday – gonna try making water kefir with it – get 2 birds with that 1 stone.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family,

  17. I make my own ginger ale.. I have a batch in the frig right now that is tooo spicy cause I over did the ginger 🙁 Can’t have too much of a good thing right? Well I found the tipping point. How is this different that just using yeast?

    PS. I also have no clue how to get an email back if someone replies to my post 🙁

  18. “why did someone put donkey piss in my glass”? ROFLAO, I laughed so hard when I read that, I almost woke up that precious sleeping baby of mine who took HOURS to go to sleep (I still have a few hairs left thank God)and I LOVE this idea of making my own soda.

    I’m a member of the SA – ‘Soda-holics Anonymous’ like your husband but we can’t afford to keep buying that crap either, not with a houseful of us.

    I’m a member of AA as well, but that’s no laughing matter – Unless your drunk off this soda water. Then everything’s funny 😀 and technically there’s no alcohol right? An AA’s dream come true, you are!

    I’m kidding. Or am I?

  19. I don’t know how I just stumbled across this since I have been looking all over your blog now for months…

    However, I, like Troy, am addicted to coke and cannot get enough. I have found that given the chance, I can go through two cases a week. A WEEK!

    I have had to just stop buying it, which feels like a hole in my soul.

    I am most definitely going to try this. It sounds weird, but what the hell.

  20. What do you mean by purple juices working best?

  21. Hi, Sarah! I was wondering if kefir grains can be stored, or if you have to keep making a batch of water kefir every two days? Thanks!

    • They can. You can put them in the fridge for as long as needed, but you should continue to “feed” the grains with a bit of sugar every day days.

      Keep in mind that once you bring them out of the fridge, it will take about a week or so to “perk” the grains back up. The first few batches will be pretty flat which is fine, but we love the bubbles in our house!

  22. I loved the idea of Kefir Soda and ordered my starter kit right away. I have made several batches and the first ones did not have much fizz. I am now getting fizz but it seems to smell a bit – which is didn’t in the beginning. I have a few questions:

    1. Is it normal for the grains to take on an odor?

    2. Do you sterilize your bottles, strainer, etc?

    I have been washing everything in the dishwasher but my husband doesn’t think that is enough and I should sterilize everything each time.

    • Mine took about 10(ish) batches before I got the fizz you see above.

      1) Yep, mine have a scent too. I can’t describe it, but almost a yeasty smell?
      2) I’m horrible, and just kind of rinse the things. Every other batch, I give them a scrub, but I don’t sweat it too much.

  23. I used a flip bottle and the darn thing exploded after only a day and a half. Literally exploded, there were shards of glass everywhere and soda dripping from the ceiling. That was my second batch (first one went down the drain) and I’ve just bottled my third batch. I closed the lid but didn’t snap down the metal closure. Hopefully it will still get super carbonated, but I’m afraid to seal it up again!

    • I have had 3 bottles explode on me in 2 ish years. Each time, the same factors were in play, so in my case, it was always my fault.

      1) I used apple juice
      2) The house was warmer than usual
      3) I used way too much juice in the bottle. 1 cup max!
      4) I left it in the bottle for more than 3 days

      Were any of those factors in play with yours?

  24. So, I finally did it, I have my grains in their sugar bath. The first 2 batches have tasted the same coming out as going in, so I have decided to just do a few more batches and dump them (I don’t need to be drinking sugar water). I have a canning jar sealer so I think i might just try that when I am ready to try the soda version, but I wonder if maybe sucking the air out will cause it to not fizz?

    Can’t wait to see how the next few weeks go with it!

    • Oh yeah, the first few batches were gross!

      Are you doing a second ferment with juice?

    • Not yet. Organic juice is to expensive to waste on iffy kefir water. I think I can tell a difference in the color with my latest batch, so I might give that one a try. I need to get some fancy bottles though so we can shoot for the fizzy.

    • We use Newman’s Own grape juice from Costco. It’s not organic, but from a company that I respect. We get 2 huge jugs for about $7.

    • No Costco :0(
      Hubby and I tried some last night with a bit of lemon juice and it was great! Both hubby and kiddo LOVE lemonade, so I think this might end up being a big hit here.

      I think I may have to try to make some “soda: tomorrow.

      Thanks for the tips and help!

  25. I used peach juice (canned Kerns from Costco) but I may have used more than a cup. Hmmm.

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  27. It’s hard to come by knowledgeable people for this
    topic, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking
    about! Thanks

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  30. I just bought more lifer grains and I can’t wait to get back to drinking this!
    I LOVE the new website. So much.