What is Water Kefir?

You've probably heard of fermented drinks like kombucha or dairy kefir, but have you ever heard of water kefir? 

I hadn't and I lived in Portland, Oregon for 7 years while going through naturopathic medical school AND residencies! If water kefir isn't something you would see on Portlandia, I'm not sure what is...

That being said, I have just fallen in love with making water kefir. 

Not only is it good for your gut, but it's FUN to make and to take care of the precious, live kefir grains. 

It's like a constant science project happening in your fridge and it's a great learning opportunity for kids!

Water kefir uses a specific strain (different from dairy kefir) of microorganisms that ferment sugar and fruit into a fizzy, delicious elixir full of good bugs for your gut.

The bugs eat a lot of the sugar, but not all of it. And alcohol is a natural by-product of anything fermented, so this is still a moderation food. 

But I would so much rather have a glass of water kefir on a hot day instead of a sugary soda! 

Speaking as someone who grew up in the South, where Coca-Cola was practically in my baby bottle, making water kefir has definitely helped me get that fizzy fix when the soda craving calls. 

I first learned about water kefir from one of my favorite cookbooks, Nourished Kitchen. Jenny McGruther outlines exactly how to make you own water kefir along with substitutions here

You can buy the starter cultures here (along with a anything else needed for any and all home fermenting). 

cherry-vanilla-water-kefir

My favorite is to use tart cherry juice and part of a vanilla bean during the second fermentation to make a cherry-vanilla water kefir. MMMMMmmmmm, delicious! 

Plus, tart cherry juice is great for insomnia and pain! A win-win!

How can you not get mesmerized by the fizzy goodness? This is after I "burped" the bottles before setting them in the fridge after the second fermentation with the cherry and vanilla (those are vanilla bean seeds you see floating at the top):

How can you resist that!? 

Have you made water kefir?

What are some of your favorite flavors - let us know below in the comments!