Flavouring Water Kefir: The Complete Guide
Have you made plain water kefir and want to flavour it? This article will give you a lot of ideas to concoct delicious kefir recipes!
First of all, why flavour your kefir? Plain water kefir has a very pleasant taste and is full of benefits. The fig and lemon slice alone give it a taste that is generally very popular, and many people consume it as is.
However, it is very easy to go beyond this basic taste and give it all sorts of flavours!
Water kefir is a natural probiotic drink with many benefits. People enjoy it for its sweet taste, natural fizz, and ease of preparation.
All you have to do is put some water kefir grains in sugar water, add some dried fruit and a slice of citrus fruit, and then wait 48 hours. The sugar water turns into an effervescent soda full of good microorganisms! For more information, see How to make homemade water kefir.
Want to jump right to the section you need?
- When to flavour your kefir?
- Flavouring with fruit juice
- Flavouring with fruit
- Flavouring with syrup
- Flavouring with tea or herbal tea
- Flavouring with plants and spices
- Flavouring with extracts and essential oils
- Ideas of combinations
When to Flavour Your Water Kefir?
It is best to flavour your water kefir just after removing the grains from the beverage, before starting the second fermentation (F2).
The reason for this is that the ingredients used for flavouring can contaminate and weaken the grains.
The only ingredients that can be in contact with the grains are dried fruit (rinsed, without additives) and citrus fruit (washed or without the skin).
However, once the grains are removed, water kefir can be flavoured in all kinds of ways!
To keep it fizzy, do not exceed 20% ingredients. For 1L of kefir, add no more than 200ml (¾ cup) of fruit, juice, or other ingredients. Also, beware of excessive bubble production during this second bottled fermentation. If you add a sugar source (juice, fruit, syrup), the yeast could build up a lot of pressure in the bottle, with a risk of explosion! This is why it is always best to use pressure-resistant bottles.
Flavouring Water Kefir With Fruit Juice
To give your kefir a flavour boost, fruit juice is ideal!
Add between 60 and 200ml (¼ and ¾ cup) of your favourite juice per litre of kefir.
Citrus fruits enhance water kefir particularly well. A few tablespoons of citrus fruit juice can give a special zing to a kefir lacking personality! Fruit juices contain the type of sugar that yeast love. The pressure can quickly build up. Our favourite juices for flavouring 1 bottle (750ml) of kefir are:
- 125ml (½ cup) coconut water
- 45ml (3 tbsp.) lime juice
- 125ml (½ cup) pear juice
- 125ml (½ cup) orange juice
- 125ml (½ cup) cranberry juice
Here’s an adventurous option: Ferment your kefir directly in the juice. Add your grains to the apple (or other!) juice and ferment it as you would for a standard recipe. Remember to save some grains in case your recipe doesn’t work as well as expected.
Flavouring Water Kefir With Fruit
You can flavour your kefir with your favourite fruit. Fruit can be fresh, frozen, dried, whole, puréed, etc.
For maximum flavour, choose ripe fruits and remove any damaged parts.
The smaller the pieces of fruit, the larger the contact area with the kefir, and the faster the flavour will spread. Cut or crush your fruits for best results.
Please note: the peel of some berries contains yeast. If you are doing a second fermentation, be careful of the pressure that builds up inside the bottles.
Our favourite fruits for flavouring 1 bottle (750ml) of kefir are:
- 5-10 crushed cherries
- 4-5 strawberries and a few small pieces of cucumber
- ½ peach chunks
- A small handful of crushed blueberries
Flavouring Water Kefir With Syrup
Syrups are perfect for flavouring kefir at the last moment! These flavour concentrates should be added in small doses.
You can use a commercial syrup, or homemade shrub.
Add the syrup (or shrub) to the bottle, or directly into your glass, to your liking!
Our favourite syrups for flavouring 1 bottle (750ml) of kefir are:
- 15-30ml (1-2 tbsp.) grenadine syrup
- 15-30ml (1-2 tbsp.) elderberry syrup
- 15-30ml (1-2 tbsp.) blueberry shrub
- 15-30ml (1-2 tbsp.) haskap shrub
Flavouring Water Kefir With Tea or Herbal Tea
Herbal teas and aromatic teas are perfect for flavouring water kefir.
Add 10-20% of your favourite tea or herbal tea to your kefir to flavour it. For example, for 1L of kefir, add between 100ml and 200ml of infusion.
As your tea or herbal tea will be diluted in the kefir, we recommend that you make it 2 to 4 times more concentrated than normal to benefit from its full flavour. Let it cool at room temperature before adding it.
Our favourite teas to flavour 1 bottle (750ml) of kefir are:
- 125ml (½ cup) mint tea
- 125ml (½ cup) chamomile and lavender tea
- 125ml (½ cup) of your favourite tea or herbal tea!
Flavouring Water Kefir With Spices and Plants
Nature is full of flavours! Flavour your kefir with your favourite herbs and spices.
The easiest way to use herbs or spices is cold maceration (infusion). Plunge your ingredients into the kefir and let it sit for 24 hours in a cool place.
This technique is ideal for flowers (lilac, lavender, butterfly pea flower) and spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger, etc.).
Another technique is to make a decoction. In a saucepan, cover the ingredients with water and let it simmer. Allow cooling before adding it to the kefir.
The decoction is ideal for tougher ingredients, such as root beer mix, which is made of several roots. Chaga, a woody mushroom, can also be made into a decoction.
For more information, see Flavouring Fermented Beverages with Wild Plants.
Our favourite plants and spices for flavouring 1 bottle (750ml) of kefir are:
- 1 tsp. chai spices
- 1 tsp. ginger and 1 tsp. turmeric
- 30ml (2 tbsp.) root beer mix in 250ml water (see our Root Beer Kefir Recipe)
- 4g (2 tbsp.) chaga in 250ml of water decoction
Flavouring Your Kefir With Extracts and Essential Oils
A very simple way to flavour your water kefir is to add natural or artificial extracts.
A little vanilla extract can turn kefir into a dessert drink! You can also try mint, almond, or orange blossom extracts. Be careful, it’s concentrated.
Essential oils are not ideal for flavouring kefir. They are not soluble in kefir and can have undesirable effects when ingested. If you wish to use them, only use edible essential oils.
However, hydrosols can be a good option for flavouring your kefir.
Our favourite extracts for flavouring 1 bottle (750ml) of kefir are:
- 15-30ml (1-2 tsp.) vanilla extract
- 15-30ml (1-2 tsp.) orange blossom extract
- A few drops of rose hydrosol
Taking It a Step Further: Mixing Ingredients
Don’t stop at just one type of ingredient! Feel free to explore unusual combinations.
Some of our favourite combinations are:
- Grapefruit juice and butterfly pea flower
- Root beer mix and vanilla
- Apple juice and cinnamon
- Pears and cloves
- Lilac and blueberry
- Basil and strawberry
- Ginger, turmeric, and orange juice
Water kefir is a very easy drink to personalize and experiment with. If you open the fridge, you will surely find all sorts of ideas for flavouring your kefir!