How to Make Homemade Water Kefir

Water kefir (also known as tibicos) is a delicious, fizzy fermented beverage that’s full of probiotics.

This guide explains everything you need to know to make your own water kefir at home!

Read this guide in full, or go straight to the step that interests you:

What Is Water Kefir?

Water kefir (tibicos) is a fermented fizzy beverage that can be made in just a few days. It is prepared with sugar water and water kefir grains.

These grains take the appearance of small, pale yellow, translucent crystals. They contain yeast and bacteria (including probiotics), which are able to transform sugar water into a fizzy drink.

Water kefir is consumed for its great taste and benefits. It’s just as fizzy as fizzy drinks! It’s extremely easy to make at home.

Don’t mistake water kefir for milk kefir

Although both are called “kefir” and prepared from “grains”, these preparations are very different.

  • Milk kefir grains ferment milk of animal origin.
  • Water kefir grains ferment a sweet liquid.

To find out more, see Water vs. Milk Kefir: What is the Difference?

How to Make Water Kefir in 4 Easy Steps:

  1. Combine water, sugar, dried fruit, and kefir grains
  2. Let it ferment on the counter (24 hours)
  3. Flavour (optional)
  4. Bottle

If you receive dehydrated kefir grains, the first thing to do is to activate them: How to Activate Dehydrated Kefir Grains.

Making water kefir

Choosing Your Ingredients for Making Water Kefir

The quantity and choice of ingredients are important for obtaining the right balance of nutrients, particularly sugar, and minerals, to promote optimal fermentation of water kefir and maintain your grains’ health.

When you begin, we recommend you simply follow the basic kefir recipe available in this guide.

Making water kefir is very easy! Even if you don’t have exactly the right ingredients, it will still work.

After a few recipes, we suggest adjusting your choice of ingredients to find the right balance of nutrients to ensure that your grains are healthy and multiply well.

Minerals play an essential role in helping water kefir grains metabolize sugar. But don’t try to add too much! An excess of minerals is just as harmful as a deficiency and could weaken the grains.

Minerals can be provided by various ingredients, such as:

  • Water (unless filtered or demineralized)
  • Sugar (unless the sugar is white)
  • Fruit, such as figs


To make your water kefir, it’s best to use chlorine-free water.

Here are the water options available:

  • Tap water: Generally suitable, but may contain chlorine. Let the water stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to allow some of the chlorine to evaporate.
  • Filtered water: Does not generally contain chlorine, but may have a low mineral content. Supplement with other mineral-rich ingredients if necessary.
  • Bottled water: Chlorine-free alternative to tap water, but not essential.

For more information on the choice of water for your fermentations, see the resource Which Is the Best Water for Fermenting? for further advice.


Sugar is essential for making water kefir. It provides most of the nutrients for the microorganisms! Depending on the type of sugar used, it can also provide minerals.

Unprocessed cane sugar is ideal for feeding kefir grains.

Which sugar should you choose?

  • Low in minerals: Cane sugar, golden sugar, white sugar
  • High in minerals: Brown sugar, coconut sugar, rapadura sugar, maple syrup
  • Sugars not to use: Stevia, monk fruit, erythritol, sugar substitutes

If you use sugar high in minerals, don’t use dried fruit or mineral-rich water, especially if your grains are still young. On the other hand, if you use a sugar that is low in minerals, it is important to compensate by using mineral-rich water or dried fruit (such as figs).


Lemon is optional, but it can be useful depending on the type of water you use. Choose an organic lemon or remove the peel. It’s best to use only the juice of the lemon. Be careful, lemon can also affect the growth of kefir grains if used in excess.

Dried Fruit

The best fruit to use is dried figs. It provides the essential minerals needed for the kefir grains to develop properly.

Dried fruit such as dates, raisins, and cranberries can also be used. However, they provide fewer nutrients than figs.

It’s best to keep the fruit whole, to make it easier to separate it from the grains when harvesting.

Avoid fruit that contain additives. If possible, use organic fruit.

What Equipment Is Needed to Make Homemade Water Kefir?

To make water kefir, you need:

The Kefirko Kit includes all the equipment you need to make kefir.

For more information, see Which Equipment for Making Water Kefir.

Kefir fruits grains

Homemade Water Kefir Recipe

Water kefir (also known as tibicos) is a delicious, fizzy fermented beverage rich in probiotics that is made from water kefir grains. Learn how to make water kefir!
5 of 1 rating
Preparation Time 5 minutes
fermentation 1 day
Servings 1 L



  • 2 tbsp. water kefir grains (or more)
  • ¼ cup cane sugar
  • 1 dried figs
  • 1 lemon slices (without the skin)
  • 4.5 cups water



  • Pour the water into the jar.
  • Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
  • Add the fig, lemon slice, and kefir grains.
  • Fit the lid.


  • Let the kefir ferment at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours. The fig will rise, and the taste will become tangy.
  • When the taste suits you, filter the kefir to remove the kefir grains, fig, and lemon.
  • Set the grains aside for your next recipe. Compost the fruit (or add it to a smoothie).

Flavouring (optional)

  • Add fruit chunks, juice, or syrup to flavour your water kefir.


  • Pour the kefir into pressure resistant bottles.
  • Store the bottles at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours.
  • After 24 hours, open and reseal the bottles to check the level of fizz. For a fizzier kefir, allow it to ferment for longer.
  • When you are happy with the level of bubbles, place it in the fridge.


See our guide for Flavouring Water Kefir for flavouring ideas.
Water kefir keeps for about a week in the fridge. It will still be good for many, many months, but its taste will change.
This recipe is designed for the Kefirko 1.4L Kit, as this is a very popular piece of equipment and format that is perfectly suited to making water kefir.
You can also use wide mouth glass jars with a cloth filter.
Is this your first recipe? Activate your dehydrated kefir grains before you start.
Have you tried it?Share and tag @revolutionfermentation!

How to Store Your Kefir Grains

Once you’ve filtered your kefir, don’t throw your grains away! If they are well nourished, they can be used again and again.

The best way to store your kefir grains is to start a new recipe straight away. Regular recipes with quality ingredients will keep your kefir grains strong and healthy.

Don’t rinse the grains between recipes. Repeated rinsing could weaken them.

Storing Grains in the Fridge

For a break, you can store your grains in the fridge for about 3 weeks.

  1. Drain the grains.
  2. Place in an airtight container.
  3. Cover with water.
  4. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  5. Refrigerate.

After a maximum of three weeks, drain the kefir grains and make a new recipe.

Storing Grains in the Freezer

You can store kefir grains in the freezer for a few months.

  1. Drain the grains and dry them, to remove as much moisture as possible.
  2. Place in an airtight plastic bag and remove as much air as possible.
  3. Keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Frequent periods in the fridge or freezer will weaken the kefir grains. We, therefore, recommend that you continue to use them regularly to maintain their vitality.

How to Flavour Your Water Kefir

Plain water kefir is delicious, but we love flavouring it with all sorts of things!

You can add:

  • Fruit juice
  • Herbal teas
  • Chopped fruit
  • Spices

Flavouring should be done after removing the kefir grains. This avoids contamination of the grains!

Looking for inspiration? Check out our guide for Flavouring Water Kefir and discover our Water Kefir Recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know if the Fermentation Is Successful?

Your water kefir is successful if:

  • It smells and tastes good (tangy).
  • It becomes fizzy after bottling.

Can I Use Dried Raisins, Dates, or Other Dried Fruit?

Yes, dried fruit provides nutrients that kefir grains love.

Dried figs work best, but dates, cranberries, and raisins are also good options. If you want to use one of these options, use double the amount of figs.

Can You Make Kefir Without Dried Figs?

Yes, but you need to compensate for the lack of minerals!

Kefir grains need nutrients to grow and ferment. If you prepare water kefir without figs, make sure you have at least one ingredient that contains nutrients. This could be…

  • Water rich in minerals.
  • Low-processed sugar (white sugar with molasses, brown sugar, rapadura, coconut sugar, etc.).
  • Other dried fruit.

It’s a question of balance! Be careful not to use only mineral-rich ingredients as this could weaken the grains.

Can I Make Kefir Without a Slice of Lemon?

Lemon helps create an acidic environment to guide the fermentation of the kefir grains. You can replace it with a slice of citrus fruit (without the peel) or 1 tbsp. lemon juice.

How Much Kefir Can I Drink per Day?

As with any new food, everyone is different, and your body may take a little time to adjust to water kefir. Start with small amounts (1 glass a day) and increase as you go along.

See The Benefits of Water Kefir According to Science to find out more about the virtues of water kefir.

Is There Any Danger to Water Kefir?

Water kefir is a safe beverage to make at home. All you need is the right ingredients and clean equipment. To find out more, see Is There Any Danger to Water Kefir?

How Do I Grow My Water Kefir Grains?

Kefir grains are made from bacteria that transform the nutrients they find.

First and foremost, it’s the fermentation conditions that are important. Grains are more likely to grow if:

  • The recipes are regular.
  • The temperature is constant, around 20 to 25°C.
  • The ingredients contain enough minerals, but not too many.
  • The grains are not put in the fridge too often.

If there is a lack of minerals, you can occasionally add a nutritional “boost”. You could, for example, use one of the following options:

  • 1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.
  • Piece of boiled eggshell.
  • 1 teaspoon molasses.

Can I Make Milk Kefir With Water Kefir Grains?

No. Milk kefir grains and water kefir grains are two different cultures, with different microorganisms.

Milk kefir grains can transform the lactose in milk, but water kefir grains cannot!

To find out more, see Water vs. Milk Kefir: What is the Difference?

Can I Make Water Kefir With Liquids Other Than Sugar Water?

Yes, but the grains could weaken over time if the nutrient balance is not right.

To experiment with other liquids, take extra grains. As the colony is constantly growing, you’ll be able to use some of them for your experiments.

Plant-Based Milk Kefir

Plant-based milk such as coconut and soya milk can be fermented with water kefir grains. We do not recommend using almond or oat milk, as their protein content is low, and the result will be unsatisfactory.

The plant-based milk will become slightly tangy and effervescent.

  • 1 L plant-based beverage
  • 1 tbsp. kefir grains
  • 1 tbsp. sugar

Coconut water kefir

This fizzy beverage is very refreshing!

  • 1 L coconut water
  • 1 tbsp. kefir grains

Apple juice kefir

Make an easy fizzy apple juice!

  • 1 L apple juice
  • 1 tbsp. kefir grains

What Are Water Kefir Grains Made Of?

Water kefir grains are not “seeds”, like those of plants. They are called grains because they are granular!

Water kefir grains are usually made of:

  • Lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus casei/paracasei, Lactobacillus hilgardii and Lactobacillus nagelii)
  • Yeast (mainly Saccharomyces cerevisiae)
  • Bifidobacteria (Bifidobacterium aquikefiri)
  • Acetic acid bacteria (Acetobacter fabarum)

The shape of the grains is created by the L. hilgardii bacteria. These bacteria assemble simple sugars and minerals to create complex crystal-shaped structures.

The bacteria form the kefir grains using dextran, a kind of homopolysaccharide (bless you!) (ref.).

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