Category Archives: Fermentation

How to Make Water Kefir – Step by Step Tutorial

Shortly after discovering how much I loved making Kombucha, I also discovered another probiotic home brewed beverage, water kefir. What I loved about the idea of water kefir was that it seemed so much less involved than making kombucha, but still had the carbonation that we love, as well as the great flavour. Some other great things about it: the brew time was shorter, the supplies needed were fewer and less expensive and the cost per batch was significantly less because there is no tea required to make it. I still love kombucha, but these days you’ll find me drinking and making water kefir far more often.

Water Kefir is made using ‘kefir grains’. The word ‘grain’ is actually a bit misleading though because it’s not, nor does it contain any actual grains. Kefir grains are basically gelatinous blobs of beneficial bacterial culture. The fermentation happens when you make a sugar water mixture and place the grains inside of it. Much the same way as a SCOBY survives off of the sugar when making Kombucha, these kefir grains eat the sugar in the sugar water mixture. The leftover liquid is a beverage is filled with all sorts of wonderful probiotics. The taste is slightly yeasty and oh-so-good for your gut.

Here are my step by step instructions to making water kefir. I’ve been making this regularly for nearly a year now with awesome success. If you have anything to add that I may have missed or if you have any questions, please ask in the comments section!

Water Kefir Tutorial Step by Step recipe

Step 1: Acquire Kefir Grains

I acquired my initial batch of water kefir grains for free from a lady who was giving them away on a local buy and sell site. Since these grains do multiply over time, anyone who makes water kefir should have some to share eventually. If you aren’t able to find anyone locally, some can be ordered from here on the Cultures for Health website.

Water Kefir Grains

Step 2: Collect your materials and ingredients

You will need:

– Water kefir grains (approx. 3-4 tbsp worth)

– One large glass Mason jar (I’m using a 1.9L size and it’s perfect)

– 4 or 5 flip-top bottles (I like Grolsch beer bottles – they’ve stood up well to TONS of use)

– A plastic or nylon mesh strainer (grains are not supposed to come into contact with metal)

– A wooden or plastic spoon

– A plastic funnel

– A large plastic or melamine mixing bowl

– 6 cups of water

– 1/4 cup white sugar

– 10-15 raisins, a pitted date or dried fig

– Apple juice or another pure fruit juice of your choice

– 1-2 tbsp lemon juice (optional)

– 1-2 tbsp pure maple syrup (optional)

Step 3: Prepare your mixture

Begin by placing your water kefir grains into the bottom of your clean jar. Place 1 cup of water into a pot and begin bringing to a boil. Just before it reaches a boil, place your 1/4 cup of white sugar in the water, stirring with your wooden spoon to dissolve. Once fully dissolved, turn heat off. Place your remaining 5 cups of room temperature water into your mixing bowl. Slowly stir your hot sugar water mixture into that. Once all is combined, pour the contents of your bowl into the jar containing your grains.

Because kefir grains love minerals, feel free to switch up their food source. I often use raisins simply because they are inexpensive and we always have some. You could, however, also use pitted dates, dried figs, clean egg shell or any combination of these. I also add in a bit of lemon juice and pure maple syrup at this point as well.

Step 4: Let the magic happen!

Screw the cap on your jar lightly and place water kefir in a place where it can remain undisturbed for 48 hours (your kitchen counter is fine). During the 48 hour fermentation time, a few things might happen. You may notice that your liquid becomes a little yellowish in colour and the fruit and/or grains may move around and/or float due to the natural carbonation that’s occurring. It’s all totally normal. Just enjoy the show!

making water kefir

Step 5: Separating your liquid and bottling

Once your 48 hours are up, you are ready to bottle! Place your strainer over your mixing bowl and begin pouring your liquid through it. The strainer should be catching all of the grains as well as your raisins/fruit/egg shell. Using your plastic or wooden spoon, carefully remove your dried fruit/egg shell from the grains and discard. Place grains back into the jar. You can then follow steps 1 through 4 to complete your next batch!

Water Kefir Tutorial


Water Kefir grains close up

For bottling, be sure your bottles are clean. I like to give mine a rinse with hot water and vinegar just before using them. Then using your plastic funnel, fill bottles about 1/4 of the way with the fruit juice of your choice. We find apple juice to be the best flavour for this but you could use any. Then using a funnel, fill the remainder of the bottle with your kefir. At this point I always add in 2 or 3 raisins. I once read that this helps to keep your beverage carbonated. I have no idea how true it is but I do it anyway!

water kefir bottles

Seal your bottles and store at room temperature until ready to drink. I recommend not waiting longer then 48 hours though since a) You’ll have a new batch to bottle in another 48 hours and b) The carbonation builds quite quickly and you could end up with a broken bottle and/or an explosion! Speaking of which, to open bottles for drinking I recommend doing so in a sink with a plastic bag over the lid. You’ll thank me for this tip later! 😉

Making Water Kefir easy recipe

probiotic healthy pop recipe

Water Kefir Drink Recipe Ottawa


That’s it! That’s how you make this healthy, delicious natural soda! Enjoy! 🙂


How to Make Kombucha – Part Two

Part Two: 2nd Fermentation, Bottling and Flavouring.

Missed How to Make Kombucha – Part One? Click here!

If you are following along from Part One of my series on How to Make Kombucha, you may now be at the stage where you are ready to bottle yours. This is the fun part because you get to choose how you want to flavour your Kombucha! This step is often called the 2nf Fermentation because once you bottle your Kombucha with the various fruits, it begins to ferment again and creates even more carbonation. It will blend with the delicious fruits and takes on the flavour of whatever you add!

How to make Kombucha - Part Two - A Soulful Appetite

What you’ll need for this stage:

Flip top bottles that seal. The number you need will depend on the size. I’ve used the KORKEN bottle made by IKEA with good results and if my memory is correct, I can fill 2-3 of these bottles with one gallon of brew after accounting for the starter tea you need to leave in for your next batch (read below). If you don’t live near an IKEA, you could very easily just save and re-use other similar bottles from Grolsch beer etc. and they will work as long as they have a tight seal the way these do.

– A plastic funnel and ladle.

– A clean glass bowl. This will be to place your SCOBYs in while bottling.

– Pure white vinegar. For rinsing your hands, rinsing the bottles and keeping your work area clean.

– You choice of fruits, juices and spices for flavouring.

How to Make Kombucha - A Soulful Appetite

Once you have all of the supplies above, you are ready to bottle!

Step one: Wash your hands well and then rinse your hands, your glass bowl, all bottles and work area well with white vinegar and lift your SCOBYs out of the Kombucha. Place the SCOBYs in your glass bowl and add a little bit of Kombucha to cover them. This just gives them somewhere to hang out while you are bottling. 

Step Two: Choose your flavours. In mine I like to use cut up bits of apple, ginger and cherries. I’ve also experimented with adding different fruits in with 100% pure fruit juices like lemon and concord grape. Chai spices, pumpkin pie spices and cinnamon sticks add nice flavours as well. There’s no right or wrong amount to use. For fruit I usually just add enough to cover the bottom of the bottle. For spices, a couple of pinches will do the trick.

How to Make Kombucha - A Soulful Appetite

Step Three: Put funnel on top of one of your jars and use your ladle to pour Kombucha into each bottle until it’s full, leaving only a half an inch on the top. Seal your bottle and set aside in an area where the bottles can remain undisturbed. It’s important to note that since these are sealed and they are becoming more carbonated, there is a small chance that one could end up breaking or exploding. For this reason, I place mine in a basement sink with a box and towel on top. I’ve yet to have one explode, but just in case!

How to Make Kombucha - A Soulful Appetite

Step Four: Leave bottles to sit in their undisturbed area for 24-48 hours. After that point, move them to the refrigerator. Chilling them slows down the carbonation (and I personally prefer a nice chilled glass of Booch!)

And that’s it! You’ve successfully made your own Kombucha! It wasn’t that hard, was it? Now you can just enjoy chilled, any time of the day, for pennies a glass! 

A couple of random but important things about brewing Kombucha:

– If you plan to make another batch of Kombucha right after bottling, you’ll need to be sure to reserve 2-3 cups of your freshly brewed as a starter for the next batch. I personally leave at least 2 inches of Kombucha in the bottom of each of my big 2 gallon jars to help start off the new batch.

– Because each new batch of Kombucha produces a new SCOBY, you’ll soon find yourself overrun with them if you brew regularly. At this point, you may decide to share them with friends, compost your extras OR, do as I do and start a SCOBY hotel. To create a SCOBY hotel, simply take a clean, large jar, fill it with Kombucha and place your extra SCOBYs in there, cover with fabric and and elastic band and store it in a dark, undisturbed spot in your home. These will live happily in this hotel for approximately 4-6 weeks. At that time, if you still have not used them, simply take them out dump about 50% of the liquid out and replace it with fresh sweetened tea. I strongly recommend that you do this if you intend to make Kombucha regularly or if you decide you’d like to take a break for a few weeks. It’s rare, but SCOBYs can get mouldy from time to time. If this happens, you need to discard the batch and the SCOBY. At that point, having backup SCOBYs is helpful. It’s also nice to have a few waiting in the wings in case you have a friend who’d like to try their own or in case you’d like to brew more.

SCOBY hotel - How to make kombucha with A Soulful Appetite

A little disclaimer: I am not, by any means, an expert on this subject! I, too, am still very much learning by trial and error. Feel free to ask any questions or make any friendly suggestions you wish in the comments section! As I experiment more with different flavours and techniques I hope to post about them so please check back regularly!

Looking for ‘How to Make Kombucha – Part One?’ Click here!


How to make Kombucha – Part One

Part One – Supplies and Preparation
Ahh Kombucha, my newest obsession. I have to admit, the thought of brewing this myself at home was initially a pretty big turn off. The idea of handling and using a jelly-like bacterial growth to brew and ferment tea seemed….odd and gross, to say the least. But after buying and becoming addicted to this delicious elixir at the local health food store for $5 a bottle, I was easily convinced to give it a try. You know the saying ‘Don’t knock it till you try it?’ Well that definitely applies here.
The health benefits and history of this ancient beverage seem to be relatively unknown and up for debate. Many people claim that it aids in everything from digestion to eczema. I have also read claims that it is filled with all sorts of probiotics, trace vitamins and minerals and that it boost energy levels and immune systems. In fact, this is understood to be true of most fermented foods. Unfortunately, like so many natural products, Kombucha is still pretty much shrouded in mystery. Few legitimate scientific or medical studies exist on what exactly Kombucha brings to the table in terms of nutrition and health benefits. What I know from my own experience is this: Kombucha is a much healthier alternative to pop. It’s fizzy, fun to drink, it’s tasty, it gives me a little energy boost and I most definitely feel the digestive benefits. It’s easy to make and once you have all of the supplies, it’s very inexpensive. For these reasons, I will continue to drink it and share wonderful benefits of Kombucha with whoever is interested!
Once I decided that I wanted to try my hand at making it, the first order of business was sourcing a SCOBY. That’s the floppy placenta-like pancake thing I mentioned above. A SCOBY (which stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) is necessary for brewing Kombucha. It’s job is to sit in your jar of tea, either floating on top, sinking to the bottom or hanging out somewhere in the middle. It’s what causes the fermentation to happen and it eats the sugar in the tea which gives kombucha it’s slightly tangy taste. I had seen a few places online where you could buy these and have them shipped to you…but I checked our local Kijiji pages and sure enough, a lovely lady sold me several, along with a good amount of starter tea for $5.
At first I was nervous. Not only do I have zero experience with fermentation, I am also notorious for killing even the heartiest of house plants. How in the hell was I going to keep this SCOBY alive, never mind brew a delicious tea with it?! Well, I’m proud to say that I didn’t screw it up. In fact, within 7 days I had a beautiful, delicious bubbly tea to bottle as well as two new baby SCOBYs that had grown on the top of my jars. So rest assured friends. If I can do this, you most certainly can too!
How to Make Kombucha - Part One - A Soulful Appetite
If you are looking to try brewing your own Kombucha at home, here is a basic list of supplies you’ll need to acquire for brewing 1 gallon:
– A large, wide mouth glass jar. The two I use a 2 gallon storage jar made by Anchor Hocking. I purchased mine at Walmart for $19.99 though I have also seen similar ones for sale at Target and Canadian Tire for the same price.
– 16 cups (one gallon) of distilled or purified water.
– 7-8 Pure green or black tea bags. Flavoured tea will not work for Kombucha and from what I have read, may also kill your SCOBY. I’ve had excellent luck with Oolong tea and just regular, pure green tea.
– 1 cup of sugar. I use the organic stuff purchased from Costco but plain, run of the mill white sugar works too. (This is what your SCOBY eats so don’t worry – you aren’t consuming all of this!)
– A square of breathable cotton fabric to use as the cover for your jar. I use a cut up old pillow case. Whatever you use, be sure the holes in the fabric aren’t big enough for fruit flies to get into. cheesecloth is not a good option for this.
– A rubber band. This is for keeping your fabric lid securely on the jar.
– Pure white vinegar. This is for rinsing your jar and your hands. Because you are dealing with good bacteria, you want to ensure that your SCOBY stays clean and free of contact with any of the other bacteria that could be lurking on your hands etc.! 
– A SCOBY and 2-3 cups of starter tea. There are a couple of ways one can acquire a SCOBY and starter tea. If you happen to have a friend who brews, that would be the easiest option. If not, check your local buy and sell websites as there are likely people in your community who have been brewing for a while who don’t mind sharing. Otherwise, there are websites like Kombucha Kamp or Royal Kombucha that will happily sell you both. This option is pretty pricey though.
Once you have all of the items above, you are ready to brew! These steps below are exactly how I brew mine. I am by no means an expert at this point, but this method below is working well for me thus far!
Kombucha SCOBY - A Soulful Appetite
Steps for brewing Kombucha:
Step 1: Pour your 16 cups of distilled or purified water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add your 1 cup of sugar and stir to dissolve. Add all 7-8 tea bags and allow tea to steep. I leave mine for at least an hour. Remove the tea bags and allow sweet tea mixture to sit in the pot with the lid on for several hours until it has reached room temperature.
Step 2: Prepare your jar by rinsing well with boiling water and then again with white vinegar. Be sure you have clean hands and rinse them well with vinegar too. Place your SCOBY and the 2-3 cups of starter tea into the jar. Add the entire room temperature sweet tea mixture in as well.
Step 3: Cover with your square fabric piece and secure with elastic band. Place jar in an area of your home that is out of direct sunlight and where it can remain relatively warm and un-disturbed.
SCOBY - A Soulful Appetite
Step 4: Begin visually checking on your brew daily. A few days in you should begin to see a white-ish film to appear, covering the top of the Kombucha. The amount of time this takes to appear seems to depend on the temperature. The cooler your home, the longer it will take. Generally speaking, mine have been taking about 3-4 days to appear. This film is the formation of a new SCOBY and it will thicken over time. By day 7, use a clean straw, gently push your SCOBY out of the way a little and give it a taste. If you like the taste at this point, you may wish to move on to the stage of bottling and the 2nd fermentation. If the flavour is still too sweet, cover the jar back up and allow it to continue on brewing, checking the taste every couple of days.
 Because the SCOBY eats the sugar in the tea, the longer you leave to brew, the less sweet it will be. There is no one right way for your Kombucha to taste. It’s all a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer it a bit sweeter so they choose to bottle at the 7 day point. I’ve also heard of others preferring it at the 2 week or even 1 month point. I like it at about 10 days. It’s important to remember that leaving it too long can result in a vinegary tasting drink…so don’t forget about it! 
So you’ve watched, waited, tasted and now you are ready to bottle your brew?