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Water Kefir with Berries

water kefir with berries

Many people think about kombucha when they think about fermented drinks, but less people know about kefir, especially water kefir. I knew kefir originally as milk kefir, a popular drink in the Middle East made from fermented sheep or goat milk. As I started experimenting with fermented food and drink, I discovered water kefir, made with kefir grains fed by cane sugar rather than the lactose sugars found in milk. Kefir “grains” are described as grains because of their shape but are actually a combination of bacteria and yeast created to produce effective fermentation. Kefir grains are very resilient and rarely mold or spoil.

Making kefir juice is particularly attractive and intriguing because of the nearly infinite possibilities for different flavors. This recipe uses berries, but I encourage you to experiment with other fruits (pear is a great addition) and additional flavors (adding ginger in the second phase of fermentation).

I am thrilled to share the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years so you have a fun and enjoyable introduction to kefir. Fun is crucial: the origin of the word kefir comes from the word “kef”, which means “fun” in Arabic and Turkish. Note that everything that follows is a suggestion based on my experience and preferences. There are as many techniques as there are people involved in fermenting – take what works and make it your own!

water kefir with berries

Water Kefir with Berries (Fermented Drink)

Hadar Iron
Prep Time 20 minutes
Course Drinks


  • 1 cup measure
  • 1 half gallon jug
  • 2 glass bottles with swing top (EZ cap)
  • 1 sieve/strainer
  • 1 funnel
  • 1 large jar


  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup boiled water
  • 1 cup berries marionberry, blueberry, raspberry, fresh or frozen - whatever is in season or easily accessible.
  • 1 tbsp water kefir grains can be purchased online or from fermenters in your area.


  • Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves, to create a simple syrup. Let cool until you can stand having a finger in it for 10 seconds. This cooling is crucial to ensure the sugar mixture will not kill the bacteria in the kefir grains.
  • Pour the syrup into a large jar, add the kefir grains, and stir to mix well.

First Fermentation Phase: Jar

  • Allow the mixture to ferment for 3-5 days at room temperature (on a countertop, in a cabinet, anywhere that is convenient).

Second Fermentation Phase: Half Gallon Jug

  • Pour the mixture through a sieve/strainer to separate the kefir grains and the syrup. Set the kefir grains aside. We'll start with the syrup. Add the strained liquid to your large jug, add your chosen berries, and fill the remaining space in the jug with water. Cap the jug.
  • Returning now to our kefir grains: kefir grains can and should be maintained like a sourdough starter, fed occasionally to ensure the healthy bacteria stay alive and can continue to produce kefir. Repeat steps 1-3 with the kefir grains, preparing fresh simple syrup, mixing well, and fermenting again.
  • Allow the half-gallon jug to ferment for another 3-5 days, until the liquid tastes sour and picks up the flavor from the berries.

Third (& Final) Fermentation Phase: Bottles

  • Strain the berries from the mixture and use a funnel to move the liquid into two glass bottles with swing caps. Allow to ferment one final time, for 3-5 days.
  • After the final fermentation, you should start to see carbonation and the kefir should taste sour. At this point, it's up to your taste when you'd like to move to the refrigerator. The cold from refrigeration will functionally freeze the fermentation process and hold the flavor.
  • Serve and enjoy!


Making kefir is a flexible process and we encourage you to experiment with fruits, flavors (try ginger, hibiscus, chili pepper) and lengths of fermentation and discover what you enjoy most.
If the final kefir is too sweet for your taste, there are a few easy ways to adjust to your liking: dilute the kefir with soda water and serve, add more water to the bottle and ferment a bit longer, or reduce the amount of sugar added for the next round of fermentation.
Keyword fermented drinks, kefir, kefir juice, water kefir