So what is Water Kefir?
I copied this description from the website here. Water kefir grains are a great fermentation tool that help you make fruity, probiotic drinks, cultured infusions, and probiotic fruit compotes. They are versatile, inexpensive, and easy to use. They are a great introduction to home fermentation.
You need to get hold of about 3 tablespoons of water kefir grains either from a friend or you can buy online. Then you can follow the recipe below:
3 TB water kefir grains (at least, more doesn't matter as they will multiply)
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups of non-chlorinated water (chlorine kills the grains)
1 slice of lemon
1 piece of dried fruit, sulphur free (dates, prune, fig etc)
1.5 cups of Grape juice
Put the kefir grains, sugar, water, lemon and dried fruit in a glass jar, then cover with a cloth and secure with a rubber band to keep bugs out, but to allow air to get in. I am using dishcloths, then leave on the bench out of the sun to ferment for 24 hrs.
Strain water into another glass jar, leaving grains, lemon and dried fruit behind. Into the strained water add the 1.5 cups of grape juice, then put a lid on and allow to ferment on the bench for 48 hrs or more to make it carbonated. The longer it ferments the less sweet it gets and the more alcoholic it can get. You may need to open the bottle to allow some of the air out, so the bottle doesn't pop.
After it has fermented you can store in the fridge ready to drink as you like.
In the other glass jar with the strained grains, dried fruit and lemon, you can add 4 cups of water, sugar, replace lemon slice with a new piece of lemon and you can continue using the dried fruit for about a week, place cloth and rubber band and allow to ferment for 24 hrs, on your way to making your second batch of kefir.
I have only made 3 batches so far and I haven't started experimenting, but you can make many different flavours and you can vary the fermenting times depending on the air temperature and how sweet you like your kefir. Here is a blog that I find helpful http://zoevblog.com/2010/03/17/what-is-water-kefir-and-how-to-make-it/. I am looking forward to experimenting with different combinations of juices and fresh fruit in the near future.
Water kefir is meant to be great for your body due to the probiotics. I was concerned about the sugar, but from what I have read it seems that the grains eat the sugar, so you are eating minimal sugar after all of the fermentation. It is a very refreshing drink and I would definitely recommend.
1st stage (old coffee jar, that was previously used for brown lentils)
2nd stage after the grape juice has been added
Edited: Since experimenting further I am finding I like to leave the second fermentation on the bench for 48 hrs (not 24 hrs as previously stated) before putting in the fridge, then I find it tastes better after a week or two in the fridge, but can be drank at any stage, It is definitely a personal preference and you will need to experiment and find what tastes best for you.