Water Kefir: Anaerobic Method

by lydia on September 26, 2012

I switched to fermenting my water kefir anaerobically several months ago. Since water kefir is an anaerobic IMG_1513 ferment, I wanted the best vessel to ensure I was getting optimal health results out of my brews. I am quite happy with the consistent results I’ve achieved and am here to share how I do it.

There are many places online that will tell you to ferment water kefir by just using a cloth to cover it during the initial brew, much like kombucha. Since kombucha is an ‘aerobic’ ferment this is an okay approach, however not so for water kefir. I like how Lisa Herndon states it in her book; ‘Lisa’s Counter Culture: Pickles & Other Well Bred Foods‘, she says:


Most of the literature and certainly many food scientists and biochemists agree that lactofermentation is an anaerobic process. Anaerobic means fermenting food in an environment without oxygen. Many books with fermentation recipes have you doing this in less than ideal circumstances. Many recommend using a mason jar that is tightly sealed. Hmm…close but not really….the grooves along the top of a mason jar lid
allow for Grand Canyons of air compared to the size of the lactic acid bacteria trying
to dominate the container of vegetables or whatever we are attempting to ferment. If oxygen can enter, then this also means that mold and undesirable yeast can enter, too. This is not good. The point of fermenting is to create healthy LAB bacteria to repopulate our gut flora and improve our overall health.

Controlled ferments are made in anaerobic containers where airborne bacteria and yeasts cannot enter during the fermentation process.

I personally use 3 liter anaerobic vessel, like The Probiotic Jar ( a Fido base with a specially crafted lid) to brew my water kefir.

In the summer I tend to brew a bit more water kefir, but now that the weather has shifted we are drinking a little bit less. In the warmer months I brew about 9 liters per week of water kefir. My kids really go through it! It’s great too, because it is more probiotic rich and diverse than kombucha.

Water Kefir for the Pickl-It


  • Filtered water
  • Water kefir grains
  • Organic dark brown sugars, such as sucanat, rapadura or even brown sugar
  • Organic Blackstrap Molasses


  1. To make 1.5 liters use this ratio:
  2. 1/2 cup water kefir grains
  3. 1/3 cup sugar
  4. 1-2 teaspoons molasses (optional)
  5. In a small glass jar dissolve sugar with small amount of hot water.
  6. Add the dissolved sugar water to the Pickl-It, fill half way with filtered water then add the molasses if using. Stir well.
  7. Fill to shoulder with more water.
  8. Add grains, stir gently.
  9. Clamp down the lid.
  10. Add the airlock.
  11. Fill the airlock with 1 1/2 tablespoons water.
  12. Place in a dark cupboard for 1-2 days.
  13. When ready, drain off the water kefir and reserve grains to make another batch.
  14. Now you are ready for your second ferment. (see recipe in the post below)
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IMG_0887 I store my grains in a 1.5 liter Fido jar in my fridge. Once a month, minimally,  I change the sugar water solution. Though every 2 weeks may be better – you can test to see how much of the sugar is still available before switching out the solution. So long as there is still sugar in the solution your grains will be getting fed. I add 1 cup of  organic sugar and 2 tablespoons molasses. It is possible to store your grains in a cupboard, but better to store your extra grains in the refrigerator if you aren’t able to monitor them frequently enough. Fidos can and will explode.

If you need to purchase fresh live water kefir grains, I recommend ordering them through Kombucha Kamp. I do not think it’s a good value to order dried grains -they take much more effort to get going and often are not succesful, your best bet is to start with live fresh grains.

After the initial brew of your water kefir is through, you can go ahead and bottle it up and drink it right away, or you can flavor it and do a second ferment. I always do a second ferment, I find it provides more flavor and effervescence. See my favorite way to second ferment our water kefir in the following recipe.

Vanilla Water Kefir


  • Finished water kefir from 1.5 or 3 liter Pickl-It strained
  • Vanilla extract (homemade is best, always choose gluten free)
  • Organic raisins (optional)
  • Wire stopper bottles (like a Grolsch bottle)
  • Funnel


  1. Line up your bottles on the counter.
  2. Place funnel in first bottle and add a dozen raisins.
  3. Then add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  4. Repeat with remaining bottles. (be sure to figure out how many bottles you will need based on your batch size and bottle size. They need to be at least 3/4 full each. I can get 6 Grolsch bottles full from a 3 liter batch).
  5. Once all the bottles are filled with the flavoring, slowly pour in the water kefir until full enough. Always save a little headspace.
  6. Clamp down the lids and place in a dark cupboard for 8 hours to 1 day.
  7. If your temperatures are much cooler it can go longer, just be careful and make sure you are paying attention to your bottles and checking to see when they are done. They can explode.
  8. Tastes like a vanilla soda to me! Yum!
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If you have switched to fermenting anaerobically, as opposed to in random jars like mason jars, I can’t recommend my friend Lisa’s book enough. ‘Lisa’s Counter Culture: Pickles and Other Well-Bred Foods. There is no other cookbook out there that is full of recipes for using a Pickl-It or Boss Pickler. This book is so helpful, loaded with tips, conversions, and troubleshooting – I love it! It’s been a great resource for me as I continue to revamp all my old recipes as well as try new ones!
Click here to visit LisasCounterCulture and purchase a copy of her amazing ebook!

New to anaerobic fermentation? Here are the jars I recommend – The Probiotic Jar.


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