By now, you’ve heard of the excellent benefits of water kefir. It’s a fermented, nutrient-dense, fizzy drink that’s not only delicious, but it can take your gut health to the next level. Another great advantage of water kefir is that almost anyone can consume it - adults, children, and vegans. It’s also gluten-free and ldairy-free.
Usually, we make water kefir with plain water, but you can also use coconut water. This introduces all the benefits of coconut water. And can be a healthy substitute for sugary juices, soda, and energy drinks.
What’s in Coconut Water That Makes it So Good?
What makes coconut water a viable substitute for plain water in water kefir? Coconut water has many benefits on its own.
Coconuts are seeds (not nuts) of the coconut palm tree. The inside of the coconut is filled with white, firm meat and sweet, whitish liquid. If left, the fluid absorbs into the meat. So older coconuts have less coconut water than younger coconuts, but older coconuts have more meat. So young coconuts are best for extracting coconut water, and older coconuts are great for eating and for making coconut milk.
Here are some of the nutrients contained in coconut water:
- Amino Acids
- Cytokinins - Kinetin and Trans-Zeatin (phytohormones) - promote anti-aging, cancer prevention, and anti-clot forming.
- B-Vitamins - niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, folate, and pyridoxine.
- Enzymes for digestion and metabolism-boosting.
- Trace Minerals - iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.
Why Choose Coconut Water Over Regular Water for Kefir
In addition to combining coconut water’s nutrients with that of kefir, the other reason to choose coconut water is to reduce the amount of sugar you consume.
Which is the Best Coconut Water to Use?
You can obtain coconut water in generally three forms - fresh, frozen, and packaged. Go with whichever product is most easily accessible to you. The nutrient content of the coconut water will be upped anyway with the fermentation process.
- Fresh - Of course, this is best. But finding fresh coconuts depends on where you live. There are other considerations when it comes to buying fresh produce - labor, cost, etc.
- Frozen - This may be almost as good as fresh. You may find it in your local health store.
- Packaged - You can find packaged coconut water in almost every grocery store. Quality will vary, so make sure you read the label carefully.
Water Kefir Grains
Water kefir grains aren’t really grains; they are actually clusters of sugar molecules with a crystalline shape. They are also known as Japanese Water Crystals, California bees, and tibicos. They feed on sugar but can also ferment in coconut water. They won’t reproduce or grow as they do in sugar water, but you can create a nutritious, low-calorie beverage full of good bacteria strains in the comfort of your own home. And as long as the grains are healthy, you can continue to use them indefinitely.
The fermentation process is so crucial to your health because it increases and pre-digests vital nutrients. It also rids the drink of any negative bits you don’t need.
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Related: What Are Probiotic Drinks?
Is There Any Difference Between Water Kefir and Coconut Water Kefir?
Coconut water kefir is just a reworking of water kefir - a way to have all the benefits of water kefir and coconut water without all the sugar. The coconut water also lends its flavor to the beverage making it a hydrating, nutritious, digestion-aiding elixir.
It isn’t recommended to leave out all sugar in the making of coconut water kefir. Include at least 25% of the usual amount of sugar for flavor.
How to Make Coconut Water Kefir
Here is a recipe for making your own coconut water kefir.
4 cups coconut water
¼ cup water kefir grains (hydrated)
¼ cup sugar (optional)
- If you’re using sugar, add it to a half-gallon mason jar.
- Add the coconut water and stir until sugar is dissolved (if using any).
- Add the water kefir grains to the coconut water.
- Cover the jar with a cloth, a fermentation lid, or a plastic cap.
- Set your jar in a warm place (70-78 degrees F) for 24 to 48 hours.
- If you don’t use sugar, taste your mixture in 24 hours. And if you did use sugar, wait 48 hours before you taste the mixture.
- Strain out the water kefir grains in a non-metal strainer or in a cheesecloth.
- At this point, you can add the flavorings for a second fermentation or drink it as is.
- Store in the refrigerator.
Serving size: 1 cup | Calories: 48 kcal | Carbs: 16 g | Sodium: 48 mg
How Do Water Kefir Grains Survive Without Sugar
The water kefir grains require sugar to survive. If your grains begin to look sandy or reduce, give them a rest in some sugary water for 24 to 72 hours. The grains may eventually adapt to the coconut water and no longer need sugar, but keep an eye on them to be sure they keep multiplying.
How to Re-nutrify the Water Kefir Grain If You Didn’t Use Sugar
Once you’ve made your batch of sugar-free coconut water kefir, your grains will need natural sugar to keep them healthy. You’ll accomplish this by straining out the water kefir grains and putting them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of sugar and ¼ cup of water - per 1 tablespoon of grains. Then set them aside for 24 hours.
You should see a difference in the appearance of the grains afterward. They should look plumper and more alive. If they don’t look better, then do the whole process again. When your grains appear more ‘healthy,’ you’re ready to make a new batch.
How to Store the Water Kefir Grains Between Batches of Coconut Water Kefir?
Between batches of coconut water kefir, you will need to store your grains to preserve them. Store the grains in your refrigerator. As each set of grains is unique, how long they will last is hard to say. Many will survive for weeks or even months in the fridge, while others will die being in the cold for that long.
Ensure that you follow the renutrifying process (as outlined above) and store it in the fridge. Refresh the sugar water once per week to keep your grains active.
The Bottom Line on Coconut Water Kefir
Coconut water kefir is a nutrient-dense, fermented, fizzy drink that’s not only delicious but can significantly improve your gut health. It has all of the benefits of water kefir with the nutrient load of coconut water.
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