Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Water kefir is like
Fresca for hippies

January 27, 2009

Carafes of water kefir fermenting in the pale winter sun, Debra Solomon,
Water kefir brewing in the weak, mid-winter sun.

Maybe it started because all this New Austerity had me peaked to produce bubbles outta thin air. Maybe it’s because I just kick on growing stuff, even if that stuff is only a colony of yeast and bacteria. As a whole foods enthusiast and professional eschewer of soft drinks, the hardest part of this process was learning how to love the slightly carbonated, tangy drink, reminiscent of the only soft drink for which I can conjure up a fond childhood memory, ‘Surprisingly Complex Fresca’.

‘Kefir’ describes both the grains and the drinks of two different sorts of cultures, one made with milk, one with water. I’ve been growing the water version, also called ‘tibicos’. A 2-day fermentation process produces a drink loaded with lactic and acetic acids and thusly has an impressive list of health claims. Although I’ve been drinking it regularly, I cannot judge whether the kefir claims are true because I ingest so many other foods that make a claim to the self-same. There are about 6 different things that could be making me feel great right now, 5 of them are food. Suffice it to say, kefir is observably pro-biotic, and you can produce a batch of bubbles out of thin-air, in an urban apartment, in the dead and dark of winter.

Water kefir grains, rinsed and ready to grow, Debra Solomon,
Water kefir grains. Add water, cane sugar, some dried fruit and lemon to taste, cover and wait for the bubbling to begin.

A handful of water kefir grains, Debra Solomon,
Rubbery, but otherwise inoffensive.

A visual recipe: water kefir grains, sugar, dried apricots and lemon and two days of fermentation, Debra Solomon,
The added sugar is for the yeasties, not for you. They will convert it to surprisingly complex effervescence, as a ‘back-atcha’.
A visual recipe: water kefir grains, sugar, dried apricots and lemon and two days of fermentation, Debra Solomon,
A visual recipe: water kefir grains, sugar, dried apricots and lemon and two days of fermentation, Debra Solomon,
Dried apricots and a slice of lemon flavour the kefir favourably. It’s floral!
John Thackara of Doors of Perception inspects the turgid result of 2 days of kefir fermentation
JT tests the turgid waters overlooking a semi-freddo Amsterdam harbour.

debra at 15:58 | | post to


  1. Interesting read and great tips! Can you give me some address in Amsterdam (or elsewhere in NL) where I could buy these grains? Thx.

    Comment by Srirang — May 20, 2009 @ 9:57

  2. Yeah… Ace! I’m in Amsterdam and I’d like to try culturing this stuff! where’s your kefir hotline info so I can peep you???

    Comment by dj stranger — June 17, 2009 @ 0:00

  3. please let me know how i can get the water kefir grains. thanks,

    Comment by young larsen — March 3, 2010 @ 23:27

  4. hello,

    I would verry much like to start growing kefir again, I used to do it but moving house sort of stopped it and I wouldn’t know how to get some again

    Comment by Ayla — April 18, 2010 @ 8:07

  5. I am also in Amsterdam NL and would like to get ahold of these grains. Can you help me out?



    Comment by Malcolm — May 31, 2010 @ 11:04

  6. Any answer on where to get some grains in Amsterdam ? I did some long time ago and you made me want to try again :)



    Comment by Eddy — July 26, 2010 @ 16:57

  7. Hi, can a person re-use the culture in the kefir? I was just given some water kefir and would like to make my own, thinking that I might re-use the mother culture as can be done with yogurt and sometimes beer yeast. Does anyone know if that can be done, avoiding the need to buy the crystals? Thanks,
    Rosie from California

    Comment by Rosie — August 13, 2010 @ 21:24

  8. You can get them here: They ship worldwide. And yes, you can use them over and over again - and if you’re lucky they reproduce and you have baby kefirs to give your friends :)


    Comment by rebecca — October 31, 2010 @ 17:14

culiblog is a registered trademark of Debra Solomon since 1995. Bla bla bla, sue yer ass. The content in this weblog is the intellectual property of the author and is licensed under a Creative Commons Deed (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5).