This easy recipe for Water Kefir Lemonade is made with just 3 ingredients! It can be enjoyed right away or fermented a second time for a bubbly, refreshing beverage.
I’ve been fermenting for the better part of a decade now, and while I really focus on my love of milk kefir and sourdough, I also happen to enjoy refreshing fermented beverages.
This water kefir lemonade is the perfect low-effort way to flavor water kefir. It transforms it into a delicious lacto-fermented drink that can be enjoyed any time of year. I like it best during the citrus season (Winter time for me), but it’s also delicious in the Summer months.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s a great way to add some lemon flavor to your homemade water kefir.
- A delicious way to enjoy lemonade with a host of probiotic benefits!
- Made with just a few simple ingredients, meaning you probably have what you need on hand.
- Can be made with store-bought plain water kefir if you aren’t maintaining a culture at home – just be sure to buy one with active cultures. It may be labeled as “raw” or “unpasteurized.”
- Water kefir: You’ll need about 3 1/2 cups of finished water kefir (fermented for about 48 hours). If you don’t currently make your own water kefir, you can purchase plain water kefir at your local health food store or natural grocery. But I obviously recommend making your own! All you need is grains, water, and a little bit of organic cane sugar.
- Lemons: About 2-3 large lemons should give you 6 tablespoons of juice, depending on how fresh the lemons are.
- Cane sugar: Since water kefir lemonade is double fermented, much of the sugar gets consumed in the fermentation process. This also helps add carbonation if paired with swing top bottles and a warm ambient temperature.
- Citrus juicer: Whether this is an old fashioned glass one like I have, or a fancy handheld model, you’ll need a way to juice your fresh lemons. A firm hand and fork works well in a pinch!
- Fine strainer: In order to remove the pulp and the seeds from the lemon juice, I recommend straining it through a fine mesh strainer. I have this set of 3 and I use it for everything from bone broth to making milk kefir.
- Swing top bottles (optional): If you like a slightly fizzy beverage, I highly recommend investing in some swing top bottles. They are perfect for a variety of water kefir drinks, as well as kombucha, ginger ale made with a ginger bug, and a variety of other fermented beverages.
Keep in mind that unless your home is very warm, it can be difficult to get water kefir to carbonate. Even with swing top bottles you won’t get much fizz unless you have a warm ambient temperature.
How to Make Lemonade with Water Kefir
This recipe is made with water kefir that has already been made and fermented for about 48 hours (or longer, depending on your preferences). If you don’t currently make your own water kefir, you can easily use about 3 1/2-4 cups of store bought plain water kefir (unflavored) to make this recipe.
If you don’t have an active batch of water kefir, but do have active grains available:
- Combine 1/4 cup of cane sugar with 1/2 cup of hot water in a quart jar. Stir well to dissolve.
- Add in 2 1/4 cups of cool water, stirring to combine.
- Then add active water kefir grains and a lid.
- Ferment for 48-72 hours, depending on your preferences and how cool or hot it is in your home.
- Once 48-72 hours have passed, place a strainer over a bowl and pour in the finished water kefir.
- Retain the grains for using in your next batch, and reserve the finished water kefir for making lemonade.
Making Water Kefir Lemonade
Once you have strained your water kefir and used the grains to start the next batch, you’re ready to get started making the actual water kefir lemonade itself.
To get started, juice about 2-3 lemons and pour the juice through a fine mesh strainer to remove the pulp and seeds. You want about 6-8 tablespoons of strained fresh lemon juice for each quart of lemonade you want to make.
Add the lemon juice to the water kefir (strained from the grains), and add in 2 tablespoons of cane sugar. I like to use organic as I find my kefir grains do better, but you can use regular white cane sugar and a tiny touch of molasses if that’s what you have on hand.
Stir the lemon juice, water kefir, and sugar together until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
Transfer the lemonade mixture to swing top bottles (if using), or a clean quart jar with a lid.
Ferment the water kefir lemonade for an additional 1-3 days, burping the jar or bottles about 1-2 times per day if it is warm inside your home.
Water kefir does not do as well during the cooler months, and tends to get more carbonated and bubbly during the hot months of the year. If your home is cool, you will probably not get a carbonated, bubbly beverage, but it will still be delicious. Very close to a standard homemade lemonade – only fermented with lots of probiotic benefits, and a whole lot less sugar!
The process of transferring the milk kefir with additional sugar and flavoring (from the lemon juice) is referred to as double fermentation.
Since the water kefir has already fermented once (during the initial stages with the grains), allowing the drink to ferment again is referred to as a second fermentation or double fermentation. This is a very similar idea as a milk kefir second fermentation, even though milk kefir and water kefir are completely different cultures.
You can do a second (or double) fermentation in swing top bottles (for carbonation), or in standard quart jars. This process helps eat up some additional sugars, create bubbles (if it is warm enough), and increase the probiotic benefit of the water kefir.
All that being said, it’s totally optional! In fact, you can prepare it and drink it on the same day with just a few modifications.
If you want to be able to drink your water kefir lemonade on the same day you make it, you can totally skip the second fermentation step with swing top bottles.
Instead of adding sugar, simply add the lemon juice to the finished and strained water kefir. Taste and see if you would like it sweeter. In my experience, water kefir is pleasantly sweet as is. But if you like it a little sweeter, add a little bit of honey or maple syrup to taste. Then chill, serve, and enjoy!
Storing and Serving
Once your lemonade has double fermented in swing top bottles, transfer to the refrigerator and store for 1-2 weeks. Discard if there are any signs of spoilage like off flavors, colors, etc.
If you skipped the second fermentation and instead sweetened your lemonade with honey or maple syrup, store it in the fridge for up to 1 week. Discard if there are any signs of spoilage.
More Homemade Beverages
Water Kefir Lemonade
This easy and refreshing recipe for water kefir lemonade is the perfect way to flavor homemade (or store-bought) water kefir!
- 4 cups water kefir
- 6-8 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
- 2 tablespoons cane sugar (optional)
- If using homemade water kefir, strain the finished kefir from the grains. Reserve the grains for another batch of water kefir.
- Juice 2-3 lemons and pour the juice through a fine mesh strainer to remove the pulp and seeds. You will need 6-8 tablespoons of strained fresh lemon juice. Use 6 if you like your lemonade mild, and 8 tablespoons if you like it a bit more tart.
- Add the lemon juice to the water kefir (strained from the grains), and add in 2 tablespoons of cane sugar.
- Gently stir together the lemon juice, water kefir and sugar until the sugar grains are mostly dissolved (they will break down during the second fermentation).
- Transfer the lemonade mixture to swing top bottles (if using), or a clean quart jar with a lid.
- Ferment the water kefir lemonade for an additional 1-3 days, burping the jar or bottles about 1-2 times per day if it is very warm weather.
- If your home is on the cool side, your water kefir will not likely get very carbonated. It tends to carbonate better when the house is warm and during the Summer months.
- After your water kefir has fermented along with the lemon juice and additional sugar (if using) for about 1-3 days (1 for hot homes, 3 for cool homes), you're ready to transfer it to the fridge. Simply add the bottles to your refrigerator and store for 1-2 weeks, discarding if there are any signs of spoilage.
Without a second fermentation: If you want to enjoy your water kefir lemonade right away, you can absolutely do that. Simply combine the lemon juice with the water kefir and taste to see if you would like it to be sweeter. Water kefir is pleasantly sweet in my opinion, but you can add a little honey or maple syrup to taste. Then trasnfer to the fridge and enjoy within 1 week. Discard if there are any signs of spoilage.
Water Kefir Limeade: Substitute the lemon juice for lime juice.
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