How to Make Tibicos (Water Kefir)

Tibicos is more popularly known as water kefir, and that’s what I called it for a decade…until I interviewed fermentation King Sandor Katz for Ancestral Kitchen Podcast and he sternly reprimanded my co-host and me for not using water kefir’s proper name: tibicos!

Tibicos was one of the first fermented drinks I ever made. I read about it in 2011 in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and I’ve not looked back since; the drink’s been in virtually constant production in my home kitchen since then.

The process, once done a few times, is really simple. I can attest to that as, these days, it’s my 10-year-old son who is in charge of tibicos in our house. He makes (and drinks) a litre/quart a day.

Here’s our method:

What do you need?

  • A 1 litre/quart glass bottle with a lid or a clean piece of cloth plus elastic to cover
  • A 1 litre/quart swing top glass bottle (a plastic screw top bottle would also work)
  • A small sieve, preferably made of plastic.
  • A funnel that will fit inside the swing-top bottle and allow you to lean the sieve on top of it.
  • 1 litre/quart unchlorinated water (use a filter to remove the chlorine or pour tap water into a jug and let it sit for 24 hours).
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (2 of brown cane sugar and 1 of very dark brown sugar are a good mix).
  • 4 tablespoons tibicos (water kefir grains)
  • A small piece of ginger
  • A small piece of fresh fruit or some dried fruit

How to Prepare the First Fermentation

1/ Put 3 tablespoons of sugar into the glass jar and fill it almost to the top with unchlorinated water.


2/ Stir well until the sugar is dissolved.


3/ Add 4 tablespoons of tibicos (water kefir) grains.

4/ Loosely cover with the lid or use a clean piece of fabric and elastic band to create a temporary cover.

5/ Leave the jar at room temperature to ferment for 24/48 hours. For a sweeter tibicos leave it for a day, if you prefer your tibicos less sweet, leave it 48 hours.

How to do a second fermentation

You can drink your tibicos (water kefir) at this point – all you need to do is strain it through a sieve to remove the grains. But by doing a second fermentation, your tibicos (water kefir) will become more fermented and fizzier! Here’s how:

1/ Put the funnel inside the swing-top bottle and balance the sieve atop your funnel. Slowly pour the tibicos (water kefir) through the sieve, into the funnel. The liquid will fill the bottle and the grains will be caught in the sieve.

(These grains are now ready to use again, in a new sugar/water solution. They often reproduce – if you have too many, you can eat them or give them away!)

2/ Cut the ginger and fruit into small pieces.

3/ Put them into the bottle, close the lid well and leave the bottle at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Pay attention during this time because gas can build up in the bottle – for this reason some people prefer to use plastic bottles (you can literally see the gas building up as the bottle will expand).


The tibicos is ready!

If you’d like to know how I make tibicos when travelling, without glass bottles, check out this post.

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