Cultured Coconut Water/Keifer


Coconut water kefir is a fantastic alternative to milk kefir for dairy-intolerant folks.  It is loaded with minerals and assists in healing the digestive system and the liver.  All in all, it’s a wonderful way to build up the immune system.

There are two ways to make coconut water kefir: 1) with a starter culture like Body Ecology or 2) with water kefir grains.  If you are immune compromised, I highly recommend starting your water kefir journey with a starter culture and then moving to grains once you get stronger.  Check out Young Coconut Kefir andYoung Coconut Kefir 2.0 for recipes using a starter culture.

If you are generally healthy or are budget conscious, making water kefir with grains is the way to go.

Supplies Needed:

  • 8 cups coconut water
    • Budget conscious option #1: water from 2 young coconuts + 1 L tetra pack of coconut water
    • Budget conscious option #2: 1-12 oz bottle of raw coconut water (Harmless Harvest or Exotic Superfoods) + 1 L tetra pack of coconut water
    • Budget conscious option #3: Buy a case of coconuts from your local Asian market.  My neighbors buy an entire case for $9.99!
    • Best quality: 8 cups Harmless Harvest or Exotic Superfoods raw coconut water

*I don’t recommend using all boxed coconut water because you will be missing out on all of the valuable enzymes found in raw coconut water.  Make sure at least 20% of your batch is raw.


  • If you are using fresh coconuts, try to have them opened in the store to save yourself time.  Our local Whole Foods does this no problem.
  • You can use all fresh coconut or a combination of fresh and boxed coconut water.  When I was really sick, I used all Harmless Harvest or Exotic Superfoods coconut water because it’s the best quality and bottled super fresh.  Now, I use two fresh coconuts and then make up the difference with a 1-L bottle of boxed coconut water because it’s more budget-friendly.
  • Save the meat from your fresh coconuts to make yogurt!



Add 8 cups of coconut water to your 1/2 gallon jar.  When using fresh coconuts, always pour the water out of each coconut into a glass measuring cup before adding it into the fermentation jar to make sure it’s not pink.  If it’s pink, it’s not safe for fermenting.  Return it if you can!

Add 6 TBSP water kefir grains to the jar and cover it with a dishtowel.  Secure the dishtowel with a  rubber band and let it sit at room temperature for up to 48 hours.  Taste test it every 12 hours, because the fermentation time will depend on the temperature of your kitchen.

When it’s done, it will turn from clear to cloudy and be slightly effervescent.
At this point, you need to strain out the grains.  Place your wide mouth funnel on top of a clean 1/2 gallon mason jar and set your fine mesh strainer on top of the funnel.  Pour the finished kefir through the strainer to catch the grains.  Store the grains in the fridge in sugar water until you need them again.  I only do one batch a week, so mine hang out in the fridge the rest of the time.

Update: I am no longer putting them in the fridge between uses.  They were doing fine for a long time, but suddenly stopped growing.  It seems they don’t like being put into cold storage too frequently.  So, I have started making regular water kefir in between batches of coconut water kefir.  I use the regular water kefir to make my husband kefir soda.  He’s so happy I am making it again! I’ll post about that soon.

Secure your mason jar with a tight-fitting lid and transfer it to the refrigerator.  It is delicious served with a squeeze of lemon juice or a drop of lemon essential oil.*You can do a second ferment to flavor your kefir and add more carbonation, but my little one prefers hers plain, so I skip this step for now! No sense making extra work for myself.  Delicious options for second ferments include fresh strawberries or strawberry puree, lemon juice & fresh ginger, dried fruits such as raisins or cherries, and pomegranate concentrate.  I’ll have to share about second ferments in a future post!

Cultured Coconut

For those who are dairy intolerant, cultured dairy products like yogurt and kefir must be avoided. However, many cultured products can be made with coconut milk or coconut water, to fit a variety of diets or dietary restrictions.

Coconut Water Kefir

Coconut water kefir can be made from either fresh coconut water from a young coconut or pasteurized coconut water found in aseptic containers from a health food store. Use Water Kefir Grains or a powdered Kefir Starter to culture coconut water.

NOTE: If culturing coconut water kefir using water kefir grains, the grains must first be activated and well-established using sugar water. Once the grains are making good water kefir alternate with batches of sugar water and coconut water, to keep the grains healthy.

If using fresh coconut water, choose young coconuts that are light in color rather than the older brown, fuzzy coconuts. Hold the coconut down firmly, pointy end facing your dominant hand and your other hand holding the coconut on its side. Use a serrated knife to saw off the husky at the pointy end until a couple of square inch area is removed or until the inner light brown husk is showing.

Very carefully saw off the top half inch which should create a lid revealing a 1-2 inch hole with the white inner meat exposed. When halfway into cutting off the lid, turn the coconut so that the lid faces upward, to keep the coconut water from spilling out.

Coconut Milk Kefir

If you desire a more milk-like cultured product, cultured coconut milk kefirmay be the answer. Use canned or boxed coconut milk, or make your ownhomemade coconut milk.

Coconut milk kefir is a bit thinner than yogurt and can be drunk plain or used in smoothies, parfaits, or desserts.

Coconut Milk Yogurt

Finally, you can make non-dairy yogurt using coconut milk and a variety of starter cultures. Non-dary milk requires a thickener to set into a spoonable yogurt. Try these recipes to get started, or choose a thickener that works for you:

Coconut Milk Yogurt using Gelatin as Thickener

Coconut Milk Yogurt using Pectin as Thickener

The natural goodness of coconut water is further enhanced with the addition of probiotics from the water kefir culture.


  • 1 quart coconut water
  • 3 tablespoons water kefir grains
  • Optional flavoring: 1 cup fresh fruit (mixtures of berries, lemon, etc. work best)


  1. Activate dehdyrated grains first using sugar water. Once the grains are making good water kefir using sugar water, they are ready to use with coconut water.
  2. Place the water kefir grains in the coconut water. Cover the jar loosely and allow the kefir grains to culture the coconut water for 24 to 48 hours. Once the culturing process is complete, remove the kefir grains.
  3. To add fruit flavoring, puree together the coconut water kefir and the fruit.
  4. Note: Ideally water kefir grains should be cultured in sugar water (1/4 cup sugar and 1 quart water) for 24 to 48 hours between batches of making coconut water kefir. The sugar water will feed and refresh the kefir grains keeping them healthy for the long term.

Culturing Coconut

Coconut can be cultured and fermented in many different ways and at different stages of life. Coconut Milk and Coconut Milk Yogurt are made from the familiar hairy, brown, mature coconuts. Coconut water kefir and cultured coconut pudding, however, are made from young coconuts.

Instead of appearing hairy and brown, a young coconut, like all things in their youth, is green and smooth. Often the green outer shells are cut off before they are shipped to U.S. markets. Look for either the green shell or a cylindrical white “husk” if the outer shell has been removed.

You may not see them in the produce section of your big-chain supermarket, but they are readily available in Asian, Latino, and other ethnic or farmers’ markets. Many health food stores will carry them upon request.

Young coconut water is best fermented by adding either water kefir grains or a prepared kefir powder to it. Kefir (pronounced kuh-FEER) is a unique combination of probiotic bacteria and healthy yeast which consume the sugars in the coconut water, making the drink bubbly and delicious—like soda, but without all the chemicals and sugar.

Many people find kefir significantly more effective than probiotic supplements at dealing with digestive issues and candida overgrowth. Babyzilla and I rely on coconut water kefir and other fermented foods to help heal our leaky gut issues and food sensitivities.

And since Babyzilla and I cannot eat dairy products (even raw ones, darn it!), we eat a few coconut products in their place. Coconut water kefir is one of them.

The other benefit to drinking kefir is actually in the coconut water itself. Coconut water is a nutrient-dense beverage filled with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, and growth factors, and it also has only a fifth of the sugar found in most fresh fruit juices. Fermenting it reduces the sugar even further and makes all of these nutrients even more available to your body.

If you make coconut kefir out of water kefir grains, you only have a one time cost of buying them, so they are much cheaper in the long run. You can also use the grains for fermenting other things as well. (Do not make coconut water kefir from dairy kefir grains; it will not ferment well, and the grains will quickly die without real milk to consume.)

If you make coconut kefir from powdered kefir packets, you can save a little portion of your batch and then add it to a new jar of coconut kefir. You can keep repeating this process of saving a bit from one batch and adding it to the next until it loses it’s fermenting power. So while the packets are a bit expensive, you can stretch them out over a couple of batches.

Coconut Water Kefir

(Makes about 1 quart)


  • 1 quart latch-lid or mason jar
  • Candy thermometer
  • Wooden spoons
  • Clean kitchen towel
  1. Sterilize all your equipment, especially your jars.
  2. Carefully open coconuts using a cleaver or hatchet, conserving the water. (How-to video here)
  3. Conserve the young coconut spoonmeat inside and use for Cultured Coconut Pudding (recipe below), smoothies or desserts.
  4. Heat the coconut water to about 90 degrees.
  5. Add 1 packet of kefir culture starter and stir until completely dissolved. If using kefir grains, just stir in thoroughly; they won’t dissolve.
  6. Pour the inoculated water into a closeable, sterile jar.
  7. Ferment at 72-75 degrees F for 36-48 hours. In the summer, this could mean your countertop. In winter, the top of the fridge. Avoid agitating the jar.
  8. The water will get milky white and usually a bit of bubbles will form on top. The taste should be slightly tart and tangy with only a little of the original sweetness.
  9. Refrigerate after fermentation. It will continue to ferment, but the process will be much slower. Will last about a week.
  10. Save 1/4 cup from each batch (including the kefir grains, if using) to inoculate the next quart of kefir, instead of using a new packet. (Or save 1/2 cup to make 1/2 gallon, or 1 cup to make 1 gallon)
  11. This procedure can be repeated up to 7 times. Inoculate a new batch within 3 days of removing culture from the previous batch.
  12. Stir in crushed fruit if you wish, and enjoy with meals and before bed to restore your digestive health.

Cultured Coconut Pudding


  • Blender
  • Glass or ceramic container with lid
  • Meat from 3-4 young coconuts
  • 1 Tbsp. water kefir grains or 1/2 kefir packet (where to find kefir grains and kefir powders)
  • Pure water or coconut water
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom, cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Fresh fruit (optional)
  1. Open the young coconuts and conserve most of the the water for Coconut Water Kefir (recipe above). The meat should be white. If it is pink or gray, it should be discarded.
  2. Scoop the meat out with a strong spoon or spatula.
  3. Rinse any brown skin off the meat.
  4. Put the coconut meat in a blender and purée with just enough water to create a pudding-like consistency.
  5. Add half a packet of kefir starter culture or a teaspoon of kefir grains. Pulse to incorporate.
  6. Transfer the pudding to a glass or ceramic container, making sure there are a few inches of room on the top for the pudding to expand.
  7. Cover the container and let it ferment on your countertop or on top of your fridge at about 72-75 degrees for 7-10 hours.
  8. After fermentation, add cardamom or cinnamon and nutmeg and stir in.
  9. Refrigerate. It will last about 3 days.
  10. Enjoy for dessert with fresh strawberries or other toppings.

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