What is Water Kefir and how do you make it?
Water Kefir Grains
Kefir is one of natures wonders and by far, one of the healthiest and easiest products to make at home with your family.
What is Water Kefir?
Water Kefir comprises of 30+ beneficial bacteria and yeast strains (please see below for a list of some of them) which help stimulate and regulate your immune system and digestion. This cannot be matched by commercial yoghurts and probiotic supplements which on average have around 3 – 5 strains.
Water kefir is made from kefir grains, also known as sugar grains, tibicos, tibi, or Japanese water crystals. The grains make up a cultures of various strains of healthy bacteria and yeast, held together in a polysaccharide matrix created by the bacteria. The symbiotic relationship of the microbes produces a stable growing culture. The microbes feed on sugar and produce lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol), and carbon dioxide, yielding a fermented carbonated beverage. The alcohol content is usually very minimal, less than 1 %.
There are two types of kefir grains milk and water kefir grains. Though similar in function, milk grains are quite different than water grains. They are white, cottage cheese-looking with slimy feel to them.
Water grains, however, are translucent, cauliflower-like and easily break apart under pressure. Also, milk grains feed on the lactose in milk whereas water grains feed on sugar.
Health Benefits of Water Kefir
The health benefits of consuming water kefir are endless. They are a natural supplier of probiotics to our digestive tract. Probiotics refers to the healthy bacteria that usually feeds on the unhealthy bacteria in our stomach and intestines. Bacterial overgrowth can lead to many illnesses some of which include fungi, yeast infections, indigestion, obesity, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohns Disease, skin disorders, etc.
By drinking water kefir you will bring balance to your internal microflora. Many people take a probiotic supplement daily for this particular reason but I prefer to drink the water kefir. Its much tastier and more affordable in the long run.
Another health advantage of water kefir is that people who do not wish to consume dairy or have a vegan type diet may find that water kefir provides the living probiotics without the need for dairy or tea cultured products, like kombucha.
Vegans also may like to know that through the fermentation process kefir becomes an excellent source of vitamin B12, and is high in vitamins B1 and B6. Since the finished product, if bottled, will produce a carbonated beverage, it provides an alternative to sweet soda drinks. In that sense, anyone from children to adults can enjoy water kefir guilt-free.
How to Make Water Kefir.
Water kefir is similar to milk kefir and is fermented at room temperature with kefir grains for about 24-48 hours. The difference is that sugar water is used instead of milk. It has many wonderful health benefits, a great flavor and is a great alternative to milk kefir for vegetarians or those who cannot tolerate any dairy. It’s extremely simple to make, has a large spectrum of probiotics and the grains live for as long as you take care of them unlike yogurt cultures which weakens in each successive batches.
- Place 1/4 cup of sugar (rapadura or raw Sugar) with 600mls of filtered water add a pinch of salt.
- Give the jar a good shake
- Then add Kefir grains to a sealed jar – I find the Ball Mason Quart Jars and Fido 1L jars work best
- Allow to ferment for 24 – 48 hours.
- Separate Grains from liquid – these grains will be used in your next ferment
- Pour liquid into Glass Bottle and refrigerate for 24 – 48 hours. This will give the Water kefir its fizz.
You can also add flavors to the water kefir: such as berries, Lemon, Ginger, berries,Mint etc in the double ferment process.
It is important that use quality glass when fermenting ( such as the glass ware sold on The Raw Food Store ) as cheaper glass may smash due to the nature of fermenting.
Species of Bacteria with Water Kefir Grains
- L. acidophilus
- L. alactosus
- L. brevis
- L. bulgaricus
- L. casei subsp. casei
- L. casei subsp. pseudoplantarum
- L. casei subsp. rhamnosus
- L. casei subsp. tolerans
- L. coryneformis subsp. torquens
- L. fructosus
- L. hilgardii
- L. homohiochi
- L. plantarum
- L. psuedoplantarum
- L. reuterietc
- L. yamanashiensis
- S. agalactiae
- Sr. bovis
- S. cremeris
- S. faecalis
- S. lactis
- S. mutans
- S. pneumoniae
- S. pyogenes
- S. salivarius
- S. sanguinis
- S. suis
- S. viridans
- P. damnosus
- L. mesenteroides
- B. subtilis
- B. graveolus