Thursday, September 2, 2010
Just started my first batch of Water Kefir (thanks Jill) !! I purchased the water grains from www.kefirlady.com and they came with a detailed but simple set of instructions. Seriously friends, a monkey could make it! It's made at room temp with water, sugar, calcium, and the grains (and coconut water or dried fruit optionally). Every few days you strain the grains, drink/refridgerate the kefir, and add the grains to a new batch. The grains multiply so you can eat them for extra probiotic benefits, start more batches, or give them away! Lurve...
What is Water Kefir?
Kefir grains are cultures of various strains of healthy bacteria and yeasts which are 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 in kefir varies with the fermentation time, and is usually less than 1% .
While some people have successfully converted milk kefir grains to culture in sugar water, water kefir grains are different from milk kefir grains. Milk grains are white and look like cottage cheese or cauliflower florets. They are squishy, kind of slimy, and rubbery in texture. Water kefir grains are translucent white and break easily under light pressure. They more closely resemble irregular crystals. To the tongue, water kefir grains have a very mild taste and remind me of eating hominy. Milk kefir is quite chewy and tough. Both kinds of grains are safe to eat or put into smoothies.
Water kefir grains are sometimes called tibicos, tibi, or Japanese water crystals. Kefir grain cultures may vary in numbers and types of microbes. Typically Water Kefir grains have a mixture of healthy (friendly) strains such as : Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus , Lactobacillus alactosus, Lactobacillus casei casei, Lactobacillus pseudoplantarum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Streptococcus lactis, Streptococcus cremeris, Leuconostoc mesenteroide, Saccharomyces florentinus, Saccharomyces pretoriensis, Kloeckera apiculata, Candida lambica, Candida valida and possibly others. Lactobacillus brevis has been identified as the species responsible for the production of the polysaccharide matrix that forms the grains.
There is considered to be a probiotic benefit from the many varied microbes. Water kefir provides this benefit without the use of dairy products. It can be a healthy and valuable substitute for sugar soda products. Sugar is added to the kefir recipes because that is what the kefir eats; however, there is far less sugar in the finished kefir beverage.