What is Water Kefir?

Are you dairy free or vegan and looking for probiotic drinks?

Tired of searching the supermarket aisles and seeing nothing but dairy based probiotic products?

Want an alternative to paying high prices for vegan probiotic capsules?

Water kefir (fermented from a simple sugar and water solution using water kefir grains, also known as water crystals, Japanese water crystals, Californian bees, tibicos or tibi) is the perfect solution.

You can grow your own living probiotic drinks at home to enjoy the health benefits of natural beneficial bacteria and yeasts.

You’ll make something way better and more environmentally friendly than shop products!

Making water kefir is also easy and cheap! Once you’ve bought your tibi, the only cost is a small amount of sugar for each new batch.

Look after your culture properly and you only ever need to buy it once, it will keep producing water kefir indefinitely!

What is water kefir?

Water kefir is a naturally fermented dairy free beverage, rich in probiotics.

Pro biotic means “promoting life”, friendly bacteria and fungi that support normal body function.

Those contained in water kefir include well known probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and L. casei; and probiotic yeasts (fungi) such as Saccharomyces boullardii (aka boulardii).

These bacteria and yeasts are responsible for the health benefits of water kefir.

Water kefir is made by placing a specific live culture of specialised bacteria and yeast into sugar and water.

Leave for 24-48 hours (depending on temperature) and you have a sweetish, sourish, very slightly alcoholic drink (usually a lot less than 1% alcohol, estimated to be 0.4%) that is loaded with healthy micro-organisms.

The average culture contains about 30 strains of friendly organisms!

It’s very different from milk based kefir or yoghurt, as it doesn’t thicken like they do. Water kefir stays watery. The colour may be lighter than shown in the photo.

READ : Can you eat yogurt on vegan diet

Water kefir has a unique taste, slightly sweet but with a sour edge to it, and a light fizz that tingles on the tongue.

The taste and color will vary depending on the type of sugar used, the length of time it ferments for, temperature during fermentation, and other factors.

Water kefir tastes delicious on its own, or you can do a second fermentation adding fruit, fruit juice, coconut water, herbs or spices to give a range of flavours.

Ginger and lemon are popular, giving flavours very like old fashioned ginger beer or traditional lemonade.

It can even develop a good fizz if you tightly seal the bottles for the second fermentation, as the organisms naturally carbonate the drink, producing a natural soft drink or soda.

See my making water kefir page for more information.

READ : Homemade Vegan Kefir

Like all fermented foods, water kefir can be an acquired taste.

Don’t expect it to taste like commercial probiotic drinks, which are usually heavily sweetened. Water kefir has it’s own unique flavour.

Most people (including children) like it and find it far more palatable than other natural probiotic drinks such as Kombucha.

I love it! It also works well in fruit smoothies, adding an extra tang that rounds the flavour beautifully.

It’s unclear where water kefir originated, but very similar colonies of bacteria and yeast have been found growing on cactus in Mexico, so that could be the source.

These cultures (unlike other ferments like sourdough or cider vinegar, where you can create your own starter) won’t occur naturally otherwise.

This means you do need to buy starter to get going making water kefir.

A highly recommended source of top quality live cultures is Cultures for Health.

I hope you’ll enjoy using water kefir and enjoying its health benefits!

READ : Definition of vegan

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