Have you heard about one of the hottest topics in health today? Probiotic drinks are rapidly becoming a must-add component of an overall healthy lifestyle. As we’re beginning to understand the crucial role our gut plays in our wellbeing, we’re finding effective and delicious ways to achieve optimal gut health.
Related: How to Make Water Kefir: Delicious and Easy Recipe
What is Water Kefir?
Water kefir is a fizzy, fermented, probiotic drink that you can purchase or make for yourself at home. You can make it sweet, tangy, or just plain sour - it’s up to you. Water kefir has been around since the early 1800s and is consumed all over the world in many variations.
You may already be familiar with traditional kefir, made from cow, goat, or sheep milk, but water kefir is different. You only need water, sugar, and water kefir grains to make it. This may be more agreeable to people who are avoiding dairy. And because it’s made from water, water kefir is easily flavored with fruit, herbs, spices, and vegetables. It’s also lower in calories than regular sodas or fruit juices.
What Are Water Kefir Grains?
Water kefir is made from water kefir grains, also called Japanese water crystals, California bees, or tibicos. Different countries and regions call them other names. Water kefir grains aren’t actually grains; they’re gelatinous, translucent, tiny gravel-like pieces the size of marbles. These clusters of bacteria cultures, yeast, and proteins can be fragile when handled but may be used indefinitely if you care for them properly.
Can You Make Water Kefir From Milk Kefir Grains?
What if you already have milk kefir grains, but what to give water kefir a try? Or if you like both milk kefir and water kefir and don’t want to have to invest in both kinds of grains. Great news, you can make water kefir with milk kefir grains.
When conditions are made right, milk kefir grains can actually double in quantity in a week. So, divide them and rinse thoroughly with tap water. Now put them in a clean jar with double the amount of sugar. The owner of this particular method uses ⅓ cup of grains with ⅓ cup white sugar and ⅓ cup of brown sugar. You can use whatever sugar you have. To this, add about 6 or 7 cups of water, and stir. The fermenting process should take about 3 days.
These grains can be used up to three times, not indefinitely like water kefir grains because they can’t grow in sugar water. If you do it right, you’ve still got more milk kefir grains to convert, and you can begin the process again. If you don’t want to throw away those converted grains, you can put them back in milk, where they will start growing again.
Note: This is one method for making water kefir out of milk kefir grains, but there are others.
Related: 10 Health Benefits of Kefir (Backed By Science)
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Why Drink Water Kefir?
Why drink water kefir? Water kefir is loaded with the ‘good’ bacteria your gut needs to be healthy. Additionally, the probiotics in water kefir can help with weight loss, improve your immune response, help prevent specific cancers, and even retard the growth of some cancer cells. It’s delicious, easy to make, and with just a few added ingredients, you’ll have something better than soda.
Nutrition Profile of Water Kefir
One study showed that water kefir is one of the richest sources of needed probiotics available. There may be up to 56 different strains of bacteria and yeast, including the following:
- Lactobacillus helveticus
- Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus
- Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens subsp. Kefirgranum
- Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens subsp. Kefiranofaciens
- Lactococcus lactis subsp. Lactis
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides
- Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris
Where to Buy Water Kefir Grains
You can buy water kefir grains online or from most health food stores. The ones you purchase will most likely be dehydrated, so you’ll have to rehydrate them for a few days before you can use them. The directions for rehydration are simple and usually printed clearly on the package.
After you make your first water kefir, you’ll notice that your grains start to multiply. This is a good thing - the more grains you have, the more water kefir you can make. Use about two tablespoons of water kefir grains per 500 ml of water. Store yours in the fridge and share with your friends and family to try.
How Do You Activate Water Kefir Grains?
Water kefir grains thrive on plain, refined sugar, as well as some of the nutrients available in fruit. The best way to feed or activate your water kefir grains is with sugar and filtered water. You can use your water kefir grains for culturing coconut water or even fruit juice, but it’s a good idea to always have some kefir grains set aside in a sugar-water mixture.
Make your water kefir in small batches, so your grains are used regularly.
How to Make Water Kefir
Here’s an idea of how simple it is to make your own water kefir:
- Dissolve 2 tablespoons of sugar in a little bit of boiling water in a glass jar.
- Top this with cool, filtered water, so you have between 500 and 700 ml of room temperature water.
- Add your water kefir grains to the jar with 1 or 2 tablespoons of kefir liquid from a previous batch or the liquid that came with your water kefir grains.
- Cover loosely and set aside in a warm place for two days. Note: Don’t leave it for more than 48 hours because you’ll starve the grains.
- Strain it with a non-metal sieve and bottle your new brew in the fridge.
- Take the kefir grains and store them in the refrigerator in an airtight glass jar with some of your brewed water kefir. They’ll be ready for you to use again.
Related: What Are Probiotic Drinks?
The Bottom Line on Probiotic Drinks
With just a little water kefir grains (culture), sugar, and water, you can make a fizzy, fermented drink that will have a huge positive impact on your health. If you aren’t up to making it yourself, you can buy it ready-made and flavored.
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