Water kefir grains, or we call them kefir crystals, are unlike milk kefir grains as they thrive on sugars and not lactose.The special probiotic yeasts and beneficial bacteria in the water kefir crystals consume the sugar in the sugar water, and they produce probiotics, new enzymes, vitamins, and help repopulate your gut flora. They are dairy free and gluten free despite being called "grains." They look slightly different from milk kefir grains and are translucent, while milk kefir grains are white.
Water kefir is different from the Kefir Soda recipes on my site. Kefir soda is made with a powdered packet of a kefir starter or kefir whey which is from milk kefir and is not dairy free. This recipe is made with water kefir crystals that can last indefinitely and is fun to make!
These live active cultures contain over 14 different types of yeast and bacteria existing in what some people call a symbiotic relationship, but that is not exactly true. Bacteria and yeast fight for dominance and each of them keeps the other in balance. The yeasts (which are probiotics too) are fast growers but run out of room to grow due to the larger amount of good bacteria. They are then forced to ferment and the by-product is a lovely naturally occurring carbonation present in water kefir. Bacteria and yeasts work in our bodies much the same way. You need both to have a healthy gut microbiome. You need more beneficial bacteria than yeasts and when you have this harmony, all is well. I love all that bacteria can do, and water kefir can help you replace drinks that don't have health benefits such as sodas and energy drinks. For thousands of years, probiotic cultures have helped keep our foods and drinks safe through the process of fermentation. When a food or beverage is fermented, it is loaded with beneficial bacteria and yeasts that keep out harmful bacteria. The fermentation increases the minerals and vitamins and helps you digest the foods you eat when you have a glass with your meal.
Here is a look at the probiotic bacteria and yeasts in water kefir crystals that help create delicious probiotic water kefir.
Bacteria and Yeasts in Water Kefir Crystals
- L. brevis
- L. casei
- L. hilgardii
- L. hordei
- L. nagelii
- L. citreum
- L. mesenteroides
- A. fabarum
- A. orientalis
- S. lactis
Tips for Making Water Kefir
Water kefir does not have much flavor on its own. With this method, I recommend doing a second ferment with juices and flavorings to give your water kefir extra flavor. It will give you a fizzier and more consistent brew each time. We have lots of recipes to second ferment your water kefir. Water Kefir Recipes!
I recommend water kefir be consumed within a week. It will ferment rapidly even in the fridge - much faster than kombucha - and can end up with too much pressure and not as pleasant of a taste. Water kefir may also become more alcoholic if fruit juices are used and fermented for longer periods of times. This is another reason to drink it more quickly.
Some recommend not using filtered water as water kefir grains thrive on minerals (as do most cultures). Filtered water is okay if the filter doesn't remove the minerals. I do not recommend using distilled or reverse osmosis or any waters that remove ALL minerals from the water. Regular filtered water or spring water is fine, and I've never had any problems with it. I hope you enjoy this probiotic drink as an add-on to your already happy diet!
Love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle
Basic Water Kefir
- Stir sugar to dissolve. You can use brown sugar, white sugar, sucanat or raw sugar. (See note for different types of sugar you can use.) If you use sucanat or raw, you need to heat the water to dissolve the sugar and then allow it to cool before placing your grains in your jar. Certain types of sugars don’t dissolve in water very well and will stay stuck on your grains unless heated.