My husband and children love, love, love water kefir. They love the fizz that it has and they love that we can make it in any flavour we would like. Our family favourites are black currant, raspberry/lemon and lemon/lime. The last one is very similar to 7-Up / Sprite.
As I'm always busy and prefer to have things done very quickly I use squash or cordial for the second fermentation and flavouring during the busier times. Easy peasy.
On less busy days I do like to cut up some fruit or use some dried fruits for the second fermentation.
What is Water Kefir
Now that you have read the above you are no doubt wondering what water kefir is.
Water kefir is a scoby. But what is a scoby? A scoby is a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. And the scoby of kefir looks like see through clusters as you can see on the image.
Water kefir goes by several names: Tibicos or Tibi, Japanese water crystals, sugar kefir grains, California bees and water kefir grains. I'm sure there are others. For some of these names I have absolutely no idea where these names come from.
I do know where the name Tibicos comes from(1). In Mexico they have a cactus called Opuntia. On this cactus the kefir grains grow. The fluid of this cactus is very sweet. Therefore it works for us to put the grains in sweetened water, which then gives us a fermented drink. Neat, right?
Why is Water Kefir healthy
Water kefir is healthy because it is a fermented drink and therefore it contains a large variety of lactobacilli, which the human body needs. The lactobacilli in water kefir are: Lactobacilli brevis, casei, paracasei, casei, coryniformis subspecies torquens, hordei, nagelii, hilgardii, satsumensis, homohiochii and plantarum amongst others.
There is also the bifidobacterium psychraerophilum, but the last one you will only get into you when you eat the grains, which you can do by putting the excess that you have in your smoothie or so.
Furthermore water kefir contains:
Streptococcus cremeris, Streptococcus faecalis, Streptococcus lactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Leuconostoc citreum, Pediococcus damnosus, Acetobacter fabarum, Acetobacter orientalis.
And then there are also the following yeasts in water kefir:
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces pretoriensis, Candida valida, Candida lambica, Kloeckera apiculata, Hansenula valbyensis, Zygotorulaspora florentina & Lachancea fermentati.
Altogether this is quite a nice list of good microbes that you would like to get into your body as they promote good gut health, which in its turn promotes good digestion, which will result in better health. We really need to replenish these type of microbes on a regular basis to keep our gut health and functioning well. The reason for this is that in times long past many of the human foods were fermented to be able to keep them for longer periods of time. Sauerkraut is one example of that. Cabbage could be kept all through the winter.
These days people don't really eat so many fermented foods anymore, which results in a decline of gut health, with that a decline in the functioning of the gut, which results in fewer nutrients being properly taken out of our food, which can result in deficiencies. So it is key to keep our guts healthy.
In the western world we already have a diminished population (40% less) of gut microbes in comparison to a healthy person from an Amazonian tribe or a person from rural Africa. The first one has a much more diverse microbiome than the person from(2) rural Africa or the western person.
The better our microbiome, the better our digestion and the better our health.
How to make Water Kefir
This is the fun part!
You will need to acquire some water kefir grains. There are many groups on facebook where people offer them, you can buy them online, or ask friends and see whether anyone has them, or knows of someone who has them.
They can grow quite rapidly when you ferment on a regular basis, so many people who start out with it have excess in a matter of a few weeks.
Once you have the kefir grains, about 2 tablespoons, you put them in a clean glass jar of about a litre and add sugar, about 4 tablespoons. In about 24 hours your water is fermented and slightly fizzy.
You then put your fermented water in a bottle with a fliptop as these will let the pressure go off. You add some squash, cordial or fruits to the water and leave it standing for another 24 hours. This is the second fermentation. You can drink it after the first fermentation, but having a nice flavour makes it all the more interesting. So therefore I always go for the second fermentation.
I also these days make 2 litres at a time. So that means that I have about 4 or more tablespoons of kefir grains and I also double the sugar.
We really like the black currant version, for which I simply use Rocks Organic squash.
When I make a 7-Up / Sprite style I add some lemon and lime juice and add the peels as well. Very, very tasty.
Will you give water kefir a try?
Let me know you get on!
Do you have any questions about it?
Please do ask me!