Yesterday I shared a simple recipe for making water kefir, along with some flavoring ideas. That was putting the cart a bit before the horse, in that I didn’t tell you much about what makes water kefir so great. But it should have gotten you excited to try it, based on the flavor possibilities and its being very soda-like! Let’s talk now about what makes water kefir special.
Dairy Kefir v. Water Kefir
In the past I’ve written about dairy kefir, and this is different from water kefir. The mother cultures of each type of kefir, called “grains,” are colonies of bacteria and yeast living together symbiotically. Because the microbes vary in each type, the mother grains are different and they look different. The dairy kefir grains are a rubbery, whitish, cauliflower shaped clump of grains, while the water kefir grains resemble somewhat translucent crystals and remain separate from each other.
Many people successfully use dairy kefir grains to make water kefir. There is a conversion process. I believe, according to what I’ve read, that dairy kefir grains won’t go on indefinitely this way. But, dairy kefir grains grow like gangbusters in milk, so if you keep them going in milk on the side, you’ll have an endless supply without having to invest in water kefir grains.
With both types of kefir, the grains feed on sugar, leaving behind an acidic, fermented, slightly alcoholic (less than 1%, according to most sources), and probiotic rich beverage. Dairy kefir grains feed on lactose (milk sugar), while the water kefir grains feed on whatever sugar is used in the sugar-water base.
Water and Mineral Needs
Water kefir grains love minerals, so the best water to use is clean and pure spring water or well water. If using filtered water, definitely add half a (rinsed) pastured egg shell to each fermentation. Also, the less refined sweeteners have more minerals. Rapadura, which is unrefined sugar cane, is loaded with minerals – and water kefir grains love it!
If your only water choice is chlorinated water, boil it, allowing the chlorine to vaporize. Then let the water cool to room temperature before making water kefir. Another option is to use a blender and blend the water, for the aeration will encourage the chlorine to vaporize. Always add half a (rinsed) pastured eggshell.
See the Water Kefir recipe for more detailed instructions on making water kefir.
Summary of Benefits
- dairy-free for those who cannot tolerate dairy
- rich with probiotics to aid a healthy digestive system
- quicker to brew than other beverages, such as Kombucha
- soda alternative with versatility in flavor options
Where to Buy
Do you love water kefir? What does it do for you?
For more information about water kefir, see our Lacto-Fermentation eCourse or eBook, both of which contain updated info, second fermentation instructions, bottling instructions, and other fermented beverage recipes.
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