is Water Kefir?
grains are cultures of various strains of healthy bacteria and
yeasts which are held together in a polysaccharide matrix created
by the bacteria. The symbiotic relationship of the microbes
produces a stable growing culture. The microbes feed on sugar
and produce lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol), and carbon dioxide,
yielding a fermented carbonated beverage. The alcohol content
in kefir varies with the fermentation time, and is usually less
than 1% .
some people have successfully converted milk kefir grains to culture
in sugar water, water kefir grains are different from milk kefir
grains. Milk grains are white and look like cottage cheese or
cauliflower florets. They are squishy, kind of slimy, and rubbery
in texture. Water kefir grains are translucent white and break
easily under light pressure. They more closely resemble irregular
crystals. To the tongue, water kefir grains have a very mild taste
and remind me of eating hominy. Milk kefir is quite chewy and
tough. Both kinds of grains are safe to eat or put into smoothies.
Water kefir grains are sometimes called tibicos, tibi, or Japanese
water crystals. Kefir grain cultures may vary in numbers and types
of microbes. Typically Water Kefir grains have a mixture of healthy
(friendly) strains such as : Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus
casei rhamnosus , Lactobacillus alactosus, Lactobacillus casei
casei, Lactobacillus pseudoplantarum, Lactobacillus plantarum,
Streptococcus lactis, Streptococcus cremeris, Leuconostoc mesenteroide,
Saccharomyces florentinus, Saccharomyces pretoriensis, Kloeckera
apiculata, Candida lambica, Candida valida and possibly others.
Lactobacillus brevis has been identified as the species responsible
for the production of the polysaccharide matrix that forms the
There is considered to be a probiotic benefit from the many varied
microbes. Water kefir provides this benefit without the use of
dairy products. It can be a healthy and valuable substitute for
sugar soda products. Sugar is added to the kefir recipes because
that is what the kefir eats; however, there is far less sugar
in the finished kefir beverage. Stevia or chemical sugar substitutes
will not support kefir fermentation and growth.
and Recipes for Culturing and Growing
Water Kefir Grains
The following recipes produce 3 cups of water kefir. The first
recipe yields the healthiest fastest growing grains for me. I
use high mineral well water as I have found that filtered water
will not produce healthy grains. You may wish to maintain your
kefir grains with the first recipe and experiment with different
juices using the second recipe. I find the grains thrive with
banana (you may used fresh, dried or frozen banana slices).
For these recipes, use one packet of dry grains or 1/4 to 1/2
cup of wet water kefir grains. Remove some as necessary when they
grow, maintaining about 1/2 cup of grains to 3 cups of liquid.
If desired, you may double the recipes as your kefir grows. Of
course, you will also need to use a larger glass jar.
If you do not have well water, spring water, or mineral water
available, you can try boiling tap water to remove the chlorine.
Allow it to cool to room temperature before adding the grains.
Or you can use a blender to aerate the water and remove the chlorine.
DO NOT use filtered or distilled water as they do not have the
minerals that kefir needs.
ANY HEAT OVER 105 degrees MAY KILL YOUR GRAINS. Your kefir prefers
to be too cool or even cold, rather than too warm.
First fermentation may take 1-4 days dpending on the temperature
and other variables. Ideal temperature is in the 70's F. Cooler
is fine but it will ferment slower.
Put the following in a 4-6 cup glass jar with a lid. If the lid
is metal, line it with plastic wrap. Use spring water, hard well
water, or mineral water. The apple juice and banana are optional
and used to promote growth.
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4-1/2 cup kefir grains
1/4 cup apple juice OR 1 Tbsp thin apple slices
about 1 inch of banana cut into thin slices
and let it sit in a cupboard for 1-3 days. Don't seal it too tight
as pressure will build up as the solution ferments.
Each day you may taste it. If it is too sweet, you may ferment
longer. If you like it, spoon off the bananas and discard. Strain
out the kefir grains using a fine mesh strainer (preferably nylon).
Bottle and store the liquid water kefir in the refrigerator. Repeat
the process with the kefir grains in fresh sugar water solution
each day or two.
This involves adding juices or flavors to the kefir beverage after
the grains have been removed. Bottle the kefir beverage. Add any
flavors or juices to the Kefir beverage and let it ferment out
of the refrigerator for about 12 hours. Then place it in the refrigerator.
Any frozen fruit juice concentrate
lemon or lime juice for delicious lemonade or limeade
bottled fruit juice (cranberry, grape, orange, peach, mango, pomegranate,
apple, raspberry, etc.)
Experiment with dried fruit (raisins, apricots, cranberries, figs,
Many of these additions would hinder the kefir grain growth if
used in the first fermentation but are great once the grains have