Water kefir is a delicious, healthful, fermented probiotic drink that you can make easily and inexpensively at home.
The little bits that make water kefir are sometimes referred to as a SCOBY which stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. They are also referred to as the mother, or mother culture. They may have a number of different names in different cultures around the world such as tibicos,tibi, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals, California bees, and in older literature as bébées, African bees, ale nuts, Australian bees, balm of Gilead, beer seeds, beer plant, bees, ginger beer plant, ginger bees, Japanese beer seeds and vinegar bees.
The "grains" that make water kefir are not really grains. They feel a bit like wet gummy bear candy when you hold them between your fingers. If you were to squeeze them to break apart, they crumble somewhat. You can not make water kefir grains. The grains must be obtained from someone who already has the live culture. They are generally shared for a very low price. Once you have the grains, they usually grow rapidly under the right conditions. Our grains often double every 1-2 days. If you take proper care of them, they can last a lifetime.
Water Kefir is very easy to brew. It is a simple matter of adding the grains to a sugar and water solution. The grains then eat the sugar, and in the process, create a fizzy beverage filled with healthy bacterias and yeast.
On this site, we sell dehydrated grains also. The dehydrated grains are dried for easy shipment and storage. They are in a dormant state. Once rehydrated with a sugar and water solution, they should be making excellent water kefir in a few days. The first couple of batches made with dehydrated grains should be discarded. The balance of bacteria and yeast will probably be off until the grains are fully hydrated and rehabilitated. Generally this process only takes a few days although it could even be a week before you get the strong fizzy water kefir you are expecting.
In 2011, Gulitz et al studied the composition of water kefir solution to determine which bacteria and yeast made up the final product. They found no less than 453 different bacterial isolates. The most prominant bacteria genus was Lactobacillus, with a number of different strains identified. The exact bacterial makeup of kefir will differ depending on the environment in which it is brewed. The key to successful kefir is not the individual bacterial and yeast strains that make up the solution, but rather the balance in which they exist. This balanced relationship keeps one strain from dominating another, thus preventing it from "going bad".
The following are bacterial and yeast strains isolated in Water Kefir cultures:
Not all strains of bacteria and yeast are found in all kefir brews. We do not test every batch to determine the exact compostion of the grains. If your brew develops tiny bubbles within several hours, then your culture is "working".
There are several different ways to use your kefir. The most popular way is to add some fruit juice creating a healthy 'soda' type beverage. You can also make ginger beer, use the kefir as a liquid base for smoothies. The grains themselves are edible. If you find that they are multiplying faster than you can use them or give them away, you can eat them plain, or brlend in with a smoothie. Water kefir will also benefit your compost pile if you run out of ways to use them up.
Storing Water Kefir and Grains
Water kefir will continue to ferment after you bottle and refrigerate it, albeit much more slowly then in a warmer environment. You will probably want to use it up within a week or less. if you want to take a break from brewing and store the grains, you have several different options. For a short vacation (1 month or less), add the grains to a sugar/water solution and refrigerate. for a longer term break you can freeze the grains, or dehydrate them. They should stay viable for 6 months or longer using these methods.
Remember, after refrigeration or other methods of storage, the grains will be dormant, and will be sluggish for up to a week.
Using Water Kefir Grains After Storage
When you are ready to begin brewing kefir again, simply take your grains out of storage. If they are frozen then let them defrost at room temperature. Then follow the basic recipe to begin brewing again. Remember that while in storage your grains go dormant. It may take several brews before you have the product you are used to. If the grains have been dehydrated it could take up to a week to fully rehydrate and begin brewing the kefir you are used to.
Click for Instructions- How to Make Water Kefir