How to Make Water Kefir + Know Its Benefits
When it comes to fizzy beverages, there is one that is favored not only for its taste but for its benefits as well. This is none other than water kefir which according to research slows the growth of cancer cells, improves overall health, and boosts immunity. Learn how to make water kefir right at home.
What is Water Kefir?
Before getting started on how to make water kefir, it is essential to understand what it is exactly. Water kefir is a carbonated drink made from a combination of sugar water and water kefir grains which is fermented for 48 hours. These grains are also called sugar grains, Japanese water crystals, California bees or tibicos which originated in the year 1800s.
Tibicos are made up of various strains of probiotics, and no two cultures are the same. The typical mix of tibicos includes Streptococcus, Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, and Pediococcus bacteria along with yeast from Candida, Kloeckera, Saccharomyces, and more.
With regards to probiotics, these are beneficial bacteria that feed on bad bacteria present in the intestines and stomach. An overgrowth of harmful bacteria results in disorders such as skin disorders, indigestion, obesity, and fungi growth. Furthermore, an excess of unhealthy bacteria could lead to irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
While water kefir is a combination of water and sugar plus the grains, it varies significantly to regular kefir. Traditional kefir is produced using a combination of the kefir grains and goat or cow’s milk. This type of kefir might not be a suitable option for lactose-intolerant individuals.
As mentioned, this drink is packed with probiotics. According to a study by Frontiers in Microbiology, water kefir contains more than 56 different strains of bacteria and yeast. It is also the best source of probiotic strains which include the following.
|Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides||Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. Cremoris|
|Lactococcus lactis subsp. Cremoris||Lacotoccus lactis subsp. Lactis|
|Lactobacillus acidophilus||Lactobacillus helveticus|
|Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens subsp. Kefirgranum||Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus|
|Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens subsp. Kefiranofaciens||Streptococcus thermophiles|
Due to its significant probiotic content, water kefir offers the following health benefits.
1. Boost Immune System Function
Studies claim that probiotics reduce the risk of getting intestinal infections. It also prevents recurrent urinary tract infections and respiratory infections. In animal studies, the beverage suppresses inflammatory reactions triggered by asthma. As for human studies conducted, water kefir consumed daily helped optimize immune cell levels and control inflammation.
2. Fights Cancer Cell Growth
Research shows that water kefir reduces the growth of cancer cells. In one study, it showed promise in blocking breast cancer cell growth. Other studies showed effectiveness against blood and colon cancer. Nonetheless, further research is required to verify these claims.
Aside from the benefits mentioned above, water kefir is an excellent option for individuals who are lactose intolerant or those who simply wish to avoid dairy. It is also an excellent substitute for other probiotic food that vegans choose to avoid. Water kefir boosts beneficial bacteria in the gut that helps in strengthening one’s immune system.
There are minimal adverse reactions when it comes to the consumption of water kefir. Much like probiotic food, the side effects of water kefir include constipation, cramps, nausea, and bloating. Take note that these side effects lessen with continuous consumption.
It is still best to consult with your attending physician regarding the consumption of probiotic drinks, especially for individuals with a weak immune system. Some reports suggest that the use of probiotics is linked to a higher risk of infection in individuals with a weak immune function, particularly individuals diagnosed with AIDS.
Also, due to the fermentation process, water kefir may contain trace amounts of alcohol. The amount of alcohol varies and depends on the length of fermentation. If you are worried about the alcohol content of the beverage, then it is recommended that you use a hydrometer. This device tests the alcoholic concentration of the drink.
Powdered Kefir Starter
While some use water kefir grains, others opt to use powdered kefir starter. However, there are considerable variations between the two. Refer to the table below.
The grains have an unlimited life span as long as properly cared for.Powdered starter culture may be reused but eventually loses potency. May be re-cultured two to seven times but depends on the freshness of kefir as well as the sanitary methods employed.
Water Kefir Grains
Powdered Starter Culture
|Contains a significantly higher number of probiotics than the powdered starter.||Contains fewer probiotics than water kefir grains.|
|Grains can be used for an indeterminate period as long as it is given proper care.|
|Higher investment cost, but can be reused indefinitely.||Smaller investment cost, but needs to be replaced often.|
How to Make Water Kefir
First, prepare water kefir grains, organic cane sugar, and filtered water. Once you have all three, combine one-fourth cup of sugar and one-half cup of hot water. Mix it thoroughly and move it to a jar before adding three cups of filtered water. Add the water kefir grains.
Next, cover the jar and place it in a warm area. The area’s temperature should be around 20 to 30 degrees Celsius. Allow the solution to ferment for a period of 24 to 48 hours.
You may opt to add lime, organic lemon, or unsweetened dried fruits like apricots, raisins, or figs as a flavoring. If you decide to mix any of the ingredients above, then add it along with the water kefir grains after mixing sugar with water.
After 48 hours, uncover the jar and strain the water kefir grains from the solution. You now have water kefir. As for the strained grains, you can reuse the water kefir grains for another batch of water.
It is strongly advised to move the water kefir grains to a fresh batch of sugar water every four days. Extending it to more than four days may starve the grains. Also, do not exceed 48 hours when culturing the grains as it may damage and starve them as well.
Cultured water kefir may be stored in the refrigerator with a temperature of 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit for three weeks. Long-time users of water kefir highly suggest refrigerating the cultured water. It may also be placed in the freezer and stored for two months.