Why Water Kefir?

IMG_4327So you may be wondering “so you gave us the recipe, but why bother with all that culturing business?”

Here are a few reasons why you should try water kefir reposted from Jenny McGruther @ Nourished Kitchen.

Water kefir, a fermented beverage teeming with beneficial bacteria, is remarkably simple to prepare  and often more palatable than other probiotic tonics like kombucha and beet kvass.   Similar in flavor to a dry, slightly fizzy lemonade, water kefir is pleasant and even small children can enjoy it.   When my son was littler than he is now, I’d often fill his cup with diluted water kefir as treat, and he loved the fizzy lemonade, and I loved knowing the treat nourished his growing body.

What is water kefir?

Water kefir, like kombucha, is first cultured by introducing a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts) into sugar water.   The beneficial bacteria and yeasts present in the water kefir grains metabolize the sugar, turning it into an array of beneficial acids and infusing it with beneficial microorganisms, additional B vitamins as well as food enzymes.

Water kefir grains are small, translucent, gelatinous structures   and are comprised of assorted bacteria including lactobacillus hilgardii which gives them their characteristic crystal-like appearance.   When properly cared for and regularly cultured, they produce a wonderful probiotic-rich beverage and will continue to grow and reproduce indefinitely.

Water Kefir Benefits

Water kefir, like most fermented foods, supports gut health and systemic wellness.  The beneficial bacteria in the water kefir grains consume the sugar in the sugar water, and as they metabolize the sugar, they produce a variety of beneficial acids, food enzymes, B vitamins and more beneficial bacteria.  This process of fermentation also reduces the sugar content of the drink.

Water Kefir and Alcohol

Like all fermented beverages, culturing water kefir produces a small amount of alcohol.  The alcohol content of water kefir hovers around 0.5% to 0.75% depending on how long it is brewed, and is typically less than what you find in over-ripe fruit which hovers at 0.9% to 1%.  If you’re concerned about alcohol content in water kefir, you can test your brews with a hydrometer (like this one), often used by home brewers, or read this piece about alcohol content and water kefir.