Who doesn’t want to know about the effervescent, delicious, fruit-infused beverage that has amazing health benefits? Water kefir it is!
This powerful drink is a great source of healthy probiotics that can clear the skin, heal the gut and energize the body. Apart from this, water kefir is also known for building up immunity, reducing the growth of cancer cells and improving overall health.
Here, we are going to read about the important ingredients of the beverage, reveal the tips on how to care for water kefir grains and its easy-peasy storage ideas. Keep reading!
What is Water Kefir?
For those who are not aware, water kefir is a carbonated, fermented beverage which is made by utilizing water kefir grains. Originated in the late 1800s, it is also named as California bees, tibicos, Japanese water crystal, etc.
Water Kefir is not just scrumptious, but it is also a great addition to a nutritious, well-rounded diet. The best thing is that; water kefir is a gluten-free and dairy free probiotic.
Sugar is also included in the recipe, but it is metabolized by the grains, making the final drink quite low in sweetness and calories.
Difference B/W Kombucha and Water Kefir
Generally, people confuse Kombucha with kefir, but both of them are different from one another in terms of making, ingredients and nutritional value. Have a look at the chart given below for a better idea.
|Base||Water or dairy||Black or green tea|
|Nutrition information||High in calories, fat, carb, protein, sugar and fiber||Low in calories, doesn’t provide fiber or fat.
Source of vitamin B, C, A, copper, zinc, manganese and iron
|Probiotics||Included, lactic acid||Yes, acetic and lactic acid|
|Benefits||Antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor effect, lower cholesterol level, increase immunity||Antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticancer effects, improve blood sugar level, Protect liver and promote fat loss|
|Downside||High in sugar, not good for people with milk allergies or lactose intolerance, may increase insulin, cause bowel changes||Contain caffeine, cause bloating, high in sugar, traces of alcohol, unpasteurized, may contain harmful bacteria|
What Are Kefir Grains?
Kefir grains are said to be originated from Mexico where they were seen in sugary water of prickly pear (Ountia) cactus.
Basically, these grains are gelatinous, soft. They are extracted from the cactus plant and have the ability to multiply or grow when fed and healthy.
How to Care for Kefir Grains to Last Them Longer
First things first, you need to use quality components to ensure the best end results. In case of water kefir, you need to be careful with the selection of its ingredients to help it last longer.
Fret not! We are here to help. Below, you will be reading about the two key elements of water kefir: water and sugar, and how to choose the right kind/type for your beverage. Have a look.
What Type of Water is Suitable for Making Kefir?
Water is obviously the main ingredient of Kefir, but the question is what kind of water is ideal for making a healthy beverage? Well, you don’t have to look for fancy options because well water and tap water can work best for the purpose. Moreover,
- Make sure to utilize mineralized water; preferring hard water over the soft one would be a better choice.
- Reverse osmosis, soft, filtered or highly chlorinated water may lead to dying of kefir grains and also inhibit their growth.
- Bottled water usually don’t contain enough nutrients to feed the grains well either.
What Kind of Sugar to Use?
Another important ingredient of the recipe! You can choose any kind from the following options:
- Coconut sugar
- Organic cane sugar
- Brown sugar
- Pure maple syrup
- White sugar (regular)
- Piloncillo (cone-shaped evaporated sugarcane juice found in Mexican markets).
Maintaining and Growing Kefir Grains 101
Caring for water kefir grains is not difficult, if done right. Here are a few tips to assist you:
- You can keep the leftover grains in a small jar with either extra water kefir or sugar water and store the container in the fridge.
- You need to feed the refrigerated grains once in a week at least in order to keep them alive and healthy.
- A solution of 1 tsp. sugar with 2 cups of water would be great for feeding 1 cup of kefir grains once in a week.
- You are required to change water every 2 to 3 weeks.
- Know that the colder temperature slower down the process of sugar assimilation. On the other hand, the warmer the grains will be kept; the faster the sugar will metabolize and would need to be fed frequently.
- You can easily identify if the grains are ‘hungry’ or need to be fed. Wondering how? Simply by tasting its liquid. If it is sweet, then the grains are healthy and active. Whereas, if it is tangier; they need food ASAP.
Water Kefir Grains Storage for Longer Time
There is absolutely no problem in using water Kefir grains to make back-to-back beverage batches. But what if you need to take a break and preserve the ingredients for a longer time? It’s possible! Keep reading to find out how.
Store Up To 3 Weeks
As mentioned above, you need to store the grains in a colder temperature to keep them healthy and for that a refrigerator can help! All you need to do is:
- Add the kefir grains into a quarter of fresh sugar water: a solution of 1 quart water and ¼ cup of sugar.
- Put everything in a container with a lid. Close it tightly and put it in the refrigerator.
That’s all! The grains will remain healthy and safe for up to 3 weeks. Just make sure to keep changing the water on a regular basis.
Once you decide to utilize the stored kefir; you are required to remove the grains from the liquid and add fresh sugar syrup to culture normally. Moreover, if the stored liquid is fine in flavor and aroma, then you can consume it too without any problem.
It may take a few batches of kefir grains to get back to work. Be patient and give them time to wake up gradually.
Store Up To 6 Months – Long Break
Storage process of water kefir grains is slightly different if you need them to last for more than 3 months. For that, you are required to dry the grains before storing. Follow the mentioned steps for a desirable outcome:
- Firstly, rinse the grains properly with the help of filtered water.
- Then, spread them on an unbleached parchment paper on a safe place.
- Let them dry for 3 to 5 days at the room temperature.
- You can also use a dehydrator for quicker results, but make sure that the heat level doesn’t go above 85 °F.
- Once the grains are completely dry, use a Ziploc bag to store them in a refrigerator.
- They will stay fine for up to 6 months.
|The number of days mentioned for drying the grains may vary, depending on the room temperature and humidity level.|
When you want to use the refrigerated water kefir grains again, rehydrate them as per the instructions given below:
- Heat 3 to 4 cups of water
- Pour the heated water into a glass jar
- Add ¼ cup of cane sugar and dissolve it in the water
- Cool the solution on 68° to 85 °F
- Pour the dried/dehydrated kefir grains in to the sugar water.
- Place a cloth or a coffee filter on the top of the jar, and secure the opening with a rubber band.
- Keep it in a warm spot for 3 to 4 days at 68° to 85 °F.
- After 4 to 5 days, the grains should appear translucent and plump
- At this point, strain the water and discard it.
Once the grains are activated, you can enjoy this powerful drink at any time!
Water kefir beverage earned the hype for all the good reasons. It is a great choice for those who want to enjoy healthy benefits without compromising on the taste. The great thing is that; you don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant or shop to get a glass for yourself because you can easily make water kefir at your home. Its ingredients are simple, and the recipe is the easiest. Moreover, you can also store the grains for later use, if you don’t feel like drinking it every day.
By following the above-mentioned guidelines religiously, you will be able to store your kefir grains for up to 6 months. Have you tried this super-delicious beverage yet? If not, you are surely missing out something good.