WHAT IS WATER KEFIR?
Water Kefir is a raw, unpasteurized fermented drink. It is a naturally carbonated alternative to those high-sugar, additive-packed fizzy drinks and sodas that are marketed to us so successfully. And unlike the ‘sugar-free’ drinks which are offered as the healthier option, but contain a synthetic sugar substitute, our Water Kefir utilizes raw organic sugar. The sugar is metabolised by the beneficial bacteria and yeasts present in Kefir Grains during the fermentation process resulting in little sugar being left in the drink. This natural activity provides beneficial micro-organisms, B vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Water Kefir shares a similar process to the making of Kombucha, though that is a fermented beverage made from green or black tea, or to the making of Beet Kvass from beetroot juice. Each rely on a natural SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) for fermentation but Water Kefir contains neither caffeine (excepting our coffee kefir), which is an unwelcome stimulant for some people, nor a strong flavour. A basic Water Kefir is made by combining a Kefir Grain culture , sugar and water. It produces a pleasant-tasting drink, similar to a fizzy lemonade, with only a slight sourness. Thereafter comes the skill and feeling for producing delicious Water Kefirs. Ours is a modern interpretation of traditions. Our Water Kefirs, in our experience, appeal to children too.
Water Kefir is far from being a new invention. It is a traditional fermented drink that has been enjoyed in many countries for generations. It is made from ‘Kefir Grains’, which are actually living organisms and not grains (the word ‘grain’ refers to the look of the culture). The origin of Water Kefir Grains is unknown as little was written down on the subject but they go under various names around the world – Tibicos, Japanese Water Crystals, Vinegar Bees etc - but there is documentary evidence from the late 19th century of Tibicos, being used in fermented drinks in Mexico; of Japanese Water Crystals being used to ferment drinks for generations in Japan; and of Water Kefir Grains being highly valued in Georgia and the Caucasus regions for hundreds of years. Kefir grains have been passed around between populations in much the same way as natural bread ‘mother’ yeasts have been, and continue to be, distributed.
WATER KEFIR BENEFITS
Scientific research is taking place into understanding the importance of the human gut microbiota and microbiome. The sterility of processed food, thanks to pasteurisation, anti-bacterial products, antibiotics and lack of fibre in our Western diets are thought to be contributing to the depletion of the gut’s biodiversity. *Michael Pollan’s investigations into the subject found scientists are working on the theory that disorders in our internal ecosystem “may predispose us to obesity and a whole range of chronic diseases, as well as some infections”. Research continues but it is known that diet is one of the main influences on the human gut microbiota and that good food-ingested bacteria can be found in large numbers in fermented foods.
Our Water Kefirs are:
GOOD TO KNOW
Water kefir is alive, so sweetness and fizziness will vary.
Always keep your bottle in a refrigerator and refrigerate within 3 hours of buying it. If you do not refrigerate it the drink will continue to ferment and the taste will change and develop a very different taste to what is intended.
DO NOT SHAKE the bottle or the drink will froth and overflow when you release the cap.
The fermentation process results in a very small amount of alcohol being present in the drink. Typically this is less than 1%.
There are two kinds of Kefir Grains: Milk Kefir grains which feed on lactose and Water Kefir grains which feed on sugars. Water Kefir is a refreshing drink and a good alternative to Milk Kefir if you want the benefits of a cultured food without increasing your dairy intake.
Our Water Kefirs are fermented in glass vessels only, are fed on organic cane sugar and flavoured with only the highest quality seasonal raw fruits and herbs.
Sources of information:
*Michael Pollan is the Knight Professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author, most recently, of “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.”
Lucy Shewell, PhD, is a research scientist in the field of molecular microbiology. Her current research focuses on bacterial toxins and their interactions with host cells. Her research has been published in leading scientific journals including The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature Communications.
Sandor Ellix Katz – a fermentation revivalist