Water Kefir Grains Instructions
- One jar : Quart to Half Gallon
- One spoon stirring utensil
- One towel or paper coffee filter
- One rubber band
- Water kefir grains
- ¼ cup organic sugar per quart of water:
- Evaporated cane crystals or raw organic suga
- Water (mineral water)
Well water or spring water is best due to higher mineral content
If using tap water, remove the chlorine prior to making water kefir by either boiling the water and allowing it to cool or by aerating the water using a blender.
Making Water Kefir:
Dissolve sugar in a small amount of warm/hot water.
Add enough cool water to almost fill the jar leaving 1-2 inches of headspace.
When the water has cooled to room temperature, add the kefir grains and give the mixture a quick stir with a spoon.
Cover tightly with a towel and rubber band to keep out fruit flies and ants.
Allow the kefir to culture for 24 to 48 hours. 24 hours will yield a sweeter water kefir. However, if you are sensitive to sugar, culture the kefir for 48 hours to give the grains a chance to consume a larger portion of the sugar. Stir once or twice a day while the kefir cultures (optional). Do not let the kefir grains culture longer than 72 hours. As the kefir grains culture, you will notice tiny bubbles forming and travelling to the water surface.
Once the kefir has finished culturing, strain off the finished liquid into a separate container with a strainer) and cover with a tight lid. Finished water kefir does not require refrigeration, but can be refrigerated if you desire a cold beverage.
Add the grains to a new batch of sugar water and proceed with your next batch.
Coconut kefir instructions:
Water kefir grains can be made using coconut water from young green coconut water. Simply add the grains to young green coconut water.
Using the Kefir Grains to make Water Kefir is actually pretty easy. And the best part is you can grow as much as you need, and then keep making a fresh batch of Water Kefir for your entire family to enjoy each day.
Here’s how you do it in 4 easy steps…
Step 1: Add Ingredients
Add the following ingredients to a clean quart sized canning jar…
1 quart of spring water
1/3 cup organic brown sugar
1 tsp of molasses (optional)
Mix ingredients until all the sugar is dissolved
Step 2: Add Kefir Grains
Add 1/4 cup Kefir Grains.
Place a cap on the jar and let it sit for 48 hours so it can ferment and create the Water Kefir.
After 48 hours, taste test it. If its too sweet, let it go another day. They can ferment up to 5 days.
Step 3: Strain Water Kefir
When the Water Kefir is cultured to your liking, you can strain out the grains, and now you can drink the Water Kefir.
Step 4: Rinse & Repeat
Rinse the grains well with room temperature water and repeat the process using the grains.
You and your family can drink it every single day and it will only cost you just a few cents per day (kefir grain food – cane sugar, etc.) to make once you get your grains started.
Coconut Water for Health and Healing
by Bruce Fife, N.D.
Dr. Bruce Fife is a certified nutritionist and naturopathic physician. He is considered the world’s leading authority on the health aspects of coconut and related products. He is the author of 20 books including Coconut Water for Health and Healing and serves as the director of the Coconut Research Center, www.coconutresearchcenter.org.
What is the healthiest beverage you can drink? Fruit juice? Milk? Sports drinks? Herbal tea? It may come as a surprise to you, but one of the healthiest beverages is coconut water. Most people respond to this statement with, “what the heck is coconut water?”
You’ve been to the grocery store, picked up a coconut, and shaken it, right? The sloshing sound you hear inside is coconut water. Contrary to popular belief, this liquid is not coconut milk. Coconut milk is made by crushing and squeezing the liquid from coconut meat. What you get is a thick, creamy, white fluid that looks much like dairy milk. Coconut water, on the other hand, looks pretty much like ordinary water, although it may be slightly opaque. The two are completely different in taste, texture, nutrient content, and health benefits. Coconut water is sometimes referred to as coconut juice and is consumed just like any other fruit juice.
Coconut water has a slightly sweet, somewhat nutty taste. Surprisingly, it doesn’t taste like coconut. It has a flavor all its own. Coconut water has long been the most popular beverage consumed in the tropics where it is considered not only a refreshing drink but a health tonic. Coconut water is a superfood filled with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, and growth factors. It is low in fat and has only a fifth of the sugar found in most fresh fruit juices.
Its unique combination of nutrients gives it incredible health-promoting properties. Coconut water has a normalizing effect and gives the body a boost of energy so that it can overcome a number of health-related conditions. It is effective in relieving dehydration, fatigue, constipation, and other digestive disturbances, kidney and bladder disorders, and vision problems such as glaucoma and cataract. It is reported to turn back time, so to speak, by reversing or slowing down the aging process. Coconut water also has an alkalizing effect on the body, helping to counteract or balance the effects of acidifying foods which are so common in our diets. Research shows that coconut water can improve blood circulation, lower elevated blood pressure, and reduce risk of heart attacks and strokes. Studies have been so impressive that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States has approved coconut water to carry the claim that it “may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.”
One of the most remarkable characteristics of coconut water is its chemical profile and mineral content. The primary minerals or electrolytes in coconut water are essentially the same as those found in human blood. For this reason, doctors have used it as an intravenous fluid for rehydration, pumping it directly into the patient’s bloodstream. Numerous studies dating back over 60 years document the successful use of intravenous coconut water in the treatment of malnutrition and dehydration.
Since coconut water has a pleasant taste, it has also found use as an effective oral rehydration beverage. Doctors have found it to be highly useful in fighting dehydrating diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and influenza, where it has saved the lives of thousands of children in underdeveloped parts of the world.
Coconut water’s similarity to body fluids and its usefulness as an intravenous and oral rehydration fluid has spurred interest in the sports community. With properties which are in many ways superior to commercial sports drinks, coconut water is now becoming popular as a natural rehydration beverage among athletes. In fact, it is popularly known as “Nature”s Gatorade.
Coconut water is available at most good health food stores and, as its popularity continues to grow, is finding its way into many grocery stores. It comes packaged in easy-to-carry cans, bottles, and tetra paks. Tetra paks are the most convenient because you don’t have to worry about them breaking. You can take them with you anywhere, even when you work out, go camping or hiking, or go to the football game. If you freeze them beforehand, they will stay cold for hours, providing you will a cool, refreshing drink later in the day.
You can also get coconut water straight from a fresh coconut. You want to make sure you get a “young” coconut. Young coconuts are those that have not fully matured. The water in the mature brown, hairy coconuts you see in the grocery store is too old and tastes much different. Whole young coconuts are also sold in health food stores. They look different from the mature brown coconuts. When a coconut is harvested from the tree it is covered in a thick fibrous husk. The husk is usually removed before being shipped to market, so you never see the husk, just the brown shell. Young coconuts, however, have only a portion of the husk cut off, leaving about an inch covering the shell. The husk is white and often shaped like a large toy top, with a point on one end and flat on the other. They are perishable, so you will find them in the refrigerated section of the store.
Presently, the complete mechanism involved in the construction of kefir grains, is not well understood at a scientific level, although there appears to be increasing interest in this area. A unique soluble polysaccharide [PS] was first discovered in milk kefir-grains by La Rivière JW et al  and was given the name kefiran [KGF-C].[1a] Cultured in milk, the PS is produced at the centre of the grain, where anaerobic [no freely available oxygen] conditions are favourable for kefiran synthesis in the presence of ethanol alcohol. Kefiran is synthesized by encapsulated homo-fermentative lactobacilli species Lb. kefiranofaciens subsp. kefirgranum subsp. nov and Lb. kefiri , previously classified as Lb. brevis and possibly other strains produce kefiran or similar PS. By weight, freeze-dry kefir grains consist of some 45% kefiran. The PS is composed of two mono-saccharides or single sugars; D-glucose and D-galactose in almost equal proportion. Kefiran’s adhesive property is possibly what holds the matrix together, adhering protein, amino acids, fats, and the microflora complex as a biological mass.
The molecular structure of kefiran is not fully understood. It is proposed to be a branched hexa- or hepta-saccharide repeating unit. In itself, the unit is composed of a regular pentasaccharide, to which one or two sugar residues are randomly linked. The variety of linkage-types of the molecule may be the reason why kefiran is resistant to enzyme attack[2a] [Kefiran appears to be reasonably inert to digestive enzymes]. This property might be important in the ecological stability of the kefir grain, including the therapeutic activity of kefiran, due to the PS remaining reasonably chemically stable through the process of fermentation including gastric digestion.
Chair form diagram of the proposed molecular structure of kefiran [2a]
There are other strains of Lactobacilli capable of producing a similar polysaccharide, Lb. sp. KPB-167B being one such organism. This, including other species of Lactobacilli, which produce either kefiran or a similar form of PS [with slight variation between glucose and galactose ratio, different molecular weights including variations in the optical rotation of the molecule] produced at variable rates, or, the amount of, may be mechanism[s] involved in the natural tendency for each grain to propagate as an enclosed multi-lobular body. This is possibly due to the layout of different strains, or type-strains of encapsulated organisms included among yeasts, arranged at specific locations as layers or branched within the matrix. Stress factors due to culture-conditions or the structural makeup of the matrix itself, or how and where the encapsulated organisms are located may incur the same strain of encapsulated organism to produce either variable amounts of kefiran, or a variation of the PS.
Experiments performed with mice [against mice really, if we think about it], revealed kefiran exhibited anti-tumour properties. In these experiments, orally administered kefiran was found to reduce the size of certain tumours, by inducing a specific immune response in mice. Much of this early research was performed in Japan.[3-6]
Recent research evaluated kefir grains induced a systemic anti-inflammatory response in kefir-grain fed rats. The author [Dominic Anfiteatro] initially discovered the anti-inflammatory property of milk kefir-grains, through the implementation of rectal injections [implants] and retention including the ingestion of an adequate amount of kefir grains to successfully correct Ulcerative Colitis in his case . The anti-inflammatory effect was later investigated and correlated scientifically [Prof. Schneedorf JM. et. al. 2003]. The author has published a web page explaining the protocol implemented to correct Ulcerative Colitis in his case, including other individuals over some years, here.
More recently, the author observed another discovery. The ingestion of 1/3 cup of milk kefir-grains taken daily over 7 days, benefited 3 cases [one being the author] where the individuals suffered from pain associated with Repetitive Strain Injury [RSI] along the outer right arm and upper right shoulder area. The cause was due to excessive use of a computer keyboard and mouse-clicking over some years. These latter findings further suggest the systemic anti-inflammatory property of kefir-grain kefiran. Quite possibly kefiran activity in conjunction with organisms of the grain, encourage a systemic benefit via multiple components or vehicles, rather than the action of a single component.
A study on the effects of kefiran in laboratory rats showed kefiran can significantly suppress increased blood pressure and also reduce serum cholesterol levels in SHRSP/Hos rats, when subjects consumed excessive dietary cholesterol. The study also explains kefiran supplementation had the ability to significantly lower blood glucose in KKAy mice. In addition, the administration of kefiran in constipated SD rats caused an obvious improvement in the levels of faecal moisture content and wet weight of faeces. The latter is obviously useful for correcting constipation.
A recent study in China found kefir extracts have a preventive effect against human breast cancer cells, without effecting healthy human breast cells. The consumption of kefir modulates the immune response, implying that kefir contains bio-active bacteria and compounds that enhance communication in the body’s immune system.[8a]
Similar research in Japan found that kefiran-fed rats had a serum cholesterol lowering effect in 2 rat models 1, loaded with cholesterol and 2, given orotic acid. Kefiran accelerated sterol excretion and protected hepatic injuries (glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase [GOT], glutamic pyruvic transaminase [GPT]) in both rat models. It was also discovered that histamine excretion decreased in the caecum content and faeces, suggesting that kefiran has various preventative functions, the mechanisms of which are not yet well understood.
Other research found that kefir stimulated body cells to produce 14 times more Interferon-beta, a vital glycoprotein excreted by body cells to combat viral infection, and possibly combat cancer cells. The active substance in kefir in this case, which other fermented milk contain, was found to be sphingomyelin [SpM].[8b] However, interferon-beta stimulation by SpM in other culture milk-products including yogurt only increased body cell to secrete 2 to 3 times more than normal activity.
Over the past 10 years, the author has received multitudes of testimonies by email and through his internet lists from individuals of all corners of the globe, expressing how kefir has markedly help to improve their health and well being. Kefir has helped with many different conditions. Recently, a local individual shared with a friend a suggestion I explained to her, which is also included in my book. After her friend followed through with rectally injected and retained kefir grain implants, she experience a sure cure from the previous medical condition of Celiac [Gluten intolerance]. This positive feedback is quite encouraging to state the least. We are observing long term effect of this recent outcome.
The combination of all the above, suggests that kefiran, and in fact kefir grains and kefir are useful as functional food to prevent or control common occurring diseases of the modern age. This further reinforces what the author has suggested for many years, that the regular ingestion of kefir grains, should be considered of greater, practical importance and especially appreciated by individuals preparing traditional kefir for themselves at home, school or their place of work [and why not make kefir at school or at work?!].
As an end note, kefiran is also useful as a natural gelling agent, for thickening food. The author explains many examples for the possible use of kefir grain kefiran in the preparation of wonderful textured baked goods such as wholemeal sourdough bread, cakes, pretzels and pastry. For ice-cream making, for thickening yogurt and more. This extends to the use of kefir grains or kefiran in the preparation of natural cosmetics, for skin care products such as moisturizers, and skin conditioners or toners etc.
There misleading information regarding to kefir and kefir grains on the internet. One example, the separation of kefir-whey through fermentation of milk with kefir grains to produce traditional kefir. An individual is suggesting that the clear liquid is solely kefiran released from kefir grains in milk. This information is incorrect. The pale yellow or straw coloured clear liquid is simply whey, or kefir-whey in the case with kefir. Although kefir-whey does contain a very small percentage of kefiran, because the PS is water soluble, but by no means is the liquid portion pure kefiran. The process of fermentation of milk, creates an acidic environment, which separates [precipitates] the milk protein [casein or curd] in solution, creating a mixture of a thick, white mass of curds among a pale yellow solution — kefir-whey, which shouldn’t be mistaken for pure kefiran.
[Picture is actual size of kefir grains] Kefir has been accredited with healing powers since the early eighteenth century. Kefir grains were considered a gift from Allah [God] among the Moslem tribes-people of the Caucasus Mountains and the grains were passed down from one generation to to the next. The folks of this particular region considered kefir grains a source of family and tribal wealth, and the process for making kefir was a closely guarded secret to the extend of protecting the art and the natural mother-culture [kefir grains], with their very lives.
In the early 1900s, the All-Russian Physicians’ Society contacted two Blandovs brothers, who owned a cheese factory in the northern Caucasus Mountains. The society asked the two brothers for their help to obtain the kefir culture. The brothers decided to take on the challenge, and planned to use one of their employees, a beautiful young woman named Irina Sakharova, to coax a Caucasian prince, Bek-Mirza Barchorov into giving her some kefir grains. Irina indeed dazzled the prince with her beauty, but the prince refused to give her any of his precious probiotic-jewels, possibly due to strong religious beliefs.
However, the beauty-dazzled prince wasn’t willing to giving up Irina, so he instructed some of his men to kidnap her as she returned home. Against her will, the men brought Irina back to the prince’s courtyard, where the prince, hoping to win her love, proposed her hand in marriage, however, Irina understandably refused. The Blandovs brothers eventually rescued Irina from the clutches of the prince. Then, backed by the two brothers, Irina brought her case against the prince to the Czar’s court. The prince offered Irina gold and jewels as reparation for the crimes done against her, but she refused his offer. Instead, as a settlement of her suit against Prince Bek-Mirza Barchorov, Irina demanded, and received, probiotic jewels [kefir grains] instead. In late 1908, Irina Sakharova brought the first amounts of kefir to Moscow, where it was used medicinally in lung sanatoriums as part-treatment for tuberculosis with good success.
At the age of 85, in 1973 Irina received a letter from the Minister of the Food Industry of the former USSR, expressing grateful acknowledgement for her primary role in bringing kefir to the Russian people of the former USSR.
The information above was originally obtained from a Web Page in 1999 [Edited here by the author, in his own words]. But alas, the original site has since disappeared from e-space, hence no reference is provided here. The author wishes to express his gratitude for the writer of the original e-text, which has inspired not only the author, but other webmasters and the like from here, it seems.
To order kefir grains, please click this link which takes you further up this page
While researching culture-products in general, including kefir in the late 1970s to early 1980s, the author came across an interesting abstract [unable to locate the original source material]. This explained microbiologists’ many unsuccessful attempts in the spontaneous production or propagation of kefir grains from non-existing grains. These experiments were performed by culturing pure, mixed starter-cultures, prepared under laboratory conditions from organisms isolated from kefir grains. After failing to propagate kefir grains from such mixed-cultures, the microbiologists came to ask how the Caucasians acquired or propagated the original kefir grains. The Caucasians simply explained something to the effect of…
“The grains were a gift from Allah [God] provided over 1,000 years ago” … which I thought was an appropriate answer.
Come to think, could kefir grains be “manna”? … fallen into milk?
Manna: A sweet white substance God spontaneously provided from the Heavens to feed the hungry Israelites, as Moses led his people to the promised land of milk and honey. Manna means, What is it? [Exodus 16 : 31 Holy Bible]. With this, one may conclude that literally, kefir grains are indeed manna; due to the mystery surrounding the existence of kefir grains, and how they propagate. The fact that manna literally refers to mystery of the unknown is quite obvious in this case.
It is said that the tribe-folk of Caucasus referred to kefir grains as The grains of the Prophet Mohammed and kefir was known as, The drink of the Prophet [Beatrice T. Hunter 1973]. If it is at all possible that kefir grains were some how acquired through Prophet Mohammed [p.b.u.h.], then a logical question comes to mind, How or where did Prophet Mohammed [p.b.u.h.] acquire the original Kefir-Grains?
At the time of writing, it is not well understood scientifically, how the bio-matrix, or a grain is created, or in fact, the relationship involved between different types of organisms in the construction process. The mystery still remains with kefir grains at this point, although there is ongoing research to try and understand the mechanisms involved. When the secret behind the intelligent-like, self-organising micro<^>macro system is better understood, this may help to better understand not only this particular bio-system, but could also give a better understanding of certain diseases. This may include diseases such as tumours, carcinomas, including diseases which involve microbial, or viral etiology [infections e.g.].
This could possibly open doors in other areas e.g., discovering new methods for producing unique chemical compounds, controlling biological waste, and possibly for the control of specific types of pollution. Organic soil enrichment for optimal plant growth and increased yield may also be of some interest. The author prepares an organic fertiliser with kefir fortified with wood ash, sea shells, eggshell, and ground bone meal. This used as a liquid fertiliser gives extensive better yield of fruits and vegetables. Other areas of interest is in the development of more efficient probiotics, by which the probiotic component is better protected within a specifically customized bio-matrix, so higher counts of viable organisms are able to pass through gastric function, and become better established in the gastro intestinal tract in greater numbers– a super-renditioned kefir grain [The super abode of the friendly microbe].
There may be a possibility that understanding the mechanism behind how microbes create a bio-matrix such as kefir grains, could be implemented in nanotechnology.
Kefir grain as a model for the study of the theory of evolution. It is believed through collected evidence perceived by human senses, and then digested with intellectual enzyme power of thought of heavy duty scholars, to form current-day theory of evolution, by which it is calculated that single celled organisms without a nucleus [prokaryotes] such as most microorganisms, came to exist some 4 billion years ago. It is quite possible that the potential for the making of kefir grains may have been possible not long after these events unfolded [their DNA strands ;-]. Although it is calculated that life forms remained quite simple for about 3 billion years after the first single cell organism came to exist, where possibly no multi-cellular organisms forming during that time. So no cows at that point in evolution, and so, no milk was available to create and feed kefir grains, for it is estimated that cows and other mammals came to exist supposedly 3.75 billion years later.
In relevance to the Evolution by Endosymbiosis theory [A theory that tries to explain evolution of life], regarding how singled celled organisms came to form multi-cellular organisms or eukaryotes, kefir grains may resemble a multi-cellular model before more complex life forms came to exist. In this respect, the study of the populations of microorganisms of kefir grains; how they interact, including the compounds they produce and the synthesis of the matrix, could make a good model for such studies, the author thinks (hence he feels:).
Until then, I’ll be content enjoying the benefits and nutrition of a simple glass of traditional kefir. Including harvesting the fruits of ingesting spare kefir grains on a regular basis. Oh, have I mentioned how we not only enjoy a smoothie of kefir blended with fresh fruit, we also enjoy fresh herbs blended with kefir to prepare a super atonic smoothie for breakfast, too?! Cheers!
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Photo of a tiny fraction of a sugary kefir-grain [SKG] magnified 1,500 times, revealing encapsulated lactic acid bacteria [LAB] and yeast cells among a transperant dextran matrix. This sample was prepared with Differential Stain to distinguish the organisms.
Apart from traditional dairy-milk fermentation, with some adjustment, milk kefir-grains may be cultured in alternative media e.g., Soy milk, Seed & Nut milk or coconut milk. The natural mother-culture may also be used to prepare other interesting alternative cultured-products, all of which shared throughout my web pages were pioneered and developed by yours truly [let facts be known].
There is a variety of a refreshing effervescent beverage, often referred to as Kefir d’acqua [link to recipe] or water-kefir, which is commonly prepared with a different variety of kefir grains, referred to as water kefir-grains or sugary kefir-grains [SGK]. See table below for alternate names. SKG are cultured in 3% to 10% sugar/water solution with a slice of fresh lemon, dry fruits such as fig, apricot or raisins to provide flavour and increase nutritional value.
SKG consist of a polysaccharide [linked or chained dextran made up solely of glucose]. Similar to a dynamic or symbiotic relationship between different types of organisms to synthesise kefiran in traditional milk kefir-grains, the dextran of SKG is produced through the same relationship among Lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, embedded in the grain.
Scientists are surprised by the ability of the organisms of SKG to ferment a media, poor in nitrogen and growth-factor source, doing so over many years without modifying the balance between the different microorganisms. Traditional SKG have an opaque texture in comparison to traditional milk kefir-grains of Caucasus. The grains are firm, transparent and fragile; they easily break apart with little applied force. SKG are not gel-like or slimy in consistency to milk kefir-grains nor are they white in colour. The unique property of SKG is produced by Lactobacillus casei, which is believed to condense the polysaccharide into a non-soluble form. Where as the polysaccharide of milk kefir grains, kefiran, is water soluble. Another organism, Lactobacillus brevis including other strains, can reproduce [and some may possibly synthesize polysaccharides] in sugar-solution containing up to 15% alcohol.
Ginger Beer Water Kefir I have discovered the addition of 2 to 4 tablespoons of fresh ginger root juice per 8-cups of sugar solution, produces what one of my list members referred to as a marvelous ginger root beverage similar to ginger beer. SKG grow well with added ginger root. I have come to the hypothesis of the possibility that SKG may well be the original mother-culture for preparing ginger root beer. I came to this conclusion for the fact that today among ginger beer brewers, it is common to prepare what is referred to as a Ginger Beer Plant. This is by mixing sugar, ginger root powder and active brewers or bakers yeast, and feeding the so called ginger beer plant with the addition of more sugar and ginger root powder each day, over 7 days. This mother-culture [Ginger Beer Plant], is added to a large volume of sugar/water and a little lemon juice, and brewed for a number of days. This is followed by bottling and storage to produce a root beer with natural carbonation.
It is suggested that SKG were brought back by English solders on their return from the Crimean War, and the mother-culture was originally referred to as a Ginger Beer Plant. If this was the case, then quite possibly due to the lack of SKG, someone along the line with an understanding in basic fermentation, may have decided to prepare a variety of the plant as a substitute for the real deal [SKG], as explained above [Just as I recognised that milk kefir-grains can be substituted for SKG to produce a variety of water kefir, because I did not have SKG in early part of 1980s— necessity is the mother of invention].
I discovered that when first including fresh ginger root juice to brew SKG that were not previously brewed with ginger, and those SKG were only just acquired from another source, and which were only growing 5% to 10% by weight per each 2-day brewed batch, initial growth of the grains over the first 2 or so batches with added ginger was quite remarkable. A growth surge of more than 160% increase at 48 hours has been observed. Although the large percentage increase was variable for a while, increasing between 50% to 100% by weight at 48 hours was common, with added fresh ginger root. However, when using the exact same ingredients and the same measured amount of SKG, growth stabilized between 90% to 120% increase per each 2-day brewed batch.
Effects of Sugar-Type on SKG White, refined sugar-cultured water kefir produces clear, opaque SKG without any colour, but with a subtle blue hue about the grains. While the less refined sugar types such as brown, raw, demerara, jaggery, rapadura, muscovado, sucanat and Chinese red sugar produce SKG with a light brown colour. This is likely due to precipitation of colloidal compounds of such sugar-types through fermentation becomes entrapped among the micro-channels and crevices in the matrix [the grains become tainted with the colour of the sugar solution]. However, soaking light brown coloured SKG in water for a few hours, removes most of the colouring on the grains, which tells me that those colouring agents are indeed able to be extracted from SKG much the same way they were entrapped in the grains in the fist place, but in reverse. SKG grow better when cultured with non refined sugar-type, or with the addition of 1 tsp blackstrap molasses added to each 1/2-cup refined sugar preparations. On human nutrition alone, less refined sugar-types are ideal, and recommended over refined sugar. So this is good for the SKG and for the consumer of water kefir. Water-type seems important too, regarding grain growth as does sugar type. Please see Regarding Growth-Rate of SKG below.
Ginseng and Chinese Angelica Root Water Kefir Preparations, and the Psychoactive effect of
I discovered if an amount of either dry Korean Ginseng [Panax quinquefolius], or dry Chinese Angelica root or Dong Quai [Angelica sinensis] is added to strained water kefir [SKG have been removed] and brewed for 48 hours in a secondary fermentation, the beverage incurs noticeable psychoactive activity. The altered state of mind occurs very shortly after drinking an amount of the brew, and it lasts for only a short time [short half life]. Other varieties of herbs possibly due to pharmacological activity when brewed in a water kefir preparation, may also produce a similar effect. This could be due to the production of certain compounds, or, it an indication of pharmacological activity increase of specific compounds, or better bio-availability of those compounds due to fermentation.
Where acetyl groups are bound to certain other organic molecules through fermentation, they impart an increased ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which could be the case here. I doubt very much that this is simply due to an increase in alcohol content through the added sugars of such herbs, for the feeling of euphoria is quite unique to that of an alcohol-induced euphoria. However, certain phyto-compounds may be responsible for the production of interesting molecules through fermentation. This certainly makes an interesting area for further research. If an interested scientist reading this does research this area, could you please be so kind to forward your findings on to me? I am always willing to supply the culture in return for a paper on such a study, as I have done in the past.
Regarding Growth-Rate of SKG SKG that I have cultured over the years, including many individuals who culture SKG, have observed a fluctuation regarding growth rate of SKG. I have observed growth increase to vary between 7% to 220% increase by weight at 48 hours. However, if the sugar solution with other added ingredients, and more importantly, with the addition of a very small amount of sodium bicarbonate and eggshell, if the solution ingredients are kept constant, including the amount SKG used and the fermentation time is kept to 2 days per each batch, then growth increase can be expected to remain reasonably constant between 90% to 120% per each batch of water kefir. On the other hand, milk kefir-grains increase at a reasonably constant rate when cultured in fresh milk. Many individuals including myself, have found a great potential for SKG to cease propagation, and remain non-propagable, when cultured in water with low mineral content. More so with activated charcoal filtered water. The outcome is mostly observed as a slow deterioration in growth over time, which at a point, becomes irreversible. At this point, SKG acquire a light brown film over the surface of each grain, and the grains lose the typical transparency of good growing [propagable] grains.
Although there are many factors to consider, the important one being the type of sugar and water used, duration of fermentation including sugar/water percentage. SKG do not appear to grow well, and in most cases growth ceases altogether over time, when cultured in a sugar solution prepared with purer forms of water, such as distilled, demineralised or activated carbon filtered water [Brita filtered water e.g.] etc. Leaving SKG in the same sugar-solution for longer than 3 days over many batches and in warmer conditions, has an adverse effect regarding growth-factor of SKG. Lack of essential nutrients and energy source due to over fermentation, is a cause for problems, if starvation happens over an excessive number of proceeding batches.
Adding Fruit Juice SKG do not grow well if a concentration of most acidic fruit juice is included as part ingredient. With the addition of most acidic fruit juice, SKG reach a point where the grains never growing again. Whether this is due to the acids of such fruits, is unknown to me at this point. Fruits such as grape, apple, pineapple etc. have been problematic regarding SKG growth, so I suggest omitting such fruit juices in water kefir preparations. However, if one wishes to brew fruit juice, this is best achieved through secondary fermentation, whereby preparing a traditional water kefir, and then adding the preferred fruit juice to the strained water kefir [after separating the SKG]. Secondary fermentation can be carried out over a number of days at room temperature, or under cold storage, such as refrigeration. The latter will simply slow the process down, so it will take longer to brew. Cold storage fermentation also produces a fruit juice ferment with a different flavour and acidity. Also, secondary fermentation is best performed under airlock. This can produce quite an alcoholic beverage though, so be forewarned and do not drink such concoctions before driving a car or using heavy machinery.
Hard water [water with high mineral content], such spring water seems best. If such water-type is not available, the addition of 1/8 teaspoon of Sodium bicarbonate added per 2 litres [8 cups] of purified water, ensures good grain growth. Water adjusted to pH 7.2 to 7.5 with Sodium bicarbonate [slightly alkaline] gives good results in regards to good grain growth, I find. This may suggest that SKG have evolved in water with high mineral content, similar to water from the Hunza Valley, which is milky due to melting glacial water running through lime stone rich reserves.
SUGAR-REDUCTION of ready-to-drink water kefir How much sugar does water kefir contain? you may ask. Well, there’s a good reason why I chose capital letters for sugar-reduction. The question is a concern for many individuals who wish to prepare water kefir. I receive lots of emails about this question, and the topic often comes up on my internet lists. I shall try to clarify here.
Most concern regarding sugar content of water kefir that I’ve experience, is from folks believing that because a reasonable amount of sugar is used for water kefir, then water kefir must contain a large amount of sugar. Folks on an anti-candida diet fit this category, for sugar is recommended as a no-no for candidiais [yeast infection]. Diabetic also share the same concern. I thought the best way to demonstrate sugar percentage of ready-to-drink water kefir [a beverage fermented for 2 days with SKG], is to show a photo of my evaluation [left].
The thick, not-so-sweet, but quite appealing flavoured thick syrup, was extracted from water kefir by reducing ready-to-drink [strained] water kefir by boiling under vacuum. The water kefir recipe involved 6 cups water, 1/2 cup raw sugar, 1 tsp blackstrap molasses, 1/8 tsp each of eggshell and oceanic coral powder, 1/8 tsp sodium bicarbonate, prepared with 1 cup SKG brewed for 2 days. The SKG increased from 1 cup to 2 1/2 cups at day 2, which is common growth-rate with the above recipe cultured with my exceptionally good growing SKG.
We can clearly note the initial amount of sugar and the resulting reduction of more than 80% of the original sugar content. The fact is that the less-than 20% sugar left in the water kefir after a 2 day ferment, is mostly fructose, a mono-saccharide [single sugar]. Fructose is extremely easy to digest, compared to the original sucrose. We also need to consider that the residual syrup in the photo contains some water, so in effect there is even less sugar content compared to what we see in the photo. To explain again, sucrose or regular table sugar, including any sugar-type derived from sugar cane, is made up of a molecule consisting of 2 single sugars– Glucose and Fructose. This sugar is known as a disaccharide [di means 2, saccharide means sugar= two sugars]. The organisms of SKG break down the disaccharide sucrose into its 2 basic units, glucose and fructose. The grain itself is synthesized from just the glucose alone. Hence the reduction of sugar of water kefir with good growing SKG, for the grains are separated by straining the water kefir– they are not consumed, taking the glucose that the grains are made of with them. Even if SKG were consumed, they are not easily broken down if at all through gastric digestion, for the glucose that the grains are made up of is a dextran, similar to a polymer or a natural plastic that gastric enzymes are unable to break down. To conclude, we can rest assured that if your SKG are growing well, by at least 50% per each batch, then sugar reduction is just as good, and the resulting water kefir contains a much smaller percentage than what you began with. Water kefir prepared with good growing grains is quite suitable for Diabetics and those on a low carb diet. [See also FAQ 46 at my Kefir FAQ web page]
Over fermentation, acidity of media, grain growth, an off flavour and slimy water kefir SKG are best cultured for no longer than 2 days in the same solution, with the occasional three-day fermentation being acceptable, especially in cooler conditions. During warmer conditions, it may be best to culture for no longer than 2 days. Three-day brews are best avoided over ongoing batches especially in warmer conditions, otherwise the organisms starve and the grains shall eventually pickle, for use of a better term. Pickling is evident by taste-testing a SKG– pickled SKG acquire an acidic flavour with a distinctive effervescent tang left on the tongue, with no sign of growth of the culture. Whereas propagable SKG have a slightly sweet, neutral flavour with no sign of effervescence on the tongue when a grain is chewed. Non-propagable grains also lose the typical translucent quality, and early signs of this can be observed by breaking apart a grain and checking for translucence, or a clear, see-through quality, especially on the surface of the grain.
It seems important not to add lemon juice or other acidic fruit-juice as part ingredient, but to use 1/2 lemon left whole, or a slice of lemon. Citric acid does not appear to be used up by organisms of water kefir. As amounts of citric acid is leached into the water kefir from the fresh whole lemon, citric acid concentration increases in solution over time. If citric acid concentration reaches high enough levels, it may cause problems in regards to propagation of the culture. However, if the brew begins to acquire an off flavour, adding 1 Tbs lemon juice per 6 cups sugar-solution, and adding the juice over a few consecutive batches only, may be a recommended remedy for this type of problem. Although the option to store SKG in the fridge in just sugar/water for a few days is also a possible remedy for SKG that produce water kefir with an off-flavour, or a slimy consistency.
Slimy water kefir or slimy SKG In some cases, SKG may become slimy, losing the typical firm texture, producing a murky white, slimy water kefir. This may occur if too much oceanic coral, limestone or eggshell is included as part ingredient [see following paragraph]. Or, if herbs are included in the initial fermentation with SKG. This can also occur if any solid ingredient is contaminated. Herbs are best fermented in a secondary fermentation, that is after straining the water kefir, adding the herbs to the strained solution, and brewing for a given number of days. If the cause is due to adding too much coral, eggshell or limestone, then use less of these. As above, resting SKG in sugar/water stored in the fridge for 3 days, then reverting back to regular room temperature fermentation with regular ingredients, should remedy slimy SKG or slimy water kefir production. Resting SKG in the fridge for 3 days and reverting back to room temperature, may have to be done a few times, though. The cause for slimy SKG may have to do with an imbalance among the yeast and lactic acid bacterial components, where interference causes less condensation of glucose to synthesize a firm grain. Cold storage appears to return the essential balance among the different strains of organisms. Note that in the event SKG become slimy, the grains may increase by a phenomenal amount, if the recipe contains other optimal ingredients [apart from too much eggshell etc. or herbs].
Oceanic Coral, Limestone or Eggshell for a High Calcium Water Kefir, and Kefiraride I usually include a small piece of oceanic coral as seen in photo on left. But more recently, I use coarsely ground oceanic coral, limestone or egg shell or a mixture as part ingredient in my water kefir. Only 1/8 to 1/4 tsp per 6 to 7 cups sugar/water is needed, for too much of any of these ingredients may produce a slimy water kefir [see above]. These raw ingredients are mostly made up of calcium and magnesium carbonate. This gives a very slight pH adjustment as amounts of calcium carbonate is slowly dissolved in solution due the a reaction between the organic acids, such as lactic acid produced during fermentation, and the mineral calcium and magnesium of oceanic coral, limestone or egg shell. Not only do SKG grow more efficiently with the addition of these mineral-rich raw ingredients, the water kefir contains a highly bio-available form of the minerals found in those ingredients. This is beneficial to the consumer. These minerals are important for healthy strong teeth and bones, for the healing process, for good nervous and immune function, and the prevention of Osteoporosis. This makes mineral rich water kefir a suitable alternative for dairy to obtain those essential minerals in the diet. However, to effectively utilize calcium, a sufficient amount of vitamin D must be included in the diet, or through exposing the skin to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes each day.
The picture on the right demonstrates just how healthy and large my SKG grow in a ginger root beer prepared with the addition of oceanic coral, sodium bicarbonate, raw sugar, molasses and kefiraride [see following section]. I’ve had grains grow as large as 3cm across, before they break up into small grains as a normal phase of self-propagation of the culture. However, using such mineral-rich raw ingredients can produce water kefir with a cloudy slimy quality and a musty flavour. To avoid this it is advisable to use the calcium rich ingredients as part ingredient only in small amounts. Another option is to include the calcium rich raw ingredient in the strained water kefir, so that secondary fermentation allows the minerals to be dissolved into solution during storage, to become more bio-available, even under cold stored in the fridge over a number of days. This will avoid the potential for producing slimy SKG.
Another point worth mentioning, if we take note, the picture on the left above shows a few SKG floating among the oceanic coral, fig and lemon. This is not usually the case, for most folk’s SKG do not float in solution but remain at the bottom of the brewing vessel at all times due to the density of SKG. The reason why those particular SKG are floating, is solely due to the incredible growth increase of those particular SKG at the time of taking the photo. They grew that much and that fast, that the grains encapsulated small amounts of gas, which forms a tinny bubble of CO2 entrapped in small cracks at the centre of those particular grains. This, in turn floats those grains that grow extremely well. As the bubble escapes, those grains sink to the bottom ending up with the rest of the grains. The effect of hovering of bees in solution, is apparently why SKG are also referred to as California Bees as the grains slowly pop up and down in solution during active fermentation.
Water Kefir Preparations with Heat-Treated Kefiraride and Milk Kefir-Grain Emulsion
Recent experiments with kefiraride and water kefir have provided some interesting results. Kefiraride is the name that I have given to the kefiran-rich solution obtained by straining milk kefir-grains which have been soaked in fresh water for 24 hours to dissolve kefiran from the grains. With the addition of heat treated kefiraride as part ingredient for preparing water kefir, I have observed up to 220% increase by weight at 48 hours of SKG cultured in the mixed media. I found similar results by implementing milk kefir-grains blended with water, and then heat treating the emulsion, and adding the kefiran-rich solution as part ingredient in a water kefir preparation. The reason for heat treating these 2 solutions is to deactivate organisms native to milk kefir-grains, for I was mostly interested to observe the effects of kefiran on SKG growth, and to avoid the organisms of milk kefir interfering with this study. This may suggest that although kefiraride, and in fact, milk kefir-grains have the ability to hinder the growth of pathogenic organisms as demonstrated in other research, on the other hand, this provides a growth stimulus for friendly organisms of water kefir. Ginger also fits in a similar category, where it is known to halt the growth of unfavourable stains of organisms. Yet, SKG grow more efficiently with the addition of ginger root juice, at least initially, where large growth surges can occur. This may suggest that there is a selective process of what particular strains of organisms such compounds are affective against, or for, either for or against growth, and that self-organising micro-communities of friendly organisms [such as those found in the GI tract] may benefit from such compounds of ginger, kefiraride and milk kefir-grains. These provide such micro-communities either a growth stimuli [a prebiotic] or an energy source, or, both, while hindering pathogenic strains
Transferring Milk Kefir-Grains to a Sugar/Water Media
In early 1980, I discovered that traditional milk kefir-grains may be transferred to a sugar/water media, to produce a variation of Kefir d’acqua or water-kefir, with similar qualities as a brew prepared with traditional SKG. I’ve also discovered that alternative sugars may be used including maltose and honey e.g., which may either replace or be included with cane-sugar [sucrose]. Dry fruits or fresh fruits or the juice of fresh fruit may also be included. Fresh of dry herbs or herbal teas may be used as part ingredient [see Kefir d’erba medica, a herbal kefir at my kefir making web page for details and recipes]. When transferring milk kefir-grains to a sugar/water-media for the first time, there is an initial lag phase [unbalanced growth] lasting about 4 days. During this phase, little activity is evident as the organisms stop reproducing while they fatten up by storing energy, until the organisms adjust metabolic pathways so as to be able to utilize the new source of energy [different forms of sugar and concentrations of, over lactose found in dairy milk]. However, after about the third or so batch onward, it should take 24 to 48 hours to culture a ready-to-drink form of water kefir beverage prepared with milk kefir-grains.
When traditional milk kefir-grains are transferred to a sugar/water-media, after 1 to 2 weeks of consecutive 24 to 48 hour preparations, the grains may not readily revert back to prepare a suitable milk-kefir right away on transferring the grains back to dairy milk. It is highly likely that the grains become non-propagable [they stop growing] after a few weeks or longer of being brewed in a sugar/water recipe. This is due to a missing bacterial component such as the all important encapsulated Lb. kefiranofaciens. This component is damaged after transferring milk kefir-grains to a sugar/water media, if cultured over extensive periods. This is because the organisms responsible for propagation of milk kefir-grains, lack the essential mono-saccharide Galactose, which the organisms synthesize by breaking down lactose [Lactose is a disaccharide meaning 2 sugars, made up of Glucose and Galactose. Sucrose is also a disaccharide, but is constituted as Glucose and Fructose and does not contain Galactose]. Although, on transferring the grains back to milk, I’ve observed after about 2 months of culturing daily cycles of raw [personal preference], whole fresh milk, the grains eventually produced a form of milk-kefir with a reasonable good texture and flavour. However so, the culture milk-product lacked viscosity of traditional milk-kefir prepared with propagable milk kefir-grains. This may be due to the fact that the grains remained non-propagable throughout the culture-process, and in essence the bacterial component responsible for viscosity by the production of kefiran, was missing. These specific milk kefir-grains were previously cultured in a media consisting of water/malt/sucrose/dry fig over a 4 month period, prior to transferring the grains back to milk, to perform the experiment.
Transferring Sugary Kefir-Grains to Dairy Milk
On transferring SKG to both raw and pasteurised dairy milk, batches prepared over the first week had a pungent odour with an unappealing bitter flavour, due to excessive activity of yeast and aroma-forming organisms. Introductory batches took 3 to 4 days to culture. No distinctive curd or separation of curds and whey during 24 and 48 hour cultures was noted. Although the culture milk-product stabilized as consecutive batches were prepared over a 2 week period. In effect, a culture-milk beverage with reasonably good flavour and consistency was produced at 2 weeks onwards. During the ten month period of the experiment, deposits of milk-curd formed and adhering to the surface of most of the SKG in each batch. A good portion of curd could be removed from the surface of each grain by rinsing the grains with water. The translucent character typical of SKG remained under the surface-adhered curd, and the grains did not propagate, neither in the traditional sense nor as a white, soft, slimy texture; a typicality of traditional milk kefir-grains. Nor was there evidence of the gel-polysaccharide kefiran produced, which is an essential component of propagable milk kefir-grains, culture in dairy milk. This is most probably due to missing lactic acid bacteria [LAB] component[s] such as the encapsulated Lb. kefiranofaciens, or other kefiran or kefiran-like producing organisms, native to propagable, traditional milk kefir-grains of Caucasus.
Alcohol Content of Water Kefir Prepared with either Sugary Kefir Grains and Milk Kefir-Grains
There is a variation of alcohol content of water-kefir prepared with [5%] sugar-solution, when cultured with either milk kefir-grains or traditional SKG. 48 hour cultures, the SKG prepared water kefir contained about .7% alcohol by volume. On the other hand, a parallel culture prepared with recently transferred milk kefir-grains [stabilized], produced about 1.9% alcohol at 48 hours in 5% sugar solution.
My HYPOTHESIS Due to SKG increase in sugar solution, in this case 122% increase by weight at 48 hour culture-period, a portion of glucose split from sucrose [regular cane sugar] by organisms of SKG, was utilized to construct new grains [which consist solely of glucose]. In comparison, transferred milk kefir-grains did not increase over a 48 hour period. This is because a sugar/water media does not provide the essential elements for growth of milk kefir-grains. In effect, culturing water kefir with milk kefir-grains, or with non-propagable SKG provides a larger portion of glucose available for yeasts to convert into alcohol. Hence, water kefir prepared with propagable SKG, contains less alcohol than water kefir prepared with milk kefir-grains, or with non-propagable SKG [including beer, wine or champagne yeasts].
Self-confessed CONCLUSION The percentage of alcohol in water-kefir prepared with SKG has a direct relationship with the percentage of SKG increase– greater grain increase gives less amount of alcohol in the final water kefir This may be preferable for preparing an optimally healthier water kefir beverage.
End Notes SKG do not appear to be as robust as milk kefir-grains of Caucasus, in regards to maintaining growth under adverse or stressful culture-conditions, especially in the case of over-fermentation. This may lend the belief of the possibility that water kefir-grains evolved from milk kefir-grains, or that milk kefir-grains is the older mother-culture of the 2 culture varieties, for here say. But there is no evidence to substantiate this as fact.
There has been claims that SKG cultured in dairy milk produced milk kefir-grains encapsulated at the centre of the SKG by culturing milk kefir-grains and SKG together in dairy milk over time. However, my experiments have not been able to reproduce this. My findings thus far has shown that with a mixed-culture [milk kefir-grains and SKG] cultured together in the same raw dairy milk daily, after 7 to 14 batches, some SKG entrapped a small amount of casein in a small, thin crack that appears along the centre of the matrix of the grain. However, when those SKG were cracked opened, they reveal an entrapped white substance, which first may appear to be a milk kefir-grain forming in the centre of the grain. Further investigation revealed that the substance was a small amount of milk curd, which disintegrates with little applied force– it did not hold together or retain shape as does a milk kefir-grain.