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Monday, January 18, 2010

Water Kefir


What is Water Kefir?

You may have heard of Kefir, but are not sure what it is, or you have always thought it’s a milk product. There are actually 2 different types of Kefir: Milk and Water Kefir. Some recognize yet a 3rd type in Kombucha Tea, and call it Tea Kefir. Both Milk and Water Kefir are the same thing, Kefir, although adapted to grow on different culture media. Water Kefir grains are different from those of Milk Kefir: they are almost translucent and loose.

The only Kefir I knew was the milk product commonly found in grocery stores or health food stores. So, you can imagine how happy I was to learn I could also benefit from taking Kefir without the milk part of it! Lactose intolerant people can also benefit from Kefir’s multiple healthy properties, for whom this type of Kefir deems ideal. Water Kefir can be taken in much greater quantity than Milk Kefir (from 1 to 3 liters daily), and it is said that Water Kefir’s properties are far superior to those of Milk Kefir’s.

So now that you know about this other type of Kefir, you probably still don’t know what Kefir is. The word “Kefir” is thought to have originated from the Turkish word "Keif" which means "good feeling". Kefir is a polysaccharide structure where several non-pathogenic, but friendly or healthy bacteria and yeast live in symbiosis. While Milk Kefir has been compared to yogurt, Kefir’s microflora is much more complex. The exact composition of microorganisms that form the grains usually varies slightly, depending on the media where they are cultured, and so Water and Milk Kefir differ in some microorganisms that may specifically grow on milk and not fruit, and the other way around. Also, depending on the fruits used to culture Water Kefir, we may be adding new friendly yeast and bacteria to our grains. Typical composition of Water Kefir grains is: Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus , Lactobacillus alactosus, Lactobacillus casei casei, Lactobacillus pseudoplantarum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Streptococcus lactis, Streptococcus cremeris, Leuconostoc mesenteroide, Saccharomyces florentinus, Saccharomyces pretoriensis, Kloeckera apiculata, Candida lambica, Candida valida.

What are the Health Benefits of Water Kefir?

Water Kefir, due to its diuretic, depurative and regenerative properties, can be of benefit in a broad variety of health conditions. What follows is a list of conditions it can help to improve, and suggested dosage, as I have found listed in the several sources listed at the end of this document. Note that this document is merely informational and in no case is the information below meant to substitute medical diagnosis and/or treatment, nor should the product be used to substitute medical care. Always consult with your physician (or if you plan on using it on your animal companions, with your veterinarian) about your (or your animal’s) health condition. Kefir is no “cure-all” or universal remedy. It can only complement and help appropriate medical treatment due to its detoxifying and immunity-building effects.

As a natural product, Kefir works by slowly regulating the organism and helping it become healthier. If you expect a rapid overnight result, then forget about it. Water Kefir can be indicated in nervous disorders, internal ulcers, bronchial catarrh, sclerosis, myocardial infarction, liver and gall bladder disorders, kidney problems, stomach and intestinal diseases, diarrhea or constipation, anemia, allergies, dermatitis and other skin problems such as eczema. It’s use on an ongoing basis proves to have excellent effects in convalescence after serious diseases. It can also help regulate blood pressure and weight control, and has good results during pregnancy and abdominal feminine discomfort.

Kefir prevents intestinal putrefaction, which is the cause of multiple disorders, and contributes to the body’s depuration. It doesn’t alter the digestive process. It should be drunk on a daily basis, and depending on the condition, once or more times a day. In chronic conditions, great quantities of Kefir should be drunk, 3 times daily, about ½ a liter (approx. 2 cups) each time.

The list below indicates suggested doses indicated for some conditions:

Nervousness
1 liter daily
Ulcers
1 liter daily (they disappear after 2 months)
Asthma
1 liter daily (during a longer time)
Bronchial Catarrh
1 liter daily
Anemia / Leukemia
1 to 2 liters daily (check blood test values after 2 months)
Sclerosis
1 liter daily
Dermatitis / Eczemas /Skin Allergies
1/2 liter daily + local application over affected skin letting it dry. Wash hands and face (after 2 to 4 weeks allergy disappears)
Cystitis
1 liter daily
Kidney Problems
1 liter daily
Gall Bladder Disorders
1 liter daily
To regulate Blood Pressure
1/2 liter daily

Where Can I find the Grains?

Water Kefir grains are not commercialized, probably because this mother culture resists being manipulated and adulterated for commercial purposes. Maybe this is the main reason why Water Kefir is not paid the attention it deems, and is so unknown or forgotten… so we’re really dealing with a millenary culture that has always passed from someone’s hands to someone else’s like a legacy. Grains, thus, are usually obtained from someone who has them, then you give to someone else, and big sharing chains are formed introducing them to other folks and regions in the world. If you’re interested in getting some, simply ask someone you may know that has it, if they may be willing to share with you.
There are also some online Kefir grains sharing sites where you can try asking for some. The following web page offers a list of such sites in English language: http://www.seedsofhealth.co.uk/resources/find/find_kefir.shtml
Alternatively, if you happen to have Milk Kefir grains, you may try “converting” them into Water Kefir grains. I have read some folks have achieved this successfully, but it takes time since the microflora needs to adapt to the new culture medium, and for a time it will still have the Kefiran of Milk Kefir. I personally don’t recommend this option, as it is not that you can switch your grains back and forth from milk to water and the other way around.
Since Water Kefir grains are so hard to come by, but multiply a lot and very rapidly, I suggest you never throw away your excess… kindly give it to a friend or relative or coworker, who may also benefit from it, or offer it for free through your local Health Food Store so other people have access to it as well. In this materialistic world, we really need more acts of generosity, giving away stuff not expecting anything in return. Aren’t we already sufficiently paid by knowing we’re spreading health? Health is something money can’t buy. Should you decide to ship it to someone else, it is fine to have the recipient cover the shipping costs, but it is obviously up to you. To ship the grains, you may either want to dehydrate them and put them in a plastic bag inside a padded envelope, or place them in a small plastic bag or small container that can be sealed with water and sugar.

How to Culture Water Kefir

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)

Step 2: Mix It Up

Mix the ingredients until all the sugar is dissolved.
Step 3: Add Kefir Grains

Add 1/4 cup Kefir Grains.
Step 4: Let It Ferment

Place a cap on the jar and let it sit for 48 hours so it can ferment and create the Water Kefir.
Step 5: Taste Test

After 48 hours, taste test it. If its too sweet, let it go another day. They can ferment up to 5 days.
Step 6: Strain Water Kefir

When the Water Kefir is cultured to your liking, you can strain out the grains, ginger and any other solids, and now you can drink the Water Kefir.

Step 7: Rinse & Repeat

Rinse the grains well with room temperature water and repeat the process using the grains.


...See how EASY that is?

If your curious and want to check it out there are a tonne of websites out there...there are also alot of demonstration videos on You Tube. If you need help just shoot me a note and I will lead you in the right direction.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Ken. I went to a kefir board to see if I could find someone near me to share grains.
    http://www.torontoadvisors.com/Kefir/kefir-list.php
    A man from Bracebridge did answer and told me he can't send them by mail in winter due to the cold. I was in the grocery the other day and kicked myself when I got home and realized I hadn't checked the type and $ of the kefir culture. On with the show.... did you get any answers to your posts on the board?

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  2. No...there were only three people in my area though...Calgary and Edmonton...didn't get an answer from any of them. I did learn from my Dad that the starter you buy in the stores will only grow a few batches...he thought they have been modified to achieve this. Haven't had time to research that aspect of it yet. Odd that he said he cant mail it during winter..one of the write ups said it was a way of preserving the grains for future use...freeze em! Next time ya hit the market dont forget lol.

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  3. Hello!I have been trying unsuccessfully to get my water kefir to multiply with no luck although they do ferment properly. I follow all ingred. to a t. Do you have any idea how to get my hands on some healthy active nondehydrated grains????
    Thanks
    Cheri (andersoncheri@ymail.com)

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  4. Hi,
    Im in Calgary and looking for the kefir grains...anyone?
    Thanks
    Z

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  5. You can order water Kefir grains online from a family run business in the United States called Kombucha Kamp.

    http://store.kombuchakamp.com/Water-Kefir-Grains.html

    I think shipping is 10$ and prices are in US dollars, but you only need to order once because they can be used over and over again. I live in the Calgary area and I have not had luck finding them in town. Please post if you find them around the city!!!

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