home-made kefirs are growing in popularity as probiotic food sources while spreading as a community sharing activity. there are two types of kefirs: milk kefir and water kefir. the latter is not well known. both can be home made from fermenting friendly bacterial sources, called starter grains, to provide potent but very inexpensive probiotics.
a rich supply of probiotics is essential for good digestion, and good digestion is essential for good overall health. if you've shopped for probiotic supplements, you are probably aware of their price tags and how it affects your monthly budget. but if you tune into any of the kefir communities, you will be able to provide yourself with a continual supply of supplemental probiotics at virtually no cost.
water and milk kefir basics
water kefir is less expensive with possibly more benefits than milk kefir. it's the perfect option for the lactose sensitive, vegan, or anyone who just don't trust milk products. but the starter grains, sometimes called tibetan mushrooms or kefir fungi, are a little more difficult to obtain than milk starter grains.
however, once you obtain either milk or water starter grains, you can keep culturing those grains for almost forever. milk kefir grains look like miniature popcorns or mini cauliflowers. the tiny water kefir grains are relatively colorless. they both contain combinations of friendly bacteria and yeasts that flourish during short fermentation periods.
milk kefir grains can be ordered from a few online commercial sources, while water kefir starter grains usually have to be obtained from other water kefir users. water kefir grains multiply rapidly, enabling users to want to give many away, while milk kefir grains do not multiply as much even though they can be used over and over.
with either kefir, there are many health benefits reported. the friendly yeasts in the cultures dominate the unfriendly yeasts. many users report that with continual use over time, several chronic health maladies vanished. and most report a rejuvenation of energy and and overall well being.
milk kefir is a much better source of probiotics than yogurt, not only in quantity, but diversity. and there is a belief that water kefir is even superior to milk kefir.
from dolores sanchez-penalver's "water kefir" free pdf document comes this list of friendly bacteria and yeasts: lactobacillus brevis, lactobacillus casei rhamnosus , lactobacillus alactosus, lactobacillus casei casei, lactobacillus pseudoplantarum, lactobacillus plantarum, streptococcus lactis, streptococcus cremeris, leuconostoc mesenteroides,saccharomyces florentinus, saccharomyces pretoriensis, kloeckera apiculata, candida lambica, candida valida.
got grains? make your kefir
both milk and water kefir instructions are virtually the same except for two areas. although the milk kefir grains can be used over and over, they do not multiply nearly as much and as rapidly as the water kefir grains. so the water kefir grains beg to be given to others to start their kefir production!
the milk in milk kefir is the basis of fermentation for the kefir grains, while the water kefir requires brown cane sugar or honey to kick it into fermentation. so what is offered here are the water kefir basic instructions. simply eliminate the brown sugar for milk kefir. for more details, check out the source links below.
you will need a large mouth glass or ceramic jar, no plastic, of at least a little more than a liter or quart. bigger is better as the gases from the fermentation process will have more room, eliminating the possibility of your jar exploding!
you should use spring or mineral water, at least water that is free of chlorine. no metal utensils should touch the grains. here, plastic is appropriate. a plastic mesh strainer, if available, is ideal also. remove around three heaping tablespoons of starter grains and place them into the jar with around a liter or quart of good water.
then add four tablespoons of the brown sugar. mix gently with anything but a metal mixer or spoon. cover with either a lid or cloth attached by a rubber band. place the jar in a dark place that's at room temperature. the minimum fermentation time is 24 hours, maximum is 72 hours. the longer the stronger.
most instructions prefer you wait until ready after 24, 48, or 72 hours then pour out the complete solution into another container, which can be refrigerated. or simply pour out a glass at a time until the 72 hours expires. during the 72 hour period, a gentle daily mixing is a good idea.
either way, after the liquid is drained, the kefir grains need to be removed and rinsed with water that is chlorine free. after rinsing, restart the process again with the original jar. you'll be amazed at how many extra kefir grains are available after the first run!
anywhere from one to three glasses is recommended. with water kefir, it's easy to drink more than one glass per day.
there is a caveat. if you don't stay on top of the kefir ritual, you can lose the starter grains to spoilage. so this does require some discipline. but you can continue forever, and it's virtually free!
sources and more information
water kefir pdf (complete overview/instructions)
where to find water kefir starters
milk kefir instructions
milk kefir grains source