Monday, February 11, 2013

Water Kefir / Tibicos

Why yes, those are NOT GAPS Compliant recipe books behind my Kefir!

When I started my Water Kefir last year, I had 100g. When I took this photo, I had re-bottled them into the new bottles we got, I weighed it and had over 300g of Kefir. So, between the heat, the food source + sugar I am using, I am much loved. I split my grains, and the brew going  in the photo has fig (I think this one tastes like cream soda!) and one going with apricot. 
The kefir grains that I had left over, I went ahead and dehydrated for back up. At this point, I have not had any water kefir (aka Tibicos) going since December. I need to rehydrate and feed my kefir so I can start brewing again.

So, what are Tibicos?

Water kefir “grains” are actually not grains at all, but SCOBYs (symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeasts), like tiny kombucha mothers or milk kefir grains. They are a mix of lactobacillus, streptococcus, pediococcus, and leuconostoc bacteria along with yeasts from saccharomyces, candida, and kloeckera held together by a polysaccharide matrix. They feed on sugar from dried fruit to produce lactic acid, alcohol (just a little), and carbon dioxide. When they’re done, you get a refreshingly tart, lightly carbonated, mildly fruit flavored probiotic beverage that kids love! 
The Liberated Kitchen
Water kefir is a pretty easy food pet, as food pets go. Water kefir is a lot like it's cousin, kombucha. It makes a kombucha like drink, but less vinegary, so if you aren't wild about kombucha then you might prefer this drink. It works quickly, more quickly than kombucha but it still is bubbly and slightly sweet and is easily flavored with fruit juices or vanilla extract. Instead of a large scoby, there are many tiny little grains, similar to dairy kefir. They look like unflavored gelatin and are firm and rubbery but will crumble if forced. They are self perpetuating and will reproduce and make more little grains to either compost or give away. 
Water kefir is, in fact, a bacterial yeast culture (that looks like little odd-shaped jelly-pearls) that converts sugar into fructose and imparts incredible probiotic goodness into the water you keep it in.
Think of it as yogurt on steroids that masquerades as carbonated, healthy soda. digestion is improved beyond measureand my seasonal fall allergies are almost nil when I drink water kefir on a daily basis. When I forget for a day or two, the difference is overwhelming.
As a whole, though, all the health benefits you expect from yogurt, milk kefir, and kombucha, you can expect from water kefir, as well.
You can even wash your face with it! 
Crunchy Betty

One of the most entertaining parts of having Water Kefir is watching it work. Or, it is if you don't have any pets or small children to watch/tend to or you're extremely interested in "crunchy" science experiments such as this one. (ok, I'm nerdy, what's new?)

Here are two videos that show you what it looks like while it is brewing:

Q. I want to consume kefir but I'm allergic to dairy. Is water kefir a good alternative?

A. Yes! Water kefir contains no dairy (please note: water kefir grains are processed in a facility where dairy products are processed).

Q. Does water kefir contain gluten?

A. No, water kefir grains do not contain gluten (please note: water kefir grains are processed in a facility where gluten based products are processed).

Q. Are water kefir grains reusable?
A. Yes, water kefir grains are reusable. Once your kefir is finished culturing, simply remove the water kefir grains and place them in fresh sugar water, juice or coconut water.

Q. How long do water kefir grains last?
A. With proper care, water kefir grains should last indefinitely.

Cultures for Health

What are some of the health benefits of this tasty beverage, you ask? Kefir works by regulating the body, thus helping it become healthier. Water kefir has been known to regulate blood pressure and aid in weight control! In addition to being known to aid in such disorders as internal ulcers, kidney problems, anemia, eczema, dermatitis, and abdominal feminine discomfort , Water Kefir is an amazing intestinal purifier! When we have intestines that function optimally, we find that most of our disorders, go away! Remember, what shows up OUTside is a direct result of what’s happening on the INside! One will only need 8 oz’s a day to feel the benefits! For more severe disorders, see this CHART for the amount to drink on a daily basis. 
Girly Girl Amy

I'd mentioned that all of mine are dehydrated grains. SOMETIMES when you purchase tibicos, they will not arrive to you in any other fashion than dehydrated. This is how that process is done, should you ever have excess (and you will!) and you need backup (trust me, you ALWAYS need at least a little back up), or you ever want to share.
To dry them, just lay them on a piece of unbleached parchment paper and put them in a warm part of your house to dry (but not over 95 degrees). It usually takes a few days for them to dry. Once they are dry, you can store them in a zip lock bag in the fridge as a back up in case anything happens to your regular set of kefir grains. Also, some people eat the kefir grains (or blend them up in a smoothie).
Cultures for Health
Here is how to rehydrate your dehydrated grains:

Helpful links:
Water Kefir PDF
Water Kefir Recipes (Branch out! Look for more links!!)
Another FAQ
Alternative brewing instructions that include using egg shell for added minerals
Flavor Extracts
Ginger Ale

Interesting health articles:

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