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The world of Kefir
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Water kefir is a non dairy version of kefir. It is made by fermenting tibicos in a sugary water solution. The sugar in the water provide food for the microflora of bacteria and yeast. The bacteria basically breakdown the sugar and convert it to food for the yeast. In doing so, byproducts beneficial to us are produced such as enzymes, lactic acid and vitamin B complex.
For those who are unable to tolerate any dairy or prefers to go on a dairy free diet, water kefir is an excellent alternative. It is vegan probiotics that contains much more than just friendly bacteria.
The finished product tastes much like a carbonated drink. It is an absolutely healthy alternative to commercially produced soft drinks which creates a lot of health problems for many regular drinkers.
The common microflora found in tibicos are strains of bacteria from the lactobacilli, streptococci and yeast saccharomyces species, totaling more than 20 different strains.
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Tibicos ( widely known all over the world as water kefir grains) is rather similar to milk kefir grains. Like milk kefir grains, tibicos consists of a microflora of friendly bacteria and yeast clumped and held together by the bacteria strain Lactobacillus brevis.
The beverage fermented by tibicos is popularly known as water kefir. This beverage’s other names are wasser kefir and kefir d’agua. Water kefir is believed to have originated from Mexico , where tibicos also known as tibi. In Mexico, tibicos is used to ferment a beverage called Tepache (made of pineapple, brown sugar and cinnamon).
Nobody can be sure of the origin of water kefir grains. This may well be the original culture used to prepare ginger beer. There are some who refer it as the ginger beer plant. Indeed, using tibicos, one can make a refreshingly delicious beverage tasting much like ginger beer.
Water kefir can also be made using milk kefir grains. However, the milk grains will not reproduce as this is not their original habitat. It is best to source for water kefir grains if you are interested in making fizzy probiotc beverages.
Water kefir and milk kefir differences
Though most research focuses on the health benefits of milk kefir, water kefir is gaining in popularity due to the GFCF (gluten free casein free diet). It is arguable which is the more beneficial drink, milk kefir or water kefir. Many who are new to kefir always ask this question – which should I drink?
In terms of probiotics count, milk kefir contains more colony-forming units per milliliter (CFU/ml). Thus, a glass of milk kefir may well contain double the CFU in water kefir. However, most people can consume water kefir in much greater quantity a day than milk, so that kind of even out!
Milk kefir would contain all the protein and nutrition of milk whereas water kefir will contain all the nutrients of fruit (if you use fruit to ferment). I have personally heard reports of benefits from people who drink water kefir too. So, I reckon both water and milk kefir will do a good job in balancing our intestinal microflora and thus healing and improving many of our health conditions. Indeed, the health benefits of kefir are well known in many parts of the world.
Water kefir is easy to make and fun to experiment. There are so many flavors one can come up with. Different types of sugar and fruit combination will produce different flavors. I personally have discovered a very delicious recipe using the flower roselle. I call it roselle kefir. It is well liked by children and adults alike for it taste like sparkling grape juice. Many commented that it tastes like red wine too!
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