Traditionally, kefir originated as a probiotic-rich milk drink in the Caucasus Mountains. It’s been around since the 1800s and was made by mixing cow, goat, or sheep milk with a probiotic culture. When it comes to taste and texture, it resembles thin yogurt (or a “milk soda” as some describe it) and because of this, many add milk kefir to sourdough bread, as a substitute for buttermilk in baking, and in soups. While milk kefir is still common today, especially in parts of Eastern Europe and Asia, we’re also big fans of a dairy-free variety: water kefir.
What is water kefir?
Water kefir is a naturally fizzy fermented beverage, similar to kombucha. It’s rich in probiotics, so it’s great for gut health. In order to make kefir, add a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) into sugar water and fruit. Unlike kombucha, the SCOBY does not resemble a legless jellyfish. Instead, it slightly resembles cauliflower (see photos below). These are known as “kefir grains”. These kefir grains – which are not actually grains! – metabolize the sugar into good bacteria. Although the grains require sugar, they “eat” it up, so a small amount ends up in the final product. This makes it quite low in sugar!
Water kefir grains. Find them at your local health food store!
Kombucha tea fermentation. Note the jellyfish-type blob.
Why should I consume it?
Water kefir is great for many reasons, especially for its health benefits and yummy taste.
- Since it’s rich in probiotics, kefir boosts our immune systems. It contains plenty of vitamins, such as vitamin A, B2, B12, D, and K. This supports proper digestion and warns off harmful bacteria and viruses, too.
- Many studies also link kefir to cancer prevention. A 2017 study shows that kefir can prevent tumour formation.
- Since water kefir is caffeine-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and low in sugar, almost anyone can drink it. Kids too!
- When it comes to taste, it doesn’t disappoint. It’s lighter and tastier than kombucha, so it’s like a bubbly soda that’s actually good for you. If you’re making it at home, try adding different fruits! Get creative with flavours like blueberry lemonade, strawberry peach lemonade, or pomegranate cranberry.
Water kefir during processing.
Find water kefir at our stores, or make it at home!
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