Water kefir, (or kefir d'acqua) is grown in water with sugar. Similar to Kombucha, it is cultured by first introducing a s.c.o.b.y (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts) into sugar water. The beneficial bacteria and yeasts present in the grains feed on the sugar and turn it into lactic acid. Water kefir grains are small, translucent, gelatinous structures, and consist of assorted bacteria including lactobacillus hilgardii, which gives them their characteristic crystal-like appearance. When properly cared for, they produce a wonderful probiotic-rich beverage and will continue to grow and reproduce indefinitely.
Traditional milk kefir grains are a combination of bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars. This symbiotic matrix forms "grains" that resemble cauliflower. Many different bacteria and yeasts are found in the kefir grains, which are a complex and highly variable community of lactic acid, bacteria, and yeasts. Kefir grains contain a water-soluble polysaccharide known as kefiran that imparts a rope-like texture and feeling in one's mouth. Kefir grains appear white to yellow and are usually the size of a walnut, but may be as small as a grain of rice. Traditional kefir is fermented at ambient temperatures, generally overnight. Fermentation of the lactose yields a sour, carbonated, slightly alcoholic beverage, with a consistency similar to thin yoghurt. In the 20th Century, kefir fermented by small-scale dairies achieved alcohol levels between 1 and 2 percent, but kefir made commercially with modern methods of production has less than 1% alcohol, possibly due to reduced fermentation time. Variations between liquids exist and can vary markedly from kefir in both appearance and microbial composition.
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Key Benefits of Water Kefir
• Improves digestion
• Treats lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrhea, colon cancer and inflammatory bowel syndrome
• Treatment for ulcer
• Regulates the blood pressure and blood sugar
• Regulates cholesterol
• Effective treatment for various respiratory conditions
• Effective treatment for eczema, various skin disorders
• Effective treatment for acne
• Fortifies the body’s immune system
• Illustration / Graphic reproduction
• Improves the body’s defenses and resistance to diseases
• Has anti aging and anti oxidant properties
Kefir grains made from fermenting milk has been an age old tradition across Turkey and the Arab world. Kefir grains were traditionally prepared as described in the papers by M. Motaghi et al. and Semih Ötles and Özlem Çağındı of Iran: A goat-hide bag, which was washed with sterile water, filled with pasteurized milk and the intestinal flora of a sheep. It was shaken every hour and was kept for 2 days at a temperature of about 25°C. During 12 weeks, each time the milk coagulated, three quarters of it was replaced with fresh milk. When a polysaccharide layer developed on the surface of the hide it was removed and propagated in pasteurized cow's milk where kefir grains developed. These were grown with fresh milk daily. The historical source of kefir grains is not really known today.
Health and nutrition
The Russian bacteriologist Ilya Iljitsch Metschnikow first described the life-extending effects from Kefir in 1908. Metschnikow uncovered the connection between the relatively high age of Romanians and Bulgarians, and their regular consumption of sour milk (Kefir or lactobacillus bulgaricus). His findings were published in 1908 and Metschnikow received the prestigious Nobel Prize for his discoveries. Since then there have been several studies linking Kefir with numerous health benefits. A study sponsored by Lifeway Foods revealed that kefir aids in lactose digestion and that there is a lower amount of lactose in kefir than in whole milk.
The nutrient content of Kefir can be changed by simply fermenting for shorter or longer periods, creating unique health benefits for each stage. For example, over ripened Kefir (which increases the sour taste) contains a significant increase in folic acid. Kefir contains compounds with antimutagenic and antioxidant properties.
Across the World
Kefir is a popular drink for breakfast, lunch and dinner across Russia, Belarus, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. In Europe, Kefir is consumed in the same ways American's drink milk. Kefir, also known as "yogurt de pajaritos" (bird's yogurt), is also commonly consumed in Chile, where it may have been introduced by any of the various waves of migrants from the former Ottoman empire and migrants from Eastern Europe. The well known and celebrated health benefits of kefir have finally reached the shores of the United States, increasing in popularity and showing up in local grocery stores.
Kefir has numerous culinary uses. For centuries it has been used in cooking, baking, drinks and remedies. It is a healthy ingredient to add or substitute in every day recipes and meals. For tried and true recipes featuring Kefir visit our cooking and baking with kefir section.
Some find kefir too sour on its own and prefer to add flavors or sweeteners. Fresh or frozen fruits can be mixed with kefir in a blender to make a smoothie. As it contains yeasts, kefir can be used to make sourdough bread, as a buttermilk substitute in baking, even used in lieu of milk on cereal or granola.
And now for the legal stuff:
Please consult with your health practitioner or doctor before starting any new health regiment.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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