In my search to lead a more vegan friendly lifestyle, I found these special communities of bacteria to be quite pleasing to the taste buds, stomach and body.
For years I have been using traditional kefir made with dairy. I then moved to soy kefir and finally Kombucha since I found that it had some of the same beneficial bacterias. And if nothing else let’s just hope I can keep the feeling young thing even if the looks take a downward spiral with age. But, before I digress, I will continue with this little info moment on Water Kefir Grains.
~ WATER KEFIR ~
Tibicos, also known as tibi, water kefir grains, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals and California Bees, are a culture of bacteria and yeast held in a polysaccharide matrix created by the bacteria. As with kefir grains, the microbes present in tibicos act in symbiosis to maintain a stable culture. Tibicos can do this in many different sugary liquids, feeding off the sugar to produce lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol), and carbon dioxide gas which carbonates the drink.
Tibicos are found around the world, with no two cultures being exactly the same. Typical tibicos have a mix of Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus and Leuconostoc bacteria with yeasts from Saccharomyces, Candida, Kloeckera and possibly others. Lactobacillus brevis has been identified as the species responsible for the production of the polysaccharide (dextran) that forms the grains.
People who do not wish to consume dairy or have a vegan type diet may find that water kefir provides the living pro-biotics without the need for dairy or tea cultured products, like kombucha. Since the finished product, if bottled, will produce a carbonated beverage, it provides an alternative to sweet soda drinks for children and adults.
I received my water kefir grains about two weeks ago. I have made two batches already, I am currently waiting for the third one this evening. It generally takes 24 – 48 hours for the Water Kefir grains elixr to “ripen”. In all of the research that I have done it notes that 72 hours is far too long and can have adverse effects to the water kefir grains. Other elixrs can be made as well. But I will get into that in time.
The very first time that I made the water kefir grains, I made the concoction with half a lemon, lemon juice of that lemon, 4 tablespoons of organic sugar, and one dehydrated apricot.
The second time I used about a tsp. of dehydrated apples plus all of the above ingredients.
The batch that is brewing at the moment has two figs, 4 tablespoons turbinado sugar, lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon, that same half lemon and the water kefir grains. Every time you make a batch the water kefir grains multiply allowing you to make more and more and more. So far each batch only gives me enough to serve James and I a 1 oz shot in the am and in the eve for two days. Then on the second day we are able to get a fresh shot of the newest brew. So far, this last brew is really carbonated and that was just after one day. I think the additions of the turbinado sugar and two figs helped make the grains increase at a more accelerated rate. I will check this evening and post the pictures of the whole process in the a.m.
UPDATE: The picture above notes the last day of the fig brew. This is the third complete batch and I have made a fourth batch with the apricot again. Different fruits and various other experiements will be coming. But I admit I am enjoying it. In the a.m. and in the p.m. Pretty soon I will be able to bottle it and have it here at the store. A definite addition to the Cafe. One of my clients, Myron will have to try this and I will send his wife some as well. I also weighed the Water Kefir Grains last night. 49.4 grams as of (111208).
The more that I make, the more I will begin to experiemnt. I am having a lot of fun with this stuff. I think the really interesting part of this is: “..the beverage incurs noticeable psychoactive activity or euphoria. The altered state of mind occurs very shortly after drinking an amount of the brew, and it lasts for only a short time [short half life].”
I will also make KOMBUCHA tonight for the first time, but that will be on another post.