What is kefir? It’s a healthy probiotic drink made by fermenting milk with colonies of bacteria and yeast known as kefir grains. Kefir is available in many parts of the world and may contain different strains of bacteria and yeast depending on where it’s from. Kefir generally looks and tastes similar to yogurt but is runnier and contains more types of probiotics. Due to the presence of yeasts, kefir may contain a small amount of alcohol (approximately 1 percent) and may be fizzy. Many people who are lactose intolerant can consume kefir with no problem even though it’s made from milk.
What is milk kefir?
When people talk about kefir, they are usually referring to milk kefir. Milk kefir is normally made from the milk of mammals such as cow, goat, or even sheep. There are also people who experiment with making milk kefir from non-dairy milk such as almond, soy, and coconut milk.
Milk kefir can either be store-bought, homemade from milk kefir grains, or made from powdered starters. Of these three, kefir homemade from grains is most desirable as it contains higher amounts of probiotics and no additives. Also, using kefir grains will allow you to make more kefir over and over again whereas store-bought kefir and powdered starters cannot be reused to make more kefir.
To get the most out of kefir in terms of both quality and cost, it would be best to make it yourself at home with kefir grains. Making kefir is an easy process and it will take only about 15 minutes every day to include this healthy fermented food in your diet. If you can’t or don’t want to make kefir on a regular basis, a powdered starter can be used although they contain fewer strains of probiotics. You can find out how to make kefir with either kefir grains or a powdered starter with our step-by-step guide.
However, if it’s not possible for you to make your own kefir, drinking store-bought kefir is still beneficial and better than not consuming it at all. Check the label to see that it contains live cultures and pick something that doesn’t have a ton of sugar and other additives.
What is water kefir?
Water kefir refers to kefir that is made with water kefir grains and coconut water or sugar water. Water kefir grains are also known by other names such as tibicos and Japanese water crystals. Like milk kefir grains, these contain plenty of yeast and bacteria that are beneficial to your health.
The grains used for making water kefir and milk kefir are not the same and cannot be used interchangeably. However, some people have reported converting their milk kefir grains to water kefir grains. I will be testing this conversion on my grains sometime in the future.
Water kefir is a great option for vegans, people who are allergic to dairy or who do not want to consume any milk to get their probiotics. But as water kefir is usually made from sugar water alone, it does not contain as many vitamins, minerals and other nutrients found in milk kefir. Still, there is still value in consuming water kefir for just the probiotics.
Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comments, just leave a message below or email me at hello [at] kefirblog [dot] com