Kefir is a unique cultured product filled with highly beneficial probiotics. It is made from two varieties of Kefir “grains,” milk kefir grains, the most common and water kefir grains, a novel discovery.
Milk kefir grains are formed when the bacteria/yeast colony is mixed with casein, the protein component in milk and complex sugars. They distinctly appear like small clumps of cauliflower. Water kefir grains, on the other hand, are translucent, gelatinous structures comprised of a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast infused with complex sugars creating a crystal-like clump.
Both of these “grains” are used to make a probiotic-rich beverage which can be processed in a variety of ways.
Brewing Milk Kefir and Water Kefir
Depending on the “grains,” there are two types of kefir drinks, Milk kefir, and Water Kefir.
Milk kefir has a similar taste to yogurt, a creamy tart flavor. It confers health benefits by improving digestion gut health and pH. Lactose intolerant individuals can also enjoy this drink since it is a fermented product. Water kefir is similar but devoid of casein
To culture milk kefir, one begins by introducing the kefir grains into dairy milk, albeit, goat’s milk and coconut milk will also do. While water kefir is cultured by introducing the kefir grains into sugar water, coconut water or fruit juice.
These bacteria and yeast present in the grains will then metabolize the sugars present, fermenting it, introducing beneficial microorganisms, B-complex vitamins, and food enzymes. The resulting drink is a probiotic blend of nutrients and natural sugars, a natural fizzy drink that improves gut health and aids in digestion.
The fermentation time of milk kefir is between 1-5 days while that of water kefir is 1-2 days.
Fundamental and Nutritional Difference of Milk Kefir and Water Kefir
Although both a similar, they have specific differences, one of which is how they are prepared. Additionally, they differ in their consistency and taste; water kefir is a beverage and tastes like soda while milk kefir is more like yogurt and has a creamy tart flavor.
There is also a clear difference in the probiotic value of the drinks. Milk kefir has 30-50 different possible strains of probiotics, while water kefir has 10-15 strains.
There is also a slight yet distinctive nutritional difference between the two. Milk kefir is more nutritious than water kefir due to the milk present. Milk is the life source of mammals, rich in calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and furthermore, vitamins A and B-complex (B1, B12, and B7), carbohydrates (lactose sugar) and proteins. These are essential nutrients for growth and development.
Meanwhile, water kefir offers certain advantages as well. It has a low glycemic index (GI), releasing glucose slowly into your bloodstream limiting food craving, ideal for those individuals on a weight loss diet and is less fattening too. It is also suitable for vegetarians who keep away from dairy. Water kefir offers flexibility, enabling you to work with any liquid as long as it has sugars to break down.